Town celebrates gay community

Some of the HRRA members at the event
Some of the HRRA members at the event
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THERE was a bumper turnout for a free event celebrating the town’s gay community last week.

And as the Out and Proud day took place at Azur on the St Leonards seafront – with nearly 300 people turning up to show their support – the town hall flew the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rainbow flag for the first time ever.

Organised by The Hastings and Rother Rainbow Alliance (HRRA), the event included more than 20 information stalls, from charities, voluntary groups and health trusts, plus live entertainment.

Les Tostevin, chairman of the HRRA, was delighted with the way it went.

He said: “We were very pleased with the turnout - people of all ages from youths up to fairly elderly people and from across the spectrum of the LGBT community. We struck quite a good balance between the events and the entertainment and there was a great atmosphere. The aim of the day was to encourage more LGBT people to become involved in their communities, by joining organisations or becoming volunteers and I think we achieved that with some success.”

The event was opened by Mayor Kim Forward - wearing a glittery rainbow skirt specially for the occasion - and Cllr Jay Kramer, deputy leader of Hastings Borough council (HBC) spoke about the authority’s efforts to promote greater community cohesion. Mr Tostevin said that by agreeing to fly the rainbow flag on the town hall HBC had made a powerful statement.

“It was a bit of a coup for us really and showed that the council is right behind what we are trying to do.”

And Cllr Kramer said: “The flag was a recognition of the council’s commitment to ensuring that everyone knows Hastings is a welcoming and safe place for the LGBT community living, working or visiting here.

“Azur was just buzzing and there was so much positive material around, people were signing up for lots of different things. It was a really brilliant event.”

Mr Tostevin thanked Azur, the entertainers and all those who hosted information stalls, as well as everybody who attended.