Pride flag

An Edge Hill University academic will make history this June, as the organiser of the Isle of Man’s first-ever Gay Pride parade.

Dr Mari Hughes-Edwards from the Department of English, History and Creative Writing, has created ‘The Long Walk to Pride’, which will take place on Saturday 12th June 2021. 

The parade will see pride walkers carry a 50-metre rainbow flag through the streets of Douglas to honour LGBTQAI+ diversity. It kicks-off a full day of celebrations of queer life in poetry, music, dance and drama. 

Dr Mari Hughes-Edwards. Photo by Stuart Rayner.

Mari said: “It’s called The Long Walk to Pride because it has taken us a long time to get here. It’s been over thirty years since same-sex relations were decriminalised on the island – yet, unbelievably, we’ve never had a gay pride.

“We are doing this in honour not only of gay lives now, but a long, rich history of gay Manx struggle.  We are also walking in celebration.  It’s not just a big party, though we do deserve that party: it’s been a long time coming. People have been waiting their whole lives for this – and for generations.  We walk in the shadow of centuries of queer islanders who were unable to join together to celebrate publicly.” 

Walkers will also carry a series of specially designed placards, created by Mari and designer Billy Redgrave, that tell stories, never seen before, of the struggle of the last 100 years for queer Manx equality. 

Mari handpicked these from the island’s archives as part of a wider research project she is leading called The Queer Isle.

She said: “I’m passionate as a writer about all things queer and it’s been a privilege to explore the Manx archives and make unknown LGBTQAI+ lives visible.” 

Mari is also the founder of GenSex, created in 2007 to encourage interdisciplinary debate and knowledge exchange on LGBTQAI+ and queer studies and wider gender and sexuality issues.   

She is also the leader of artdoesnotgetyouajob, an arts resilience and employability think tank which was launched at the Poetry Society, in Covent Garden, during her British Academy award-winning conference on the first queer female Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, in 2019.   

Mari added: “We can’t wait to get walking! And though the borders are still relatively closed due to the recent pandemic, we know that the whole world walks with us in spirit”. 

The Long Walk to Pride ends at 1pm at the Villa Marina Gardens, Douglas, where a full day of activities then take place.  For further information contact Mari on [email protected] and you can watch Mari being interviewed about the first Manx Pride on Isle of Man TV.