Essex Pride 2021: LGBTQ + community united for long-awaited celebration
The LGBTQ + community has finally come together to celebrate the long-awaited Essex Pride Festival.
After the pandemic forced the festival to go online last year, Essex Pride was back in full force in Central Park in Chelmsford yesterday (August 21).
Hundreds of people filled the park to celebrate and meet for the day packed with entertainment and shows.
Read more: Braintree to host its very first Pride event
Music, songs, dancing and laughs filled the day as people enjoyed everything from their star-studded Drag Queens line-up to a tribute act to Christina Aguilera.
Some of the main cast included Nadine Coyle of Girls Aloud, Bwitched, Cheryl Hole, and Solero Summers – plus many more.
At the heart of it all was the sense of community, love and enthusiasm shared among all involved.
“It gives the impression of not being alone”
Two people who attended Essex Pride, Kieran and Becky, spoke about why the festival is so crucial for the LGBTQ + community.
“It’s really exciting here,” said Becky, 20, of Chelmsford. “It’s so important for people to come together and be themselves. It’s really hard to miss that.
“It’s so welcoming to be yourself without having to hide. Pride will never cease to be important, everyone in the world needs it.
Kieran, also 20, added, “You can be yourself and also being gay can be a pretty lonely experience and being around other people makes you feel like you’re not alone.
“Pride is so important. You see in the news, government and people in general discriminating and it’s awful and getting worse and worse. Having pride is so important knowing that there are people there for. we.
“You can feel that the people are against us and make us feel that we don’t belong and that we are not safe. Pride is really important so that we can feel that there is somewhere for us.”
Besides music and acts, Essex Pride also aims to provide information and support to the LGBTQ + community.
One of the festival tents is Mermaids Charity, which supports transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children and their families.
Association volunteer Carrie from Leigh-on-Sea attended Pride to help celebrate and support others.
The 44-year-old found herself “completely lost” four years ago when her daughter came out to her four years ago.
“When my child came to see me at the age of six, I was completely lost,” she said.
“I called the mermaids and they were so wonderful and supported me so much. I wanted to listen to her and help her be who she felt and the mermaids did just that.
“We have meetings every month and they can see each other, other trans people and make that connection.
“In her school, she was the only trans person at first and that can be isolating. She had people asking her questions, but with mermaids, they can become who they are with other trans children, get along. and play. They can fill up on that trans power! “
Tracey, 58, also found support from Mermaids with her 19-year-old son and wanted to help others at Essex Pride as well.
“My son was 14/15 and it was really difficult and I had a hard time accepting it,” she said. “For three years, I didn’t know who to turn to.
“I knew mermaids but I was afraid to take the first step. I knew gays but I didn’t know trans people. I found mermaids and the community and now we have that support.”
She added: “[At Pride] you just see the people here being themselves and seeing how diverse they are. “
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“Celebrate diversity in a safe space”
Matt, 20, from Chelmsford, said the atmosphere at Essex Pride is an “amazing” place for gay people.
“We do a lot of activism and pride is this amazing thing for me,” they said. “It’s a particularly amazing place for queer people and to celebrate diversity in a safe space.
“Some people don’t go to their relatives or friends but have the opportunity to come here and be themselves and not have to worry about being judged and discriminated against.”
David Kent and Jez Lewison were two members of the London Gay Men’s Chorus who also attended Essex Pride.
For David, who lives in London, Essex Pride is the perfect place to find that true sense of community.
“There’s such a cross section of everyone around – people who don’t necessarily go to bars, there are families and so many people,” the 50-year-old said. “You are somewhere where you are in the majority.
“In London, the gay scene doesn’t really mix with the lesbian community or others, so there you go.
“You really feel safe. A lot of people feel intimidated by London Pride when it is much more community and friendly.”
Jez Lewinson, another member of the Chorus group, from Chelmsford, said the most important thing for him about Essex Pride is that everyone is happy to chat.
“There is such a large sample of gay and straight people and families together,” he said.
“The first year I arrived a few years ago, I enjoyed you seeing moms and dads with their kids.
“That’s what struck me the first year, you don’t have to know someone to come here, everyone loves you.”
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