My Umbrella Blog

By christina dearlove 21 Feb, 2016

Gay Pride Pics was formed back in 2013 as a result of a drunken conversation about the number of Prides Chris, GPP’s founder, had attended and photographed over the previous decade.

From that, Gay Pride Pics was created with the intention of providing a visual history of the changing face of the LGBT+ community in the 21st Century.   A time when certainly within the UK LGBT rights had made massive leaps forward from the repressive section 28 legislation to the equalisation of the age of consent. Equality in goods & services and the eventual introduction of Civil Partnerships.

Concurrently the face of Pride changed from that of a protest born out of prejudice & discrimination across the globe and the ground-breaking events in Christopher Street in NY leading to the Stonewall riots, upon which all Pride events globally were based, hence 25th June or the nearest weekend was traditionally the date for National pride events (and in many countries still is).   Nowadays pride in the UK at least is very much a celebration and the protest element is much reduced (some would say sadly) and most cities with an identifiable LGBT+ community celebrate equality and diversity in their own way throughout the summer.

GPP aims to try to ‘capture the experience’ of the plethora of different pride events across the UK all of which offer similar but different ways of celebrating our culture.

We try to cover the whole of the UK and have a team of dedicated photographers located across the country who are out most weekends photographing events.   We are also able to offer a full range of commercial photographic services to clients as well.

We believe that our LGBT+ history must be retained, recorded, and cherished as with greater steps towards equality some of our history and culture is in danger of being lost or eroded.

For more info on Gay Pride Pics visit our Facebook page or message us at

Look out for Gay Pride Pics during pride season as both Biiz And Kerry can be found working for them across the south.

By christina dearlove 13 Feb, 2016

Support U opened its doors in 2011 as a support and resource service for the LGBT community of the Thames Valley. The charities founders Andrew Stonehill-Brooks and Lorna McArdle had been previously involved within the LGBT community in Reading, with both holding positions on the Reading Pride organising committee. During the 5 years we have advised on loads of cases with issues ranging from coming out and transitioning to sexual health and hate crime. We have seen most things in just our short history.

In the summer of 2012, Andrew and Lorna were given the honour of carrying the Olympic torch in recognition for their work within the local LGBT community.

In 2014 we moved from our single office in South Street Arts Centre, to our own building in Castle Street in the heart of Reading. The extra space allows us to support and offer a variety of new services and groups whilst accommodate our growing support and volunteer base.

2015 was by far the busiest and biggest year for Support U. We welcomed our 35th volunteer and launched the Hidden Voices History project in conjunction with the Heritage Lottery Fund and Reading Museum. Last year also saw Support U become Sainsbury’s Charity of the Year, this was a key milestone for both organisations as it was the first accolade that the charity had won but also the first time Sainsbury’s has supported an LGBT organisation.

So far 2016 is shaping up to be another busy year for us at Support U as we build our relationship with Stonewall and deliver more anti-bullying training to schools. We are also keen to develop the services we provide and have currently launched two new support groups for families and young people.

A big thank-you to all who have helped Support U to grow and continue to provide support to the LGBT community of Reading and the Thames Valley. We really couldn’t have achieved half of this without your help.

Thanks to nick from support u for providing this for us.

By christina dearlove 09 Feb, 2016

Reading Pride was formed in 2003 by a group of committed members of the local LGBT community with the aim of holding and annual Pride celebration in Reading.

Sat 4th Sept 2004 sees the first Reading Pride Festival take place in Kings Meadow Park including a packed line-up on the main stage and live appearance from Graham Norton. 

The first Reading Pride parade was held in 2006, jointly organised by The Wynford Arms where the staff and customers made a huge Rainbow Flag to carry from pub to King's Meadow which became a tradition through years.

In 2009 The Parade moved to start at Reading Civic Centre, bringing the spirit of Pride through the heart of Reading and growing in numbers year on year.

Reading Pride also introduced an award ceremony to thank the people that have made a difference to LGBT people in Reading and the Thames Valley. The winners were -

John Woods – Lifetime Achievement Award

Dennis Hambridge – LGBT Campaigner Award

SohoBoyz  – LGBT Charity/Business Award

Chris Gibbons / Stonewall  – LGBT Impact Campaigner Award

Simon Hallam & Sue Green – Community Campaigner Award

 In 2001 Lorna McArdle steped down as Chair after many years to form SupportU along with several other Committee members, she is replaced as Chair by Laurence O’Meara. James McDonald serves as CEO of the Committee .

In 2012 Lorna McArdle and Andrew Stonehill-Brooks appear on stage with replicas of the Olympic torch they both carried.

 2013 sees reading pride celebrate 10 years 

In 2014 Andrew Adams becomes Chair and acting CEO of the Committee.

 In 2015 #prideinyou launched as theme and ongoing strapline for Reading Pride. New website and logo launched.

The Pride Parade moved to commence at Reading Station following the completion of the station re-building; the Festival sees well known 90s group N-Trance on stage. The first official Pride After-Party is held due to the reduction in LGBT venues.

Alex Walker is appointed CEO of the Committee.

Founding member & Trustee Selwyn Jones passed away prompting a huge response from the local community.

Thanks to Andy adams from reading pride for his help with this post.

By christina dearlove 06 Jan, 2016
It is with great sadness that on the 19th of December, Selwyn Jones, a long-standing Reading Pride Trustee, passed away. Selwyn played a leadership role in Reading Pride from the very outset and was a great help getting My Umbrella up and running. He was extremely supportive of My Umbrella and for that we cannot be more grateful for everything that he did for us. Sel touched the lives of everyone who knew him with his positivity and enthusiasm and Reading Pride simply would not be what it is now without him. His loss leaves a gap that no one will ever fill, but if he were here he would tell us to shut up and get on with it, so Pride 2016 will be a tribute to Sel, in every way possible. On the 10th of January My Umbrella will be holding a Coffee and Cake gathering from 10am-2pm at the Artigiano, and Drinks and Nibbles from 2pm-6pm at The Oakford Social Club. A book of condolence will be at the oakford in the afternoon in memory of Selwyn.
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