Posted: 5th August 2021
Episode 5 of Pride in Our City – The Podcast is here!
Pride in Our City – The Podcast brings you a series of introductions and conversations between Podcast host Dan Vo (Dan’s Twitter) and members of the Pride in Our City project team. Throughout the series Dan will be chatting with project curators, artists and community members about their involvement in Pride in Our City, and what it means to them to be involved. We’ll be taking you behind the scenes of the project and giving you updates on programming and planning in the lead up to our exciting exhibition, Pride in Our City which launches at the Ferens Art Gallery on 14 August 2021.
The fifth episode features Andy Train. Andy is a a former Registered Nurse, and the chair of the Hull & East Riding of Yorkshire LGBTQI+ Forum, Co-Vice Chair and Creative Director for Pride in Hull, and a Global Advisory Council Member for Region 10 InterPride which covers the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. InterPride is a membership organisation for Prides throughout the world.
Andy has been involved in the Pride in Our City project in a number of ways. Advising us at Hull Museums very early on, even pre-Pride in Our City project, and contributing to the digital exhibition back in 2020 with pictures, videos, and helping us explore what Pride means to Hull. He has supported us with each step over the last couple of years leading up to the Pride in Our City exhibition at the Ferens Art Gallery – which he has even loaned some of his own Pride collection to for display.
In this episode of the podcast, you’ll hear Andy chatting with Dan about the support available in Hull accessible via organisations such as the LGBTQI+ Forum and Andy talks us through the new intersex-inclusive progress flag – which we are currently flying on the roof of the Ferens Art Gallery.
Find Andy Train on Twitter – Click here
Pride in Hull’s website
Hull & East Riding of Yorkshire LGBTQI+ Forum’s Facebook
About Pride in Our City
The Pride in Our City project aims to increase LGBTQ+ representation and inclusion throughout Hull Museums’ research, interpretation, and programming. It is an ongoing project that prioritises co-curation with communities and new understanding of untold narratives.
Now, a focus group of local community advisors and a Lead Creative Artist are working with the Hull Museums team on the next steps of this project, to develop a community-led exhibition, showcasing Hull’s LGBTQ+ history at the Ferens Art Gallery.
Explore the Pride in Our City digital exhibition here: Click Here
Want to keep updated on the Pride in Our City project? Why not sign up to our project mailing list to have updates sent straight to your inbox. Find out more and sign up here: Click Here
Download a copy of the episode transcript here: Click here to download
Andy: I’m worried that if I die, whilst I’m in living statue mode, would anybody notice?
Andy: Would I benefit from any of the money that’s popped into the box?
Dan: Hello everyone and welcome to our Hull Museum’s Pride in Our City podcast.
I’m your host, Dan Vo. And I’d love for you to get your diary out, please whether it’s electronic or an analogue papery thing which you have to scribble in by hand, get it out because I’d love for you to put this date into your calendar. It is August 14. That’s Saturday August 14. What’s so especially about that date you ask? Well, it’s going to be the day of the launch of the Pride in Our City exhibition and it’s going to celebrate Hull’s LGBTQ+ history at the Ferens Art Gallery. So, the sky is going to be full of rainbows on that day, fairies with anoint your footsteps with sprinkles of rainbow glitter as you walk towards the gallery and when you get inside, I promise you it will be full of queer laughter, merriment and mirth! So, it’s going to be so much fun! And it would be such a thrill to have you there as well, so please please please get your sparkliest outfit ready and you’re going to have a ball with us!
Now, once upon a time William Shakespeare was designated bisexual icon for LGBT+ History Month. And I just want to home in on that because he’s famous for having said “all that glisters is not gold, often have you heard that told”, well that’s my best Shakespeare anyway (laughs) but in the case of Andy Train, it’s true! He is pure gold, if not pure gold, at least his heart is pure gold. Because our guest for this month is a Registered Nurse, a pride aficionado has been to many Prides around the world and wears lots and lots of hats as well in Hull: Chair of Hull and East Riding LGBT+ Forum, Trustee of Pride in Hull and is also a Global Advisory Council Member for Britain on InterPride which is the international organisation representing Prides all around the world. And as you’ve heard from the very top of the podcast too, you very much know him as a local sparkly outfit wearing person because he is the Gold Man. As you’ll also hear during the interview today, you’ll also find that he’s also occasionally a gold big Willy Shakespeare as well, so I had a lot of fun talking with him, and he is Andy Train. Here is now, over to you Andy:
Andy: My name is Andy Trane. I’m a former registered nurse. I do training, mostly GP surgeries, dental practices, but a lot talks around LGBT+ diversity in schools and colleges as well.
