A CELEBRATED LGBT+ campaigner has officially opened an innovative venture, which is set to transform lives and boost job prospects in the North East.
The Pride Media Centre, at Stonehills, Pelaw, is the UK’s first LGBT+ business and media hub.
And, the complex, which is designed to support LGBT+ entrepreneurs through training, facilities and advice, was officially opened by Lord Michael Cashman CBE on Friday (31 May).
A variety of businesses and organisations have made a home in the centre, including the not for profit organisation, Pride Community Network and multi-channel broadcaster Pride World Media, which includes Pride Radio 89.2fm and Pride World Radio, which broadcasts online to around 125 countries.
One of the founders of national charity, Stonewall, and a former actor, Lord Cashman made history with the first gay male kiss on mainstream British television when he appeared as Colin in EastEnders.
He has since become a leading campaigner and equality activist and in his speech to the 100 strong audience, he said: “When we set up Stonewall 30 years ago, I never thought we’d achieve equality in my lifetime and I certainly never thought I would be here in Gateshead opening the Pride Media Centre.
“What we have got here is people who have got the guts to stand up not only for themselves but for others.”
The hub has been supported by Gateshead Council and Lord Cashman said: “I know it is ideas that change the world and I congratulate Gateshead Council for the idea and the support, which sends the signal that it’s not all about the bigger cities, it is about innovation and courage to put yourself at the front.”
The hub is also the home of newly launched online television station, Out and Proud TV, and it will provide a range of support and opportunities to the LGBT+ community and their allies, including outreach programmes designed to reach isolated members of the LGBT+ community.
“I am very proud that Gateshead has the first LGBT+ business and media centre in the UK and this is the place where we will start something big that will have repercussions all over the UK,” said Peter Darrant, CEO of Pride World Media.
“In this strange world we live in, where we think we have all the rights, it is still very important to fly the LGBT+ flag outside.
“There is an urgency to have something like this building and we have been waiting 50 years for it, so while we officially open the centre for the first time today, this is just the beginning.”