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First Gravesham Pride to be held next year

By Sean McPolin

Gravesend is set to celebrate its first ever Pride event next year.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans (LGBT+) community has now received the full support of the council for the festival in June 2020.

Louisa Cunningham, 40, who is organising the inaugural Gravesham Pride says it will make it easier for people in the area who have to attend similar events around the country.

Pride team planning for Gravesham Pride event next year at Gravesent Borough Market.
Pride team planning for Gravesham Pride event next year at Gravesent Borough Market.

The Gravesend resident is hoping to organise the event for June 6 as it marks the anniversary of the Stonewall riots - this was a demonstration by members of the LGBT+ community after police raided the Stonewall Inn, in Manhattan, New York, in 1969.

She said: “I can’t describe how I feel as I am overwhelmed by the fact that the event is actually happening.

“I have had a few knock backs from members of the public, saying that it’s never going to happen and it’s not going to work, but I didn’t let that stop me from carrying on.

“I did reach a few dead ends that made me feel that I wouldn’t get this far. However, I refused to give up and turned it around and tried other ways.

Louisa Cunningham is planning the event.
Louisa Cunningham is planning the event.

“I was also told that its been tried in the past but was never a success, so for me to have pursued it and finally make it happen feels great. This is with the help from local authorities and the community that support us. 2020 is a special year to hold our very first Pride. It means so much to me to have achieved this.

“I’ve always wanted to have our own Pride event for years as I have a lot of LGBT+ friends and have attended many Pride festivals outside Gravesend with them including Brighton, Margate, London and Leicester.

“But I didn’t really know at the time how to go about it. I was given Cllr Steve Thompson’s contact details to inform him of my idea and it went from there.

“Once I knew the right people to contact and had other people contacting me, all my ideas began to come to life.”

Gravesham Cllr Steve Thompson is helping to get Gravesham Pride running. Picture: GBC (6891673)
Gravesham Cllr Steve Thompson is helping to get Gravesham Pride running. Picture: GBC (6891673)

Cllr Steve Thompson (Lab), of Gravesham Central ward, thinks the event can help bring the community together.

He said: “When our country and borough is so divided it is essential that we all strive to ensure inclusivity and that we value, respect and celebrate each other.

“We desperately need social cohesion now, more than ever. I am proud to be working with S.A.F.E. (Sexuality Alliance For All) a new LGBT+ community group in Gravesham to start to build towards a Gravesham Pride event.

“In the words of the late MP Jo Cox: “We are more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.”

Pride team planning for Gravesham Pride event next year. From Left: Pictured are Jen wade, Cllr Steve Thompson, John Byrne, Shane, Louisa Cunningham & Lynn Rayfield.
Pride team planning for Gravesham Pride event next year. From Left: Pictured are Jen wade, Cllr Steve Thompson, John Byrne, Shane, Louisa Cunningham & Lynn Rayfield.

A location and time hasn’t been decided yet, but the council has offered to help out.

Gravesham council spokesman Ashley Wilcox said: “We are supporting the LGBT community so they can arrange a Gravesham Pride event. The council has offered the use of The Community Square. We will continue to support and work with the organisers in helping Gravesham Pride become a reality.”

The council recently celebrated LGBT History Month by raising the rainbow flag on Monday.

The event was led by Gravesham mayor Cllr David Hurley and Cllr Steve Thompson at Community Square in Gravesend.

Take a look at the Margate Pride event in Dreamland last year

Mr Hurley said: “I am very proud that the town is acknowledging and promoting LGBT history month in my year as mayor.

“The LGBT community are a significant part of our diverse borough and this event will celebrate the achievements of the community.”

S.A.F.E is also hosting another event on Sunday, February 24, at Christ Church, in Old East Road.

The church will be holding a thanksgiving service at 4pm to celebrate the achievements of the LGBT community.

You can help donate to the event here.

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