Dan: There’s so much to talk with you about Andy, because it seems like you’re involved with almost everything in Hull!
Andy: It’s one of those cities where, you’re probably not 0.5 distanced away from somebody that other people know. It’s a really strange experience because of lots of things where, when new people come in and they’re just sort of talk to me, I’d go well you want to speak to them, them, them, and them, and you’ll be sorted. But it’s really great to be involved and I’m one of these people, sadly, who can’t even go to say Gran Canaria without getting involved with their pride event, because I have to be, you know, even if it’s just handing out flyers or saying hello to people, I have to be involved.
Dan: So, does that mean that you’ve picked up all these ideas from Prides all around the world that and now Pride in Hull can incorporate them all?
Yeah, I think that we do. You know, I also kind of reflect on what we do in Hull. I think we do a really good job, as CEO for Hull City of culture said, “we achieve in that we get everybody there, including their heterosexual wife!”. The other prides, that they’re part of they’re part of their city and their DNA and they should be proud of that, and they are. There have been a lot of, kind of, you know, a bit like football, where you have teams sort of competing against each other. And a similar kind of sense with Prides that Hull’s better than Leeds or Leeds is better than Hull or Manchester. And it really isn’t about that. And I think it’s dispelling the myth that actually we are together. And we are stronger in the union together, and we need to help each other, support each other. And what Manchester does, Hull isn’t going to do, because it’s a very different experience, as much as Brighton or even Pride in London, but it’s about celebrating our own communities wherever you are in the country.
Dan: Well, let’s talk about your training with communities. How do you approach it with the organisation you’re working with, how do you get them to be as diverse and as inclusive as possible? What are the steps? What are the things that need to happen?
Andy: I think that, that we need to, first of all, communicate with the people that we have. Either as staff or as customers, and kind of talk to them, for example, at a local college here, where the concern about the staff saying the wrong thing to folks who are on their journey as far as, you know, being transgender, and kind of explaining that, you know, talk to them, ask them what they want to be called. Talk about pronouns, you know, discuss things, have visibility within your facilities that not just every June fly the rainbow flag, but actually engage with colleagues, let people know, have conversations, workshops, bring people in from outside. There’s absolutely stacks of wonderful organisations, including, you know, whatever your local pride event is and all your LGBT+ friendly venues. Get them involved and all those wonderful support groups we’ve got and give them a platform and an opportunity. And find out what facilities you’ve got within your town, cities, areas where people can be safe: your safe spaces. And then looking at your policies and procedures, you know, do they ring true in the way that you’re presenting yourself?
Dan: You mentioned the rainbow flag, so there are many options out there now, some more representative than others. What is the flag that is used at Pride in Hull?
Andy: Last year we had More Colour, More Pride which was part of the conversation we’ve been having with our friends from the Hull Black Heritage Collective to, you know, recognise that, that that’s a community that, that really, we have a lot in common with here in Hull. And that there are a lot of people who come to the UK because that is an issue, you know, from the country of their origin. And they want to come to somewhere, rightly so, you want to be safe, we want you to be a true and authentic person, you know, so you can, you can live your life and get on with it. But we’ve progressed into the last two years on a more digital footing, but looking at the Progress Pride flag, and in fact, also, as part of, Creative Hull going to be adding the intersex element to it. And the conversation that I had recently with Valentino (Vecchietti) regarding the way that they’re progressing the flag in that way. So many flags, so much choice.
Dan: I was at Trans Pride in London, and it was wonderful to see these thousands of people marching and the flag that you mention now, the one that was added to by Valentino Vecchietti, it was flown to represent the intersex community as part of the wider community as well. I was hoping you could describe it.
