Neighbours prepare for annual 80-metre Pride march in housing estate

Neighbours prepare for annual 80-metre Pride march in housing estate
Batt Close Pride in 2022 (RB Films/PA)

A housing estate in Warwickshire is gearing up for its annual 80-metre (262ft) Pride march, which is thought to be one of the shortest in the world, complete with a drag competition, high heel racing and a DJ.

The residents of Batt Close in Rugby will don colourful costumes and adorn their street with Pride-themed decorations on Saturday, before marching 40 metres up the road, turning around, and walking 40 metres back.

Batt Close Pride will also feature a men-in-heels race, a dog costume competition, a couples’ “quick drag” contest and a local DJ.

What this has shown us is that Pride begins at home

Benjamin Goodwin

Organiser Benjamin Goodwin, 38, told the PA news agency: “Me and my partner are probably the only people who would identify as LGBTQ+ on the street… this shows how accepting the community is, that they want to do this.

“I love Pride but I think Pride can often get lost in this sort of commercialisation.

“What this has shown us is that Pride begins at home.”

Mr Goodwin said the neighbours have been having “proper planning meetings” as the day of the event, June 10, draws nearer.

He said: “Every house has been given a role, so one has to buy the bunting, one house has to buy the paint for the road, as we’ll create a rainbow crossing out of chalk.”

Mr Goodwin said the housing estate’s Pride has been held for the past few years, adding: “It’s become a bit of a cornerstone in our calendar.”

pride event in batt close rugbyOrganiser Benjamin Goodwin said only he and his partner would identify as LGBT+ on the street (Batt Close Pride/PA)

The march will be led by drag queen Rubella Vaxine, also known as Miss Ruby V, who will give an empowering speech beforehand.

Mr Goodwin said: “We’re going to have a dog show as well. There’s probably about six dogs on the street.

“We’ll engineer it so every dog wins a prize because no one wants to be a loser.”

Talking about the planned children’s lucky dip, Mr Goodwin said: “For whatever reason, the first year we did the lucky dip out of a recycling bin and the guy who owned the bin was called Ed, so it’s ‘Ed’s lucky dip’ and there’s loads of Pride-themed pens and pencils for the kids.”

Last year, the residents held a waxing event to raise money for Terrence Higgins Trust, a sexual health charity which Mr Goodwin said is “quite passionate about” HIV.

He said: “This year, I think we’re going to do a makeover challenge, so it’ll be couples on the street, and they’ll have five minutes to put their respective partner into quick drag.”

The Pride march started during the Covid-19 pandemic when restrictions forced the housing estate residents to stay home which allowed them to get to know their neighbours.

pride event in batt close rugbyThe men-in-heels race during last year’s event (Batt Close Pride/PA)

Mr Goodwin said: “We didn’t know our neighbours and then, of course, everyone was out clapping the NHS during lockdown, and we’d help each other out.

“We did baking for each other, when everyone was making banana bread and all that, and then as restrictions eased and we could get together, we got a little bit more ambitious.

Mr Goodwin said the neighbours “did loads of really community-based things” within the lockdown rules, including watching a movie projected against one of the houses and sharing a meal outside, before one of the residents suggested they hold a Pride event.

The residents are withholding their plans for their costumes from each other as everyone “wants that ‘wow’ factor” on the day, Mr Goodwin said.

“We’ve got a street Facebook Messenger group and people are putting stuff in like, ‘Packages arrive today. I’ve got something but I’m not going to tell you’,” he said.

“The week before is just mad on the street. It’s like the week before Christmas.”

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