LGBTQ+ disability organisation ParaPride will be joining London’s Pride parade on Saturday for the first time, a move that it says is “iconic” for disabled people.
The group, which formed in April 2018 and officially launched in May this year, was invited to appear in the annual parade by charity Stonewall, alongside Black Pride, transgender charity Mermaids and LGBTQ+ Muslim charity Imaan.
The organisation aims to highlight the need to create visibility and access for people with disabilities at Pride festivals, as well as producing events for LGBTQ+ people with disabilities.
Wayne Allingham, the group’s creative director, said: “Having been asked to do Pride in London is an iconic thing for disabled people… We want to celebrate what Pride is about.”
A group of 20 people from ParaPride will appear in London’s Pride parade, after which the group is organising an annual ParaPride event, which will celebrate people with disabilities in the LGBTQ+ community.
The organisation said one of its aims is to produce events featuring LGBTQ+ performers with disabilities in their line-ups.
Daniel Lul, ParaPride’s community engagement director, said: “We are very grateful to… be marching at the front of the parade with all of these amazing organisations.
“We’ll finally be able to encourage people to understand that diversity, inclusion and acceptance of different abilities is something that is more and more coming to the norm.”
ParaPride claims that as many as 40% of LGBTQ+ people are recognised as having a disability, including mental health conditions, sensory or physical impairments, or a chronic health condition.
Mr Lul said: “With almost half of our community having some form of additional requirement to make their experience comfortable, it’s very important we are considering the impact this has on someone’s ability to be out in public if the additional requirements aren’t met.”
ParaPride launched officially in May with an event at Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT), a historic LGBTQ+ venue in central London.
Organisers explained that the work they did with the venue, including using accessible portaloos, and employing performers with disabilities and British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters, could be replicated at other buildings and events.
Joseph Williams, managing director of ParaPride, said: “The RVT is a Grade II listed building, so out of a lot of buildings in London it faces a very similar infrastructural commitment to preserving its aesthetic.
“There were so many things we were able to do to one of the most structurally restricted buildings in London.”
After appearing in London Pride, the organisation will be celebrating its inaugural ParaPride event in August at RVT, which its leaders hope will be an annual event for people in both LGBTQ+ and disabled communities.
Mr Williams said: “For too long, people with disabilities have been unintentionally excluded from the LGBTQ+ experience. By us marching in the parade this year, this is being challenged for the first time.
“Being visible is key to change and we’re so proud to see the beginning of that change this year.”