By Tom Fenton
Durham is to host the county’s first LGBT Pride event on Thursday 5 June.
The event, which is organised by Durham University staff, students and local residents, will take place from 1700 in Millennium Square.
Pride is open for all students and residents.
The main events will take place in Loveshack and Slug and Lettuce, with music starting at 1700.
Entry to all parts of the event will be free and tickets will only be needed for Loveshack. They can be booked here.
Stalls will be open outside at 1700 with buskers providing entertainment.
At 1800, Ron Hogg, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham Constabulary, will officially open the event and street entertainment will then commence.
DJ Lindsey Stephenson will be performing from 2300 at Loveshack.
Proceeds will go towards the launch of a same-sex domestic abuse charity in County Durham.
Miss Cybil DuVaux from Blackpool Pride and the ‘Queen of Durham,’ Miss Tess Tickle, will act as hosts for the evening’s entertainment.
Other highlights will include acts ranging from award winning Drag shows to Shirley Bassey and Adele tributes with a special appearance from rapper Jay’Em, as well as live music from Kredo.
There will also be special Pride events in Lloyds and Ebony. Tickets are not needed.
There will also be a women’s only space in the county library from 5pm until 9pm hosted by a member of the Pride committee.
Stalls and outdoor entertainment including buskers, fire-breathers and stilt-walkers will begin at 5pm continuing until 9.30pm.
Jamie Lawson, the secretary of the Pride committee, told Palatinate: “We’ve been just bowled over by all the support we’ve received – from local businesses, the city council, from other pride committees nearby (Newcastle and Sunderland pride have been extremely helpful) and from the University itself.”
Asked why the committee decided to organise the first Pride event, he said: “Durham is a wonderful city, but is sorely lacking in terms of resources for its LGBTQ community, and is lagging behind most of the other towns in the region in that regard.
“We wanted something that would bring together the students, staff and local communities of Durham; a pride just seemed logical.”
Stephen Fry has also shown his support:
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) May 28, 2014
Phil Mullen, a 4th year student studying Geography, agreed. He told the paper that the LGBT scene at the University was different to elsewhere “because it’s like a bubble which brings an added level of difficulty … There are a lot of LGBT people but it is difficult to meet people.”
He said the event had originally “started out as a small event for a same-sex charity” and “had grown from there, with help from students, [Durham] University, charities, local businesses and the police.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner had given a “substantial” amount of money to help fund the event.
Many of the performers were acting for free because “they wanted to support their local community”.
He said that a number of Durham alumni had contacted to tell him that they wished an event like Pride had taken place when they had been at the University.
The aim of the event is “to be as inclusive as possible … It is to make a point: people can be open and that it is not a problem. Everyone can be themselves.”
Photo: Durham Pride