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First mini ‘Pride’ event takes place in Brent to tackle homophobia in the borough

PUBLISHED: 15:15 22 September 2016 | UPDATED: 15:27 22 September 2016

Members of the Terence Higgins Trust under the rainbow at Brent's first Mini Pride Festival

Members of the Terence Higgins Trust under the rainbow at Brent's first Mini Pride Festival

Archant

The first mini ‘Pride’ event has taken place in Brent to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, promote HIV prevention and tackle homophobia in the borough.

Niki Cassidy with niece Zhane Gordon and nephew Archie Cassidy Niki Cassidy with niece Zhane Gordon and nephew Archie Cassidy

A large multi-coloured rainbow was installed in Rucklidge Avenue Park in Harlesden, for the event organised by charity the Terence Higgins Trust (THT) with support from Brent Council.

Ben Humphries, THT HIV prevention programmer, said: “This is about a diversity day for the local community, part of a project to raise awareness of HIV prevention.

“Brent has a very diverse borough but there’s a lot of entrenched homophobia.

“It’s about raising awareness and promoting social cohesion across all diverse ethnicities and groups.”

He said the two groups most vulnerable to HIV were the gay community and black African community adding people feared being tested for reasons including their religion or immigration status.

“Brent has quite a high percentage of late diagnosis of HIV,” he added.

“The later they are diagnosed the more likely they are to suffer mortality. Regular testing of HIV means it can be picked up earlier, get help more quickly. Life expectancy now is very good.”

Reverend Jide Macauley, founder and director House of Rainbow, a Christian faith based organisation supporting sexual minorities, including LGBT communities, also urged people to get tested.

He said: “This first event in Harlesden is encouraging, a good step in the right direction, it would be great if communities embrace it. It gives us the opportunities to address issues around stigma and discrimination within the community itself.

“The issue of coming out as gay is still an issue in our (black) community.

“Homosexuality is not a sin, gay people can be Christians just like anybody else. It’s about your belief in God and trust in Jesus Christ.

“It’s about time we teach the faith community and indeed the church the right message of inclusion.”

Niki Cassidy, from Queens Park, was there with nephew Archie Cassidy, 10, and niece, Zhane Gordon, seven.

She said: “I think it’s very brave to the Terence Higgins Trust to hold this in Harlesden, especially as it’s an area which is so homophobic. The kids have really enjoyed themselves. I hope this is the start of more diversity events in the area.”

Mark Banfield, from THT, whose idea generated the event, said: “We thought would really like to have an event to showcase the services and great work that THT is offering.

“It’s all about bringing the community together and creating awareness around HIV in Brent.”

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