Tunbridge Wells Pride returns after year’s hiatus for a day of celebration

TIME FOR PRIDE: Families enjoy last weekend’s event at The Forum

THE streets were filled with festivity as the LGBTQIA+ community came together to support Tunbridge Wells Pride across the town last Sunday (August 20).

Poignantly, the LGBTQIA+ community also used the opportunity to celebrate trans rights pioneer and former Tunbridge Wells Borough Councillor Mark Rees, who died on July 26.

The day opened with a march from The George pub down to The Forum, with rainbow flags and banners filling the streets.

The Forum hosted the event, with live DJs, entertainment and drag performances from Dermot O’Dreary, Miss Luna Lestrange and many more. A ‘cheesy disco’ after-after party was held at the nightclub, Aura, for those wanting to celebrate into the early hours.

Southborough Town councillor Alan Bullion (Labour) said: “It was well attended and we had a good crowd. We did the traditional walk from St George’s pub to The Forum. Lots of local groups were there with stalls, including the Soroptimists, DAVSS and Amnesty.

“There was dancing and entertainment and a good time was had by all.

“Pride is back on the map in Tunbridge Wells – it’s been a couple of years. Good on the Forum and all the other participants who made it a success.”

The weather held out for the event, with people enjoying live music on the grass outside The Forum.

Amelia Turner, 20, who travelled in from Edenbridge to celebrate the day, said: “We arrived late afternoon, had a couple of drinks and enjoyed the vibe of the music playing outside The Forum – they were playing some classic throwbacks!

“We then went to the over-18s part inside The Forum, and it was a blast! Live music, comedy, drag performers and more.”

Local businesses and charities came along to support this year’s Pride, the first event in two years after last year’s event was cancelled.

Harley Seymour, Co-chair of Tunbridge Wells Pride told the Times: “Thank you to everyone who attended and supported this year’s Pride!

“It was fantastic to see a great show of community support throughout the day. Our Children’s Pride event went down very well with families, with drag story time from drag artist Semi Colon, appearances from Elsa, and a magic show!

“We had a great show of local businesses and charities that attended and engaged with local communities, it was particularly great to have West Kent Mind surveying attendees about tailored support services for the LGBTQIA+ community.

“We are already in the works planning things for next year, and already have further events in the works that are sure to include something for everyone across the town!”

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