Loud and proud - Norwich Pride is out on the streets

The fourth Norwich Pride takes place this weekend in a riot of rainbow colour from the parade to a host of events that are an important celebration for the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community. SIMON PARKIN reports.

Norwich will be a rainbow nation tomorrow as the second Norwich Pride sees a huge variety of events for all the family, including exhibitions, performances, picnics and the colourful parade.

Samba dancers, story tellers and live theatre were amongst the entertainment last year as 5,000 people attended the celebration of Norwich's lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community.

The turnout was a significant rise on the 3,000 that attended the first event in 2009, and organisers are expecting even more people again this year.

The event, which is self-funded and organised by volunteers, aims to raise awareness and tackle intolerance as well as acting as an important celebration for the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community.

Norwich Pride secretary Michelle Savage said: 'More and more organisations are taking part, we have messages of support from churches and shops holding displays. It is growing all the time. People know what Norwich Pride is, and they trust it.'

Events will include sewing – with a group called Sew Gay – poetry evenings, plays and discussions on gender and sexuality.

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Tomorrow the event begins at 10am with an opening ceremony on Millennium Plain. As usual the main focus of the day's celebrations will be the colourful carnival procession through the city centre, when more than 5,000 people are expected.

Organisers hope to build on the success of the first three Norwich Pride events, which have grown on humble beginnings to embrace an ever larger number of events. And they are keen to stress that the event is inclusive.

'The city has a good reputation for being really diverse and creative, people accept us. What is great about Norwich Pride is it is multi-generational,' said Michelle. 'People bring their parents, and children and grandchildren, there is a real sense of family. That is what we get, everybody standing up and saying we want to live in a diverse city. We are pulling the whole city together. We have a vision of turning Norwich into a rainbow, a place where people can feel safe and proud.'

t For more details and a full list of events visit: www.norwichpride.org.uk



St Margaret's Church of Art, St Benedict's Street, Norwich, until August 5, 10am-5pm, free admission, www.art-of-norwich.co.uk

The Art of Norwich's 24th exhibition is a celebration of diversity with works by artists regardless of style, qualification, experience, age, race, sexuality or gender.


Bicycle Links, St Mary's Works, Duke Street, Norwich, July 27, 12pm, www.bicyclelinks.org.uk

A leisurely cycle ride around the city taking in the rainbow flags flying on various landmarks. If you'd like to decorate your bike, meet at Bicycle Links at 10am.


Norwich Arts Centre, July 27, 7pm, �3 (includes �1 donation to Pride)

Pride launch party and Olympics Opening Ceremony on the big screen, DJs in the bar, barbecue in the garden goody-bags for the first 30 people.


The Forum, July 28, 10am

Cllr Mrs Jennifer Chamberlin, Chairman of Norfolk County Council's Strategic Equality Group, officially opens Pride, followed by show tunes from Taverham Brass Band. There will also be over 40 different stalls including local support groups, national charities and local craftspeople.


The Curve, Norwich, July 28, 12pm-1pm

Following the massive success of last year's LGBT Question Time Event, there will once again be the chance to pose the hot political questions of the day to an expert panel including Elly Barnes, voted the most inspirational LGBT person in 2011; Linda Bellos, ex-politician, current businesswoman and activist for gay rights; Norwich MP Chloe and Mike Stonard from Norwich Pride.


Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich, July 28, 12pm-2pm,

The gardens will be decorated by the Sew Gay group who have been making bunting, banners and knitted chains all year. There will be loads fun, family activities. Entertainment on the bandstand is hosted by the Sing with Pride choir, Norwich Ukulele Society, Red Flags and Kimberley Moore, as well as poetry from Vince Laws and Trudy Howson. There will also be a special dance demonstration.


Chapelfield Gardens-Millennium Plain, Norwich July 28, starts 2pm

Called together by the bells of the Norwich Town Crier David Bullock, the parade will be lead by the Norwich Samba Band and their dancers with the Dun Dun Band performing West African drumming, the Golden Star Morris and Oxblood Molly Dancers and a portable PA from Pride Live. It will be colourful, loud and impossible to ignore.


Millennium Plain, Norwich, July 28, 2pm-3pm

Norwich own tangerine queen and songstress, the glambolic Titti Trash will be hosting a celebratory showcase of talent to entertainment the rainbow crowds. Local and national acts gracing the stage will include singer-songwriter Jazz Black, Malta's own pop princess Totally Sophie, who has represented Malta for the Eurovision Song Contest twice, synthpop band Bispatial, high-energy dance outfit Passion Productions, and Pride favourite Eileen Mascoll.


t Caf� Bar Marzano — An evening of music from 4pm including DJs Rkey Deftex and Di Cunningham with live music from The Neutrinos, Kamilla Lovett, CN Lester, Calypso Caspar, Kimberley Moore and Samyoung Foulger.

t Norwich Arts Centre — Under-25s Youth Pride Party 5pm–8pm by BLAH LGB Youth, which supports 14–25 year olds and is part of the Norfolk LGBT Project. �3 on the door.

t The Loft — Pride weekend begins tonight with a hard dance/trance night 10pm-4am. Tomorrow it's an alternative fancy dress party 5pm–12am, hosted by The Dandies, with crazy costume and dance competitions, performance art, installations, live music and royal Pride family portraits. Then awesome Brighton and international DJ Bex through to 6.30am.


Doctor's Steps, Cromer Beach, July 29, 2pm

The perfect laid back way to wind down after the Norwich Pride celebrations. There's also an evening fundraising gala planned for later on. More details at www.northnorfolkpride.org.uk