As we mark the 50th anniversary since the Stonewall riots, this promises to be a big year for LGBTQ Pride celebrations around the world.
To help you plan your itinerary of where you’ll be waving your rainbow flag this summer, we’re profiling the Pride events that are happening around the world.
I caught up with Garry Ormes from Essex Pride, for a behind-the-scenes look at the celebrations that will be taking over Chelmsford on 15 June.
How would you describe the LGBTQ community in Essex?
The community in Essex are very supportive of each other, and the atmosphere at Essex Pride is something I’m really proud of. It’s always very friendly, and everyone is so welcoming. People do seem to make friends, and everyone just stops and chats to you – there’s a lot of love in the air! I’ve known people who have met at Essex Pride, and gone on to get married. We’ve even had a proposal on stage!
Why are Pride celebrations important to queer people in Essex?
Pride is a big thing in Essex, it’s something that the whole community celebrates. There aren’t that many dedicated venues for the LGBTQ community in Essex – I think that’s a sign of the times, where people feel they can go pretty much anywhere nowadays. But, once a year, in Central Park in Chelmsford, it’s a big opportunity to catch up with people you haven’t seen for a while.
How many people are you expecting to attend the Pride celebrations this year?
Each year, the celebrations get bigger, and Essex Pride attracts people from all over the South and East of England. Last year, there were around 3,500 people. For 2019, we’ve got a great lineup of acts – Samantha Mumba, N-Trance, Sam Bailey, and RuPaul Drag Race’s Cynthia Lee Fontaine. We’re also pleased to have Miss Jason, and The Drag With No Name, as well as local and unsigned talent. There’s definitely something for everyone – including tribute acts to Pink, and Dolly Parton.
Our official after party is going to be huge – it’s being held at Popworld, and it’s free entry with your Essex Pride wristband.
Are there any specific social or political issues that you’re expecting to be highlighted at this year’s Pride?
As this year is the 50th year since the Stonewall riots, we’re planning some features in recognition of this, and to remember those who campaigned and championed change, so that we now have the freedoms that we enjoy today.
This is the 16th year that Pride celebrations have been held in Essex. How has the event evolved over the years?
It actually stared as an event in a pub, and it’s amazing to think how it’s grown. This is mostly due to the community as a whole, regardless of sexuality, coming together to embrace and celebrate diversity here in Essex. Pride is so important, and also sends out the message that Essex is a diverse and accepting place to live. We’re now able to attract corporate sponsors – brands such as Aegon, First Date, Nando’s, and Chelmsford City Council.
What do you hope that people feel when attending Essex Pride?
We receive hundreds of messages, tweets, and posts from the many people that come to Pride. People have told us that at Essex Pride they felt like they could be themselves, and meet up with old friends. Many people have also sent us messages to thank us for making their first experience of a Pride such a memorable one.
Essex Pride is run by volunteers, and we’re very lucky to have such a great team. It’s a growing event, so we’re always looking for people that would like to volunteer and get involved.
Tickets for Essex Pride 2019 are available now, and it’s cheaper in advance – it’s a great idea to grab your tickets now!