OVER a thousand people turned out to mark the first Pride parade hosted in Tunbridge Wells on Sunday (August 20), easily surpassing the expectations of organisers.
The event saw a long, and colourful, procession of revellers march to the drum beats of Tunbridge Wells Samba band Bloco Fogo, as they snaked their way from the George Pub, along Mount Ephraim and through the Common to the Forum.
Event organiser Jazz Alexander said she was ‘overwhelmed’ by the positive response.
“Tunbridge Wells really came through. When we first decided to do it I expected it to just be myself and a few friends and I had planned to use a boom box.
“But instead we completely smashed expectations and it simply got better and better throughout the day.
“I had teenagers come up and thank me for putting the event on and telling me it was the first time they were able to feel completely confident in themselves. I was so overwhelmed that it was making such a difference,” she said.
After those who had joined in the march reached the Forum just after mid-day, the venue played host to entertainment throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening.
It proved so popular that Ms Alexander said that at evening show, which was strictly 18 and over, said many people had to be turned away as the venue was at maximum capacity.
Police were on standby, having volunteered their own time, but there were no signs of trouble and some of their cars were decorated in the rainbow colours that have come to signify the LGBTQ community.
Ms Alexander added: “I thought there may be at least some people protesting against the march but there was to one incident – everyone had a great time. I am so proud of Tunbridge Wells.”
Stonewall congratulates town on inaugural Pride event
A spokesperson for Stonewall, the LGBT equality campaign organisation, said: “It’s fantastic to see Tunbridge Wells throw its first ever Pride event and encouraging to see so many people attend. There are now more Pride celebrations held across Britain than ever before. Pride is a time for everyone to celebrate who they are, but while lesbian, gay, bi and trans rights may have progressed a lot, there’s still a long way to go before everyone in the LGBT community feels accepted without exception. We hope that the enthusiasm and support from the people of Tunbridge Wells is a sign of more good things to come.”