Medway Pride 2019
From Kent Messenger Published: 00:01, 04 November 2018
Medway’s first Gay Pride festival will go ahead next year, despite lack of council funding.
Organisers of the LGBT+pride event, which will include a fancy dress parade, live performances and stalls, have started a crowdfunding campaign this month.
It will be held in Rochester, based around the Castle Gardens and town centre on a Saturday in the summer.
It is being co-staged by Natasha Steer, a Chatham-based creative community arts co-ordinator, and Martha Abernathy, an American ex-pat living and working in Medway who is a trade unionist and LGBT rights campaigner.
Natasha said: “We want the first Medway Pride event to be a collaboration between services. We want it to be non-partisan but also supported by local parties and the local authority.”
Martha added: “Crowdfunding will give the LGBTQ+community and their allies in Medway the unique ability to support both the local community and the event.”
As a grassroots organisation, Medway Pride will look at various sources of funding as well as partners to be able to make the event happen.
Similar festivals have now sprung up in towns up and down the country to celebrate the culture of lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other groups.
Medway Council has said it would welcome such an event, but does not have the money to organise one itself.
Deputy leader Cllr Howard Doe (Con), speaking to members last month highlighted a series of events organised by external organisations which have benefited from support from the council.
He added: “It should be borne in mind that there is currently no provision within any existing budgets for any costs that would be incurred in hosting such an event.
“We agree that planning for a pride event should be transparent and inclusive, and would look to the organiser to be so.”
Natasha and Martha began planning for Medway Pride 2019 and started to look for funding routes. All pride events are self funded with a mixture of grant, sponsorship funding and donations raised by the community. It was never a question of asking Medway Council to fund the event, but it was paramount to its success that the council was on board with the event going ahaead.
Medway Council are very supportive of the event, they are working to help the Medway Pride team meet its requirements, supporting road closures, and facilitating meetings with Medway Events and Heritage Teams
As time went by it became apparent that more help was needed to promote and fundraise the event