PHILIP STRAFFORD: Plenty of reason to have Pride in city’s Gay community this July 4

Rotherham Pride
Rotherham Pride
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There’s nowt as queer as folk!

It’s that immortal line in the Full Monty that always sums up how I eel Sheffield sees its LGBT community, in fact look it up in an urban dictionary you’ll find it means – ‘it takes all sorts’.

Sheffield’s annual gay pride event takes place today, this year hosted by the University of Sheffield, which incidentally was named number 43 out of the UK’s top 100 LGBT employers in a recent Stonewall survey. As the UK ‘Power Pride List’ is published at this year’s London Gay Pride, let’s celebrate and remind ourselves of some our own local, prominent LGBT people.

There’s no denying that the University of Sheffield is a beacon for higher education, it’s a multi award winning institution and one of the world’s top 100 universities. Gill Valentine, Pro Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Social Sciences has been leading the faculty since 2012. Gill’s distinguished career has seen her author and edit 15 books and her influential research has helped shape government policy and strategy. This year Gill was awarded the highly prestigious Murchison Award for publications in recognition of her outstanding work on the geography of difference, equality and diversity.

Sheffield is a culturally rich and diverse place and leading Sheffield Theatres for a number of years has been Artistic Director Daniel Evans. Staring in and directing many of the theatres hit shows, from the musical The Full Monty (which led to a West End run), to performing as Bobby in Sondheim’s Company and directing the critically acclaimed My Fair Lady. He’s also attracted big names to the city such as Sir Ian Mckellen and Sir David Hare.

Stewart Campbell Concerts Director at the University of Sheffield has attracted talent from across the globe for the University’s Concerts series. The variety of his creative programming has seen the likes of Alfred Brendel play at Firth Hall - one of the greatest pianists of our time. His ‘A Boy was Born’ festival - a festival celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Britten was the largest festival outside Britten’s home town and his recent ‘Sounds of the Cosmos’ project has been a huge hit, playing at the Octagon, The Crucible and will be performing at this year’s Latitude Festival.

Clive Betts, Member of Parliament for Sheffield South East has a long standing relationship with the city, he became Leader of the Council in 1987, having served on the Housing and Finance committees for several years. He remained on the Council until his election as Labour Member of Parliament for Sheffield Attercliffe in 1992. He is currently chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Arms Length Management Organisations, Netherlands Group in Parliament and can frequently be found in the stands at Sheffield Wednesday FC, he’s also Captain of the UK Parliament football club!

There’s lots of others, award winning Sheffield photographer Mark Feakins, Martine Gay (yes that IS her surname) a prolific staff nurse at Sheffield Hospitals, Leroy Williamson former Mr Gay UK and charity manager at SAYIT, which support LGBT young people and the countless others. Of course being gay has got nothing to do with how these people do their jobs, but it’s worth mentioning that there are ‘all sorts’ continuing to make Sheffield the eclectic, vibrant city it is. Perhaps Sheffield doesn’t have the animated LGBT scene or the gay visibility of Manchester or Leeds, but what it does have is a thriving LGBT community that has plenty of pride in where it lives. There’s lots of pride in our city and I’m glad there’s lots of queer folk!