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  • Writer's pictureanthonybothwell

We need Pride in Chichester and here is why. 🏳‍🌈

We asked Dawn a few questions about why we need Pride and to hear her thoughts on Chichester Pride's first Pride event.

I’m Dawn Gracie and I’m the co-chair of Chichester Pride. I organised the entertainment for the first ever major event and am very proud of the whole committee and volunteers who made this possible.

Why is Pride, after 50 years in the UK, still needed?

It’s needed because there is still deep prejudice and sometimes it’s not so hidden or deep. In a City like Chichester where the LGBTQ+ has never before stood up and been counted in such a way, it highlighted a few areas of concern which gave us even more determination and drive to push forward with the event.

Chichester was lucky to have it's first annual Pride event this year. Can you explain why it was important for Chichester to experience this expoure to the LGBTQ+ community?

Our City from the outside – and I can speak with experience on this having moved from Brighton many years ago – has a reputation of having an older demographic and not very diverse in its community.

However, I found this to be untrue when I launched my cabaret club in 2016 and in fact found that there IS an LGBTQ+ community but they were tending to travel outside of the City to Portsmouth & Brighton for their social scene.

So with the realisation that our City wasn’t doing enough to keep these people local or support them in times of need, THAT’S why our own Pride movement needed to happen.

As a member of the Chichester Pride committee, can you describe your personal experience organising this event and why you would like to continue this work?

As mentioned, I am an entertainer and show producer so naturally I have a very diverse friend and colleague circle. Putting on drag, burlesque and variety shows in the City since 2013, it felt right that I should use the reputation of my work – as a straight ally – to platform performers from the LGBTQ+ community and thus bringing this TO the City rather than seeing people leave the City to find it.

So having been the person that my amazing co-chair Melissa came out to a few years ago, I saw her journey of dead ends and naturally wanted to help in any way I could. So the suggestion of putting a ‘Pride’ event on and flagging up these issues to the general public was something I felt strongly about. I had also been part of some of the other coastal Pride events (Worthing, Portsmouth) and saw the amazing community work they did and so it was right that I gave my time voluntarily to Chichester to make it happen here.

It was during and just after lockdown that a solid committee came together and we embarked upon organising the main event. The amount of time and energy put in by these volunteers was immense and I can say this was by far one of the most time-consuming events I’ve ever been involved with organising and there were times when it was completely taking over my work – which did suffer.

However, the event happened and we executed a brilliant family festival that we’re all incredibly proud of. Yes, we learnt many lessons and will carry that forward to next year.

Can you describe your experience of Chichester Pride 2022 and what you look forward to seeing in 2023?

It was very labour intensive but with the committee's teamwork, we made it happen! I’m looking forward to a larger stage, and more people but also remembering that we want to keep it a community event and not lose sight of the periphery work that is being done alongside the one-day event. I’d also like to have the energy to do an after-show/evening part of the main event but ask me again in six months and I’ll tell you if I have the time or energy!

Pride is all year round, not just the one day. Is there any advice and information you can offer to those who want to learn more about the local LGBTQ+ community?

I can’t shout loudly enough about co-chair Melissa's work that she’s continually doing to bring the LGBTQ+ community together with meet-ups. This includes games days, bowling and picnics! I’d suggest anyone wanting to discover the community and join in, find the Facebook group and contact Melissa as she’s a diamond!

Also, I’d say if you love a night out, I’m still running my Chichester Cabaret Club where you’ll always find a friendly and accepting group, and a banging show too!

Answers by Dawn Gracie (Co-Chair).

Photos taken by Kirsty Jayne Russell

Don't forget to save the date for Chichester Pride 2023: 27.05.2023

You can subscribe to our website for ticket updates and more information about Chichester Pride 2023 here.

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