THE first Newcastle Pride is shaping up to be a huge success with its main events sold out well in advance.
The three-day celebration, to be held from August 24-26, will bring together the city’s LGBTIQ community under the theme “freedom to be me”.
Newcastle Pride founder Lee-Anne McDougall said she and her collaborator, Ivan Skaines, decided on small scale launch for the inaugural event.
“Ivan and I were unsure how it would go,” Ms McDougall said. “We didn’t want massive venues, and thought if they sold out that would be great.
“I’ve been blown away by the response.
“It’s just the beginning, we plan to grow it into something really spectacular and put the Newcastle LGBTIQ community back on the map.”
The 390 tickets to the Short’n’Curlies launch party, along with the Loud and Proud dance party, sold out quickly.
The organisers have already booked larger venues for next year. For the 2019 Newcastle Pride, there will be 250 tickets available for the launch and 600 for the dance party.
It was the right time to launch Newcastle Pride for several reasons, Ms McDougall said.
“I recognised that the Newcastle LGBTIQ community has not held any major events for several years,” she said.
“The last major events were organised by Rainbow Visions Hunter Inc around 2012 or 2013.”
The 2017 marriage equality vote – for which 74.8 per cent of the Newcastle electorate voted “yes” – had also been a push to pull together the event.
“That was a huge step but we still have a long way to go,” Ms McDougall said.
“The ‘yes’ votes from the Newcastle area was exciting; uplifting and gives us hope that we are heading in a positive direction towards inclusion and acceptance.”
Another push to hold Newcastle Pride was the closure of the local LGBTIQ watering-hole.
In February 2018, The Gateway Hotel, Islington, closed its doors while it underwent a “re-brand”. It has since re-opened as The Newcastle Hotel and is catering to a different demographic.
“That left the community a little homeless,” Ms McDougall said.
The venue is still listed by ACON as a safe place for the LGBTIQ community.
On August 25, Foreshore Park will come alive when it hosts Newcastle Pride Fair Day.
The family friendly event will see 70 market stalls, 30 community stalls and 12 food vans converge on the park from midday to 5pm.
Comedian Jackie Loeb will MC the main stage, on which there will be entertainment throughout the afternoon.