Leeds and Wellingborough Prides

A week and a bit ago I wanted to go somewhere new.  I do enjoy Gay Pride events.  Therefore I wanted to mix the two so I scrolled through a website which listed all of the year’s Pride events in a big table to see if anytook my fancy.  Leeds caught my attention but I initially dismissed it as it were to be held on a Sunday.

The weekend was fast approaching and I saw a flood of tweets and Facebook statuses about people arriving in Brighton.  I was slightly miffed I didn’t go.  Plan beforehand I did not and therefore all the weekend tickets had sold.  It just wasn’t worth travelling down for not being able to get in.  On that Saturday I was recovering a bit from going out the night before but there was still Sunday left of the weekend though.  And when was Leeds Pride?  Sunday!  I wasn’t sure whether I would go though.  I had no one to go with.  My best friend was on holiday and I began to ask around but immediately was turned down so just decided to give up. I got my overnight bag out of the wardrobe just in case but I went to sleep that night undecided.

I awoke and thought, “sod it”.  I had breakfast, showered, packed my bag and cycled to Wellingborough train station.  The train took 3 hours with one change.  As I stepped off the train, I absorbed the hustle and bustle of the station and saw quite a few groups already adorned in rainbow flags.

En route to the hotel

Firstly, I went to my hotel which was very nice and very conveniently located.  I dropped my stuff off, had a freshen up and headed to towards the centre.  Immediately, I bumped into a bicycle lock up in the shape of a car.  I think this is brilliant!

Why let one person dominate this space with their big car when it can fit around 10 bicycles!  I shortly bumped into the Parade and stood watching the fabulously loud and colourful display.

I got speaking to a few people who confirmed that Leeds Pride is getting bigger and bigger every year.  I commented on the corporate sponsors.  I do suppose the money is needed to grow the parades.

Afterwards, I walked through the shopping area to the gay bars and clubs.  It was a gated event but was free entry.  They were checking everyone’s bags and controlling the crowds.  In the queue, I got speaking to some younger people – I suppose around 18.  They lacked the ability to hold a conversation.  I can, if social norms would allow, hold a conversation with myself.  Although that is technically impossible.  No, it’s not.  Opps.  Here I go again.  Anyway, I began the conversation and they would briefly look me in the eye, smile shyly, answer my questions, albeit sparsely and then, dive in to their phones.  “How did you two meet?”, was one of my questions to which the response was “online”as their line of sight fell down to their screen. I stayed with them for a bit and they met another friend – arranged online, of course, although 5 minutes later one went off with their new friend and the other awkwardly hugged him and said “goodbye”.  Where is the meaning?  Very strange.

I mingled around, and perused the contents of some stalls and walked along some closed off streets.  There were, on the main street, and two adjacent side streets, different music platforms.  The main street played current music and the other two played more specific genres.  I got speaking to some more people.  I am not sure if my mood dictated the responses or whether the distance North did.  They say those from up North are friendly.  As an anecdote, I can confirm.

Down the “house music” street I walked and I bumped into Taron and Jamie.  It was so strange.  I love coincidences.  I met them last year at Manchester Gay Pride.  I don’t know whether it is because I am partially deaf or whether it is because I don’t make as sweeping a guess as others but I couldn’t really make out what they were saying.  Nor, could I say much to them.  Shouting in someone’s ear is never pleasant for the other person nor is it for me.  I was speaking to this rather nice Italian, who was already on the arm of Jamie.  His name was Leonardo and I managed to hold a brief conversation with him and could mainly work out what was said.  Perhaps, it was the accent.  The aforementioned are from Birmingham.

At that moment, I saw Sarah.  We met back in 2012 at university.  We were part of the University Radio Station, URN, would sometimes do the news together and go on socials.  I was chatting to her for a bit and was introduced to her friends, Elliott and Emmy.  They all seemed a lovely bunch.  I bid them farewell and suspected we’d bump into one another later  that evening.Look at that pout

I rejoined Taron et al and was with them for a while.  I decided to go back to my hotel room as I wanted to freshen up and have a bit of a rest before going out that evening.  I said my goodbyes and walked away.  Heading towards the exit, I bumped into Sarah and crew again.  I suddenly had the brain wave that we could all go and rest back at my hotel.  This would give ample time to also have plenty of pre-drinks.  They agreed and we were off.

It was lovely.  We had music playing through the Bluetooth speakers at a volume that enabled conversation to flow between the four of us quite freely.  We chatted about everything as the malibu, coke and beers slowly disappeared.

We went back to the gay bar and club area.  It looked so different without the streets being lined with people.  We went into a bar and had a few drinks and shots.

It was soon realised that Sarah needed to go home.  Luckily having the Uber app installed and set up, I arranged for a taxi and within minutes she was off.

The entirety of the trip was wonderful.  I had a fabulous time.

The next morning I awoke with a bit of a dry mouth.  It really was quite dry.  Regardless, I got ready, showered, packed and checked out.  I walked around and further explored the city.  It felt very good here.  Again, I saw another bicycle lock up in the shape of a car.  I saw a street that was closed to traffic to let people use it.  Streets for people!  Yes!

Thank you Leeds and to everyone who made it so nice!

On Saturday 11th August, Wellingborough Pride took place.  I learnt about this last year a week before it took place.  Now it is a date firmly in my diary.  I attend quite a few Prides and knowing that my hometown has one filled me with joy.

Side note:  last year it was here I was “talent spotted” for television.  Well, I am not sure if you can call it “talent spotting”.  I was sitting enjoying some wine and listening to music when these two guys came over.  “Would you like to be on telly?” they asked and after confirming my relationship status, and agreeing to go on a date with a self-confessed “undateable”, I appeared on Channel 4’s The Undateables.

This year I did come more prepared than last.  I put a basket on the back of my bicycle and filled it with Malibu, wine, French stick, and brie.  Listening to the music, and basking in the intermittent sunshine, was incredibly relaxing.  I was very pleased to see so many people turn up.  I was with my sister, and Sophie, my friend from school and then I parked myself down with Max and his sister and friends.

I rolled (literally and figuratively) up the hill to Castello Lounge afterwards.  I cycled and offered a backie.  After having a Pina Colada and chatting for a while, my friend Liam joined us and we went over to The Hind for a LGBT+ disco.

I had such a nice and relaxing time.  I shall be attending next year.

Thanks for reading or listening.

Samuel x

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