The bravest, brightest, and best of the region’s LGBT+ community and its allies were celebrated at The LCR Pride Awards 2023 last night, at a glittering celebration at Anfield Stadium.
The awards, which are jointly sponsored by Liverpool Football Club (LFC) and Merseyrail, returned for the first time following the inaugural event in September 2019.
The LCR Pride Awards were established to celebrate the people and organisations working to make the Liverpool City Region the most LGBT+ friendly place in the UK. Winners and finalists included local grassroots campaigners, performers, and venues, as well as businesses and organisations undertaking wider national work.
The ceremony was hosted by The Guide Liverpool’s Jay Hynd and Claire Simmo and featured exhilarating performances from Eurovision legend SuRie. As well as the winners listed below, LCR Pride Foundation presented its Foundation Award to the former Bishop of Liverpool and foundation Patron, Paul Bayes, for his relentless and long-standing support to the LGBT+ community.
Speaking after the event, Andi Herring, LCR Pride Foundation CEO and Founder, said: “It’s been a long wait to get here, but after three years of pandemic-enforced hiatus the LCR Pride Awards really are back with a bang. Since our first ceremony in 2019, so much has changed in the world and in the years that we missed countless people and organsations have stepped up for the LGBT+ community. Tonight was all about them and we want to congratulate every single winner and finalist and thank them for their relentless work.”
Jane English, Acting Managing Director at Merseyrail said: “Congratulations to all the award winners and well done to everyone who has taken part in the 2023 Pride Awards. Merseyrail is proud and honoured to have supported this event since its inception, which reflects the valued contributions made by our LGBTQ+ community here in the Liverpool City Region.”
Rishi Jain, Senior EDI Manager at Liverpool Football Club said: “A huge congratulations to all of the award nominees and winners for their impactful work representing and supporting the LGBT+ community across our city region.
“LFC is a proud co-sponsor of the LCR Pride Foundation Awards 2023, and to be able to host this fantastic event at Anfield is something that we feel demonstrates our ongoing commitment and efforts to advance equality, diversity and inclusion in all that we do.”
Business of the Year
Winner: Liverpool Live Radio
As a local radio station, the community told us that they loved hearing local voices and praised the station’s inclusion of LGBT+ hosts, guests, and a dedicated show. The station’s leadership were commended for wanting to do more to support the community and ensure the station played a role locally.
Finalists: Root 69 Barbers, MSB Solicitors
Business Person of the Year
Winner: Christian Owens
As a proud ambassador for Trans visibility in the workplace, Christian is the owner of GenderSpace where he offers advice, training and support to businesses looking to understand and do more to support Trans and Non Binary communities. Christian’s own experiences and work in his former role as one of the first out Trans Police officers at Merseyside Police allow their sessions to be relatable and from lived experience.
Finalists: Eileen Lea, Ley Adler
Campaigner of the Year
Winner: Kai Lambert
Kai has been the Trans and Non Binary Officer at Edge Hill University for over a year. From delivering trans awareness and inclusivity training for all staff members and educating how they can best support trans students to organising vigils and raising money, Kai has been nominated for their dedication and perseverance, even around their busy final year studies.
Finalists: Emma Miller-McCaffrey, Steven Taylor
Community Event of the Year
Winner: Homotopia Festival
Nominations recognised the hard work by the Homotopia team in putting on the UK’s longest running LGBTQIA+ Festival and year-round programme. Homotopia Festival 2022 “Queer Joy is a Protest” ran from 1st – 20th November at venues across Liverpool and online. It featured resident artist Tabby Lamb.
Finalists: IDAHOBiT (Many Hands One Heart (Sahir House) & Heart of Glass), New Brighton Pride.
Community Group/Organisation of the Year
Winner: Butterfly Clinic
The Butterfly Clinic is the axess sexual health clinic for Trans and Non Binary folk, but those who nominated the service told us that it offers so much more to the community. Nominations praised the unique clinic’s team as being welcoming and hard working as well as their understanding of the needs of Trans and Non-Binary communities.
Finalists: Open Table Liverpool, Sahir House.
Employee of the Year
Winner: Lorraine Young (Masquerade Bar)
Providing a friendly face and listening ear on the scene for over 25 years, Lorraine has played an important role in the LGBT+ scene of the city. Nominations admired her hard-working attitude and dedication to their customers and staff members alike.
Finalists: Alan Wilkinson (The Lisbon), Andrew Nicholls (Merseyside Police).
Inclusive Sports Team of the Year
Winner: Liverpool Tritons
Praised for the proactive campaigning on issues affecting the LGBT+ community, including around access to sport for members of the Trans & Non Binary communities, team members, friends of the club and supporters praised the Tritons for their approachable and friendly attitude.
Finalists: LFC Women’s Supporters Club, Mersey Marauders FC.
Winner: Hayley Holloway
As a nurse working for axess Sexual Health service Hayley spotted a need and gap in provision for the Trans and Non Binary Communities they served. Hayley set about re-designing the service with the community at its heart and the nominations for this award praised her supportive approach.
Finalists: Lynne Barnes, Rishi Jain.