Andy: Yeah, it’s the Progress Pride, you know how that looks with the chevrons, which was introduced… you’ve got your rainbow section on there, so your 1979 version with the six colors going down red through to purple. And then you’ve got your chevrons with your brown, and you’ve got your black Stripe. So, your brown is with regard to the conversation around race. Black with regard to those who suddenly died of AIDS and living with HIV. You’ve got your trans colors in there as well, but you’ve also got that element of yellow and purple ring in the middle, which to many is quite, uh, “Wow! That’s really different and it stands out”. And then the conversation that happens from there on in. So, adding that in has increased, obviously what you’ve got on that, uh, on that flag. But, you know, I think any flag within our communities that we’ve got representing many different facets, whether it be gender identity, sexual orientation, or even dare I say, fetish, is worthy of use in the right place for that conversation.
Dan: Our community is becoming more inclusive and representative, so there’s inevitably more letters are being added to the acronym.
Andy: I think that the longest one is 16 letters long, and people are, oh, goodness me, you know, you and your alphabet soup!
I think that some people take a lot of a lot of strength in having an element within that that they can identify with, but also being part of a wider family. I know, you know, looking at Pride events and looking at the LGBT+ community, generally, often we’re very bad at looking after each other, and I mean, that’s just a crazy thing, you know? To me, you just be yourself, you know, as you want to present. So, I think that it is nice to have lots of choices. But again, back to this whole conversation thing, I think it’s great for having that conversation with people about, um, how diverse and interesting we are.
Dan: Andy – you’re so open and welcoming, and I just wanted to know, how did you become so inclusive? You know, is it training, practice, or something that is just innate?
Andy: For me, it’s maybe back to being a nurse, and having this nonjudgmental attitude and wanting people to be happy, feel comfortable, feel safe. Because I think that’s something that I didn’t necessarily feel even within the last, sort of, 20 years. I mean, I came out in 2002. In hindsight, I know that certainly I wasn’t as straight as I thought I was from about the age of 15. But living through a childhood in the eighties, sort of in the twenties, you know, being section 28 in schools and there not being anything really out there in the world. Pride in Hull began in 2002. I was there, it was, it was, um, a few lesbians, a few tables and a dog! It was really small. But I think it was super important and it was brilliant that that was happening. And as far as I was aware, there was no march, I heard it on local BBC radio that this was happening. I was just coming back from Manchester with a mate of mine. I’d gone for another weekend away, which was spirited on by Queer as Folk. For me, that was the kind of Mecca of that still exploring who I was. Even still as a married man trying to work out what was going on in my head and feeling desperately lost. And to the point of suicidal… and then not being anything for me, there were youth groups available, there was a group at the university, but nothing really tangible for an adult. And had to go to another city, which I thought was just absolutely crackers! You know, there should be facilities and support networks within the city that I call home. And that’s kind of spurred me on really. So that’s, that’s been my major motivator from that point on
Dan: You’ve just mentioned suicide, so I think it’s worth mention that if you, the listener, need support, there are fantastic people to talk to, who can support you. And Andy you’re the Chair of the Hull and East Riding LGBT+ Forum, and they’re certainly one of those groups that are just great for someone to reach out to looking for support, but also, I support looking for a social connection as well?
Andy: Yeah, it’s a really fantastic networking opportunity. I know I’ve said to people, you could come with a bag full of problems and you will have some super positive responses from professional people who attend that meeting on a monthly basis. So, you come in as a member of the community and you will have the NHS mental health support, sexual health support, support groups of all kinds are all there. And people who, even from local authority representing the local councils that are both the East Riding and also Hull. We have counsellors present. And so, you can leave with a really bright future of support and direction, and even the conversations that maybe don’t happen whilst the meeting’s going on but will happen afterwards. It’s absolutely amazing in that. And we also get a really good snapshot of what is going on every month.
Dan: I just want to make a quick shift Andy, because you mentioned City of Culture and I really want to talk with you about the cultural icon that is The Gold Man!
