'It’s amazing to have people coming together to celebrate love and acceptance'

'It’s amazing to have people coming together to celebrate love and acceptance'

15th August 2019

This month over the weekend of August 16-17 Pride Tunbridge Wells hosts its third annual celebration. Eileen Leahy talks to one its committee members Luna Lestrange about what’s in store for 2019

So Luna, please can you tell us a little bit about the history of Pride Tunbridge Wells?

Pride Tunbridge Wells was originally founded by Jazz Alexander and her friend Ben in 2017. They got some friends involved as well as Jason Dormon from The Forum in order to help with the planning and hoped a few hundred people would join them for a Pride parade. Word soon got around and they ended up with around 1,000 people attending the inaugural event!

How did you become involved?

I started on the Tunbridge Wells Pride committee in 2018. I’d hosted a fundraiser with the mad idea of replicating a full P!nk concert as part of Pride Late at The Forum. It sold out and I naturally became involved with helping to organise this year’s events. We’re now in year three and have seen what people really love so we’re trying to fine-tune things to make an event that has a little something for everyone.

Can you tell us a bit about your plans for this year?

Pride 2019 officially starts on Friday August 16 when the star of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Charlie Hides, will be hosting a talent show at the Assembly Hall Theatre. The X Factor’s Bella Penfold will be our head judge, alongside myself as P!nk, and an array of others.

'Smaller community Prides are a massively different atmosphere and experience to the larger Prides of the country'

Our participants will be showing off their talents trying to impress us enough to win themselves a slot at Pride Late the following night. The next day we’ll take to the green by The Forum for music, dancing, fun, glitter, entertainment and stalls. The entire daytime event is extremely family orientated and completely free of charge.

How did you get Bella Penfold on board?

I met Bella at Pride last year, she was a friend of a friend and is from the area. We’d said on the day that we must get her involved for 2019, to which she agreed. Then she had huge success on The X Factor, but thankfully she was still willing to take part! It’s important to highlight and celebrate homegrown LGBTQ+ superstars as it lets local younger people have hope for all their dreams and shows them that even if you are from a reasonably small town, you can still go on to have massive success.

Who else can people see?

As well as Bella performing at Pride Late you can see local band Bombay Monkey opening the show and getting everyone warmed up, We’ve got two fabulous drag performers from London, Crayola, AKA London’s version of America’s Sweetheart, and the Frog Prince, Dan Phibian. We’ve got Jazz’s younger sister, Zeelah, performing too. We’ll also have a mystery guest who will be the winner of our Talent Show the night before at the Assembly Hall. I’ll be the ringmaster of this crazy bunch, hosting the night as well as throwing in a couple of routines of my own!

Why is it important for the town to celebrate Pride?

It’s amazing to have communities of people from every walk of life coming together and celebrating love and acceptance. There’s also the protest aspect to everything, which is extremely important as there’s still not complete equality and acceptance around the world – or even in our local communities. It’s also a chance for people to march through their town with allies and LGBTQ+ folk alike and feel liberated, loved, and show everyone that they’re not afraid. It’s a fab sight to see all the dancing and colours, and important to the people attending to feel completely safe for the day, no matter who they are.

What’s the Tunbridge Wells Pride’s USP? 

If you would like to experience a volunteer run, non-profit Pride based hugely on community, don’t hesitate to come along. Smaller community Prides are a massively different atmosphere and experience to the larger Prides of the country.

TAKE PART IN PRIDE

If you’d like to get involved in Tunbridge Wells Pride 2019 simply get in contact by emailing pridetunbridgewells@gmail.com 

No tickets are needed for the daytime event but you must book for the Pride Late event at The Forum. Visit www.twforum.co.uk

Pride Late runs from 7pm to 1am and the event is strictly 18+ – ID will be required.

Sum up the spirit of Pride in three words: Community, love, everyone.

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