Thousands celebrate Eastbourne Pride

Thousands of people turned out yesterday (Saturday) to celebrate Eastbourne Pride.

In its second ever year, the high-energy event started with a parade from Langney Point which ended up in Princes Park, where the fun was just beginning.

Ivor Putnam at Pride

Ivor Putnam at Pride

There was live entertainment, stalls, rainbow flags galore and glitter aplenty as families and friends soaked up the positive atmosphere.

Among those getting involved was Ivor Putnam, showcasing his business Totally Gay Weddings.

Ivor faced prison in his home country Zimbabwe, and said he was threatened with surveillance and arrest if a man went inside his house.

He has now lived in Eastbourne for six years and said starting a new life in another country was the ‘best thing’ he ever did.

He said, “I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, their stance is gay is not allowed at all, so I had that struggle.

“I auditioned to be in Grease and they said, ‘you can’t do that’. And I said, ‘I’m gone’ and that’s when my dance career started. It was very liberating.”

Ivor said of Zimbabwe, where homosexuality is criminalised, “It’s very difficult for a gay man to survive there. I was arrested and given all sorts of ultimatums. So I could pay a fine or go to prison.”

Totally Gay Weddings is dedicated to providing decor, gifts, clothing and accessories for LGBT celebrations.

He said, “I have started this hoping I will be able to supply the LGBT+ community with things they need for their weddings. I’m so excited about this shop.

“I think Pride is vital because two same-sex people cannot walk down the street and show any form of affection without feeling nervous first. We have got to kind of look over your shoulder. I’d love to see that stop.

“Some people say, ‘why do you still need Pride?’ It’s the only time most gay people can just be yourself.”

The official Pride After-Party was held in Badda Bing & Maxims (over 18s only). The event had three floors of music and live entertainment.