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Pride weekend in Newport: a wonderful display of color

Newport’s first-ever pride festival last weekend was a sea of rainbows and sparkles. Andrew Mudd and Adam Smith organized the event, which was held in Belle Vue Park before many people headed to the city center to party into the night. Other sponsors included Newport Bus, Dragon Taxis, Newport City Homes, and Newport City Council.

Children were dancing in droves while drag act Ruby Slippers and DJ Kim entertained at the bandstand, drinks were being served all day long at outdoor bars, and the tea rooms were packed. The Terrence Higgins Trust cofounder Martyn Butler OBE addressed to attendees as stalls were set up by Queer Emporium and other organizations to raise awareness of all-inclusive spaces and the charity’s unending work to advance HIV prevention in Wales.

Many people thanked the organizers in their thank-you notes and shared advice for individuals who were having trouble accepting their sexuality or gender. After 50 years of keeping it a secret, one person wrote about coming out on Saturday. Adam, a co-organizer, said the speech brought tears to his eyes and served as the ideal illustration of the necessity for pride.

Newport was a sea of rainbows and glitter over the weekend for the city’s first ever pride festival  (Image: Marc Lewis/Ffoto Newport)

Vice-chairman of Pride in the Port, Adam, told WalesOnline, “I am blown away.” “This weekend has been just incredible. It’s been nine months in the making, so I was anxious and unsure of what to anticipate.

“However, the audience seems to enjoy it, and the encouragement and feedback we have received has been fantastic. People sometimes wonder why we need pride; that message provides an answer. Pride is essential.

“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, but I’ve never felt confident or at ease enough to. It was the appropriate time since I now have the right people around me to make this a success.

“Seeing families there and so many young people using the park in that way was just nice. We’ve certainly hit the nail on the head, as seen by the age gap.

Adam Smith with MS and Deputy Minister for Social Partnership Hannah Blythyn  (Image: Pride in the Port)

Revellers donned their best dress and took to Belle Vue Park over the weekend  (Image: Marc Lewis/Ffoto Newport)

By definition, Newport only has one gay-friendly establishment, Atlantica Bar on Market Street. Adam responded that he would rather concentrate on the willingness of current venues to contribute when asked if he thought the city’s inaugural pride could serve as a launchpad for more inclusive events in the city.

We can’t express our gratitude to Robbie White at Atlantica enough for all that he has done, but many other people have also contributed significantly, Adam said. “Other venues have paid attention, inquired about our needs, and shown a willingness to assist. According to Gwent Police, the city center was much busier on Saturday night than typical.

“Events were being held at the Pen and Wig, Crosskeys, Le Pub, Hogarths, and McCanns. On Saturday, Le Pub hosted punk pride, and McCanns had a biker pride celebration. I believe that shows LGBT+ people that Newport has a place where they can feel safe and at ease being themselves.

Andrew Mudd at the bandstand at Belle Vue Park during Pride in the Port  (Image: Pride in the Port)

Belle Vue Park bandstand on Saturday afternoon  (Image: Jonathon Hill)

Next year’s event is already being planned by Pride in the Port, who intends to keep admission free for all and include a march around the city. The event on Saturday attracted 2,000 attendees and peaked at slightly under 1,000, according to chairman Andrew Mudd.

The weekend has been “awe-inspiring,” he remarked. “I am really pleased with my staff. My main driving force behind doing this was to gather everyone and demonstrate that we are visible and that we are one.

“I hope that Newport will have more all-inclusive coffee shops and non-bar meeting places — things that are indicative of daily living. Since the community is diverse, so too should the opportunities be.

Chairman Andrew Mudd said Saturday’s event pulled in 2,000 people and peaked at just under 1,000  (Image: Marc Lewis/Ffoto Newport)

The event “must be a springboard,” according to Martyn Butler OBE, promoting LGBT+ visibility in Newport. Since the beginning of pride in London, when it was quite tense and the police were more interested in harassing us than in defending us, he claimed, “I’ve been active in pride.” “It was nice to see the Gwent Police stall there and the officers there partying with us.

“That transformation has changed now, and it’s amazing. I never imagined the day would come when I would witness pride in Newport. Over the years, I’ve observed Rainbow Newport attempt various things, and occasionally 12 people have shown up. Simply said, there didn’t seem to be much interest in it. So when Adam said he would do this, I immediately asked, “Oh my goodness, are you sure?” I’ve occasionally felt out of place in Newport.

“I honestly believe that things are changing and that more individuals are coming out. People will arrive now if there is a party, coffee evening, or whatever else. You are welcome in the community there.

“This has to be a launching pad. We’ve seen it elsewhere, therefore I fully anticipate that the numbers will increase next year. I sincerely hope that transpires.

“It was wonderful to see businesses get involved and work with the council. It conveys a message and sort of shoves it in people’s faces, which is fantastic. It prompts inquiries regarding its purpose. I have little doubt that Newport will be much more frequently draped in rainbows in a few years.

Martyn Butler OBE  (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

Pride in the Port has its first annual general meeting in October and is encouraging those interested to attend and stand for positions on the committee. If you are interested in becoming a member you can sign up via Pride in the Port’s website here.

Adam and Andrew expressed their gratitude to the 40 volunteers who helped make the occasion possible. “Pride in the Port is all volunteers,” Adam continued, “and by stepping up and deciding to support their neighborhood, they made history. Next year, we’ll return even larger and better.


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