When I arrived at Temple Gardens at 8am to see a group of volunteers staring blankly at the assembly instructions for a massive tent, the enormity of it all suddenly dawned on me.
Until that point, the first ever Powys Pride was basically just a collection of promises made over video chat, but now it was actually happening.
Organised by a small and tightly knit group of volunteers, Powys Pride is undoubtedly the most ambitious thing I’ve ever been a part of.
Hosted in Llandrindod Wells on July 16, we put together a free daytime festival with both a mainstage and an arts tent, a dozen stalls, an exhibition space, several dance performances, and a kids area complete with bouncy castle, in addition to three gender and sexuaility support groups, a parade and an evening party. It was a lot.
My greatest concern through planning was that simply no one would show up. Llandrindod Wells is a town of barely 5,000 people, buried in the rural expanse of Powys which is the largest and least densely populated county in Wales. I grew up in the area, and was convinced for most of my life that I was the only queer person for a hundred miles.
But as I waited with the other volunteers at the rally point for the parade, and 200 people trickled down the road like a living technicolour river, I realised how wrong I had been all those years.
As one of the organisers, I spent most of my day making things happen, rather than enjoying the event itself. But I like to look at it another way; we spent that day giving life to Powys Pride. It wouldn’t exist without us and that is the most powerful joy I’ve ever felt, one that brought us all to tears at one point or another during the day.
I grew up in Powys, and I have never before seen any open queerness. My experience with queerness in mid-wales was being mercilessly bullied in high school, an experience which sent me careening back into the closet for 15 years. It wasn’t until last year, just before I turned 31, that I was able to accept I was trans.
But after the first ever Powys Pride, I feel like everything is different now, and for the better. The culture war wages on, as the political class scapegoats LGBTQ+ people in order to distract from their failures, but we’ve laid the groundwork for something truly special here in Powys.
As a queer person, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the sense that society is turning against you – and let’s not pretend things aren’t getting scary – but these attempts to divide and demonise us can be fought.
From my perspective, Powys Pride achieved two remarkable things: it showed every queer person in Powys that they are not alone, that there are other people who understand them; and it showed us all that the number of people who love and accept queer identities vastly outweigh those who don’t.
I could not be more proud of everyone who worked so hard to make Powys Pride happen. From volunteers on the day, to Becca and Aster who worked so hard to make sure there was actually an event for people to attend, and that it was a bloody amazing one.
July 16 2022 was just the beginning of something glorious for the queer community in Powys. We have big plans, and a long, exciting road ahead of us. But Powys Pride will always be more than just a party, and I am so excited about the things we have planned.
Keep in touch with those plans by following their social media channels @powyspride or check out the website PowysPride.org
Photos: Oojal Kour
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