Andy: Oh my goodness! The Gold Man was something that was my major backup plan if all else failed as a self-employed person if nobody wants me for training. What if people just go Andy, you were good when you were in the NHS, but now, you know, like a baby’s attention span you’ve left the room. You’ve gone. And I thought, well, it’s one step up from begging, it’s posh begging! So, I’ll paint myself in gold. I’ve always been good at sort of Dead Fish as a child. And I thought, well, I’ll sit still and see what happens. So, this kind of character kind of developed after an incident at Edinburgh Festival where I took over a window of a mate of mine who makes fantastic kilts, 21st Century Kilts, and he said, “look, we’ll take the middle mannequin away,” and I’ll stand at the window and I’ll go find some body paint, face paint, and I’ll put me in the kilt suit, and I’ll stand there all day. He had so many people coming into the shop randomly just to have a look. And so many people, sort of 50 plus people always looking in to see if I would move or to make their partner jump or whatever. So, this kind of came up to Hull, I did it in the Primark window, I’ve done it at New Look, kind of progressing up the scale of, you know, retail and then the opening of Hull Truck Theatre I was William Shakespeare and in gold, and then this businessman, this character having fish and chips for his lunch, seagull on his head, so I’ve got pretend a seagull, pretending to be real and covered in seagull poo and I’m pretending not to be real and you can come and sit next to me on my bench and you can join me, because it’s all about joining in. So, you can have your picture. You can have your selfie; you can do whatever you want.
So, I suggested to our comms team for Hull City of Culture and sort of promoting it, why don’t we take a load of culture down on a train. We’ve got Hull Trains. So, let’s go down to that there London and we’ll take, you know, culture carriage down to London and we’ll get the Bishop of Hull, we’ll get the Lord Mayor, we’ll get the Hull Philharmonic Orchestra. We’ll get the Gold Man. We’ll get all these other things going on in there. All in this carriage and we’ll get onto London, take some culture to London. So, it became, you know, the Gold Man or the identity of the Gold Man became ingrained into, what I was all about and what it was all about. But then having that opportunity to bring in a really key part…
It was LGBT 50. It was the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, that’s catchy.
Dan: Such a mouthful, isn’t it?
Andy: We did that last year and we, you know, we were the first UK Pride. So, 2017, incredible year for the city, but an absolutely amazing year for Pride in Hull. I’d been elected as a co-chair for the UK Pride Organisers Network and had this crazy idea, suggested to the rest of the members of the UK Pride Organizers Network that we elevate one Pride nationally, not because it’s bigger or better than anywhere else, just to give it that little bit of a lift, a little bit of emphasis and bold and support and boss, whatever you want to call it. And I said, well, a City of Culture, let’s give it a go in Hull if everybody’s happy with that, let’s, let’s, you know, if we’ll go with it, we go with it. So, we had that, so it was perfect.
Dan: Well from the Pride in Hull to Pride in Our City perhaps, the exhibition, what could we see in this exhibition Andy? What is something that you would like to represent Pride in Hull in this exhibition?
Andy: For Pride in Our City, I think that the thing that always makes me smile is the memorabilia and in particular, the wristbands that we kind of got into fairly early on in our Pride journey in the city that people have collected.
We’ve kind of gone a bit more eco-friendly over the last couple of years, because we do have biodegradable and recycled and all the rest of it now. Seeing some young people who are maybe not so young now, who’ve over the last sort of 20 years collected wristbands and often they’ll, you know, I’ve done, I’ve given talks at colleges where somebody’s kind of sidled up with, with all these wristbands on. Some of them are a little bit worse for wear.
So proud of all that! But I think it’s people’s own experiences and stories, because I’m involved with a team, because obviously it is a team that makes this thing happen. It can’t be just one, one soul, that’s just, just kind of impossible. And so many different people have elements that they manage on that day that come together to make it all happen. It’s individual people’s experiences like, you know, where they went for the after-party, or, you know, did they buy anything at the Pride, you know, photographs, you know, experiences, you know, maybe be an image and then a little bit of writing about a backstory about, you know, how they weren’t going to go, but then did go. The stories about, you know, seeing people waiting for buses or all sort of bedecked in rainbow, and just gathering in almost like the Pied Piper’s calling everybody, and the rainbow flag is flying, and everybody’s being called back home, you know, and they’re all coming in, to the city center, but it’s hearing those stories are just wonderful.
