Next weekend The Fountain on Queens brings you Queer on the Pier! A celebration of all things LGBTQ+.
It’s a way to end the summer with a bang. Hastings’ Pier will stage the biggest outdoor queer festival in the UK this year, complete with DJs, cabaret and drag artists from all over the UK – including famous London drag queens Jonny Woo and John Sizzle who own The Glory in London, as well as local performers too.
Tom McCann spoke about the event to its organiser Wayne Shire, Landlord of The Fountain and this is what he had to say.
TM: So, tell me a bit about yourself?
WS: I’m Wayne Shires, landlord of The Fountain on Queens and The Sovereign on Sea and along with my friend, colleague and Operations Manager George we’re the creators of Queer on the Pier!
TM: And what inspired you to create this event?
WS: Pride is a huge part of our community and it isn’t just a party, more importantly for marginalised and segregated communities it’s an opportunity for us to come together in a special way and show that we are valid and that there is support, but also to remind everyone that there’s still a long way to go until equality is truly reached!
With Pride cancelled this year due to Covid, we spoke to the pier about being able to do a safe and socially distanced event, and we thought it was a no brainer! We were thrilled to work with Jim and Jenny at the pier and everyone at Pride to create Queer on the Pier! Not only to raise money for the Hastings Pride through ticket sales and donations on the day, but also to add our queer magic to the pier and bring our diverse range of talent to Hastings!
TM: And what can people expect from the event?
WS: First it’s going to be Covid safe – we’re working with the incredible team at the pier to make sure everything is done safely, even with new guidelines being announced. That involves so much extra work, but we’re taking the risk very seriously and we will ensure that we do everything possible to keep attendees safe and not to pose a risk to the town!
Other than that – a spectacular day of cabaret and DJs! The line up really is incredible!
TM: What kind of performances will there be then? And who’s performing?
WS: Well we have a diverse range of performers of all types. Lip-syncers, singers, DJs. We have cabaret, quizzes, artists – there may even be classically trained opera vocals shown off! We have talent from London including The Glory London take over hosted by the iconic John Sizzle. We have Harry Gay from the Time Out Award Winning Queer House Party. We also have the award winning Holestar, and quiz host supreme Mr Teds, as well as the living legend Princess Julia and stars from Hastings including the sensational Lovinia Belle, Sky Lee Ryan and Helen Sharpe! And our final hour will be a DJ set from Hifi Sean of Glitterbox!
TM: So is this going to be a yearly event? Will you take it any further?
WS: Maybe… I mean it is set to be a major event! You’ll just have to watch this space!
TM: And what has it been like for the community not having been able to have Hastings Pride this year?
WS: It’s devastating for the community. As a whole, Hastings is diverse and accepting, however we as LGBTQ+ people still need events like Hastings Pride for so many reasons. Most of all to show those most marginalised support, and also to allow our community a sense of ownership, validation and visibility, and also to raise awareness, and to show diversity!
TM: So, I have to ask – IS the fountain actually a gay bar or not?
WS: Well the official stance is, that The Fountain is a safe space for everyone but which is operated by LGBTQ+ individuals.
TM: And how well do you think the LGBTQ+ community is represented in Hastings?
WS: We fell in love with this town a year and a half ago on our opening weekend when old school pub regulars were dancing with fabulous queers to Princess Julia playing Madonna, or the next night when they were sat applauding and singing along while the incredible Mzz Kimberley sang Think! There’s such an eclectic scene in Hastings where everyone just seems to get on with it!
However there is no such thing as too diverse, so there is always room for more representation of Queer Performers, performers of colour and completely diverse events! So we’ll keep being queer and running more events! On the whole, everyone has been so lovely and welcoming!
TM: And finally what’s your perspective on Hastings? How do you think it has progressed over the years in terms of homophobia, and bigotry, et cetera?
WS: Well we’ve only been here for 18 months, and our first anniversary was in the middle of lockdown… But we’ve had nothing but overwhelming support from the town and we love it here. And we now have the Sovereign on Sea in Bexhill and another exiting venture coming soon. We’re definitely here to stay and we’ll continue to queer up the town!
With Queer on the Pier! just a week away and tickets nearly sold out, be sure to do all you can to make sure you can attend! Tickets start at £10. for more information follow the link below…