By Kris Jepson
A Newcastle group supporting lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people has been nominated for a prestigious National Diversity Award.
The LGBT+ Northern Social Group, which hosts charity events, big nights out and smaller events like coffee mornings, has been shortlisted for the Community Organisation Award for LGBT.
Organiser PJ Pearcy told ITV News “We are phenomenally proud. We’re so, so happy about actually even getting a nomination, never mind actually getting through to the finals. It’s going to get us a bit more of a profile out there to be fair. There’s only so much we can do as a group when we’ve got this much time and this much kind of work to do.”
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Created two years ago, the LGBT+ Northern Social Group provides the community with a “safe space” to make new connections.
Organisers told ITV News they saw a huge lack of online social spaces for the community and felt there was a “gap” for people who wanted to make friends without the pressure of it being a purely dating and nightlife scene.
If they don’t want to go out a lot or they don’t go out a lot, they haven’t made the chance to meet new people and make friends and organise nights out, which is primarily what it started off as. Then in turn we got new friends from the community and people started feeling a lot more confident.
The group have always aimed to be a grassroots, community lead group which helps support social connections
within the community, often raising funds for local charities. The group say they want to enforce the fact that being part of this community is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
Since its inception, the group has grown to over 1,250 members, ensuring that they provide events away from the typical LGBTQ+ drinking scene, whilst they enjoy the atmosphere and great nights the scene does provide them, they appreciate that not everyone will enjoy this.
One member, Adam Young, told ITV News, “The North East is a big place and while we’ve got a few big cities there’s a lot of people living out in more rural areas, where I used to live before I moved to Newcastle and that was really the problem, social isolation and not into bars, which is a big part of the scene, then its been hard to find some good friends, so that’s what the group does. It’s got online components so you can always chat with people no matter where you are, if you’re really shy and then there’s other big things and parties and nights out if you’re really a social butterfly and love, love meeting people.”
Being Trans it’s a different experience, but in this group there’s always somebody, if you feel a bit nervous to go into a toilet as the gender that you are, there’s always somebody willing to give you the encouragement or come with you to make sure you’re safe. I can come here and guarantee that everybody is using “he, him” pronouns and being respectful of my identity. Even if it’s a case of there’s people who come and they don’t understand, there’s always somebody there who is willing to educate and community education is so important, especially for the transgender community and this group bridges that gap.
The full list of finalists for the Community Organisation Award for LGBT at the National Diversity Awards are:
Angels of Freedom
LGBT+ Northern Social Group
Colours Youth Network