'Brilliant' support for Cumbria Pride event in Carlisle
Last updated at 11:19, Monday, 03 October 2011
Hundreds descended on the Swallow Hilltop Hotel in Carlisle to celebrate Cumbria Pride – the first festival of its kind in the county.
Visitors and traders travelled from as far as central Scotland, Yorkshire and Cornwall to attend the early hours of Saturday’s colourful event with many more expected to flock later in the day.
All 1,500 free tickets had been snapped up before it opened and free buses were provided by Cumbria Coaches to shuttle people between the venue and the city centre.
Jack Francis, 17, of Armathwaite, and his friends Charlotte Williams and Jennifer Rogers were among those attending.
Jack said: “This is a new experience for Carlisle and Cumbria and I wanted to come and see what it is like.
“It is great to have something like this, it’s bringing people together, and gives people the chance to feel more comfortable about themselves.
“Carlisle is known sometimes for being a bit backwards so something like this is very welcome. It’s unique.”
Student Isy Grainger, 20, from Stanwix in Carlisle, said: “It is nice that we’ve finally got a Pride event but it’s a shame that most of it has been indoors. It’ll be much better in the future if it is outside and it takes over something like Bitts Park.”
The festival not only included singers and performers on stage but also stands and stalls selling goods and offering information and advice.
Performers included students from the University of Cumbria, who are members of the dramatics group BlackEDEN Productions. They performed songs from the musical Rent as a warm-up to their one-night-only production at the Sands Centre last night.
Female impersonator Billie Raymond, from Carlisle, was among the surprise guests and drag queens to appear on Saturday evening.
Toyah Willcox performed a four-song set before heading off to Outrageous Cabaret Bar in English Street for the after-show party.
The audience lapped up her songs – Echo Beach, It’s A Mystery, her latest record Fallen and I Want To Be Free - which she penned more than 40 years ago when she was just 12.
Fellow 1980s star Hazell Dean headlined the main stage at the Swallow Hilltop Hotel later.
David Charles travelled from Blackpool with his partner Jason Redshaw to run their Pride Colours stall.
A trustee of Blackpool’s Pride event, David said: “Events like this are really about raising awareness more than anything else and I think this is doing exactly that.
“I know there were a lot of traders who wanted to come and weren’t able to because places were limited. They’ll be looking to come next year.”
Organisers wanted to host a family festival to promote equality and diversity as well as celebrate the area’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
While many of the activities were inside the Swallow Hotel, several stalls, inflatables and bouncy castles were outside.
Pam Eland, chairman of Cumbria Pride, said: “I’m really chuffed at how it has gone.
“The traders and official organisations who have also turned out have been brilliant and supporters have included the Lesbian and Gay Foundation in Manchester. It was great that the mayor could come and meet people too. The support has been brilliant."
First published at 11:18, Monday, 03 October 2011
Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk
Have your say
Stewart, you come across as having a persecution complex. Just because someone says something that you disagree with, it does not make them a bigot. I also suggest that you examine your very flowery use of the English language.
Stewart, that was beautifully said.
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