Thousands of people, both LGBT and families, celebrated Eastbourne’s very first Mardi Gras Pride event on 22nd July 2017. I was very proud to support this Pride event with my husband Michael, our Miniature Schnauzer and … my books.
The event was organised by Bourne Out LGBT Eastbourne, a gay social group. Earlier this year I read an article in GScene magazine that Bourne Out would be organising their first ever Pride event and they were asking people to get involved. I contacted them by email and at the same time became a Bourne Out LGBT member through their website. I got in touch with Stephen Halbhuber and I applied for a stall. Soon thereafter Stephen was able to confirm that the application had been successful and so it happened that I would be at Mardi Gras – Eastbourne Pride!
We arrived in time with all the equipment and shortly after noon we were all set up in the market area. At that same moment the parade kicked off at Langney Park and reached Princess Park by half one. It was led by gay activist Peter Tatchell followed by several drum ensembles such as the Eastbourne Bonfire Society, Stix Drummers and premier drumming troupe the Pentacle Drummers. It was amazing to watch the parade arrive accompanied by festive music and we had one of the best views. The friendly marsh reminded me of what Pride stands for: a positive stance against discrimination and violence towards LGBT.
The event was opened by LGBT activist and campaigner Peter Tatchell. Peter spoke to the Eastbourne Herald and said: “Eastbourne Pride exceeded all expectations. The public response to the parade on the seafront was enthusiastic and supportive. Numbers attending were high for a first Pride”.
During the day there was a great vibe and it was exciting to meet so many people (and their dogs) who were all in a party mood. It was lovely to engage with people and talk about pride, same-sex marriage and how to make healthy home-made dog recipes. Our friend and dog walker Audrey Keenan came down to help us for a few hours and she brought her dogs Jonty and Kody along. The dogs had a lot of fun. It was lovely to catch up with Silvio Grasso from The Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus (who marched in the parade) and James Ledward editor from GScene magazine. Sussex Police was present with their famous Pride police car. The bearded Sussex Police PC proved to be very popular as people were taking lots of selfies with him and the Pride police car.
Brighton & Hove buses has made a donation to Eastbourne Pride and provided additional bus services to the event from Eastbourne railway station and Brighton featuring their Pride Diversity bus.
We also met Jen, a mother whose son was abroad during the first pride. Jen explained that her son was supposed to be here but he ended up for a stay in France. She came up with the amazing idea of taking selfies with colourful people and share the event with her son via social media. Jen asked: “Can I take a selfie with you?” I felt really sorry for her but at the same time I loved the idea so I said “Yes of course!”
Later, Jen posted a collage on her Instagram profile of all the beautiful Pride people she met and said they made her a very happy mum. We’ve been in touch ever since and we’re looking forward to meet up again during Eastbourne Pride 2018 – Selfies part 2! I think it would be great to reunite again however, her son will be off abroad (agian) for his Uni year. Fingers crossed he will be able to attend the next one.
Thank you Eastbourne and especially Stephen Halbhuber and Betty Gallagher for making the first Eastbourne Pride event such an amazing success! We’re looking forward to be back in 2018!