Margate Pride in Kent might be one of the smallest, youngest LGBTI celebrations in the UK. However small, the upcoming festivities, culminating in the march on 11 August, will hold a special, bigger significance this year.
The coastal town, often dubbed Shoreditch-on-Sea for its vibrant art scene comparable to the East London area, lost a young member of its community last January.
The body of Daniel Holland, who was openly gay, was found in Eastbourne, East Sussex on 12 January 2018, after he had been missing for a few hours.
Daniel’s cousin Connor Joe explains he ‘hung himself in a park in close proximity to the hospital he tried to check himself into’. Connor also claims ‘the staff left [Daniel] alone’.
Although his case hasn’t been ruled out as a suicide yet – the inquest will take place on 8 November – Daniel was battling with mental health issues at the time of death.
Daniel was a crucial part of Margate’s LGBTI community
Now in its third year, Margate Pride will commemorate Daniel during the march.
‘The whole family is devastated,’ says Amy Redmond, one of the organizers of Margate Pride alongside artist Dan Chilcott and singer Tommy Poppers.
‘We held a community fundraiser and raised £750 for a mental health charity that has an LGBT group within in. It’s called Speak Up CIC.’
Amy, who also performs in drag as Amy Zing, is one of the co-founders of Sink the Pink. It is the collective behind the UK’s largest, most outrageous and colorful queer parties.
She explains Daniel was a vital part of the LGBTI community in Margate.
‘Daniel didn’t like to burden other people with his issues’
Daniel’s cousin Connor echoes Amy’s feelings.
‘Daniel was such a kind and generous person. He would always go out of his way to make sure the people around him were all good and well even when he wasn’t feeling okay himself’, he says.
‘It was very rare for Daniel to admit that he was feeling crap and to ask for help. I’m not sure of his reasons, but I think he didn’t like to burden other people with his issues.’
Connor, who’s also openly gay, and Daniel have marched at Margate Prides together in the previous years.
‘Daniel was gay, so am I and so is my brother. Our side of the family has never had issues with being LGBTI as there is so many of us,’ Connor laughs.
‘So that aspect of our lives was smooth sailing compared to how some people are treated because of this.’
Margate is open to LGBTIs
‘Margate is more open to LGBTI people than a lot of rural places. I know some [in the community] don’t even have a place they can meet similar people and express themselves,’ Connor says.
‘Amy and all the incredible individuals have kept this gorgeous queer, artistic energy flowing in the town. It’s up to people whether they immerse themselves in it.’
The 2017 Margate Pride was the last time Daniel and Connor spent the whole day together.
‘I was going through a hard time mentally and so was he and neither of us knew how to deal with it, so we just didn’t address it’, says Connor.
‘It was a weird time, but we met up briefly a couple of months later in London and had a great time and it seemed as though we both got ourselves into better positions in our lives and had finally become comfortable in the situation again.’
‘You aren’t alone in these dark situations’
Connor also says he ‘never imagined Daniel would take his life’.
‘It was something I had thought about before, but [I had] never [been] brave enough to actually physically do it,’ he says referring to his own experience.
Furthermore, Connor explains Daniel had been dealing with mental health issues for a while and was seeking help at the time of his death.
‘There were a few pinnacle moments in the last period that I personally believe massively contributed to his untimely death,’ he says.
‘I think if he wasn’t so scared to burden people, the ones close to him would’ve realized a lot sooner and maybe he would still be here.’
Connor then highlights the importance of 2018 Margate Pride, encouraging everyone to show up for the parade. The march will start in Walpole Bay on Saturday 11 August and walk as far as the seafront in front of the Sundowners gay bar.
He also prompts those battling with depression and anxiety to seek help.
‘This Margate Pride will be a celebration of all things valuable to us as a community,’ he says.
‘Please talk to someone if you can. There are brilliant organizations out there that are always available if you want to be anonymous. You aren’t alone in these dark situations.’
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