Sunday, July 27, 2014
Samba drums sounded as dancers shimmied through a sun-drenched Norwich city centre, leading thousands on the sixth annual Pride procession.
Crowds had gathered at a brightly decorated Chapelfield Gardens, adorned in rainbow flags, before the main parade on Saturday afternoon.
And organisers were delighted by the turnout of people young and old, in wheelchairs and on foot, showing their support for the Fine City’s LGBT community.
Julie Bremner, vice-chair of Norwich Pride, said: “It’s just a beautiful day with beautiful people.
“Everyone’s smiling, people know what to expect now and I think as organisers we match that.
Rainbow flags were proudly flying across the Fine City this weekend.
Organisations across Norwich embraced the message of Norwich Pride, to create an atmosphere where everyone can feel safe and proud to be themselves.
Those flying the flag included Norwich City Council, Norfolk County Council, The Castle Museum, Norfolk police, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Hellesdon Hospital, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, City College Norwich, the cabinet office, Aviva and Norwich Puppet Theatre.
The biggest event of Pride was the parade from Chapelfield Gardens, but there were scores of activities going on - from entertainment and a picnic in the park, storytime for children and talks in The Forum - with Elly Barnes, who runs the Educate and Celebrate group, among those there.
She said her aim was for acknowledgement and acceptance in schools around the country.
“What we want is to get all the teachers in the area trained so they have the tools and the confidence to be inclusive of LGBT people when they’re teaching in their lessons,” she said. “It needs to be embedded in the curriculum and that’s not the case at the moment.”
She is leading a scheme called CHIPS - challenging homophobia in primary schools.
“We deliver a free event in the heart of the city, from the LGBT community and for everyone.”
There was a police presence in the city centre and potential for friction where a few religious protesters had gathered with a crucifix and banners bearing biblical quotations in Gentleman’s Walk.
But the parade passed without incident, and Ms Bremner said it aimed to be fun for everyone as well as having an important message.
“Every year we see young people come to this event who actually come out to their friends or family,” she explained.
“To me personally, it just makes such a positive difference to making the community a safe place.”
She added that Norwich was largely an accepting city, but it could still be a “mixed picture” with some incidents of hate crime – so awareness events were crucial.
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell gave a talk at the Forum and was in the parade with his human rights foundation, in his third year at Norwich Pride.
“Norwich Pride is fantastic,” he said. “It’s a great celebration of the contribution that LGBTI people make to the community, enriching its life and contributing to its diversity.”
He said there were celebrations at having won same-sex marriage, but there was also “unfinished business”, including the issue of homophobic bullying in schools and global issues – with homosexuality still criminalised in 42 of the 53 Commonwealth member states.
Organisers hailed businesses, including Aviva and Fosters Solicitors, for their sponsorship.