A brief history of Pride in Walsall - Part 2
For those who don’t know you, can you briefly introduce yourself and explain your role as part of the Walsall Pride management group?
I’m Matt Morris-Higgins and I’ve been involved with Walsall Pride since the second year in 2013. Over the years, I’ve taken on various roles such as social media and website, sponsorships, entertainment etc. These days I steer the Board of Trustees and we share the workload depending on people’s personal workload.
Last year, Walsall pride celebrated its (delayed) tenth anniversary, could you tell us what Walsall Pride was like in the early days and how you think it’s changed over the years?
Walsall Pride in the early days was a long process, an LGBT Group called Wasp led by Sharon and another lady [Helen] and a group of others fought to bring Pride to Walsall. Back then it was only really major cities that had these events but we’re growing in numbers in a small local capacity. The early days of Pride was mixed emotions and attracted some negativity but this is why it was important for these events to happen to celebrate diversity, dispel myths, breakdown barriers and bring the community together.
Over the last 10 years, the community has embraced the event and now support and attend; people from all walks of life attend along with their families, there’s no barriers at Pride and everyone is welcome.
10 years ago, moving the event to the Arboretum was just a pipedream, but one that we brought to life in 2022. Moving the event to the Arboretum will allow the event to grow even further but also brought all parts of the event together for the first time. This meant that the main stage entertainment, Cabaret and DJs were all in one location and just under 3000 people enjoyed the event.
What do you think we can learn from the history of Prides like Walsall Pride?
That a community can come together to break down barriers and achieve community cohesion. Pride allows the community to meet and engage with LGBTQ+ people and see that they are just human, and no different from themselves.
A lot has changed, gay Marriage is legal, but there are still so many threats to the LGBTQ+ community, and Pride is still needed as much now as it was back when the event originally began.
What does pride mean to you?
Pride to me is a chance to come together with friends and family to celebrate and embrace the LGBT Community, you can be yourself and not have to be afraid. It’s a celebration of everything that has been achieved through legislation ect. but it’s also important to remember that pride is still a protest, and this is to continue to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ+ Community
What would you like to see for the future of Walsall Pride? With regard to the event itself and the social cohesion it helps to further in the town.
We want to see the event grow and flourish and for more families to come along and enjoy the main annual event in August to celebrate diversity. Moving to the Arboretum opens up a much bigger space to include more partners offering help and information, and allows it to grow. We will very much remain a community event that is accessible for everyone with a small admission fee. We also utilse schemes such as 'Tickets for Good' and 'Blue Light Card' to offer free tickets to people such as carers, NHS workers and low income families, to ensure that as many people can attend the event as possible. We are, this year, also holding our very first 'Pride Picnic in the Park' also in the Arboretum but at the Bandstand which will be free to attend and is being held a month before our main event. We would also like to see our relationship with the council continue to flourish as they have been a major partner and supporter of the event for the last 10 years.
Walsall Pride will be held on August Bank Holiday Saturday, and tickets are available online now: Home | Walsall Pride | LGBTQ+
(Images by Fox & Squirrel Photography)