A FORTNIGHT of events celebrating LGBTQI+ life in Oxfordshire is counting down to the Oxford Pride Parade.

The Oxford Pride Festival launched yesterday and there is now a packed programme of events leading up to the parade through the city on Saturday, June 1.

The celebrations got under way yesterday with a family-friendly event chalking 25 flagstones approaching the doors of New Road Baptist Church.

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Oxford Pride was launched in 2003 and is now in its 16th year.


Mazz Image, from Headington, first got involved in 2007 and is now a trustee.

Launching the festival by painting flags of sexual orientation and gender in Bonn Square, she said: “It’s wonderful to see how the festival has kept growing over the years and it continues to grow.

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“Parade day is a combination of protest and celebration and engages with a wide cross-section of the community.”

The theme of this year’s festival is #HoldTight, in response to a government survey last year, the largest national poll of LGBT people in the world to date.

Ms Image said this year’s theme was a reaction to the survey’s finding that “more than two thirds of LGBT respondents said they had avoided holding hands with a same-sex partner for fear of a negative reaction from others”.


This year is also the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in

New York, marking the beginning of the Pride movement worldwide and bringing attention to the fight for equality that continues to this day.

Last year a river of rainbow-coloured crowds flowed through the city’s historic streets for the Parade and Pride Day.

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Thousands of people gathered in Radcliffe Square for the start of the midday parade, which was peppered with a clutch of rainbow flags and garlands.

Spectacular outfits included glittery rainbow leotards and daring drag ensembles, and many joined the parade alongside Oxford-based organisations and LGBTQ groups.


Last year emergency services were among those to take part, including South Central Ambulance Service, Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service - with one firefighter even sporting a glittery beard for the occasion.

The parade was led by a rainbow-striped bus, courtesy of Oxford Bus Company which is sponsoring this year’s event.

The company has provided branded T-shirts for the event team to wear at the parade and its bus, branded with the Oxford Pride livery, will be there on the day.


Managing director Phil Southall said: “One of our core values is embracing diversity and it is this important everyday philosophy that inspires us to support organisations like Oxford Pride.

“We’re looking forward to playing a key part during a true community event again this summer.”

For full listings visit oxfordpride.uk