LGBTQ+ group to hold its first social night in Thetford

Ashley Jenkins, front, co-owner of the Albion with members of the new LGBTQ group who are holding a

Ashley Jenkins, front, co-owner of the Albion with members of the new LGBTQ group who are holding a social at the pub. Co-chairman Maria Stewart, and co-chairman Steven Greening, right, and W Robert Cooke. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

A gay man who suffered homophobic bullying as a teenager has started up a new social group to support LGBTQ people in his town.

Steven Greening founded the Thetford LGBTQ+ Community to help its members meet others of different sexualities and genders.

The 29-year-old received physical and verbal abuse from pupils at Rosemary Musker High School after coming out at the age of 15.

But he believes Thetford has changed over the years to become more accepting.

He said: 'I had a pretty rough time – I was beaten up seven times and put in hospital seven times.

'But now the town has totally changed and I do not get any abuse at all.

'It has never been an issue for my parents, they have always supported me and I was lucky in that way.'

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Mr Greening posted on the Thetford Forum Facebook page to float the idea of an LGBTQ social night in the town and said the response he received was 'overwhelming'.

'Over the course of a few days I get 130 likes and a lot of comments, and all of them were positive.'

He had an offer Ashley Jenkins, events coordinator at The Albion in Castle Street, for the pub to host the social night.

Taking place on Friday, November 4, it will be a 'meet and greet' event with music and a performance from a drag queen.

Mr Greening said: 'It will be a social gathering for people to relax together in a safe environment.'

The LGBTQ+ Community has also been invited to take part in Thetford's commemorations for International Day of Tolerance on November 16.

Mr Greening has received support to manage the group from Maria Stewart, who has worked with Norfolk's gay community for several years.

But he emphasises that the LGBTQ+ Community is 'also for our straight allies'.

The social night on November 4 runs from 8pm-12.30am.

To find out more about Thetford LGBTQ+ Community, visit the group's Facebook page.

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