Interviews

In Conversation with Paul Hyde-Clarke, Chair of Cambridge Pride

Cambridge Pride 2019. Photo by Jamie Thistlethwaite. 

This Pride Month is a special one. So many of us have not been able to celebrate Pride fully since 2019, and Cambridge Pride is no exception. This year on Saturday 9th of July, the festival will make a grand return on Jesus Green, and we are so excited to be there!

We are proud to be supporting Cambridge Pride this year with our very own 11 Inch Pride Batchel in Azurite with a beautiful Rainbow Canvas Webbing Strap. For each purchase of the bag, we will donate 10% of the price to The Pink Festival Group.

Keen to know more about the event, we sat down with Paul Hyde-Clarke, chair of The Pink Festival Group (the charity behind Cambridge Pride) to find out what we can expect this year. 

The Cambridge Satchel Co.

Hello Paul! Could you tell me about your role in planning Cambridge Pride?

Paul Hyde-Clarke  

The Pink Festival is a charity that was set up to organise events like Cambridge Pride. It was set up following a few successful Pink Festival events that happened in Cambridge - I think 2003 was the first one. After having run events every other year, we decided to formalise it and set up some charitable aims.

The opportunity to create Cambridge Pride came along, almost by accident, through another group of people that wanted Cambridge Pride to happen. They came to us because we'd been running the LGBT+ event, The Pink Festival, so they wanted our input and expertise. We ended up teaming up with them to run Cambridge Pride. So The Pink Festival is the charity that delivers Cambridge Pride every year (or nearly), and I'm the chair!

Photo by Jamie Thistlethwaite. 

CSC

What can we expect at Cambridge Pride this year?

PHC  

This year, we're building on what we did in 2019, which was the last event we were able to hold. In 2019, there was an outdoor dance area which was really popular, especially because the sun came out later in the afternoon. We also had lots of drinks, DJs and great music. We will also be holding a parade in the park this year where more people can get involved. There will be lots of information about that on our social media. Find us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Tiktok, and if people want to get involved in the parade, they can just get in touch with us.

Everything is free apart from the food and drink. There will be the main stage, the dance tent and free wellbeing sessions, where people can take part in yoga, meditation and other kinds of relaxing activities, run by professionals. 

There will also be a community area called the Community Hive which is going to be bigger this year, which will have a stage and lots of fun entertainment and access to services that support the LGBT+ community. 

Photo by Jamie Thistlethwaite. 

CSC

Is there anything in particular that you're most excited about? Especially considering that you've not had this event since 2019?

PHC

We’re just excited to get back to why we set this up in the first place. Cambridge Pride only works when you get people together. We had ideas around holding something virtually, but Pride is about bringing people together who are all different in their own way, and that doesn't really work virtually. It needs to be a physical event. I think seeing how people respond to the changes that we've made, and just seeing people enjoying themselves on the day, is going to be a great thing,

We've also got the additional exciting aspect, which is that the Commonwealth baton is coming through Cambridge on the same day, and it's ending at Jesus Green. Lots of people will come to Jesus Green just to see the Commonwealth baton relay team, so we’ll have a lot more people there enjoying the day with us.

Photo by Jamie Thistlethwaite. 

CSC

Why is Pride important to you?

PHC

Well, I think everyone in the LGBT+ community has different experiences with understanding their own sexuality or gender, as well as the whole process of coming out.  Most people in the community are likely to have been affected by those situations we find ourselves in, by how they feel they fit into society or don't fit into society. Bringing everyone together can help to make those more challenging experiences easier is so important. 

We're trying to get to a point where everyone feels confident being themselves in any situation. Whether that be going for a job interview, meeting new colleagues or in a social setting. It’s about wanting to be accepted for who you are. I think that that's why it's important to me, because I've been through that experience, and I want that experience to be more pleasant than it was for me 30 years ago when I came out.

Photo by Mark Nortcliffe.

CSC 

And how do donations to Cambridge Pride help? What do they go towards?

PHC

Although it's the less fun part of the story of Cambridge Pride, every year we have to raise enough money to put the event on. The end result is obviously a big celebration, lots of fun, entertainment and information for people, but getting to that point means seeking money from very generous businesses, organisations, even the public and donors who have given us large sums of money to donate towards the event. Without all of that, the event simply wouldn't happen. 

Obviously, there is also a lot of people power that turns that money into an event that we hope makes a difference. That's what the team is really doing, trying to make sure that every penny we spend adds value to the visitors in some way.

Photo by Jamie Thistlethwaite. 

CSC 

Aside from joining the parade itself, how can people get involved with Pride? 

PHC

If people are available in the run up to the event and feel like they've got the skills either this year or they want to think about helping next year, we are always looking for more people to join the team. As we hopefully work towards making the event bigger each year, we're going to need more people to help put the event together, so we definitely want people to get in touch if they're reading this article and can spare an hour or two a week or a month to be involved during the year. 

On the day, we'll always be looking for stewards, who are volunteers to whom we give a Cambridge Pride t-shirt, and we get them involved in looking after the visitors and other aspects of the event. They give out information and they make sure everyone is happy and safe on the day. There is full training for that and it's a really good experience for those who haven't done that sort of thing before. It’s also a great way to meet people!

We hope to see you at Cambridge Pride on the 9th of July, where we will have a stall. Come and join for entertainment, dancing, music and refreshments! In the meantime, take a look at our 11 Inch Pride Batchel and visit the Cambridge Pride website here