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Queer Times: Pride and LaDIYFest

June 8, 2012

Well hello blogosphere, long time no see.

Komal, Aurore and I have been super busy over the last few months. That hasn’t really subsided but I still thought a bit of blogging might be a good thing.

Saturday gone was Sheffield Pride, the second one I’ve been to, and the first that charged on the gate (three English pounds, as I recall).

The best thing about this year (for me at least) was that it was the first year that there was a Pride march (rather than just the festival), starting around Pomona Street (I would say ‘at the Pomona’, but apparently it’s been renamed) and finishing up in the park. I was running late, after viewing a house (I’m moving soon), and was dashing down past the DVLA when the most gaudy, balloon-covered, drag queen-filled party float I’ve ever seen (but then, I haven’t been to San Francisco) came round the corner. I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear, and as it slowly went past, everyone gave me a wave. The float belonged to Affinity, a relatively new gay club in Sheffield (apparently it’s a blast, though I haven’t made it down).

On a whim, and knowing I was running late, I shouted ‘Can I have a lift?’ and to my surprise, they all shouted ‘Yes!’ and helped me on to the back of the float. So off we went down Ecclesall Road, dancing to the Cheeky Girls. We soon went past my friend Heather, who couldn’t help but laugh, but I pulled her up too, and we had lots of fun dancing all the way up, whilst also thinking we should probably be marching with the trade union contingents tailing the float.

Heather and Me ‘floating’ up Eccy Road on the Affinity float…

Some of our fellow revellers…

Waving to our adoring public.

Once we got to the park, we hopped off and carried on our day. I’m really not convinced by the Pride committee’s decision to start charging for the event, but I can imagine it keeps things under control. There were lots of stalls, mostly from liberation groups, political campaigns and various charities around, though I was extremely disappointed with the range of food on offer (burger, hot dog or hog roast anyone?) – with the brilliant range of mobile food available in Sheffield (where were Yabba, the Street Food Chef, etc?) it was very disappointing that I ended up with a cheese and onion panini.

There was a pretty funky looking inflatable bowel (warts and all), which you could climb inside and take an STI test and get some free condoms. Pretty clever though god knows where that idea came from!

Music was the usual, awful cover bands that seem to please noone. I’m not sure why gay events always put on this stuff, does anyone actually enjoy it? Surely some Sheffield-based bands (of which there are many) would be better? Most people seemed to head down the DJ tent pretty sharpish.

I think it is fair to say that Sheffield’s ‘gay scene’ (yuck, hate that term) is pretty young still compared with, say, Manchester and hopefully it will keep getting better year on year.

The following photos are very gratefully taken from my friend Emily Hammerton-Barry (affectionately known as ‘Hammertime’)’s collection. She’s a very talented photographer and filmmaker, now based in Sheffield, though these photos were taken on her phone!

Rhythms of Resistance (apparently a split from the Sheffield Samba Band – who knew)

Activists on the march on Ecclesall Road

Heather, me, and my ridiculous face.

Sheffield Fire Service repping for LGBT firepeoples everywhere

More revellers

This is the Affinity float I was on.

Emily and some other friends and I made a beeline for the LaDIYFest tent which was hosting a discussion on gendered language, swearing, linguistics, and more specifically the ‘C word’. The discussion was very interesting although I don’t feel my analysis was particularly well thought out (despite my militant feminism, I have a filthy mouth and say a lot of things that aren’t particularly progressive).

LaDIYFest, if you don’t know, is a Sheffield based initiative started in 2011 building towards a day event (the first was last Autumn, the next is in November). The LaDIYers describe themselves as ‘LaDIYfest Sheffield is an inclusive, DIY, anti-capitalist, community-based feminist collective’, but for my mind queer feminism seems to sum up the whole thing, with a smattering of anarcho/socialist feminism too. We went down to one of their events – a pre-pride special – on Friday at the Harland Cafe (what a lovely place – another write up coming soon I’m sure!) on John Street.

It was a night of Queer centric poetry, music, and spoken word, with some great little ‘zines on sale and some CDs too. I had a big fat chip butty (nice chips, Harland) and some raspberry lemonade, though they also had ales and wine on sale and a full bar.

I arrived quite late, but in time to see some pretty funny spoken word from Chella Quint, about marriage and gay partnerships. My views on gay marriage are probably a little more ‘anti-all-marriage’, rather than spending a lot of time and energy on making an innately problematic institution queer-friendly, but I am still in favour of marriage equality. I didn’t get a chance to have a chat on these views but maybe she’ll be around soon to have the discussion?

It was a great evening all round, and we rounded it off chair dancing to 90s house in the Cremorne.

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