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Kendal Pride 2023

Kendal held its first ever pride event last weekend. With an entire village to explore, we checked out some of the fun things on offer and chatted with some of the organisations that attended.

The main part of the village was hosted at the Brewery Arts Centre garden with a bunch of local and national organisations such as Bernardos, Ragtag Arts, BAE and Anti Racist Cumbria at the centre of the village that came to show support for Kendal Pride.

We spoke with Lucy, an Anti Racist Cumbria volunteer about why ARC, who are already doing fantastic bits for LGBTQ+ issues, are at Pride: “This is Kendal’s first pride event so it’s really exciting for us to be a part of it and to be representing both Anti Racism and LGBTQ+ rights. For me it’s really important to practise anti-racism but also to recognise the intersectionality of Anti Racism and queer rights”.

Lucy at Anti Racist Cumbria’s stall

In the Malt Room, the Brathay Trust, who formed South Lakes first ever LGBTQ+ youth group - Out in Kendal, facilitated a Youth Safe Space for young people aged 13-18 so they can meet people like themselves and connect through playing games and hanging out.

We chatted with one of the youth workers from Out in Kendal called Sammie. They spoke about what Kendal Pride meant to the group: “It’s so important to have this group, before we started in January there was nothing for LGBT+ young people in Kendal and it’s really important for them to have this safe space, they’ve loved having it and making it their own so that’s why we're here”.

Chatting with Sammie in the youth safe space

Just around the corner from the central pride village was a zine workshop being held at Abbot Hall art gallery hosted by Lakeland Arts as part of their MEND on the Move project.

The workshop was called Zine of Me and focused on creating a zine that celebrates the person making it.

Roisin the creative producer for Lakeland Arts on their MEND project explained to us why they hosted the zine making workshop and the link between them and the queer community:

“Zine’s were really popular in the 70s as an alternative distribution of ideas outside of the mainstream but they were also really popular with the LGBT+ community for expressing their identity.

So we’ve kind of gone with that today and it’s a workshop we run anyway to understand the community that we work with in Cumbria.”

Roisin talking to us about the zine making process

The Zine of me workshop had plenty of people exploring their identity through art. The creativity on show at Kendal pride doesn’t stop there with Folded Zine, a Cumbrian based young people’s arts and culture online zine hosting an exhibition.

The exhibition, called Upsurge, is nestled into the new shambles gallery space at the heart of Kendal’s town centre. Upsurge featured Lake District based artists such as Bethan Thorsby who showcased their psychedelic and ethereal illustrations of iconic places in Cumbria such as Blea Tarn and Langdale Boulders.

Bethan’s graphic and wholesome landscape of Blea Tarn, Blakerigg

Also at the exhibition was Marisa Crane with their installation Forest of Honey that was described as ‘giving a sense of wandering through the undergrowth’.

They used unconventional materials such as sheep bones, fishing wire and tree branches to bring the mixed media sculptures to life.

To conclude the celebrations for the Saturday portion of Kendal Pride festival The Venue, just off Aynam Road, hosted the Big Pride Party and was MC’d by Kendal’s very own Drag Queen Nova Gina.

The event, which promised to be an evening of high camp, kicked off with a bang and Nova had the crowd in stitches with her wit and sharp tongue.

The first act was Layla Zee Susan, a singing queen from Plymouth that got the crowd going with Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

Layla was not only musically talented but she had the crowd in her hands cracking some great jokes, our personal favourite being:

“Kendal is too nice, isn’t it? Is it like Hot Fuzz where an old lady is gonna come out of nowhere and bash me over the head”.

Layla belting out I’m still standing for the crowd

The next act up was Andi Blewitt, a drag King with a raunchy dance act on how to be a bloke to the tune of Time of the Season. Our comedic highlight for Andi was definitely at the start of the act where they sipped a pint to the tunes of the ahhat the start of the song.

Andi working the room with pint and sunglasses at hand

The Big Pride Party was an absolute howler from start to finish. We spoke with Kendal Queen Nova, the hostess with the mostest, about what Kendal Pride meant to them:

“Hosting Kendal Pride is so incredible for me, I live in Kendal, I love Kendal I’ve lived here for eight years now and it’s the first time to be and feel represented as a gay, queer person.”

Nova also hosted Barrow Pride earlier this year and told us how incredible it was to meet so many like minded people and see the allies and support. To bring the same atmosphere to Kendal was an amazing feet for Nova:

“The organisers and the support for this has been phenomenal and I’m looking forward to next year. What's it gonna be like, how is it gonna grow?

"It’s not your traditional type of pride event and yes we’ve had a party, yes we’ve had fun but we're trying to bring people to the lakes to celebrate the best of the lakes and do it differently so I really love how Kendal’s done it differently”.

Talking with Nova about what Kendal pride meant to her

Kendal Pride concluded last Sunday and, like many others that were involved or just attending the festival, we can’t wait to see it be even bigger and better next year.

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