These are personal stories from members of our LGBT+ Network to support Virtual Pride.

Hospitals Inspector, Graham Hinchcliffe talks about his time in the US.

I spent a month in the US from mid-June to mid-July 2019. I had been working extra hard both doing bank CQC registration work, as well as my day job of working in CAMHS doing quality assurance, so I had saved up to go on a mini-pilgrimage across the US. I had been planning to do this for years. I hadn’t intended to go specifically because it was pride month, but it was an added bonus that I would get to attend various pride parades and events.

I flew into LA for five nights and stayed in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. I had never seen so much pride themed stuff as I did in West Hollywood, which I gather is a popular LGBTQ+ area. Even the pedestrian crossings were made into rainbow flags. It was an incredible atmosphere of love, unity and frozen margaritas.

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I went to a ‘drag brunch’ in West Hollywood which was all day drinking, food and performances by various drag queens. I remember one was called ‘Trash’ which made me laugh but she did a great lip-sync performance to Britney Spears. I had to get dollar bills to tip the queens as its custom over there to hand them money when they perform. There was an open top tourist bus that kept parking up and all the tourists took photos of the queens and all of us having a great time.

I made my way to San Francisco next just in time for their pride weekend. Again, the Castro district, which is the main LGBTQ+ area, was decked out with pride garb. I have never seen so many people as I did on Deloris Hill celebrating pride, music, dancing. It was like a festival. I also went to the “Dyke March” which was the lesbian parade. At the top of the Twin Peaks (the hills where the Sutro tower is) there is an incredible view over the city, and also a giant pink triangle and a plaque explaining its significance, so I learned something new whilst I was up there. I actually met my now partner during the pride weekend!

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I flew over to Chicago to stay with an old school friend for the week, but it was also like I was chasing pride parades as it was Chicago pride the day I landed. We watched the parade but there was an almighty rainstorm so the last half an hour of the parade was rained off. This didn’t stop anyone partying in the streets of ‘Boystown’ which is the name of the main LGBTQ+ area. The diner outside my friend’s apartment in Chicago made me laugh every morning - “we support dog on dog and bun on bun”.

After Chicago, for the rest of the trip I went to Portland, Mt Ranier National Park, Seattle and across to Vancouver in Canada. It was an absolute trip of a lifetime, and I wish I was there now as its quite a contrast being stuck indoors in Sheffield! But I have great memories and I will be going next year for sure!

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