Tunbridge Wells Pride ‘draws crowd of 1,000’

The Mead School in Tunbridge Wells gave a professional level performance in the  ISA drama contests

Hundreds joined a colourful celebration of Tunbridge Wells’ LGBTQ community in the second annual Pride.

Pride Chairperson Jazz Alexander estimated 1,000 people took part events on Saturday [August 18] which included a march from the clock tower to The Forum, where music and performances were staged.

Ms Alexander, who heads a five-member organising committee, said: ‘It went really well, it was a good turn-out and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves – they kept saying thanks.’

Musician Miss Luna Lestrange and ‘drag king’ Chiyo Gomez were among the performers at The Forum. The organisers’ job was made easier by mild weather and local businesses, such as Oxfam Bookshop and Chapel Place Wine Bar, decorating their shopfronts specially. Passengers at Tunbridge Wells railway station were even offered Pride-themed ticket holders.

One disappointment for organisers was that the march again took place along pavements because they had been unable to secure permission to close roads.

However, Ms Alexander believes that with comparable attendance numbers to last year, the event has now become a firm fixture in the town’s calendar.


She continued: ‘We are still testing the waters in Tunbridge Wells. It is only the second event and some people are still offended by it. It is meant to be a peaceful protest for a basic human right, but we do have fun.

‘We have moved forward [in attitudes towards the LGBTQ community] but there is still a long way to go before it is equal rights. I have trans friends who have been groped and there is still a lot of hate crime against people in this community.

‘I have experienced it [bad feeling] in Tunbridge Wells and all over [the country]. It is a shame there are not many places where people can feel safe to be who they are. I want to make Tunbridge Wells one of those places.’

And Pride will return to Tunbridge Wells next year, with organisers already announcing the 2019 date of August 17.

It is self-funded and organisers do not take sponsorship from businesses, but do accept donations from individuals to meet running costs.

Ms Alexander was tight-lipped about next year’s details at this stage but a new logo on Pride’s Facebook page, which shows a sign-post to The Pantiles, suggests the location of next year’s events.

‘I would love to have a full-on festival in Calverley Grounds,’ continued Ms Alexander, who is aiming for a Local & Live Music Festival-style event for their fifth Pride.

‘For next year, we want the roads to be closed. I would like to have floats going down the road. We are aiming to stage it at The Pantiles and use its Bandstand. To have the parade there would be beautiful.’

She added: ‘I would like to say thanks to everyone that came and for raising money towards our chosen charity Allsorts Youth Project who help people get re-homed.’

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