All You Need to Know about Southampton Pride 2019

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Southampton Pride is to be held on Saturday 24th August 2019. It will be the 4th consecutive year since its revival in 2016 following the Orlando Massacre, which was the first Pride celebration in Southampton for over a decade.

The free all-day event runs from 11 am until 11 pm in Guildhall Square, and features a Pride Parade march through the city centre at 2 pm. Local LGBT+ groups such as Queer Alternative, Wessex Wyverns RFC and Bi-Wessex will be walking in the march. Described as ‘the fastest growing pride in the South’, over 12,000 festival-goers are expected to attend. The event is to celebrate diversity and freedom of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender plus community, and is family friendly and welcoming to all. Organisers have established strict policies of zero-tolerance, no unaffiliated promotions, no glass or alcohol or drugs or sharps to be brought on site, no under-age drinking or legal highs, and no littering. 

The Guildhall Sqaare will include a main stage, an open mic and acoustic stage, picnic and seating areas, a bar and food stalls, on-site toilets, children’s entertainment, sexual and mental health stalls and local emergency services.

The O2 Guildhall will have acts from noon until around 3 pm, while the two stages will host performances until around 9 pm. The line up includes local acts including Ben Newbury, Solent Gay Men’s Chorus, and Hunting Hearts, and drag queens Cherry Liquor from Portsmouth and Charlie Hides from popular TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race. Also, on the line up are S Club as well as X Factor’s Sam Callahan. But X Factor’s Felix Shepherd, who was originally a guest star, will not be performing due to illness.

The website says ‘Southampton Pride is a community event created, organised and funded by local and national people and organisations.’

It is funded by sponsors, partners and supporters, as well as crowdfunding from individuals and local businesses such as through the GoFundMe page, to keep the event ‘free and accessible to all’ and donations go towards chosen charities.

P&O Cruises and Cunard Line have both signed three year agreements to be headline sponsors of the celebration, and will fly rainbow flags on their ships. Southampton City Council, the Saints Southampton F.C. as well as the University of Southampton are among the other supporters. Partners include Solent University, The Stage Door, The Edge Nightclub, Switch Southampton, Red Funnel and Radio Taxis. Supporters include West Quay, The London Hotel, Go Southampton. 

The University of Southampton is an official sponsor of the event, with sponsorship paid for by the PULSE LGBT+ Staff Network, and will have a bloc in the march, where SUSU LGBT+ Society and some of the Union’s Sabbatical Officers will march together. However controversy surrounds the University’s sponsorship of the LGBT+ event due to its apparent lack of decision regarding the motion to rename Brunei House in Glen Eyre Halls earlier in the year. Wessex Scene awaits response from the Vice Chancellor’s Office. Kestral Gaian, President of the LGBT+ Society, said:

The LGBT+ Society was proud to support one of our members in submitting the original motion to rename Brunei House in the wake of the events in Brunei earlier this year. Supported by SUSU progress at first looked promising, but it is exceptionally sad to see this having stalled, particularly as the changes that could have been put in place for the new academic year would have meant incoming students would have had a clear message that they are loved, supported and safe.

Southern Health NHS Foundations Trust, one of the UK’s largest mental health providers, will be asking #HowRUToday with the aim of starting important conversations as they attend the celebrations. Research has shown that those who identify as LGBT are nearly twice as likely to experience a mental health problem. Clinicians will be available at their stall to talk to about seeking the correct help and support, and will provide ‘handy contact cards’.

South Western Railway have redecorated Southampton Central Station as well as a ‘trainbow’ to show support for it’s LGBT+ colleges and customers. The nose of one of its trains has been branded in the iconic rainbow colours alongside the station’s overhead rainbow effect installation, to symbolise the pride flag. The railway service has also renamed the station ‘#SOproud Central’, which is the twitter hashtag for the pride event this weekend.

The SeaCity Museum are also celebrating Southampton Pride by showing an abstract art piece “Iris 02” by gay artist and activist, Lucy Ash, in the Southampton Stories exhibition. Southampton City Art Gallery acquired the piece last year where it was displayed for last year’s pride event in the gallery’s main hall.

Official After parties are planned to be held at The Edge Nightclub from 6pm to 6am as well as at Cafe Parfait and The London Hotel. The event organisers have said that smaller un-official after parties are not endorsed as they have not contributed to the event, and have urged the public to support their supporters. 

However, this has prompted social media backlash with calls that venues such as The Edge Nightclub are not inclusive spaces, and The London Hotel being too expensive, as well as the pop-centred music tastes. The Edge’s new general manager, Richard Anderson, said in part of a Facebook comment:

It’s an absolute priority of mine to make sure it remains a space for the LGBTQ+ community. I meet with police regularly to ensure that those who have a problem, or bring issues to the club are dealt with and never return and in serious cases we work to make sure that actually they can’t go to any venue in the city hopefully helping to make the city a safe space rather than just particular buildings. 

Pride flags have been raised across the city, such as at the Bargate monument and Guildhall, and the steps of West Quay have been decorated in rainbow colours.

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