An idea by Hastings Youth Council for a small festival in the town centre in 2016 has grown into a significant local event as the third Hastings Pride took over the town on Saturday.
Organisers took to social media yesterday to thanks those who had taken part: “We’d just like to say, from team Hastings Pride, a massive massive thank you to all of you who volunteered, who watched and walked in the parade, who danced all day and night at The Oval, and to all the businesses and sponsors who’ve helped us. It’s your continued support and love that’s heroic; The hero is YOU.”
There was a procession through town and along the seafront to the Oval that included Hastings Borough Council’s trolleybus Happy Harold.
The theme of the festival this year was ‘heroes’ and there were many colourful costumes in the procession. HBC leader and Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate Peter Chowney chose a local hero and dressed as Robert Tressell, the author of Ragged Trousered Philanthropist who lived in Hastings at the start of the 20th century.
This year, the festival marked the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, where raids on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York sparked a series of riots by those who had been victims of oppression by police and the authorities. This led to the formation of the American Gay Liberation Movement, which was instrumental in changing attitudes and legislation affecting LGBTQ people, both in the USA and throughout North America and Europe.
Since then, huge advances have been made in the attitude of the state and the community to LGBTQ people. Laws banning homosexuality have been repealed, but this doesn’t mean LGBTQ people are free from discrimination and harassment – this is still happening today, not everyone is as enlightened and accepting as they should be. Hate crimes against transgender people in the UK increased by over 80 per cent in the last three years.
Mr Chowney says: ‘Pride festivals are about celebrating diversity and the freedom of all of us to live our lives in whatever way we want, as long as it doesn’t harm or oppress others. But they also help to overcome prejudice and fear of LGBTQ people. Hastings Pride is part of this. It’s a festival for the whole family, where anyone can come along and enjoy a day of music, entertainment, food, and more. Which they certainly did this year.”
Saturday’s was the third Hastings Pride festival. Mr Chowney paid thanks to Natasha Scott and the organisers for putting on yet what he described as, “another fabulous, colourful, entertaining Hastings festival.”
This year, the hot weather certainly brought the visitors along – the Oval was packed with people enjoying the music and sunshine and the event seems to have established itself as part of the Hastings festival calendar, and is now very much part of the cultural landscape of Hastings.
Photos by Sid Saunders and Alan Roberts