Who we are and what we do!
Oxford Pride is a registered charity run by a dedicated team of volunteers. Membership of Oxford Pride is open to all, if you wish to join please complete this form.
History of Oxford Pride
Oxford, with its Dreaming Spires by the River Thames, is internationally famous for its unique place in history. Established in the 9th century, and home to the oldest university in the English-speaking world, people are known to have lived here for thousands of years. The original town and farms have grown into a bustling city that welcomes people from around the globe, to experience and learn from the past, to be entertained and inspired for the future.
People are drawn to the beautiful architecture of the University buildings, the inspiration for art, poetry and popular stories of Tolkien, Morse, Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter. With a colourful queer history dating back some 600 years, Oxford Pride continues the tradition of celebrating lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer life in Oxfordshire by providing information, education and entertainment in a welcoming and inclusive environment.
The idea of starting a Pride event in Oxford began back in 2002 at the Spring Bank Holiday celebration of the Queen's Golden Jubilee. At that time, the two gay pubs on Paradise Street, The Jolly Farmers and The Castle Tavern, held a street party with barbecues, games and entertainment. The event was so popular that people began talking about organising a local Pride event. Several meetings later Oxford Pride Group Ltd was formed. On Saturday 3rd May 2003 Oxford saw its first Pride Day held in Oxpens Meadow by the River Thames. In 2005 Oxford Pride moved from May to July in the search for better weather.
The first Oxford Pride Parade took place on Pride Day in 2008. Starting in the Castle Quarter, people marched with flags, banners and whistles, past the LGBTIQ+ pubs on Paradise Street and St Thomas Street, past the Coven nightclub, then continued on to the event at Oxpens.
The date was changed to early June in 2009 to the weekend after the bank holiday when Birmingham Pride usually took place. This change also encouraged more involvement by staff and students from the universities, who were invited and took part in the first 10-day Arts and Culture Festival.
The Festival, like an umbrella of inclusion, expanded Pride Day into a calendar of events to celebrate the diverse LGBTIQ+ groups, organisations and people of Oxfordshire. From art exhibitions in galleries to guided queer history walks, talks in the Town Hall to panel discussions in College lecture rooms, Pride was out of the pub and park and was all around the city.
Following years of debate and the development of new governing documents Oxford Pride successfully restructured to become a registered charity in 2012. This provided potential new funding opportunities to help with the relentless task of maintaining free community events.
Oxford Pride relocated into the city centre in 2015, returning to Paradise Street and expanded throughout the Castle Quarter with the rainbow flag flying from St Georges Tower. The route of the Pride Parade changed in 2016, starting at Radcliffe Square, then winding its way down Broad Street and Cornmarket towards Paradise Street and the Castle Quarter. This increased visibility encouraged even more people to come out to be a part of it.
A new logo was developed in 2018, inspired by the historically literal meaning of
2019 was the largest and most successful year for Oxford Pride with events every month and Pride Day expanding into the Westgate Leiden Square. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion (New York, 1969) the Oxford Pride Festival began on May 17 (IDAHoBIT) with flagstones painted at Bonn Square followed by a reception at the Randolph Hotel. Highlights included a symposium at Brookes, theatre at Old Fire Station, plus prayers and art at University Church. Beer Ballet, Zumba and a relationship affirmation ceremony all took Pride somewhere new. Mentoring and support for new Pride organisations that were starting throughout the county helped the re-launch of Witney Pride with a community picnic.
The global pandemic affected all Pride organisations around the world and Oxford Pride, like many others, were only able to hold online events in 2020 and 2021. It is anticipated that, subject to government guidelines, Oxford Pride will return to the streets in 2022.
In cities like Oxford, where we are free to express our love for one another, events like Oxford Pride provide a voice and visibility to help ensure that all human rights are maintained and upheld.
Festival events produced by Oxford Pride plus those promoted on behalf of local organisations, businesses, the universities and individuals, reach out to the wider community to help to raise understanding, empathy and equity.
We are honoured to acknowledge our founding Members of Oxford Pride:
Aidan Walters, Andi Whiting, Andy Garlick, Dave Hill (Secretary to 2007), Jill Rayner, Karl Andrews, Lara Hartley, Lulu Hudson, Mark Holton, Mark Whittaker, Michael Spurling, Sarah Scarrott, Spike, Steve Atkins (Castle Tavern), Toby Warner and Paul Stewart (Treasurer 2004 to 2007), plus Mazz Image (founder Parade 2008 and Festival 2009).