LGBTQ+ History Month in February is the chance to celebrate past trailblazers from the community, including those in Swindon itself.

Swindon and Wiltshire Pride returns for its 12th year this summer, having become a fixture on the town’s calender.

Jo Sharpe, chair of the committee running the event said: “Having our own Pride festival shows Swindon has an identity and puts it on the map. Wiltshire is a massive county but with limited services, if any, specific to the LGBTQ+ community. This gives people the opportunity to come together for one day.

“It shows our town is diverse and accepting,” she added.

“Swindon and Wiltshire Pride is there to say everyone is different and let’s embrace each other not hate each other,” Jo said.

Since the event began in 2008 it has doubled in size, with record numbers in last year’s parade and over 10,000 people attending throughout the day.

“We’ve come a long way since we first started,” said Jo.

“There was an excitement about a Pride Event coming to Swindon, and some of the first stalls that attended Pride have returned every year since,” she said.

The first year included a visit from Sheila’s Wheels as well as featuring various local bands and stalls from organisations including the LGBTQ+ youth group, Out Of The Can, Samaritans and Amnesty International. This year’s event will see over 60 organisations now exhibiting.

“Over the years, we realised we have raised a total of £60,000 for Pride, just from Swindon,” added Jo

“It’s just incredible that the community have backed us so much, and given us so much.

“The event has gained it own identity, and has grown as a one of largest community events in Wiltshire,” she said.

The annual festival includes a colourful parade starting in The Town Gardens, making its way through Old Town before returning to the Town Gardens where various organisations, service providers and charities have stalls, as well as a stage for entertainment.

A couple of the committee members have been involved in the event from its beginnings, and Jo herself started part way through it’s first year.

“At the time I wasn’t sure what I was getting involved with,” she said. “I can’t remember exactly what I started doing. I think I was the secretary or looking after the stalls.”

The event wasn’t held on such a grand scale in 2018, as some of the committee members left after 2017’s event.

“People were tired,” Jo said. “But this gave us the opportunity to regroup and make sure Pride was organised in a sustainable way.”

Over the years the committee has also more than doubled in size.

“There’s 17 of us now,” said Jo. “So meetings do go on bit longer these days.”

Each year the committee aims to do something different and past highlights include a cabaret stage, a dog show, and a literature zone among other things. More recently the committee have adopted a theme for each year, including ‘Community’ and ‘Equality For All’. This year’s theme is ‘We Are Family’ – a celebration of love, unity and family.

“We try to choose something that is current and relevant,” said Jo.

From September 2020 new regulations for teaching LGBTQ+ relationships and sex education in English schools will come into force, and the theme has been chosen to tie in with this.

Nationwide are returning to sponsor the main event and Parade this year for the fifth year in a row.

“One of the highs for me looking back was on our 5th anniversary, having Basehunter at our event. It was incredible. Now I understand the meaning of base,” said Jo.

She added: “My favourite moment is seeing the parade coming to the park and seeing the park fill up. The atmosphere is just incredible.”

Inaddition March 2019 saw the organisation be given charitable status.

“That was a massive achievement for the committee,” Jo said.

Pride relies heavily on volunteers with between 75-100 who help set-up the park, steward the parade and the event, as well as tidying up on Sunday.

“We couldn’t have done what we have done without all the help we’ve received,” said Jo.

“To be honest I can’t believe we are now on our 12th Swindon and Wiltshire Pride. The support we have received has been incredible, and all the people involved across the history of Pride should be very proud.”

This years event will take place on August 8. For more details visit

This Is Wiltshire:

What is LGBTQ+ History Month and Who Started It?

LGBTQ+ History Month falls in February and is a month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer history.

It aims to teach people about the gay rights movement, as well as raise awareness of issues currently facing the LGBTQ+ community and work to reduce homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

This year’s theme is Poetry, Prose and Plays and as part of this, Swindon will host the author Amelia Abraham who has recently written the book ‘Queer Intentions’ for an evening at Central Library.

The month originated in the US in 1994, with October picked over there to coincide with National Coming Out Day.

Almost a decade later two teachers, Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick, brought the idea to the UK in 2005, as part of the Schools OUT UK project which educates young people on issues faced by queer communities.

In the UK, the second month of the year was chosen as it coincides with the abolition of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, in 2003.

This piece of legislation formerly stated that local authorities weren’t allowed to “intentionally promote homosexuality”.

LGBT+ History Month this year is dedicated to the Northern Irish journalist Lyra McKee, who was killed during riots in Derry last year.

She was known for her blog post ‘Letter to my 14-year-old self’ in which she described the challenges of growing up gay in Belfast.

This Is Wiltshire:

The History of Gay Pride

Pride is a global movement fighting for equal rights for LGBTQ+ people all over the world.

LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer. The + is an inclusive symbol to mean ‘and others’ to include people of all identities.

Pride events combine an opportunity to raise awareness of the fight for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community as well as more widely celebrating diversity among our society.

The history of Pride dates back to the Stonewall riots which happened in the US in June 1969.

Police brutally raided the Stonewall Inn in New York on June 28, for the second time in a week.

This triggered a week of protests and rioting by people from the gay community who were not happy at how they were being treated by the authorities.

The event helped spark the fight for gay rights around the world.

In the UK the first official Gay Pride Rally was held in London on July 1 1972 where 2,000 people took part.

Now, more than one million people celebrate Pride in the UK’s capital, and Pride events take place all over the world.

The Swindon and Wiltshire Pride first came to our town in 2008 and was held in the Town Gardens, where it still takes place today.

The largest Pride events in the UK are held in London, Brighton, Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham who are the cities which have the biggest LGBTQ+ communities.

This Is Wiltshire: