Jonathan remembers the first Bradford Pride held in a rainy Peel Park in 2005 and talks about how it has changed since then.
TRANSCRIPTJ: Well, I’m lucky enough, or old enough, or... been in the job long enough to have been involved with... all of the Prides that have happened in Bradford, apart from last year... I can’t remember the, the year off the top of my head but I think it was probably about 13, 14, 15 years ago. The very first Bradford Pride at Peel Park. [Pause] I guess it was a very positive thing, that this was happening for the first time, having said that it was a rainy, badly-attended, quite a depressing little event actually! [Laughs] The Youth Service was there, BLAGY [youth group] was there, it was opened by Marigold Adams, a, a Bradford drag queen. And I think literally probably there was probably about 30 people there. So it was a very different kind of event. It was in Peel Park which... isn’t central to Bradford at all, it’s kind of quite remote. And nothing really happened [laughs]. So there was no parade, there was, there was kind of no activities, there was some little information stalls and people kind of just milled around for a bit really, so... massively changed from the events we know today. That was the beginning. The year after that, if my memory serves my correctly, it was held on the third floor of the Media Museum in Bradford.
J: So they – we were, we were, you know, there, there was kind of a feeling that ‘yeah, Bradford could have a Pride, but, we need to be quite discrete about it, and it needs to be quite small. And it needs to be... kind of managed’. Do you know what I mean?
J: Don’t really know where that feeling came from. So yeah, the second one was the third floor of the Media Museum. Which again, bigger, but a small event. Because obviously it was in a building, it was held in rooms... Don’t [unclear] remember -
Interviewer: Seems almost counter-intuitive to the idea of Pride, you know, the fact that you know, it’s a, a celebration, it’s to be proud to be on the street, but then, you know…
J: To raise awareness, to challenge people, to be visible.
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.
J: And, and these kind of events were like [pause] They weren’t ticking those boxes at all, but I guess it had to start somewhere.
Interviewer: Yeah absolutely.
J: And what you’ve just said really feeds into the, the, the third Bradford Pride, which was held... in the student union, the old student union at Bradford University. Which really felt like a – some kind of basement. With no windows or anything [laughs]. So again it was like, ‘yeah you can have a Pride event, but you’re gonna have to have it either tucked away on a top floor, or like buried deep deep down below in the, in the depths of a, a student union dungeon’...The third – by the third year, in the student union, we – it did feel like a bit of a bigger event, so there was more people there. Like, the, the youth group did a shocking dance on the stage. So by that time there was kind of acts, there was people attending. Who’s that, that famous lesbian singer? You’ll be too young Ryan. Oh, Hazel Dean! Never heard of her?
Interviewer: I’ve never heard Hazel Dean, I’ll be honest [laughs]
J: So Hazel Dean was like the big name at the third Bradford Pride. At Bradford student union. And she had, like, one song, in the ‘80s [laughs]. But at least by, by year three, we’d got to the point I guess where -
Interviewer: Minor celebrity guest.
J: Yeah! You know, we hadn’t yet gotten into the realm of it being an X Factor, a failed X Factor person, but, someone from the ‘80s who had a pop song came to Bradford and sang it! So yeah, that was the first three Bradford Prides, and throughout those three years, there was always a feeling of [pause] ‘We, we can’t have the same kind of Pride event in Bradford that other cities have. We can’t be that visible’...and I guess that obviously stems from how multicultural Bradford is. Maybe people thought there was gonna be a lot of objections.
Anyway something then changed, and a steering group was set up, and things were I think, you know, just discussed a little bit more. And... City Park was booked for the fourth year. There was a lot of apprehension about it, there was a lot of nerves... a lot of kind of contingency plans and strategies, what if anything happens, what if people object, what if there’s a protest? And of course year four came, and... when – and with absolutely no problems and it was absolutely fine [laughs]. So – and then it continued to be in City Park. So it, it took a while to happen in Bradford, and then once it started happening, it took a while to, to look like... other Pride events.
Recently of course in Bradford, it hasn’t been in City Park for the past... I think there’s been two years up at Odsal Stadium, which again is kind of moving it out of town. So after ten years of it being in town, in started happening up at Odsal Top. But I don’t think that was for the same reasons, I don’t think that was because people were fearful of bad things happening, it was because [pause] it was cheaper, and I think the venues and bars had a much bigger stake in Pride by this point, and [pause] it was gonna be better for them, because people had to buy booze at their venue stands. If you’re in City Park you can go to Tesco of course, and all that kind of stuff... So it has been kind of removed again in recent years, but... only last week there was an email inviting us to a Pride steering group meeting at City Hall, because the intention for 2019 is that it will be back in City Park and City Park is booked. So I think it’s kind of come full circle really.