Pride In Luton festival. PIC: Tony Margiocchi

Pride In Luton - pictures of the town's first ever festival

More than 2,000 revellers celebrated at the event

By Words Stewart Carr, Pics Tony Margiocchi
Wednesday, 29th June 2022, 9:01 am

The first ever Pride in Luton festival was hailed as an extraordinary success on Saturday as over 2,000 revellers came out to celebrate the town's LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) communities.

The sun shone throughout the afternoon in Bute Street as compere Asifa Lahore, the UK's first out Muslim drag queen, entertained cheering crowds from the main stage of Pride in Luton.

A higher-than-expected turnout arrived well before the event started at 1pm, leaving organisers hopeful they were on to an early winner.

But by 3pm, the throngs of partygoers had swelled throughout Bute Street and Guildford Street, leaving performers overwhelmed by the 'electric atmosphere'.

And it seems the public agreed, as Jackie Trench posted on Facebook: 'Such a good day! Can't wait for next year and an even bigger and better Pride!'

StevenageLGBTpride posted: 'Fabulous event!! Big congratulations to the whole team!'

Lizzy Ann added: 'What a wonderful day of celebration, not even the rain at the end of the day dampened our spirits.'

Opening act Homoparody - a gay dance troupe led by Lutonian David Allwood - got the party started, followed by singer-songwriter Sofia and pop act Smashby.

Luton's own Next Generation Youth Theatre then staged a specially-commissioned play, followed by rip-roaring pop music from Aaron Sibley, The X-Factor's Luscious and Luton-born Union J star Jaymi Hensley.

Headline performer and The Voice singing sensation La Voix appeared at 6pm and dazzled audiences with her blend of humour and cabaret, quipping: 'I know I've made it now I'm performing opposite a kebab shop and a job centre!'

Towards the end of the main show at 7pm, it started to rain. Dozens of people flooded into the Hat factory cafe for shelter - but a far bigger crowd of festival-goers huddled enthusiastically in the rain Glastonbury-style while watching La Voix's finale.

Speeches were given by Luton South MP Rachel Hopkins, former Luton News reporter and Pride committee member Stewart Carr, equality and diversity specialist Claire Davis and human rights lawyer Rosie Brighouse.

A youth zone ran inside Hat House throughout the day, while in the Hat Factory, arts and crafts activities were available for children, along with an inclusive storytelling session from Mama G.

The Hat Factory floor hosted history displays commemorating Luton's LGBTQ scene along with stalls from charity and health services including Luton Sexual Health, LGBT Bedfordshire and Luton Borough Council.

An after-party was held at the Hat Factory, while others were held at nightclub Flame and pub The Castle.

Pride In Luton was set up following recommendations from a focus group in November last year, which discussed the council's equality, diversity and inclusion (EQI) strategy.

Building on those recommendations, a committee of LGBTQ community members led by operations chief Scott Griffwood and Pride co-chairs Michael Nanton-Knight and Kelsie Holdstock worked alongside Luton Borough Council's Social Justice Unit, The Culture Trust and Bedfordshire Police to deliver a truly Lutonian Pride.

Community officers and PCSOs from Beds Police supported Pride throughout the day and described it as a 'fantastic event'.

This year's event was also made possible through funding from Luton Rising, Beds Luton Community Foundation, Luton BID and The Mall Luton.

View more of Tony’s pictures at his free online gallery.

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