After launching last year to popular acclaim (despite the lead act Marcus Collins failing to show up) Southampton Pride came back even bigger and better this year and I’m here to report on some of the highlights of the day. I’ll warn you though, I’ve reviewed it in a bit of a tounge-in-cheek way because too much of what I write is serious and it’s Pride so, y’know, gotta throw some shade sometimes.
Hosted both inside and outside the Guildhall on Saturday 26th August, Southampton city centre was lit up in all the colours of the LGBT flag. The day opened with the parade, which was cheery and enthusiastic, but what was most fantastic to see was the variety in age range. I talked to people from 5 years of age to 85; more varied than any Pride I’ve seen before. There was a real sense that this was a family day out, and the day was well planned to suit all age ranges. It was about more than just celebrating LGBT diversity, it was about embracing it. The number of parents that brought young children along shows just how far we’ve come.
There was the bar, overpriced as usual (I mean £8 for a double?!) alongside cheesy music by quasi-Kylie tribute acts and drag queens that nobody had heard of, but impressively, they turned the party around. One even took out her silicone boob and shouted, “it costs a lot to look this cheap I’ll tell you!” Whilst none of the vocals on display were all that impressive (Adele is hardly quaking in her boots…) they did bring such an incredible energy to the stage and the atmosphere around the Guildhall was electric.
Inside the Guildhall was where all the stalls were. From more educational stalls raising awareness about local LGBT charities and support groups to those selling dog treats, there were stalls for everything, with some even offering face painting or to dress you up in drag. It reminded me of Freshers Fayre a little bit – random, crazy, but at the same time enjoyable… and you leave with a whole load of free stuff. One of my favourite attractions was the bouncy castle which (thankfully) they reserved some time for adult use. I got to unleash my inner child, only after five minutes I was absolutely shattered and realised that, if it ever existed, my fitness level peaked many years ago…
The headline act, meanwhile, might have been slightly misplaced. When I say that, I mean her performance managed to make S Club 3’s memorable performance at the Union look good. And, trust me, it wasn’t. She also attempted some kind of modern electro-pop version of ‘So Macho’ which ended up sounding like something produced by a GCSE Music student who should have chosen Geography. Thankfully, her memorable for-all-the-wrong-reasons performance was rescued by a rousing performance by the Southampton Gay Men’s choir who did a fantastic job. Thought about Britain’s Got Talent guys? They love a good choir.
Then to round off the evening, the after-party moved to the Edge. This was done really well with the car park transformed into an extended outside area with a marquee. I, sadly, cannot comment further as I became slightly intoxicated. I do remember lip-syncing (quite well… I think) to Whitney Houston though. I think there’s a photo somewhere.
Southampton Pride managed to secure two successful years in a row and I’m sure it’ll just keep getting better and better. It has developed into a real celebration of LGBT diversity that can be enjoyed and embraced by all ages. Most Pride events can become hyper-focused on the 18-30 age range, but this one ensures that the whole family can enjoy the day and celebrate together. Sinitta might need to retire, but this Pride does not.
Check out Loreli Bowman’s highlight video below.