AS HOMOPHOBIC hate crimes rise hundreds of people have united in the city to say: ‘love will win every time’.
That message of inclusivity rang loud and clear on Saturday as a rainbow swept along the seafront for Portsmouth Pride 2019.
From 10am a parade celebrating all things LGBTQ+ made its way from Coffee Cup in Eastney to Castle Field, Southsea, where revellers enjoyed live music across two stages, food and drink and stalls showcasing good causes from across Portsmouth.
Joining countless others in the colourful march that claimed the width of the prom – and drew cheers and horns from drivers on Eastney Esplanade – was Hayling Island mum Karen Griffiths, alongside her daughter Aeronwi.
‘We have countries and states around the world in which not only can you not march, you can’t even exist if you’re LBGTQ – so it’s important to show you’re an ally of this movement,’ Karen said.
‘In Portsmouth we are seeing a rise in bigotry so it’s incredibly encouraging to see this level of positivity towards the LGBTQ community, which is vital.’
A number of businesses and public bodies showed their support for the LGBTQ+ community along the walk including Nando’s, the NHS and the public service union Unison.
Nigel Fitch from Drayton held high a rainbow flag sporting the name of his employer Airbus, which has a Defence and Space base in Hilsea.
‘It’s a proud moment because Airbus has recently launched the worldwide Pride@Airbus network and I’m the ambassador for Portsmouth branch,’ the 47-year-old said.
‘It’s about being able to be yourself at work, be inclusive and embrace diversity.’
Renowned trans drag performer Asifa Lahore, who shot to fame after appearing on the Channel 4 documentary Muslim Drag Queens, said Portsmouth was ‘sending out a really strong message’ with the vast numbers of people attending Pride to enjoy acts like hers.
‘Events like today show that it’s a solidarity thing – the LGBT community is not just about itself, it has so many allies,’ she said.
‘I know that Portsmouth Pride has been growing every year and it’s the biggest it’s been so far. What better place to have an amazing pride, especially on a lovely day like today.’
Alongside Asifa, pride-goers saw performances from headliners Big Brovaz, Booty Luv and Charlie Hinds among others.
National disability campaigner Dan White, 47 from Fareham, branded the diversity of the day ‘beautiful’ after arriving at Castle Field with his family.
‘We’re exactly where we wanted to be today because diversity and inclusion are both massive parts of our lives,’ he said.
‘At the end of the day it’s all about love, and we’re in a world at the minute where there seems to be a shortage of that – where things seem to be turned into anger.
‘Places like this are absolutely pivotal to show that love will win all the time, every time and it’s just amazing.’
On the message the city sends out to perpetrators of hate crimes with its annual pride event, the Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, added: ‘It says to people you shouldn’t hide who you are and who you love and in Portsmouth.
‘Diversity is our city’s strength, so I hope that’s a very clear message to them – that we need to stamp out hate crime in our society.’