Leeds Pride 2024: Organisers stunned as event's social media campaign targeted by vile homophobic abuse

Leeds Pride's social media campaign has been targeted by vile homophobic abuse, and organisers say it's proof the event is needed more than ever.
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The annual celebration sees thousands lining city centre streets for one of the biggest free events of its kind in the UK, and it was announced last month that budget airline Jet2 would be joining the festivities as the headline sponsor this year.

But organisers were left stunned by the shocking response to their announcement on social media.

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Beneath the post, which showed airline staff waving rainbow flags, were countless abusive messages. One told revellers to "burn in hell", while another responded with an image of a crashed plane.

Around 75,000 people celebrated Leeds Pride in the city centre last year. Photo: Steve Riding.Around 75,000 people celebrated Leeds Pride in the city centre last year. Photo: Steve Riding.
Around 75,000 people celebrated Leeds Pride in the city centre last year. Photo: Steve Riding.

Another comment said: "I hope it crashes and bursts into flames".

But rather than being deterred, the team behind the event said the abuse renewed their determination to ensure it remains a vibrant celebration of diversity and inclusion in the city.

Alfie Bailey, the director of Leeds Pride, said: "We were really surprised by the comments.

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"I'm pretty thick skinned, but there could have been younger people following our page who might not have come out yet."

He said that this year's sponsors have been keen to continue their support for the event.

"When we've spoken to the brands, they've said it makes them want to support us even more," he explained.

"A lot of people ask questions about why Pride is so important, or why a parade is needed. Comments like these show the reason for needing an event in Leeds."

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Jordan Odu of PGHL, who is leading the PR and fundraising for the event, agreed. He said: "The abuse we've had has blown my mind.

"It shows why Pride is still so important. It's not a one-day party, it's something we need to celebrate and that is really good for the community."

Leeds Pride has been self-funded since its inception almost two decades ago. At the first ever event, there were around 300 people in attendance - which has grown exponentially to hosting 75,000 in the city centre last year.

This year, it's set to be bigger and better than ever before - as a record number of applications to take part have been received. There will also be more fringe events as part of the celebrations.

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