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London’s first official organisation for queer people with disabilities is throwing its own Pride party

Alexandra Sims

Don’t put the glitter away! Pride isn’t just for July – the celebrations are going on right through the summer, and this weekend a truly unique rainbow-hued party is taking place at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. ParaPride is the first official organisation in London supporting LGBTQ+ people with disabilities. This year they joined the capital’s Pride parade for the first time, and on Saturday they’re putting on their inaugural Pride celebration. 

Founded in 2018, the group was set up by Wayne Allingham (who was born with hemiparesis and runs London club night Disabled, Queer and Here), Daniel Lul (who is paraplegic and founded a support group for queer people with disabilities) and Joseph Williams after they’d grown frustrated by the lack of opportunities for disabled LGBTQ+ performers and the dearth of fully accessible venues in the capital. 

‘The experience of going out can be bleak for many people with disabilities,’ says Williams. ‘If we’re in a wheelchair or carrying a stick, a lot of clubs won’t let us in because they view them as dangerous objects. Daniel was once asked to remove his leg before entering a venue to prove it wasn’t a weapon. Often the public don’t know how to react when they see people with disabilities in social spaces. So ParaPride was set up to normalise the social experiences of all people in the LGBTQ community.’ 

On Saturday, the group are setting their sights on London’s iconic queer venue the Royal Vauxhall Tavern where, as well as delivering top-class queer performances, they’ll be making the place much more accessible for their Pride event. Accessible portable loos, BSL interpreters, runners for the bar, quiet zones and mental health first aiders are just some of the initiatives being put in place. 

’It’s really important to educate on all types of disability,’ says Williams. ‘It’s not just about getting every wheelchair type into your venue. It’s important that venues ask themselves what they can do at the moment, like hosting a quiet space, bringing in high-contrast menus or having signage around the venue. There are little things spaces can do to make a big difference to a large proportion of our community.’

Head along to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern on Saturday and you’ll see high-octane drag from the likes of Son of a Tutu and Ebony Rose Dark, badass burlesque from Smashlyn Monroe (pictured) and glitter-soaked cabaret from Constance Craving. You’ll also be safe in the knowledge that everyone can be included in the evening. 

‘There are 180 Prides around the country celebrating 8 percent of the population, but there are currently only three major events supporting the disabled community that represents 22 percent of the population,’ says Williams. ‘We breach the intersection between disability and LGBTQ to get people feeling included in the queer experience who have been unintentionally excluded, until now.’

ParaPride is at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern on Saturday August 17.
Entry is free but £10 voluntary donations to the charity are encouraged. 

Read about the LGBTQ+ festivals keeping the Pride celebrations going beyond July

Find more great things to do this month with our August guide

Images: ParaPride 

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