2020 was a year of rainbows: they adorned windows up and down the country as a symbol of hope and solidarity for the NHS. From child-drawn crayon rainbows to supermarket adverts, we were united under the bright-coloured flag. The rainbow has long been a symbol of hope, togetherness, diversity and of weathering storms, so it felt more than appropriate. However, while we still weather the effects of Covid and the lockdown, one group – far from being united under the rainbow – were facing additional struggles as communities were split, Pride events cancelled and LGBT venues had to close their doors.
Keeping LGBTQ+ community spaces going through lockdown has been a goal of mine, which is why I moved my Queer Yoga classes online (as well as in parks when we were allowed and very briefly back into the studio). I have attended other groups, cabaret shows, quizzes and socials that have fought valiantly to keep queer spaces open where people can congregate digitally. It was through this effort I discovered the Soul Pride festival, which also went online. Through that, I met some fantastic queer wellbeing facilitators.
On socially-distanced dog walks, and cocktail-fuelled Zoom chats with friend and Bristol City Poet, Caleb Parkin, we decided to get our heads together to come up with a wellbeing course for the community. We sought to combine our skills: therapeutic creative writing and poetry from Caleb; yoga and therapeutic facilitation from me. After weeks of brainstorms, the clouds started to clear and Reclaiming the Rainbow came into being.
The idea of theming the course around the original Pride Flag colours, is a nod to our queer history – but also to honour the reclaiming of the rainbow flag this year as new, updated Pride flags have emerged, especially The Progress Flag. While it’s been wonderful to see the rainbow used for the whole country, we also need to recognise the rainbow flag is a symbol of our community and framing our wellbeing course around these colours aims to honour its meanings and symbolism.
Along with guest facilitators, Chris Hubley and Loussin-Torah Pilikian, bringing their creative magic, this six-week course structured around the colours of the progress pride flags will help us reclaim a space for community, creative expression, play, movement, reflection and self-care.
Below are some excerpts of Caleb and I talking about the course, our inspiration and what you can expect from it. We are so looking forward to seeing you and sharing this exploration through our own colour journeys with wonderful members of our community, nationally and internationally.