Reading Pride, the Thames Valley’s annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) celebration takes place this Saturday, 31st August and with good weather forecast for the day and some great headline acts performing on the main stage, the organisers are hoping for a record turn-out for their 10th annual festival.
The first Reading Pride was born out of the belief that bringing the whole community together would raise awareness of LGBT issues and break down barriers and 10 years on this belief is still at the heart of the event. Reading Pride celebrates integration and diversity in the community with anyone, and everyone welcome to attend.
The day’s celebrations begin with a parade through the town centre. Anyone wishing to take part should make their way to the meeting point outside Reading Civic Centre half an hour before the 11.30am start. This year’s parade theme is “Reading Pride through the Decades” and participants are encouraged to come dressed in fashion finery from their favourite decade, however this is entirely optional! As well as being colourful, the parade will be educational, with participants carrying message boards depicting milestones from LGBT history, with an emphasis on key local events.
Spreading awareness of LGBT issues and educating the public are key components of the work that Reading Pride does throughout the year as the charity’s CEO, Peter Vaughan explained: “Same-sex marriage and equality issues have been high on the political agenda recently, with significant progress being made in recent years, however LGBT people still face significant issues and prejudice in many walks of life and there is still a need for support and education on such issues. Members of the LGBT community frequently tell us that they look forward to the festival every year as a rare opportunity for them to be themselves in a truly inclusive environment, which shows that Pride events still have a very important role to play.”
Peter continued: “The parade is a key part of the day, starting the celebrations, but more importantly it brings our message of equality and showcases the LGBT community and supporters to the public right in the centre of Reading.
The parade will travel past the Broad Street Mall and the Oracle Shopping Centre and then through Forbury Gardens reaching the festival site as the gates open to the public at 12 noon.
Main Stage Entertainment
From 1.00pm to 4.00pm the main stage will showcase talented local and LGBTA performers including the Thames Valley Gay Chorus, Marki, the Candy Bar Crew featuring Adam & The Drag Kings, Cecelia Delatori and the Burleskis. The glamorous (and funny) Gina Tonic will compere proceedings.
At 4pm Gina will hand the compering reins to Wilma Fingadoo who will introduce the first of the afternoon’s headline acts, and the line-up this year is quite spectacular – Nicolette Street, Daniel Fox, Lemon, B Minor, Anttix, Nicki French, Hazell Dean, Kelly Wilde, Tina Cousins, Rozalla, Angie Brown and Sonique.
Support U will be laying on attractions for youngsters of all ages in the dedicated Youth Zone including a bouncy castle, giant ball pool and a play area with toys galore. Visitors will also be able to buy rainbow themed goodies, find out more about Support U from their information stall and receive advice on Health & Well-Being from the team from The Gym Group.
Food & Fun
Other festival attractions include market stalls, Cookies Karaoke, a beauty bar, tombola, face painting, funfair, VIP area and a transgender picnic hosted by the Mayflower Society. There will also be numerous food stalls on site offering a diverse variety of cuisine including burgers, Caribbean street food, pizza, German bratwurst, burritos, toasties, hog roast and fish & chips. Vegetarian options will also be available. Revellers can also bring their own food but are advised to leave glass containers and alcoholic drinks at home as these will not be allowed on site. Visitors planning to buy alcoholic drinks from one of the bars are reminded to bring ID and to drink responsibly.
Celebrating the ‘T’
All transgender visitors, whether they identify as transvestite, transgender or transsexual (male-to-female or female-to-male) will receive an especially warm welcome at Reading Pride this year. Facilities laid on with the comfort and convenience of trans visitors specifically in mind include trans changing facilities close to the parade start point and on the festival site for the convenience of trans visitors who would prefer to change on arrival. The Mayflower Society will also be hosting a trans picnic at the festival.
Please Give Generously
Reading Pride is a registered charity and relies on the support of local businesses, fundraisers and donations on the day to cover the costs of the festival. There are numerous ways that visitors can donate on the day – for example by picking up a goody bag for a minimum donation of £1, buying a ticket for the tombola, visiting the face painting stall, dropping money in one of the donation buckets or buying a wristband for the VIP area.
VIP wristband holders will have exclusive access to marquee seating, a dedicated bar, separate toilets and prime views of the stage. VIP wristbands are available in advance from the Blagrave Arms, the Rising Sun and the Wynford Arms priced at £8, or on the day for £10.
Alternatively Pride supporters can donate via phone by texting LGBT00 and the amount they would like to donate (just the number) to 70070 – for example to donate £5, text LGBT00 5 to 70070. Donations can be made in £1 increments from £1 up to £10.
The festival runs from 12 noon until 8.00pm. Entry is free and all are welcome. For further information visit www.readingpride.co.uk