A rainbow bench, installed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council as a permanent reminder of the success of Cowbridge Pride, has been subjected to an act of vandalism by unknown assailants. The bench, which symbolized inclusion and diversity, became the target of destructive behavior, leaving it in a near-colorless state, devoid of its vibrant rainbow arches. This malicious act raises concerns about the continued challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community in Cowbridge and beyond.
Cowbridge Pride, founded in 2022 by Steps star Ian H Watkins in collaboration with the Welsh government, aimed to celebrate and uplift the LGBTQ+ community in Cowbridge and the Vale of Glamorgan. As part of their efforts to commemorate the inaugural Pride event’s triumph, the Vale of Glamorgan Council had installed the rainbow bench as a permanent fixture in the town. However, the bench’s significance was tarnished as vandals defaced it just before this year’s Pride celebration, scheduled for June.
This incident is not an isolated one, as Cowbridge Pride had previously encountered anti-LGBTQ+ hate in 2022 when the town hall was vandalized with offensive words scrawled across its door. The recent defacement of the rainbow bench serves as a disheartening reminder of the ongoing prejudices and discrimination faced by the LGBTQ+ community. Despite progress made in advancing inclusivity, acts of hatred continue to persist, underlining the importance of continued advocacy and solidarity.
Steps star Ian H Watkins expressed his deep disappointment in response to the vandalism, deeming it a homophobic attack. For Watkins, the bench was not merely an object but a powerful symbol of love, inclusion, and acceptance. Sharing a video on social media, Watkins conveyed his sadness and emphasized the need for Pride events, highlighting that such incidents highlight why the fight for equality must persist. His call for change and dedication to creating an all-inclusive world for future generations resonated with supporters across the globe.
The destruction of the rainbow bench received widespread attention, with numerous public figures rallying behind Watkins and expressing their support. Messages of love and solidarity poured in from fellow celebrities, including Dani Harmer, known for her role in Tracey Beaker, who emphasized that hate will never triumph. This act of vandalism has further ignited the determination to combat hatred and work towards a more inclusive society, reinforcing the significance of Pride events in promoting acceptance and unity.