Our roving reporter Michelle Dee takes a look back on this year’s Pride in Hull.
‘The show must go on’, sang X-Factor star Sean Miley Moore, dressed in killer heels and a loose black top, his voice resonating through the crowd as they screamed for an encore.
After all the dreadful attacks in recent weeks in France and Florida, the standout message from Pride in Hull, was one of strength and resolve. This was reflected in the NHS Choir’s performance during the opening of the event including, Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’ and the uplifting ‘Something Inside So Strong’. Above the stage, I caught sight of a solitary pink balloon carried in the wind across the city rooftops, perhaps symbolising all the pain felt by the LGBT+ community in the wake of the attack on the Pulse nightclub.
Opening the annual event the Lord Mayor expressed how Pride is about people and very much a part of the city’s culture. Andy Train, one of the many hosts on the main stage throughout the day, had a message for the LGBT+ community everywhere. ‘We are here to remember all of those people around the world, who want to celebrate Pride, but who can’t celebrate Pride.’
Joining the blue section of the parade, the spectators seemed to become a moving rainbow flag of people. Pop music blared out from the LGBT Christian Fellowship’s boom-box as a twelve-foot Jesus puppet, danced along with us, prompting the line “I found Jesus at Hull Pride – he was right behind me all the time.”
The parade arrived at the Street Party on Baker Street, amidst excitement and the shaking of donation buckets, notably, as Pride in Hull is a not-for-profit organisation and relies on the generous donations of supporters and sponsors.
The show did indeed go on, with a host of performers including the likes of Park Street Performing Arts, with a colourful medley from Priscilla really firing up the audience.
It’s been an absolute blast. Walking around in heels and a corset may not sound like fun but when you are up there the crowd cheering you on, it is just immense. I think this is the best Pride we’ve seen.
Liam Asplen performer at Park Street Performing Arts
Stalls lined the street with groups and organisations highlighting issues faced by the LGBT+ community – even the police officers had their faces adorned with sparkles and glitter.
Stephen Mirfin, Co-chair for LGBT Staff Support Network and Humberside Police says ‘It is important that you see we have gay police officers and staff and that we are here to help you whether you are from the LGBT community or not.’
When Danny Beard, the B.G.T. singer came on, his warmth and sincerity shone out during an impromptu a cappella verse of ‘Valerie’. His face sculpted like a mask, Danny thrilled the crowd with a selection of classics including ‘Sweet Transvestite’ and a rousing rendition of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
There were more screams for X-Factor’s Sean Miley Moore fiercely parading up and down the catwalk, in a long coat and fashion shades. Speaking directly to the crowd he voiced Ru Paul’s signature line. ‘If you don’t love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to love you?’
Judging by the crowd’s reaction this was something they knew all too well. Sean sang ‘California Dreamin’’ and ‘I’m Every Woman’ with the high notes booming just as the contestants do on TV. The crowd loved it and loved it more when Danny Beard, dressed in monochrome frock, returned to duet with Sean. The Full Diamonty Drag Cabaret Show – featuring ex Funny Girls from Blackpool – were incredibly glamorous, with feathered beauties parading on stage, each looking utterly fabulous.
Lady Courtney Shortney’s rousing rendition of ‘Do-Re-Mi’ from The Sound of Music, complete with audience participation, really got the crowd on their feet. A Spice Girls reunion provided the finale with five of the girls taking to the stage to the sounds of ‘Wannabe’.
Our feather costumes were created by a very good friend and costume designer, with whom we work closely, to produce bigger and better designs, for each show. Thousands of pounds, time and effort go into each costume.
Lady Courtney Shortney – Full Diamonty
The street party was in full swing as Mama Coil from Fuel introduced 80s pop sensation Sinitta. Sinitta was, as promised, wearing the local team’s colours, dressed in a number of Hull City flags (she’s a big fan of the Tigers) with a couple of Pride flags as wings. For the big hit songs ‘Toy Boy’ and ‘So Macho’ her dancers wore customised football strips. ‘Where are the leaves?’ someone shouted, referring to her famous banana leaf costume worn on X Factor. ‘That’s so last year honey,’ she fired right back at them without missing a beat.
Dressed in a stylish red number, the hugely popular national radio DJ Stephanie Hirst got everyone jumping. She played a jingle from her old breakfast show and the crowd all joined in. Hirsty had clearly been someone they’d listened to and grown up with, the love and affection they now showed to Stephanie hadn’t changed one bit.
Speaking about her transition from male to female Stephanie explains that having friends around you is vital.
If you know someone who is going through this, try and support them as much as you can. I want to change the person on the high street’s perception. This is not a choice, this is survival. My natural state of comfortableness is female. Make this okay for people who are struggling with it – make sure that person in the street isn’t being victimised.
The night continued with performances from Booty Luv and a preview of the Pride After Party show by Union J, but for this reporter the natural state of comfortableness is home.