In the last four years, organisers of LGBTI Pride events in Canada, Germany, Sweden and the UK have come together to form national Pride networks, with varying models and different levels of success.
The European Pride Organisers Association has commissioned the development of a toolkit to encourage organisers of Pride events to come together on a national or regional basis to share ideas, issues, concerns and to provide a basis for support and empowerment.
Networks of LGBTI Pride organisers have existed at the intercontinental (European Pride Organisers Association (EPOA)) and international (InterPride) level for more than thirty years. Attempts at national networks – such as in the UK – have previously failed. But in the last four years, the three European countries with the most Prides, both by number of organisations and per head of population, being Germany, Sweden and the UK, have established successful national Pride networks. There is some evidence that the increased exposure this creates has helped to encourage more Pride events to form.
At a time when far-right politics are in the ascendant, there is a need for the LGBTI community to coalesce around Pride events, and national networks should help individual Pride organisers to strengthen and empower each other. Providing a toolkit or blueprint for how Pride organisers can come together – formally or informally – can only help to achieve this, and embolden the Pride movement.
The existing models are very different. In Germany and Sweden, Prides opt in to membership and pay a fee, which has meant that some Prides (or, in Germany, Christopher Street Day Parades) are a part of the national network, whilst others are outside. In the UK, the network welcomes all Pride organisers and those who don’t wish to be included in the network’s promotional activity are asked to opt out. Some have conferences and events, and levels of activity vary widely.
Research for the toolkit will consider:
- Why did the network form, and what were the core objectives?
- How did it form?
- How was it funded initially, and in the longer term?
- What have been the challenges, and the successes?
- Anonymous interviews with individual Pride representatives
- Anonymous interviews with individual board members of the networks
- What are the aspirations for the future of the network?
- Is there dissonance between the network and its members and if so, where does this lie?
- What are the challenges for national Pride networks?
- How can intercontinental and international networks support the development of national Pride networks?
This research will lead to findings that will form the basis of the toolkit, including:
- When can a national network be useful, and are there circumstances when it can it be a hindrance?
- What are the resource implications for volunteers already busy organising major events?
- What are the financial implications?
- What are the opportunities?
- Is there a way to ‘test’ a national network and see the response?
- What would be an appropriate timeline for the first year, and then first three years?
Process and timeline
The research – to the timeline below – will be conducted by EPOA’s board member Steve Taylor as a commissioned project of EPOA, who will publish the final findings.
Feb-Mar – Initial background research
Mar-Apr – Interviews and further research
May-Jul – Testing and writing
Sep – Launch at EPOA AGM in Vienna
Proud Together Toolkit
The primary outcome will be the Proud Together toolkit which will be available as a PDF published on the EPOA website. In addition to the content listed above, it will provide a resource base for example documents such as legal constitutions and work plans. It will also be available as a web presentation.
EPOA AGM Presentation
The toolkit will be launched at the EPOA AGM in Vienna in September 2018, where a presentation of the main themes in the research findings will also be made: the research findings themselves will be confidential and shared with only a selected online audience.
Proud Together will be branded as an EPOA publication and resource, and other parties will be encouraged to share it. This could be on the websites of other organisations including InterPride, ILGA and ILGA-Europe, and national organisations who are keen to support the Pride movement such as RFSL in Sweden and FRI in Norway.
Without funding, and with the limited reach of such a toolkit, the evaluation will need to take a narrative rather than qualitative research format. Those who use the toolkit will be invited to share with the author and EPOA analysis of what they found useful, and what was less useful. A resource centre of relevant documentation and information will be created on the EPOA website, to help those setting up a national network.