PRIDE HOUSE BIRMINGHAM LAUNCHES AHEAD OF COMMONWEALTH GAMES
An initiative aiming to create a safe space and welcoming, inclusive environment for LGBTIQ+ spectators, athletes and officials at the Commonwealth Games, Pride House Birmingham, has launched in the city.
Developed on three pillars: Celebrate, Participate, Educate. Pride House Birmingham’s programming will include community sport and physical activity, cultural events, conferencing, education and engagement with local schools, as well as a variety of parties and other events celebrating the Games and Birmingham’s diverse LGBTIQ+ community.
Piero Zizzi, one of the organisers says: “As a Brummie, I am hugely proud to be leading on this project. Pride House Birmingham will celebrate the fantastic diversity of England’s second city, explore our relationship with the Commonwealth and create a lasting legacy for LGBTIQ+ inclusion in sport”
Pride House, as a concept, was launched in Vancouver in 2010, when the local community established an LGBTIQ+ welcome space in Whistler at the Winter Olympic Games. They wanted to create a hospitality house similar to the National Houses created around the Olympics & Paralympics, as a safe space for the LGBTIQ+ community to watch and enjoy the Games. Famously, the speed skater Blake Skjellerup attributes, in part, his coming out at the event to his visit to Pride House Whistler.
Since 2010, there have been more than twenty Pride Houses at international sporting events around the World. Varying in size, they are a place welcoming LGBTIQ+ athletes, fans, and their allies to view the competitions, experience the event with others, learn about LGBTIQ+ sport and LGBTIQ+ inclusion in sport, and build a relationship with mainstream sport (http://www.pridehouseinternational.org).
Pride House organisers believe that this project in Birmingham has a particularly important role to play given the global attention there will be on the Games in 2022. In part, the initiative hopes to draw further attention to global LGBTIQ+ rights, given homosexual activity remains a criminal offence in 35 of the 54 sovereign states of the Commonwealth; and is legal in only 19.
Pride House Birmingham is a project being delivered by Pride Sports www.pridesports.org.uk, a UK sports development and inclusion organisation, lead by Lou Englefield alongside local LGBTIQ+ organisers, Piero Zizzi and Neil Basterfield, who run LGBTIQ+ football fan group, Proud Baggies. The organisers are keen to engage a range of stakeholders from the local community, and interested organisations can get in touch via email: [email protected]