THOUSANDS of gay, lesbian and transgender residents are to hold their heads up high and take part in the city’s first ever Gay Pride march, the Citizen can exclusively reveal.
Headed with pride by our openly gay MP Iain Stewart, they aim to spread the message ‘Come on MK – it’s OK to be Gay!’
The event, which is being promoted as a fun family day out, will take place on August 11 in Campbell Park.
“Our aim is to raise awareness and encourage inclusive behaviour. Milton Keynes is vibrant, young, energetic and colourful and we should be allowed to celebrate this,” said joint organiser, 45-year-old Jo Green.
She and her partner Tamara Smith have formed a non-profit making Community Interest Company called MKPride.
Already they have the support of Thames Valley Gay Police Association, the Gay Prison Officers Association, QAlliance, HQMK youth group and specialist nightclub Pink Punters.
They are also in negotiation with major city companies about sponsorship and MK Dons about providing a football tournament on the day.
Said Jo: “We’re hoping more than 2,000 people will take part. It’s been said that one in 10 people is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. In Milton Keynes we have a population of 210,000, so that’s potentially 21,000 people.”
Jo and her friends found the city LGBT scene to be “splintered” and hope MK Pride will bring all the individual groups together and recognise the services already doing great work.
But their main aim is to encourage the city community to accept LGBT residents and officials without prejudice.
“Although a lot of people may be out, they still seem to be hiding,” said Jo.
“We want to encourage acceptance – to allow members of the LGBTQ community (the Q stands for questioning) to be who they are without feeling threatened or that it is necessary to change their behaviour because they feel awkward or stared at.
“I want to be able to go for a coffee in a cafe and hold hands with my girlfriend without having to hide my feelings away.
“More than anything I want people to come along to our first MK Pride and be proud to take part.”
MP Iain Stewart agreed: “It’s a fantastic idea and I would be honoured to lead the march,” he told the Citizen.