Over 750 people attended Monmouthshire’s first ever pride event for the county’s young LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) community at Caldicot Castle on Friday, 3rd August.  Monmouthshire Youth Pride was Gwent’s first local authority-sponsored event of its kind, and organisers declared it a massive success as performers and speakers entertained an appreciative crowd on a warm day.  Among those present were Peter Fox, leader of Monmouthshire County Council and local MP Jessica Morden.

The occasion was the brainchild of a group of young people from Caldicot, including Charley and Tegan, who attend an equalities group run by Monmouthshire’s Youth Service in The Zone, the town’s youth centre.   A number of the group’s LGBT members had requested a pride event to celebrate their community and they secured funding with assistance from council officers.

Charley (15) said: “Today’s event is a nice way to bring the LGBT community together, to promote individuality and diversity and help people learn new things.  It’s a great opportunity to network and to get to know people of like mind.”

Tegan, also 15, agreed that it was good to link the community, adding: “Monmouthshire’s Youth Pride is a great source of information and events like these are valuable as they educate friends and families to accept those who choose to come out.  We’ve come a long way in recent years but we still have a long way to go.”

The council’s Youth Service and events team played a major part in the success of Monmouthshire Youth Pride with considerable help from Pride Cymru and volunteers.  The castle’s setting provided an ideal venue with a main stage, stalls, food outlets and a scenic backdrop.

The main stage was compered by trans campaigner Alex Jones and former Mr Gay Wales, Paul Davies.  Among the entertainers were Wye Gymnastics, Galaxy Cheerleading, Caldicot Music Society and singers Dylan Hannan, Nicole Bowles and Newport-based Selena in the Chapel.  Selena said: “It’s an absolute pleasure to perform today for the LGBT crowd gathered here.  It’s wonderful that an event like this takes place and I look forward to many more.”

Monmouthshire’s Youth Service provided activities including face painting and circus skills while a number of organisations offered help and information.  These included Gwent N-Gage which gives drug and alcohol advice to young people across Gwent, the Terrence Higgins Trust, the National Assembly for Wales Welsh Youth Parliament, Stonewall Cymru, Umbrella Cymru and Rainbow Newport, a volunteer-based organisation supporting the LGBT community.

Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for equalities said: “Earlier this year, the council agreed a strategy to embed social justice into the heart of our policies and activities, addressing inequalities and improving outcomes for the county’s people, including the LGBT community.  In line with this plan the council has wholeheartedly supported Monmouthshire Youth Pride and I’m pleased that the event was so well-received.  I hope that we can promote a similar one next year.”

“My thanks go to all those who made the day a great success and I also acknowledge the vision and drive of those individuals whose ideas for such an event have been realised today.”

For further information on Monmouthshire’s equality policies log onto: www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/equality-and-diversity