By day, Rachel works in outreach for a small LGBT sexual health charity, delivering education, testing, free condoms and more. When she’s not at work, you can find her helping out on the steering group for Storyhouse Women, enjoying poetry at Testify, volunteering with Chester Pride, walking her rescue dog Pippin and podcasting everything Chester.
Tell me more about your podcast, what you are working on at the moment and where can people listen?
We still cover local issues and organisations but on a rather more ad hoc basis! If something grabs us, we’ll grab a microphone and do an interview. This means we’ve covered an interesting and random range of events and people from Deva Fest, to That Beer Place, to live tattooing and any number of DJs and promoters in the city. It’s really great to have so much flexibility. Once we’ve got enough interview material then Parsley edits it all together with an 80s theme song of his choosing and we podcast it here.
You and Mr Parsley have a close history with the radio work, what made you go into podcasting?
We both hosted the Flipside Weekly from the old Lache FM studio – covering local events, music, and charities. Parsley has a long and experienced career as a DJ, whereas I arrived as a guest talking about chlamydia and he couldn’t get rid of me because I loved it so much. Once they closed the studio, we wanted to carry on doing something and, whilst we were looking for a new location, we were invited to cover the Storyhouse Women weekend. We had lots of fun, and it was really well received so the podcast was born!
As well as the podcasting you also work with Cheshire charity Body Positive, what kind of work are the team doing?
Body Positive is a small local LGBT sexual health and relationships charity. Our work includes social groups and support for LGBT+ people and we do a great deal of outreach work.
As an outreach worker, I’m usually working with vulnerable groups across Cheshire, but especially with young people, to deliver interventions and education (and lots of condoms) which help people to have safer happier sex.
Speaking of LGBTQ+, you’re on the committee for Chester pride. How long have you been part of the yearly event?
My first involvement with Chester Pride came in 2013, when I accompanied my mum in a civic capacity as Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress. We were instantly struck by the energy and colour of the event, which then took place in the Town Hall Square, a venue it has now outgrown. I clearly remember the huge cheer that went up when we appeared on the Town Hall balcony, flanked by local drag queens, flying the rainbow flag!
Since that day, I’ve been increasingly involved with Chester Pride as the day has grown and morphed into the fantastic festivity that we see today. Chester Pride now takes up the whole of the Castle car park, offering a huge range of entertainment, activities, food, drink and more. The colourful parade has become so long that it almost meets itself coming back, and every year we are joined by an increasingly large, varied crowd of revellers who take to the streets to celebrate equality and diversity in the city. This year, Chester Pride has been rescheduled due to bad weather but we’ll be back with a day that’s bigger and better than ever – the main stage will feature Nadine Coyle, the health and wellbeing zone offers a chance for people to network and meet local charities and service providers (and pick up some freebies), the indie stage will showcase local music talent; there will be space for children, a tent for older LGBT people and a dedicated young people’s zone.
I’m normally on stage hosting our cabaret tent, the Glitter Lounge, where you’ll find the weird and wonderful, burlesque, boylesque, music, dance and possibly even karaoke! If it’s sparkly, we’ll have it! But it’s not just the chance to strut my stuff on stage that gives me a reason to love Chester Pride. It’s all the other things – the time and care that goes into planning the day, the team of dedicated volunteers who make it happen, the local businesses and people who generously donate to keep the event afloat, the fabulous costumes, the goodwill and positivity that’s generated on the day.
Whenever people ask me why I got involved, I tell them about the group of teenagers I watched in the parade one year: it was their first Pride, they were excited but nervous, only just come out – and for the first time they were surrounded by LGBT people, buoyed up on a wave of solidarity and carnival atmosphere. There they stood, in the midst of the noise and colour, wrapped in their rainbow flags, smiling and secure – safe to celebrate their sexuality with their new Pride family. That’s why I love Pride.
How would you describe the talent in Chester and the platforms available for talent?
Chester has so much talent! For a small city, we totally punch above our weight. There’s a wealth of indie bands and promoters, record labels, DJs, artists, poets, writers, choirs, theatre, and so many more performers, I don’t even know where to start. People say nothing ever happens in Chester but that’s nonsense – you can find whatever you want. I’m out practically every weekend enjoying banging dance music. Some of the platforms are obvious, like Storyhouse or the Live Rooms but you’ll also find amazing stuff happening in tiny indie venues such as G21 behind The Saddle, in the market or old library.
Finally, if you had to lip sync for your life what song would you go for?
How about some early 90s Scandalous cheese from Mis-Teeq.
You can follow Rachel on twitter @Rach_A_Rama and find out more about her projects by visiting @bodypositive1.
Words and images – Lee Bear
Pride Poster – Chester Pride