Canterbury gay choir aims to unite LGBT Kent community
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by Jamie Bullen
A choir in Canterbury is
helping unite the city’s gay community at a time when the district
has been attacked for not being diverse enough, its members
The 9 Bob Notes – exclusively
for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community –
has drawn people from all over Kent.
Set up two years ago, the
choir says it is one of few organisations to provide a service to
gay people in Canterbury and the county.
Members say the singing
sessions have helped some who have plunged into isolation because
of their sexuality.
Health practitioner Fiona
Thomson, 52, is one of the founding members of the group and says
singing is key to bringing people together in
She said: "In my work I was
part of a LGBT mental health group which was looking at the general
mental health and wellbeing needs of LGBT people in
"It came out of that that
singing was a really good way of people coming together so we
thought let’s try and start a choir.
"We thought if we were going
to draw people from across Kent then Canterbury was a central place
in terms of transport and it is one of the main parts of
The LGBT community in
Canterbury was dealt a blow in January when Pride In Canterbury
founders Andrew Brettell and Martin Lammas left the city to move to
Norwich because it was more "gay-friendly".
Canterbury MP Julian Brazier
recently voted against gay marriage proposals and gay teacher
Jacques Frances said she was leaving Canterbury after years of
Most members agree there is
little provision for gay people in the city, other than student
activities and the odd night run by pubs and nightclubs.
School teacher Samantha
Armstrong, 27, of New Dover Road, Canterbury, said she joined a
year ago after reading about the choir on the Pride in Canterbury
She said: "There really isn’t
any LGBT provision in Canterbury, if you don’t include a couple of
nightclub evenings but unless you’re very young they don’t often
appeal to the whole LGBT community in Kent.
"This LGBT choir is one of
the only things available and open to everybody and completely
"We’re open to people of all
ages and abilities and I think we provide a really valuable
"We’re not just about the
music it’s about the social aspect and providing a safe space for
people who otherwise wouldn’t probably meet a LGBT person in
Members of the group hope the
choir’s progress will act as a springboard for more LGBT activities
in Canterbury and would like to see gay festivals return to the
Retired nurse Peter Cronin-Hill (left), 57, of Forge Lane,
Whitstable, used to organise gay activities in the city and
believes Canterbury could profit from the pink pound if more
provision was made for the community.
He said: "The biggest thing I
have been involved in is the Gay Prides.
"Andrew and Martin did the
first one and me and my partner Chris did the second, which was
about five years ago now.
"We would perhaps like to do
another one but we are going to need some financial sponsorship for
"If there is things like the choir hopefully it will
attract people and make people realise there is money to be
For more information on the group visit their website or e-mail
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