Northern Ireland is to have its first ‘rural Pride’ parade this year, after the formation of an organising committee in Coalisland.
The Mid Ulster Pride committee meets in the Church of Ireland rectory, with Rev Andrew Rawding acknowledging that he was “a driving force” behind its formation.
After taking a high profile role in Newry Pride last summer, Rev Rawding reached out to Jonathan Campbell, who told a local paper that Mid Ulster also needed an ‘Pride’ parade.
The group will formally launch the date and location of what it has termed “the first ever rural Pride Parade in Northern Ireland” on Thursday January 16, 2020, in the Royal Hotel, Cookstown.
Chairperson Jonathan Campbell, from Dungannon, said: “For too long queer people have had to leave rural areas to find acceptance and love. We want everyone to know that they are loved and we want to celebrate the wonderful diversity here in Mid Ulster.”
Committee entertainment officer Alexis Cox said the group has been “overwhelmed” by support from across the community, as well as people who moved overseas to find acceptance.
Rainbow Project Director John O’Doherty said he felt “invisible and isolated” growing up in Mid Ulster, until he engaged with Pride parades.
“This event will give the people of Mid-Ulster a chance to experience LGBTQ+ culture and help increase their visibility in the area,” he said.