As Hastings get sets to celebrate Pride on Sunday, this year’s ground-breaking carnival court has been heralded as a major step forward for diversity.
Moving away from the traditional concept of a Carnival Queen and her attendants. The Old Town Carnival Committee decided on a new concept, with the aim of being more inclusive.
They cam up with the idea of a Sea Court with a Sea Queen and Sea King .
It saw 75 year old Monica Bane being crowned as Sea Queen, with 29 year old NHS worker Dominic Cockerton taking on the role of Sea King.
Attendant Sophia Alexa Evans, 41, is transgender and said she wanted to be a part of the Court to promote transgender awareness and to show other trans women that we are beautiful too.
Speaking about the new court Ion Castro said: “After a lot of discussion and informal consultation the Hastings Old Town Carnival Committee decided earlier this year that the selection process should be more open and accessible with no upper age limit and no gender restriction - and this was before carnival committees in other towns hit the headlines because they were having problems attracting young women.
“Hastings Old Town Carnival Committee has never subscribed to the ‘Glamour Model’ school preferring instead to select its court on personality and affection for Hastings so removing the stereotypical image of a carnival court and replacing it with a ‘Sea Court’ to reflect Hastings’ maritime heritage was the logical next step toward a new, much more inclusive Carnival.”
Carnival Committee chairman Keith Leech said: “We are committed to turning things around and bringing the carnival into the 21st century. Everybody agrees that the event has turned the corner and from this point it can only grow. The controversial new sea court has been received very well in most quarters and by other carnivals. Other carnivals are now saying that Hastings as ever is leading the way. People are already asking about entering next year.”
On Saturday August the Hastings Old Town Sea Court attended Sheppey Summer Carnival and were presented with the Spirit of Carnival award.
Pictures by Andrew Clifton.