A pre-event for Worthing Pride has raised hundreds of pounds for its chosen charity.
The Proud Prom, Worthing Pride’s pre-pride event, was held on Friday, 50 years since the Stonewall uprising which sparked the gay rights movement.
The colorful event at The Grand Victorian Hotel, opposite Worthing railway station, had a sell-out crowd, attended by Worthing mayor, Hazel Thorpe.
Worthing Pride is back for 2019: who will be performing and when will it take place?
Worthing Pride organisers to host a prom night for LGBT+ people who did not go to theirs
Hosted by burlesque and cabaret performer Dawn Gracie, guests were greeted with a red carpet arrival, followed by an evening of burlesque, drag performances and a Studio 54-style disco.
Proud Prom and Worthing Pride organiser, Keira Thomas, said she wanted to take the idea of a prom - 'an event that typically marks the right of passage for most young straight people', she said - and make it inclusive for all.
She said; “The Proud Prom celebrates individuality, as well as offering the ‘prom’ experience to those who never went to a prom, or couldn’t go and be their true self.
"It was an unforgettable night, and I thank everyone who supported and helped raise £500 for The HOPE Charity Project.”
Based in Southwater, near Horsham, The HOPE Charity Project supports young and vulnerable people, and their families, experiencing trauma, mental health issues, and gender and sexuality acceptance.
Hazel presented the cheque for money raised to Claire Sparrow, founder of the HOPE Charity Project. Claire said: “The Proud Prom was a space full of beautiful, talented and unique
people, who I am so grateful for helping raise precious funds, at what was a fantastic evening, celebrating freedom to express yourself and be proud.”
In true prom style, awards were presented to the two best-dressed prom duos, personally chosen by the mayor, who released a cascade of balloons to music.
The winners will be treated to afternoon tea with the mayor, at the Mayor's Parlour in the Town Hall.
Hazel said: “The Proud Prom was a wonderful night, and it was an honour to support The HOPE Charity Project, such a worthy, important cause. We all need someone to turn to at some
point in our lives.”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when profoundly deaf guest Michelle was treated to songs signed by local drag artist Linda Bacardi, who is one of a few drag artists in the UK proficient in BSL sign language.
Michelle and her wife were all moved to tears, she said, adding: “It is difficult in a pub or on a night out, because I can't hear music or appreciate it. I didn’t know what to expect tonight at the Prom, but I suddenly noticed that Linda was signing whilst speaking.
"I thought ‘what? He’s signing!’ Linda then signed two songs, which meant the world to me.”
Ms Bacardi will be bringing their special talents to the Worthing Pride main event stage in Beach House Grounds on Saturday, July 13, to sign throughout most of the acts for guests who are deaf persons.
To buy tickets and for more information, visit the Worthing Pride website.