Only 12 months after hosting their first ever Pride event, the organisers behind Isle of Wight Pride have been humbled by the incredible scenes at UKPride on the Island.
“With in excess of 15,000 people expected to turn out in support of the event, and many more lining the streets to cheer on the main procession, its safe to say that the Island is no longer regarded as being stuck in the past. The photographs of Union street and seeing the huge numbers lining the streets was amazing, everybody was so welcoming and were clapping and cheering on the parade, it made me Proud to be an Islander” said Yve White, Trustee of Isle of Wight Pride.
A year ago, the incumbent Tory MP Andrew Turner was forced to resign, shrouded in controversy after telling a group of school children that “homosexuality was a danger to society”. This year, the new Tory MP Bob Seely turned out in support, covered in rainbows and dancing away on the back of a Hovertravel hovercraft float specially made for the celebrations.
Ian, a new Trustee of IWPride said “Pride had a significant impact on the Islands community and there are so many anecdotes back up this claim including my own. I was still in the closet about my sexual orientation at Pride last year. But the outpouring of love and support at that event gave me the strength to “come out” to friends and family and to be myself. Now, just one year later, I am proud to be one of the 3 trustees who are responsible for todays events.
The day started in spectacular fashion with a special parachute display from the Royal Navy, bringing a huge Rainbow Flag down to the Pride Beach arena to mark the start of the days events. This was followed by a colourful, bright but also political protest march as the Pride Parade made its way through the streets of Ryde. The parade will be led by a group of Lesbians, marching proudly alongside members of the Islands trans community in solidarity. This was a direct response by the hosts of UK Pride to the shocking actions of a small group of transphobic protestors at the start of the Pride in London parade this year. The organisers of Isle of Wight Pride were fully supportive of the statement made by Pride in London about the incident and also feel that this sort of abhorrent behaviour and attitudes towards the Trans community is are not welcome at Pride.
The Pride parade also included the unveiling of the UK’s largest ever Pride flag. This has been created on the 40th anniversary of the creation of the flag, the most recognisable flag in the world, a sign of a global struggle for equality for the LGBT+ community and at 150 meters long, it dwarfs the previous longest flag which was 100 meters in length.
The event continued on Ryde Harbour beach with a huge Pride site. With so many different areas and things to do, from the childrens zone, to a wellbeing zone, a chill out zone and the main Pride area – there really was something for everyone. The information stalls and different charities present helped to provide information and the real purpose of Pride – to educate people about the issues facing the LGBT+ community in 2018.
The main stage saw the likes of Danny Beard, a Lady Gaga tribute and a Dolly Parton tribute entertain the crowds before an absolutely stunning performance by Conchita Wurst, the Ambassador of EuroPride Vienna 2019.
With the perfect backdrop of Ryde Harbour and a gorgeous sunset, some incredible photos were shared across the world of our little Island.
The night was rounded off by an energetic set by Livin Joy and a DJ Set by Gok Wan with people dancing the night away.
Matt Bundy from Pride said “We are just about starting to recover from the events on Saturday. To see the photographs, videos and comments being shared – it clearly has had a HUGE impact on the lives of Island residents as well as those who came to visit our Island. We are truly PROUD of our Islands community for all their ongoing support for Pride.”