'I moved to Blackpool because of my sexuality - it allowed me to be who I am and I haven't looked back'

A previous Pride Blackpool parade
A previous Pride Blackpool parade -Credit:Pride Blackpool/Facebook

In true Blackpool fashion, next month will be a sea of rainbows, colour and celebration when Blackpool Pride comes to town.

Taking place on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June, the events will include a youth pride, community events, street parties and other arts and culture goings-on in the town. As a town with the mantra "be who you want to be", Blackpool seems the right spot for events like Pride - and teh residents agree with this too.

In 2017, Luke Conway and his partner John set up LGBT Charity UK to support the LGBTQ+ community in Blackpool. Originally from Rotherham, Luke moved to the seaside town at the age of 20 because of his sexuality.


He told LancsLive: "I moved up here because you can be who you want to be up here. Back then, there was obviously a gay scene, but now we're not in need as much of a gay scene because we can go where we want, it's more open now."

Now at the age of 42, Luke says society was a bit different from him as a gay youngster, but Blackpool "just opened my eyes." He added: "I came here on my 18th birthday and wanted to move as soon as I could and I did.

John and Luke Conway, co-founders of LGBT Charity UK
John and Luke Conway, co-founders of LGBT Charity UK -Credit:Will Ritchie

"I could go out of here now, get myself in total drag, t**s and everything - folk wouldn't bat an eyelid." Another resident, Liam Halewood, famed for his Boy George impersonations, is also looking forward to Pride in Blackpool.

Talking to LancsLive last week, Liam said: "I honestly wouldn’t be were I am if it wasn’t for Blackpool. My career in acting and singing and radio presenting on coastal radio is where it is now because of here.

"Blackpool has my heart and I am so excited for my not just for my own but Blackpool future, because this town is going to be the place to be very soon but has always been the town to be for me."

Feeling comfortable with who you are in Blackpool is exactly what the council and the Pride committee want to achieve and next month's celebrations are set to highlight this. For the event, Victoria Roberts is the Entertainment Co-Ordinator and she spoke to us about the plans, acts and events coming up next month.

Excitedly, Victoria said: "It's a festival over two days - Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th of June. Down Princess Parade next to the North Pier, we've got some fantastic acts that are going to be on.

"So many local businesses have sponsored the event, far more than there ever has before. The majority of venues have come together as well and our community has widened and extended with people from different LGBTIQA+ venues."

Victoria says the "rallying around" for the event is "overwhelming" but a testament to the people of Blackpool. She added: "It's about everybody - it's a whole family event.

"Everybody can see, it's about having a voice and being out there and being proud. It's about showing ourselves off."

Last year, the event had to move inside in to the Winter Gardens which faced some backlash, but this year, it's coming back bigger than ever. Victoria said: "On Saturday we have the Cheeky Girls, Steps tribute band, Vengaboys tribute band and a lot of local acts as well.

"Our headliner on the Saturday is Natasha Hamilton from Atomic Kitten." On the Sunday, there's four RuPaul Drag Race Queens on the stage, including Baga Chipz, Cara Melle, Sum Ting Wong and Alexis Saint Pete.

More information and tickets can be found on the Blackpool Pride website.