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Gay Pride promises seaside family fun in Margate

By Gerry Warren

Margate will be the venue this summer for a new Kent Pride parade.

The gay and transgender community will be heading for the town for the seaside event, which is expected to attract up to 20,000 people.

Margate seafront
Margate seafront

The gathering is being organised by Tony Butcher, who runs Canterbury’s only gay bar, Limes Lounge.

Mr Butcher said it would be a family-friendly celebration.

He said: “Margate will be a great venue for the parade, and Thanet District Council is very supportive and helping us organise the parade, which is taking place on August 29.

“There is a large LGBT community in the Canterbury area, and we expect around 3,000 people will be going and pulling out all the stops to make it spectacular and fun.

“There is a lot involved in putting on an event like this, including organising road closures and stalls, and it will cost around £40,000.

“But Thanet is right behind us, and planning for the parade and the celebration is well under way.”

Mr Butcher is working on the event with Vikki Childs, who chairs the organising committee.

He said: “At this time of doom and gloom in the news, we need something a bit more uplifting.

“What we are planning is a smaller version of Brighton’s Gay Pride day, and there will be a real carnival atmosphere with floats of drag queens, colourful costumes and lots of music and dancing.

“But it is not just for gay people: everyone is welcome.

“There is a real momentum growing, and already 40 of the 100 stalls we are planning have been booked.”

Tony Butcher
Tony Butcher

Gay Pride events have taken place in the town in previous years but ceased due to lack of funding.

Several years ago a far smaller Gay Pride event was held in Canterbury’s Dane John Gardens.

But Mr Butcher, who has had several run-ins with Canterbury City Council over his premises licence, claimed the authority showed no interest in helping the LGBT community.

He said: “To be honest, I spoke to a couple of city councillors and got the impression that Canterbury would not be interested in putting on an event like Kent Pride, so we approached Thanet instead.”

However, city council spokesman Rob Davies said: “It’s a shame Mr Butcher did not contact the council because we would have been interested to hear his ideas and could have advised him about any support and grants that may be available.

“If he’s thinking about it for future years, we’d urge him to get in touch.”

Anyone interested in getting involved can call 07826 438000 or 01227 656277 or email kentpride@outlook.com.

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