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Canterbury Pride 2017: thousands line city centre streets

ByKentOnline reporter

Thousands of people are taking part in the Canterbury Pride 2017 event.

Crowds have gathered in the city centre to watch the colourful parade featuring samba music, flag waving and a carnival atmosphere.

The party has now moved to the Dane John Gardens, where mayor of Canterbury Rosemary Doyle and new MP Rosie Duffield were among the many making speeches on the podium before a minute's silence was held in memory of the victims of the Manchester and London terror attacks.

The Pride parade in Canterbury city centre
The Pride parade in Canterbury city centre

This year's event features RuPaul’s Drag Race favourites Courtney Act and Willam, some of the UK’s favourite tribute acts and Kent’s best talent for an afternoon of music, DJs and fun.

There is a large police presence with all bags being checked before people are allowed to enter.

Thousands gather at the Dane John gardens for Canterbury Pride.
Thousands gather at the Dane John gardens for Canterbury Pride.

Armed police had also been spotted in the city today after the organisers announced that security would be stepped up this year.

Before a minute's silence was held, organiser Edd Withers said: "The day after our Pride event last year there was a shooting in Orlando and many people lost their lives. It was an LGBT nightclub.

"Since then we have had terror attacks in Manchester and London. We have lost many people who did not deserve to die. 

"Let us have a minutes silence to remember those we lost."

Friends Hannah Lakin, 24, Rachel Underhill, 24, and Derek Batten, 23, said they were thrilled to be a part of the celebrations today but had some concerns about the results of this week's election.

Derek Batten, 23, Rachel Underhill, 24, and Hannah Lakin, 23.
Derek Batten, 23, Rachel Underhill, 24, and Hannah Lakin, 23.

Hannah said: "We are all a big group of friends who have been friends since university.

"Most of us are gay or bisexual or transsexual or identify in some way with the LGBT community.

"Today we are here to come together with like-minded people.

The parade in the city centre.
The parade in the city centre.

"We are disappointed that we could be governed by DUP, when they are so backwards. They are anti gay, anti abortion.

"If we are governed by people like that, we are going backwards, not moving towards a more progressive and accepting community."

Derek added: "Last year was a lot more low key but with such great weather today, it has brought more people out and it's going to be a lovely day."

Mayor of Canterbury Rosemary Doyle, who led the parade through the city centre, made a speech to the thousands in the Dane John: "Along with all the fun today, there is also a serious message.

"It is about challenging prejudice. 

"Tolerance does not mean agreeing with everything but it does mean respecting different points of view. Today has shown me how much people in Canterbury do for each other."

Canterbury's Dane John gardens were filled with stalls and stages.
Canterbury's Dane John gardens were filled with stalls and stages.

Carer John Jobson, 59, from Dover said: "'Here, everyone is accepting of one another, without discrimination.

"I moved here recently from the North and Canterbury is a great city, even more today.

"An event like this brings everyone together, whether you're gay or straight, it does not matter."

John Jobson was one of the many celebrating Canterbury Pride.
John Jobson was one of the many celebrating Canterbury Pride.

Leon Summers, 26, from Canterbury said: "We are here to celebrate.

"It's good for Canterbury to have something like this which celebrates everyone being who they are, individual, especially with everything going on recently, it has certainly come at a good time.

"I think the election result has added to the celebrations here. 

"It is a historical event and what better way to celebrate that alongside an event which champions equality and diversity."

Leon Summers, 26 (middle)
Leon Summers, 26 (middle)

There are also a selection of food and drink stalls, entertainment for all ages, including various inflatables, and a Pride marketplace. 

Tonight, the celebrations continue at the official after party with Courtney Act, Willam and other surprise guests at Glitterbomb, Kent’s most popular LGBT+ club night.

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