York's culture and communities boss Cllr Darryl Smalley has spoken out about the "daunting" process of coming out as bisexual - and how far we have to go until we're a truly tolerant society.

In a first-person piece in The Press today ahead of York Pride tomorrow, Liberal Democrat councillor Darryl, 24, says coming out "never stops".

He knew from an early age he was attracted to both men and women, Cllr Smalley says. But it wasn't until he was about 14 he felt he could start to be open with friends.

"It took me even longer to be genuinely comfortable with being bisexual," he writes. "Coming out as LGBT+ isn’t just one occasion, it never stops.

York Press: Darryl Smalley, in yellow, at York Pride 2018Darryl Smalley, in yellow, at York Pride 2018

"I’m sure some colleagues or friends reading this today weren’t aware – and that’s fine.

"Since I told the first friend around a decade ago, it’s gradually got easier each time. (But) telling people my sexuality is intensely personal and at times daunting."

Cllr Smalley, who grew up in Lincoln before coming to York at 18 to go to university, says as a teenager he was lucky. "I had supportive friends, family and teachers."

But not all members of the LGBT community are so fortunate.

"Research from The School Report (2017) highlighted that nearly half of LGBT pupils (45 per cent) – including 64 per cent of trans pupils – are bullied for being LGBT in Britain’s schools," he writes.

"It’s been 50 years since the first Pride march in the UK, and whilst today we live in a society where LGBT+ people can live openly and free, we can’t take progress for granted.

"Hate crime against LGBT+ York residents is sadly too common, we have a Government refusing to fully ban conversion therapy and we have a long way to go to achieve equality across society - for example, same sex marriage ceremonies are still banned in CofE churches.

"That’s why Pride matters. Visibility and representation is crucial."

Cllr Smalley, who is executive member for culture, leisure and communities on City of York Council, says that hit TV shows like Netflix’s Heartstopper and Brookside helped shift the national mood. The courage of public figures such as Blackpool player Jake Daniels who come out is also inspirational.

York Press: Darryl Smalley at York Pride 2018Darryl Smalley at York Pride 2018

He says he looks forward to 'joining friends, colleagues and thousands of residents' at tomorrow's York Pride.

"To everyone who attends, LGBT+ or not, thank you for supporting our community," he writes.

Greg Stephenson, the Chair of York Pride, said tomorrow's event - the first since 2019 - was expected to attract up to 10,000 people to Knavesmire between 1-7pm.

"It's free, it's fully inclusive, the weather's going to be good - and anybody can turn up!" he said.

A York Pride parade will gather in Duncombe Place just before 12 noon tomorrow, and is expected to arrive at Knavesmire between 1-1.30pm.

Among the acts performing during the afternoon will be Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud; singer and tv star Duncan James; X-Factor singer Marcus Collins; drag artist St Sordid Secret; and Divina De Campo from Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

York Press: A previous York Pride paradeA previous York Pride parade

Parking will be suspended on Duncombe Place between 8am and 1pm. Duncombe Place, High Petergate, Blake Street, St Helen’s Square and Lendal will also close to traffic.

Blob: Why I am so proud to take part in York Pride, p12