A rainbow flag will fly at Ossett Town Hall this weekend, as part of a project to increase LGBTQ+ visibility in the town.
Millie West, 17, organised the flag, a symbol of pride among the LGBTQ+ community, as part of a project to increase awareness surrounding gender, sexuality and diversity.
She said: “I was on a BBC show with my mum called 21 Again, in which I helped educate five mums about gender, sexuality and politics.
“We did some pretty amazing things and they got really involved with the LGBTQ community.
“A lot of people came to me and said they understand a lot more now. I wanted to keep doing more and giving back to not only the LGBTQ+ community but also my community.
“Ossett has quite a traditional background. I left Ossett Academy a year ago and I know firsthand that there is a really young but really strong LGBT community. So many kids who are openly gay or transgender.
“It’s changing, it’s really changing. I know that the young generation of Ossett are quite LGBT inclined and I wanted to celebrate that.
“For them to walk home from school and see the flag, it’s there to show them that as a community we’re here.”
Millie, who next hopes to organise a Pride event in the town, wrote to Wakefield MP Mary Creagh with her idea, after floating the idea of an Ossett pride in a Facebook group, where almost 600 people said they would be in support.
Struck by the idea, Ms Creagh contacted Wakefield Council, and organised for the flag to fly over Ossett this weekend.
She said: “Millie contacted me a few weeks back and said would it be possible to fly the flag over Wakefield and Ossett town halls. I was able to contact Peter Box who said it’s armed forces weekend in Wakefield so we’re flying the armed forces flag there, but he was happy to sort it for Ossett town hall.
“I was absolutely thrilled that we are able to sort that out so quickly for her. We were the first city in West Yorkshire to organise our own pride.
“I think there was a kind of feeling from Millie that she wanted the LGBTQ+ community to feel visible to feel valid and to have a voice in both Wakefield and Ossett.”
Millie has faced some opposition to her ideas, but says she refuses to be downhearted.
She said: “It’s sad to see, but it comes with everything. Everybody has an opinion on everything.
“I think personally it’s a fear of the unknown. As humans we naturally fear the unknown, like the ocean. I think that’s it.
“Obviously there’s a lot of stigma on the LGBTQ+ community but if you strip those preconceptions away, you just get a human being. A lot of people don’t understand that.”
The rainbow flag will fly over Ossett town hall on Saturday, July 6 and Sunday, July 7, 2019.