LGBT+ Venue of the Year
Winner: The Lisbon
A staple of the Pride Quarter, The Lisbon was nominated for their warm welcome and friendly staff that work hard to create a safe place for the LGBT+ community. Nominations told us how the venue strived to stay open as long as they could over COVID19 by offering food, outdoor seating, and table service to ensure the community had a familiar face to go during the challenging times.
Finalists: Linda Gold’s Funnyboyz, The Poste House.
LGBT+ Staff Network/Group
Winner: Merseyside Police LGBT+ Staff Network
The LGBT+ Staff Network at Merseyside Police works throughout the year and across the whole force to support LGBT+ staff members, officers, and their families. From championing inclusion, to holding open conversations about how policing can better serve our communities. Celebrating their 20th anniversary in 2021, the network has been instrumental in many of the positive changes that have taken place within Merseyside Police.
Finalists: Magenta Living Employee Diversity Network, LSTM LGBTQ+ Staff Network.
Performer/Personality of the Year
Winner: Miss Grace
As someone that is relatively new to drag, Miss Grace has certainly made an impact. Recently having started a LGBT+ focused radio show on Liverpool Live Radio using their voice and platform to champion the community and discuss issues that matter to us.
Finalists: Kiki Pain, Filla Crack.
Young Person of the Year
Winner: Dys Alexia
At just 19 years of age Dys Alexia (Alin Birjan) launched FunnyBoyz online to entertain people during the pandemic. In 2020, she and her partner opened their first Funnyboyz Bar in Liverpool and have created 100+ jobs for LGBTQ+ people. They have now launched the brand in 10 other cities across Europe. Dys and the team at FB are deeply involved in their community and charity fundraising. Ten percent of all their profits are donated to Cancer is a Drag and they support Pride in Liverpool as a sponsor. Dys only pays themselves the national minimum wage to ensure that all profits from the business are invested back into the community.
Finalists: Emily Waldron, Cassie Rattray.
Work to Tackle Hate Crime
Winner: Rachel Cowley-Roberts
In her role as ‘Hate Crime Coordinator’ for Merseyside Police, Rachel helped hundreds of victims of hate crime to access support and report what happened to them. While the police are not always seen in the best light by the LGBT+ community, Rachael’s work built important bridges. Her refreshing approach supported victims by treating them like human beings and did not claim that everything in the system is perfect or didn’t need changing. Rachel was instrumental in developing the ‘You’re Safe Here’ accreditation launched by Merseyside PCC and LCR Pride Foundation. She ensured the training reflected real-life situations and examples and implemented the sessions in the work of Merseyside Police.
Finalists: Angel DeWynter / Naya Thorn, Paul Amann.
Youth Group of the Year
Winner: Over the Rainbow, St Helens
The only LGBT youth group in St Helens, Over the Rainbow was established in 2016, and supports any LGBT young person aged 13 -20, as well as those up to age of 24 for those with additional needs. Since 2019 the group has had more than 40 attendees and supported countless others. It allows them to take part in projects that will influence LGBTQ+ awareness and provides them with peer support and friendship and improves confidence. People say the best thing about the group is the vibe and atmosphere. It aims to empower its participants, help them realise they are supported, give them a sense of community, and allow them the freedom of expression.
Finalists: The Hive, Work It Out, Glow at The Studio.
Winner: Tracy O’Hara
Tracy O’Hara has been the chair of the Merseyside Police LGBT+ Network since 2003, campaigning for LGBT+ equality and inclusion on a local, national, and international level. She has been a trailblazer in policing, always striving for equality wherever she goes and taking pride in helping people who feel on the outside.
Tracy joined Merseyside Police in 1996 “to be Christine Cagney” and had early aspirations to be a Detective. She worked in the City Centre for the first 5 years in a job that she loved, but an environment that she hated; one filled with homophobia, fear, and secrecy. Tracy was not out and after five years was planning to leave Merseyside Police. Fortunately, a friend pointed her towards the Gay and Lesbian Support Network (as it was then known). For the first time in her career, Tracy saw people like her, but also people who were striving to change the Police into an organisation that respected difference, and she jumped right in.
Tracy has led the Network through a range of challenging and engaging moments, including the murder of Michael Causer in 2008, achieving 8th place in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index in 2009, encouraging Merseyside Police to allow officers to march in uniform at Liverpool Pride in 2011 and convincing the organisation to have a ‘Police with Pride’ car within their operational fleet. Now 100+ officers, staff, and volunteers March with Pride through the streets of Liverpool each year.
She was the lead officer on the Red Umbrella partnership between Merseyside Police and The Armistead Centre, focussing on supporting and engaging with sex workers across Merseyside, and set the national agenda during her time as chair of the LGBT+ Network, when she convinced then Assistant Chief Constable Julie Cooke to take on the portfolio lead for LGBT+ equality in the National Police Chief’s Council. A strong, positive working relationship led to Trans guidance for the policing sector being published, including on supporting Trans staff at work, the rights of Trans staff when searching and recommendations on uniform and internal records.
Tracy became chair of the newly formed National LGBT+ Police Network in 2015, remaining in the role until 2020. She has been named Police Officer of the Year, International Police Officer of the Year and was awarded a Queens Policing Medal for distinguished services to policing in 2017.
To find out more about the LCR Pride Awards, visit: lcrprideawards.co.uk