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Torfaen Pride: People ‘walk away with a bit more strength and confidence in themselves’

The Club FOD tent at Reading Pride
The Club FOD tent at Reading Pride Credit: Club FOD)

The organiser of Torfaen’s first Pride festival has said ‘visibility saves lives, being who you are is the biggest weapon against bigotry’.

Torfaen Pride is in Pontypool Park on Saturday 1 June 2024.

Jamie Wake told Cwmbran Life: “When people leave a Pride festival, they walk away with a bit more strength and confidence in themselves.

“Someone’s first Pride is exhilarating. I remember my first Pride. you don’t feel only joy. Pride is a safe, family-friendly event, promoting tolerance and acceptance.

“Pride events are really important events. There are people like you out there.”

He moved to Torfaen in 2023: “I come from Reading where I was, I still am, the chief executive officer of a charity (Club F.O.D) that focuses on preventing and reducing social isolation LGBTQ+ people.

“I was planning to step down and moved here for the quiet life. The trustees said ‘we don’t want you to step down. Expand, take us to south Wales’.

“I said I can’t do things here. There isn’t a community, hidden gay in a sense. people aren’t out. The only way I can that I thought is through a Pride event.”

Jamie Wake
Jamie Wake (Photo: Club FOD)

Support from Torfaen Council

He shared his idea with the council and a date was “pencilled” and then discussed at June’s full council meeting.

Jamie also contacted one of his local councillors, Giles Davies (Abersychan Ward).

“I pencilled in a date and said to Giles, ‘we’re not after money from the council. I know how that will look politically, I want the council to show support. I want a motion passed to say you’ll (Torfaen’s councillors) support it’.”

The motion that went to the council meeting in July and was passed said: “This council therefore resolves to support LBGTQ+ Pride events across the borough in their communications including social media channels, highlighting the importance of Pride and why we must continue to support our LGBTQ+ family members, friends, colleagues, and constituents.”

Jamie said: “I’m so pleased the council allowed us to do this (hold Pride in Pontypool Park). It hasn’t cost the council a bean.

“Pride is a big thing for me, knowing that visibility saves lives, being who you are is the biggest weapon against bigotry. It’s all about hope for youngsters who may not feel comfortable about who they are.

“The love and support from Torfaen is pretty amazing.”

He said a Facebook post from Torfaen Council about Torfaen Pride attracted some negative comments

“I thought I could either ignore it, but people who won’t be as confident as me, any progress they make would go backwards. So being sassy, I replied, not being nasty. I welcomed their comments,

“For example, someone said, ‘is the council paying for this grooming event?’ and said ‘drag queens only groom their dogs’ rainbow hair.’

“I stopped. I could have spent all day doing this. But hopefully, I turned something more positive out of it.”

The post attracted many messages of support from residents.

“What I love is our allies, our straight allies. If they can do that, we can concentrate on the hard stuff,” Jamie added.

Volunteer at Torfaen Pride

Jamie doesn’t want Torfaen Pride to be a one-off event and hopes the volunteers can continue to get together for events and support throughout the year. Volunteers are needed for many roles including greeting everyone who attends, writing for the website, fundraising, running the stage, and helping out around the site. Find out more here on the Torfaen Pride website.

Sponsor Torfaen Pride

Sponsors can get involved in many ways including sponsoring an act, a stage or the whole event. Visit the site’s sponsors’ page for more information.

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Torfaen Pride: People ‘walk away with a bit more strength and confidence in themselves’