The first-ever Pride event in Barnet is being staged by Middlesex University and the town hall.

Inkluder CIC, an LGBTQ+ led community organisation, is helping to organise the first Barnet Pride in the Park, together with Barnet Council, in Victoria Park, Finchley, on Sunday, August 20. 

It is being co-ordinated by Ant Babajee, a former BBC journalist who has worked at the university for 16 years.

“It’s important for the university to be at the heart of creating a more equal, fairer society,” he said.   

“This is an opportunity to come along to an event even if you don’t know anyone in your social circle who is gay, queer or trans — which is unlikely as we are spreading our rainbows everywhere. We want to create a little bit of understanding.” 

There has been “zero visibility” for marginalised communities in Barnet “for too long”, he argues. 

“That’s not because there’s been no community organisation,” Ant added. “Now is the time and the dream eventually to establish an LGBT+ community café and events space.

“I’m fortunate working for a university where I don’t have to hide and pretend to be something I’m not. We don’t have to pretend just because we might face stigma, prejudice and discrimination. We are in all walks of life in all areas of society.” 

Ant, an HIV activist who has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness about the virus following his own diagnosis in 2007, was recognised as a Change Maker of the Year by Stonewall back in March.

He is behind the move for the university’s Hendon campus in The Boroughs to join in a partnership with the town hall next door as the largest employer in the area.

The event will include an exhibition by wedding photographer Chris Jepson who earlier this year photographed around 20 LGBTQ+ people in Barnet. 

Students, staff and former students feature in his Identity Project Portrait of a Community, which celebrates LGBTQ+ people and promotes Barnet’s diverse community. 

The university's senior lecturer in performance art TJB, a pansexual, queer, non-binary, trans-person with invisible dis/abilities was photographed for the project. 

Speaking about identity, xe said: “I value it. I respect that it’s fluid and try to encourage that others respect that as well.”

Middlesex won ‘University of the Year’ title from the Queer Student awards and has jumped to 58th place in the Stonewall “workplace equality” index.

Around 50 members of the university’s gay network joined the Pride in London march on July 1.

Barnet councillor Zahra Beg said: “We’re a council that wants to create a safe space for everyone to come together to celebrate their identity and promote equality for all.”