As Hemel prepares to host Hertfordshire’s biggest annual LGBT event for the first time next week, the Gazette spoke to organisers for a sneak peek behind the scenes.
Herts Pride is due to take place in Gadebridge Park on Saturday, September 3.
Its chairman Tyson Martin and a dedicated committee behind him have successfully overseen its development over the past four years.
He said: “It was decided back in around 2011 or 2012, there was a group of us from the LGBT community at an event at the university in Hatfield, attended by other organisations.
“People at first mentioned having a Watford Pride and then as discussions went on, it was a case of, ‘Why not have something that represents Hertfordshire?’
“I put my hand up and said I’d look into our options. And it developed from there really.”
The first Herts Pride was held in Cassiobury Park, Watford in 2013 where it remained for the following two years.
But after being unable to use the venue this year, the Herts Pride team decided to look elsewhere.
“We looked at other venues across Herts and found that Gadebridge Park met our needs,” said Mr Martin. “Dacorum Borough Council were extremely helpful and extremely supportive, which was nice.”
The event features a family fun day as well as a host of legendary drag queens, including Dave Lynn who made a famous cameo in the 1996 film Beautiful Thing.
And as the Gazette reported earlier this month, the event will also feature Asifa Lahore, aka Asif Quraishi, the UK’s first Muslim drag queen.
Mr Martin said the Pride event was unique in that much of its focus was on health and well being.
Despite the event’s success, Mr Martin said Hertfordshire had only a single LGBT bar, with many members of the community going into London or Luton.
He said: “I think it’s extremely important that we have this Pride event. Yes, London is quite close but we’re here to celebrate our own community within Hertfordshire.
“We’re extremely diverse and there are also other people who may not go into London because of their age or a disability. It is very accessible having the event here close to public transport.”
Herts Pride begins at 11am and continues until 10pm. See www.hertspride.co.uk/ for further information or to purchase wristbands.
> And why not send us your highlights of Herts Pride? You can email photos and reflections to firstname.lastname@example.org