And that parade… seriously, I mean a parade or in fact, if anybody from America is listening, I must say march, because they’re always very damning whenever was say parade because it’s still a march. There are still things we’ve got to do; we’ve got to keep going. You know, if we take our eye off that ball, you know, no matter how rainbow glitter and sparkly that ball is bouncing up and down, if we don’t keep an eye on that ball and keep it going, these rights, these opportunities, and for many of us, these privileges that we’ve got, will be taken from us. And that’s the thing for me about Pride. But yeah, Pride in Our City. I’m excited to see and hear people’s personal stories about, you know, I do think, you know, parade organising and being on stage and getting that rainbow flag, giant rainbow flag over the crowd, you know, but I want to hear about how it makes people feel.
Dan: And what if I was to ask you for something from the LGBT+ Forum, what would go in the exhibition, what might you contribute to the exhibition?
Andy: I think it’d probably be an agenda. I know that sounds a bit sad and a bit kind of, oh my goodness, how bland, but the format has worked for a long time now. In that, you know, welcome, introductions, often we do have a speaker each month. We usually do it at the Guildhall, I always say there’s something very special about that because it’s the perceived seat of power. I know that, you know, you don’t kind of have… that’s where the council meet, I guess and why not the LGBT+ community as well? Why not us? And of course, we do, and we have done historically met that. But yeah an agenda, and agenda will be there, and it’s kind of sat in the group reports and then the, any other business and the conversations that happen and the wonderful support that is involved with that meeting, and the experience and, I don’t know, just, just, just the lovely nature of all the people who were there because yes, okay, it’s their job, but you know, the dedication to helping us just seeps through it.
Dan: Andy to wrap, I’d love to hear from you what you think is the power of history to shape how we understand ourselves. In the context of Pride in Our City, why understanding queer history in Hull, why is that important?
Andy: We’re very lucky that we’ve got LGBT+ History Month each year, because it does give us that focus. An almost, if you like, a reset towards the beginning of the year to reflect on the year gone, to look forward to the rest of the year ahead, including our own Pride. And I always challenge people, you know, go to your local Pride and support that regardless, um, go to a bigger Pride. Go to a Pride within your region, then go to a biggie and you’ll get the full experience. If you can volunteer, if you feel capable. But I think we need to remember the struggle and the challenge that faced people in years gone by, where folks were deemed to be illegal, where you couldn’t, you know, the age of consent for example, is a really good way of reflecting on that. And some of the young people now, when you mentioned it, they’re just mortified that, you know, you had to be 21. But of course, It’s A Sin and, Queer As Folk and, I would say generally Russell T Davis, have kind of helped us, in an easy way and even Pride, the movie, in an easy way, kind of, have access to that. And I know there are absolutely stacks of literature out there that, and even in the form of art, how, you know, the LGBT+ community has kind of played a role through history. Even quietly just getting on with it behind the scenes without causing too much of a fuss, but that journey, particularly from the seventies in the UK to now, that’s ongoing, we still have things, you know, gender recognition, you know, making sure that holding politicians to account to say, yeah, you set your stall out, we’re going to do this. Let’s keep that going forward. Please do not forget. And keeping that pressure up. We’ve got to maintain that, yes, there’s a lot of things that have been… repeal of section 28, equal marriage, even now as we speak the Methodist Church allowing same-sex couples to marry in there, if people want that, you know. It is truly wonderful, but we’ve got to keep on going.
I think Pride to me is everything. Well, I could say Pride to me is everything, but also one thing. And you’ve just got to find that one thing.
Dan: Well, that is lovely. Pride is one thing. Find your thing. Find your passion. Find your rainbow. Andy it was a treat, thank you so much.
Andy: You’re very welcome, it’s been an absolute pleasure.
Dan: This has been the Pride in Our City podcast for Hull Museums. You can find us on social media, on Twitter as @Hull_Museums. I’ve been Dan Vo and you can find me as @DanNouveau. The podcast was edited by me and mixed by Samuel Gunn.
If you liked what you heard, please do rate, review and subscribe. Get involved as well, you can always find out what you can do by going onto the website humbermuseums.co.uk and just search for Pride in Our City. That’s it for today. Thank you so much. I will see you again. Bye!