Sunday, July 29, 2012
Even the lions outside City Hall got into the spirit of Norwich Pride this weekend as the fourth annual event took place.
A day of rainbow-coloured celebrations organised by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community took over Chapelfield Gardens and Millennium Plain outside The Forum.
Once again the popular parade was the highlight of the day, attracting thousands of brightly-dressed people who either joined the calvacade or line the streets in support as it passed by.
The event has grown quickly since it began four years ago and this year businesses, charities and local organisations all took part, taking their places in the six coloured sections of the parade.
The Lord Mayor of Norwich, Ralph Gayton, welcomed the participants and added: “It’s a wonderful historic summer of celebrations and Norwich Pride is an important part of that. I’m here today to tell you Norwich is proud of its LGBT community and proud that it is colourful, accessible and welcoming to all.
“I wish you all a safe, happy and brilliant day. If someone will give me a rainbow flag, I will wave it as you pass the steps of City Hall.”
After setting off from Chapelfield Gardens, the parade – which included representatives from the police, ambulance service, housing associations, and a number of faith groups – danced and whistled its way towards The Forum, heading along Theatre Street, Gentlemans Walk, up Gaol Hill and past City Hall.
True to his word, the Lord Mayor was waiting on the steps, flanked by the familiar lions who both sported rainbow scalves, waving his flag.
Michelle Savage, secretary of Norwich Pride, said: “It’s a fantastic atmosphere. Norwich Pride has got a really nice national reputation. We’re such a lovely city to visit and people coming here spend the weekend and join in with the parade.
“I think the ratio of LGBT to non-LGBT is probably 50/50. People bring their friends and family along. Businesses have also really got on board this year. People are recognising Norwich Pride is a really colourful part of the fabric of the city.”
As well as the parade, the celebrations included a picnic and performances by the Taverham Band in Chapelfield Gardens and the Future Radio stage at The Forum.
Flags were raised across the city at venues including Norwich Castle, the Puppet Theatre, and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
Kayley Fenwick, 27, of Hall Road, Norwich, and Amber White, 36, from Scunthorpe, lined the route as the parade went by.
Ms White, a member of the transgender community, said she could not imagine a Pride event ever taking place in her own town and described the Norwich celebrations as “absolutely fantastic”.
She added: “It’s about coming out and being normal and celebrating all the different types of people here.”
Miss Fenwick said: “You’re showing you are loud and proud. You’re not going to hide away in the corners – because why should you?
“Norwich is somewhere you can come and be yourself. You don’t have to hide. You don’t have to change who you are to fit in with where you live.”
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