Pride Vibes 2017: Isle of Wight Pride
Pride Vibes: As a photographer for Gay Pride Pics, I attend lots of Prides across the UK every year. Each Pride has a different feel. This series will describe what each Pride was like and what the vibe of the pride was like.
The entire series is my opinion and mine only. Take it as you will. Note that this opinion comes from a 20 something extroverted transwoman who is herself a pride organiser.
I’m still working out what this series is going to be like. Bear with me.
Previous: Coventry Pride
We were delighted to share Isle of Wight’s first ever Pride festival with the Isle’s inhabitants and visitors from the mainland.
The Isle of Wight Pride had already seen quite a lot of press coverage, such as the article from Isle of Wight County Press and the Isle of Wight’s former MP making homophobic statements and so attracted not only a lot of islanders, but also people turning up to support a Pride that proved much more controversial than expected.
TL;DR The event was absolutely incredible. It was the best Pride this season with by far the best vibes going. Inclusive, welcoming, and excited.
The Isle of Wight Pride started with a parade through the town of Ryde.
I was astounded to see what seemed like the entire town, maybe the whole island’s population on the streets for the parade.
There was a diverse group of people watching the parade, we saw the old, young and everyone in between.
The buzz from the parade was huge, everyone was so excited to see a Pride parade in their small town.
The buzz from the parade was huge. Everyone was so excited to see a Pride parade in their small town. Everyone was showing their support for each other, and the marchers.
The parade featured mostly charities, with a few local branches of businesses present, and some larger ,more well known organisations like Outdoor Men and a surprisingly large contingent from the Scouts.
While nowhere near as long as larger, more established Pride parades like Birmingham or Exeter, the Isle of Wight parade was extremely long considering its their first one.
The parade finished at the Pavilion down by the beach with people tailing the end of the parade off the streets towards the entrance to the main event.
Unfortunately, the main event was ticketed, but free.
This is because of an old law preventing the Isle of Wight from holding an event with more than 5000 people attending.
5000 people is totally more than enough for a first Pride, but I certainly think that if it wasn't for this law, there would have been many more people there.
The main event, as mentioned, was held partly on the beach and partly on the beach front.
Isle of Wight Pride featured a reasonable set of stalls, mostly commercial, on their grassy section.
I felt that the large amounts of commercial stalls appeared like they were profiteering from the ‘pink pound’ as a lot of these stalls were not really specifically LGBT+ related.
There were a few LGBT+ charities in attendance. I most noted the presence of Mermaids and was amazed to see them on the island.
Maybe it felt like there were a lot of commercial stalls because there really were not many stalls in total at all.
All stall holders were incredibly friendly and I enjoyed feeling very comfortable talking to them.
The feeling around the stalls was very relaxed and calm. They seemed to be seeing loads of custom and the two stages on the grassy area always had an audience sitting quietly and enjoying the shows being put on there.
People in the stalls area seemed just happy to be there and comfortable being who they are.
The main stage was on the beach section, which was a totally different experience from any other Pride I’ve been to.
The beach was quiet at first before people really started arriving.
It got pretty busy on the beach, but managed to never feel packed and pushed together like some of the other prides. There was always room to move around through the crowd easily (even for me, a photographer with a big bag on!)
The beach stage did feature quite a lot of drag acts, 5 in total I think, but counteracted the large drag presence with powerful political statements and spoken word from several people including Peter Tatchall and Hannah Phillips. The main stage also featured plenty of musical performances across the day.
I was really happy to see Isle of Wight Pride welcome political statements on their stage. It really helped make me feel like the event is keen to maintain itself as a political pride which is well aware of its roots and all the work that still needs to be done by the Pride movement.
It should be noted that although the stage was on a sandy beach, IoW Pride put down plastic boards over some of the beach to allow wheeled personal transport like buggies and wheelchairs access to the main stage area, a great touch.
Unlike many Prides it was not overwhelmingly attended by students and young people, but saw a wide ranging attendance base from young people, young couples, young families alongside older people, and established families. Most Prides do see people from all age groups, but it was extremely striking at IoW to see people from every walk of life.
This diversity really enhanced the vibes of the event. It was such a happy event, but certainly not an alcohol-fueled party like so many other Prides can be.
I never felt uncomfortable with the level of drinking as I have been previously.
It seemed like everyone there was there to show their support for the Isle of Wight’s LGBT+ population, and that the Isle of Wight had Pride in their LGBT+ culture.
Despite the lower population of younger people, I really felt included in the event and all the people I spoke to were also loving it.
It should be noted, however, that it seemed like most attendees were white British people. Not surprising considering the pride was on a small island, but I’m fairly sure I could have counted the amount of people of colour on two hands.
For me, Isle of Wight Pride truly felt like people were proud to be there showing their colours.
Generally, the event was absolutely astounding. I was amazed to see such a wonderful, diverse turnout from the island.
The event had an excited vibe with people showing so much support for the LGBT+ community.
For me, Isle of Wight Pride truly felt like people were Proud to be there showing their colours.
Best Pride of the season so far.
Best of luck to the Isle of Wight Pride organisers and thank you for welcoming us to such a wonderful event.
May your future events continue to have the same vibes as this one.