Chase Pride 2023 will pay tribute to Brianna Ghey, the transgender teenager who was fatally stabbed.
Festival founder Kathryn Downs revealed Brianna’s memory will be at at the heart of this year’s event, with its main stage named in honour of the 16-year-old.
Kathryn told a vigil held in Hednesford, one of more than 50 organised across the UK, that she felt great sadness and anger that Brianna had been ‘let down so badly’ by society.
She said: “I set up Chase Pride to help people. I transitioned in 2010 in the Cannock Chase area and it was a very public and painful process.
“I didn’t want other people to go through what I had. To see what has happened to Brianna is heartbreaking and frightening. From all those years ago when I transitioned I hoped things could be better, but it’s worse.”
Kathryn was joined by speakers Josh Newbury, Cannock District Councillor for Norton Canes, Richard Jenkin of Cannock Chase Mental Health Hub and James Battrick from Sexuality and Gender Empowerment Staffordshire at Friday night’s vigil. (NOTE Feb 17th) Around 80 people attended in a show of solidarity to the shattered LGBT community. This was hailed as an excellent turnout, with just days’ notice and a more publicised event happening in Birmingham on the same evening.
Vigil-goers held candles and had a minute’s silence for Brianna. They also reached out to people they didn’t know, giving each other messages of love.
Fellow Chase Pride organiser Aiden Bowden spoke of how Brianna had been a great support to young people, sharing advice and friendship.
A boy and a girl, both aged 15, have appeared at Liverpool Crown Court charged with Brianna’s murder, days after she was found dying in a Warrington Park.
The second Chase Pride festival is on Friday, September 1 and Saturday, September 2, at Hednesford Park. Last year’s inaugural event saw 5,500 people join together for two days of celebration and entertainment and the area’s first ever Pride march.
Picture: Candles lit at the Hednesford vigil