City in England supports Parkersburg Pride
Brighton event showcases ‘OUTSPOKEN’
BRIGHTON, England — On Oct. 12, over 130 people in Brighton, England, attended an event celebrating Parkersburg Pride.
The evening featured the international premiere of “OUTSPOKEN,” Emily Harger’s documentary about the LGBTQ community in Parkersburg and the failure of a nondiscrimination ordinance to be approved by Parkersburg City Council in 2017.
The Brighton event also had music from top choirs Rebelles and Resound and Appalachian ballads from award-winning folk singers Naomi Bedford and Paul Simmonds’ new album “Singing It All Back Home,” according to a press release.
Scott Roedersheimer, who is from Parkersburg, had the idea for the event while attending Brighton Pride, the U.K.’s (United Kingdom) biggest pride festival which welcomes over 400,000 people to the city and generates over $25 million for the local economy each August, the press release states.
Roedersheimer said: “I was struck by the difference between the situation in Brighton where hundreds of thousands of people of all kinds — from ordinary folks to the police, community groups and politicians — come together to celebrate diversity and what had happened in Parkersburg with the city council voting down a nondiscrimination ordinance. I told people about this disparity and eventually a small group of us formed ‘With Love From Brighton,’ which organized the event last week.”
People in Brighton were shocked to learn that there is no national law in the United States protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations and that these rights are up for debate at such a local level, according to the press release. “Some protections have existed in the U.K. since 2003, but the U.K. Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.”
Anna Roscher, a member of With Love From Brighton who works as an LGBT Youth Support Worker, said: “When one community hurts, we all hurt. What we’re aiming to do is show the LGBTQ community in Parkersburg that they have been heard, they have been seen and that, despite the miles that separate us, we stand in solidarity with them.”
With Love From Brighton will donate all profits from the event in England to Parkersburg Pride so that it can continue to run activities free of charge for everyone in the community, the group said.
“We are thrilled that our friends in Brighton thought of us and put on this wonderful event,” said Cammy Murray, president of Parkersburg Pride.
“The fact that they went above and beyond to show kinship with our community here in the Parkersburg area is greatly appreciated. Emily Harger’s film brings forth the reality that not all things are equal or fair in this area,” Murray said.
“It is heartening to know that there are places that are of open-hearts and open-minds, where everyone is protected equitably under the law. We have the greatest of hopes that someday, the same can be said of this area,” Murray said.
Parkersburg Pride was formed after the NDO was defeated by Parkersburg City Council. The organization tries to provide positive events in the community such as PRIDEfest, Murray said.
This summer, Parkersburg Pride mailed some of the organization’s T-shirts to the With Love From Brighton group that they wore at the film screening.
Brighton is about 50 miles from London in southeastern England along the English Channel.
“OUTSPOKEN” was screened in the West Virginia University at Parkersburg Theater on Oct. 10 to a standing-room-only crowd.