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Gravesham Pride holds first ever physical event in town's Fort Gardens


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A town's first ever physical Pride event went off with a bang thanks to some energetic performances from local musicians and artists.

Gravesham Pride took place at the Fort Gardens in Gravesend on Saturday.

Shot of the Cohesion Plus Kings of Dhol performance. Photo: Cohesion Plus
Shot of the Cohesion Plus Kings of Dhol performance. Photo: Cohesion Plus
Left to right: L to R - Gurvinder Sandher, Helanna Irvine, Cllr Steve Thompson, Mayor Cllr Lyn Milner, Cllr Shane Mochrie Cox, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Rosemary Dymond, Cllr Gurdip Bungar, Cllr Lauren Sullivan and Cllr Sarah Gow
Left to right: L to R - Gurvinder Sandher, Helanna Irvine, Cllr Steve Thompson, Mayor Cllr Lyn Milner, Cllr Shane Mochrie Cox, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Rosemary Dymond, Cllr Gurdip Bungar, Cllr Lauren Sullivan and Cllr Sarah Gow

The flagship event, celebrating the large LGBTQIA+ population in Gravesham, featured a mix of entertainment catering for everything from circus acts to North Indian-inspired drummers.

There was also a handful of local singers, dancers and DJs to get the crowd up on their feet.

Stalls were run by volunteers selling merchandise and stands allocated to local charities and organisations.

For those who didn't bring a packed lunch there was also a number of hot food and snack vendors.

The event was free but tickets were required in advance to ensure adherence with Covid-19 protocols.

International fire-boy and circus entertainer Ronnie Stone. Photo: Cohesion Plus
International fire-boy and circus entertainer Ronnie Stone. Photo: Cohesion Plus
A party-goer at Gravesham Pride held at the Fort Gardens. Photo: Cohesion Plus
A party-goer at Gravesham Pride held at the Fort Gardens. Photo: Cohesion Plus
Locals enjoy Gravesham's first physical Pride event. Photo: Cohesion Plus
Locals enjoy Gravesham's first physical Pride event. Photo: Cohesion Plus
Performer Maybe Gaga and an officer from Kent Police. Photo: Cohesion Plus
Performer Maybe Gaga and an officer from Kent Police. Photo: Cohesion Plus
Left to right: L to R - Gurvinder Sandher, Helanna Irvine, Cllr Steve Thompson, Mayor Cllr Lyn Milner, Cllr Shane Mochrie Cox, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Rosemary Dymond, Cllr Gurdip Bungar, Cllr Lauren Sullivan and Cllr Sarah Gow
Left to right: L to R - Gurvinder Sandher, Helanna Irvine, Cllr Steve Thompson, Mayor Cllr Lyn Milner, Cllr Shane Mochrie Cox, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Rosemary Dymond, Cllr Gurdip Bungar, Cllr Lauren Sullivan and Cllr Sarah Gow

Organisers Gravesham Pride CIC, working in conjunction with Cohesion Plus, funded the celebration through various grants and donor support from local businesses.

Gurvinder Sandher, artistic director of Cohesion Plus, said: “We are incredibly proud to have worked with the Gravesham Pride Committee to deliver Gravesham’s first ever Pride event.

"We feel passionately that every community, regardless of ethnicity, gender, faith or sexual orientation should feel represented and able to express themselves freely.

"This event was some two years in the making and the impact of the pandemic made it even more important that we delivered something this year.

He added: "I am very grateful to everyone who came and supported us and made the Pride celebrations so special."

It comes after 2019 saw the largest number of Pride events held globally.

Deputy Lord Lieutenant Vasudaven and Cohesion Plus artistic director Gurvinder Sandher. Photo: Cohesion Plus
Deputy Lord Lieutenant Vasudaven and Cohesion Plus artistic director Gurvinder Sandher. Photo: Cohesion Plus
Cllr Steve Thompson speaks at Gravesham Pride. Photo: Cohesion Plus
Cllr Steve Thompson speaks at Gravesham Pride. Photo: Cohesion Plus
Elberace (Gay Elvis) leads a conga line at Gravesham Pride. Photo: Jason Arthur
Elberace (Gay Elvis) leads a conga line at Gravesham Pride. Photo: Jason Arthur
Gravesham Cohesion Plus artistic director Gurvinder Sandher and the Kings of Dhol. Photo: Jason Arthur
Gravesham Cohesion Plus artistic director Gurvinder Sandher and the Kings of Dhol. Photo: Jason Arthur
Party goers at Gravesham Pride. Photo: Jason Arthur
Party goers at Gravesham Pride. Photo: Jason Arthur

As a result, several of the LGBTQIA+ residents requested a similar one be held in Gravesend.

A public meeting was then held the same year to elect a committee to progress the project.

Community Square was initially reserved for this year's celebration but due to the Woodville being used for the vaccine programme, organisers instead opted for Fort Gardens.

Gravesham Pride Committee chairman Helanna Bowler-Irvine spoke of the importance of local run events.

She said: "For a long time Pride marches and the gatherings that follow were only held in large areas such as Brighton, London and Manchester which led to members of the LGBTQIA+ community often running away to those larger towns and cities in order to find people like them and find acceptance.

"However, this would place people in a vulnerable position particularly younger members of our community who would often be placed at risk of rough sleeping, exploitation and abuse.

"Local prides such as Gravesham are extremely important because they highlight to the decision makers in local authorities that there is a community here, services and support are needed here and they allow us to find others like us on our own doorsteps."

She added: "Whilst the larger events such as Brighton, London and Manchester continue to run, they have lost their way and become pay-to-attend festival events, often pricing out some of our most vulnerable community members who need the most support which makes local prides such as ours all the more important because they are free, meaning that anyone can come and find their community in their home town."

For more information visit graveshampride.uk

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