Freedom of the City: Daryn Carter

On 9 November, Freedom of the City was awarded to Daryn Carter MBE, the director of Bristol Pride since co-founding the organisation in 2009.

I am proud to have proposed that Daryn be conferred with Freedom of the City, which recognises exceptional contributions to life in Bristol and beyond.

Freedom of the City is a rare honour, with Paul Stephenson and David Attenborough alongside former Prime Ministers and Nobel Laureates on the civic roll. In early December, Val Jeal, founder of local charity One 25, will become the first woman conferred with our highest civic honour.

Under Daryn’s leadership, Bristol Pride has grown its annual event to one of the largest in the country, with an audience of 40,000 in 2019. Daryn’s contribution to building a better, more equal Bristol, and Britain, is truly inspiring: from working with local schools and prisons, to inputting the LGBT+ manifesto into our One City Plan, to campaigning for the legalisation of same sex marriage. He won the Lord Mayor’s Medal in 2014 and, in 2020, was awarded an MBE in Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the LGBT+ community.

Daryn’s Freedom of the City speech can be watched from 19:30 or read in full below.

I am incredibly humbled and honoured to be awarded freedom of the city.

I have now been working in equalities and diversity for nearly 20 years. From helping to improve engagement and diversity in my roles in recruitment with the BBC and others, to 13 years building Bristol Pride up from scratch to be one of the largest Pride events in the UK, and named in the Top50 Global Pride events and as many opportunities to step up and stand up for equality and injustice as I can in-between.

It is a labour of love and I am sure some of you have heard me say before that I feel that Pride saved my life, attending Brighton Pride showed me that I was not alone and not a freak at one of my darkest times it was hope. I hold that closely to my heart every year planning the festival, I remember what it means to so many and the power that it has to touch hearts and change minds. But it’s not been without challenge and personal sacrifice not just for myself but for those close to me too.

There are things to celebrate and progress made but it can for the most part be a thankless task. As well as the immense pressure of delivering events that champion and also support the community it’s done in the face of increasing tensions in society and it’s hard to be on the front line of this. Being exposed to the prejudice and hatred levelled at people for being who they are, loving who they love or simply existing is one of the biggest challenges of working to creating a better society for all. You have to take the rough with the smooth but it can take its toll. Sadly this tension is only gotten worse, Hate Crime levelled at the LGBT+ community trebled in the last few years with increasing physical violence and if you look at the stats for our Trans community it’s even worse, a rise of over 332%.

It is a stark reminder that there is still a lot more to do and that we all play a part in tackling social injustice, in all forms, to and ensure we stand up to protect and be a voice for all those that we represent regardless.

I said it’s a thankless task and we don’t do it for thanks. We do it because of passion and because it is much needed, but when the thank you’s do come they are truly welcome. This means so much to me.

Thank you.