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  • Craig Stephenson

The Big Queer Picnic

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

Cardiff’s Big Queer Picnic was back once again on 27 August as the queer community’s alternative to Pride Cymru.

The Picnic was originally set up by Shrouk El Attar, an Egyptian queer refugee, as a push back against the commercialisation and corporate adoption of Pride events. A collective of volunteers have continued to organise and celebrate the Big Queer Picnic and this year it celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Once again it was held in Sophia Gardens, Cardiff and, as usual an open invite was given for the queer community to join. And wow, thanks to the monumental efforts of a small collective of largely trans, disabled, neurodivergent queers, the crowds continued to grow this year once again.

Ben Marriott, one of Big Queer Picnic’s organisers told me:

“Some people had bad experiences of transphobia and queerphobia at Pride events, and accessibility had been an issue for some disabled friends. As a collective we wanted to ensure that at our heart, the driver was to create a safe space for the queer community to celebrate us and our culture in a supportive environment. We feel that the Queer Picnic has taken Pride back to its roots – a sort of self-managed space where people come and go as they like, with a relaxed and inclusive atmosphere, and that there is absolutely no entry fee for attendees.”

However, with growing popularity and more queer artists wishing to perform, and more of our community attending, the Picnic has generated overheads such as the requirements for sound system equipment.

Ben said:

“This year for the first time, we had to outsource the provision of a sound system to ensure that performers had adequate amplification for a growing audience. As a grass roots group with limited resources, we’re so grateful to Trans Aid Cymru who generously donated funding to ensure that we could pay the sound company - and that we didn’t have to charge anything to attendees. As a group we believe strongly that Pride events should be free”.

With an impressive list of acts lined up to perform throughout the afternoon, the Picnic has certainly gone from strength to strength.

At LGBTQymru, we’re really pleased to see that the Big Queer Picnic has stood the test of time and continues to grow from year to year. Its small, dedicated collective has provided a great alternative to the larger Pride events we have become accustomed to more recently.

In a city the size of Cardiff, it’s only right that there are alternatives which suit different audiences. We are seeing social enterprises and community groups such as the Queer Emporium, Glitter Pride, the Big Queer Picnic and a range alternative art and community pride events emerge across Wales. It’s fantastic to see these developing and taking their place on our diverse scene. All strength to them and the volunteers and activists who give their time and help provide our community with inclusive spaces where we are safe and free to be ourselves.

As the pride season starts to draw to a close, the prospects for 2023 are exciting, and we can’t wait to see what it has to offer.

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