Could you tell us what Leeds pride means to you?
Leeds Pride is very important to me for many reasons. As a co-founder of Birmingham Pride back in 1997, and having attended the early London Pride’s and others around the country since I have found Pride events to be a founding backbone and core strength of the gay community. Helping people to express themselves freely in a city where so many things are taken for granted but the freedom to be yourself and ‘gay’ is as still important as ever. I feel grateful that myself, and others, are able to be who we are and enjoy the life we want to live while sharing this celebration with other like minded people. As Group Operations Director for Viaduct, Tunnel, Mission, Fibre & the Penthouse it is also vitally important for our businesses to thrive and also help our guests enjoy the diversity of the city.
It helps market our city and the businesses within and I believe Leeds Pride is fundamental in the cities diverse and cultural growth bringing freedom and equality for all. As a lead presenter on stage I also enjoy interacting with some amazingly skilled people who work selflessly to ensure this event happens for the benefit of all.
What can we look forward to from your venues during pride and in the future?
Our venues strive to offer their best for its regular local customers and visiting guests from afar. The team are trained highly and are chosen for their amazing qualities in being able to engage with people on a daily basis ensuring that customers exceptions are exceeded endlessly. We regularly invest to ensure the customer experience is lifted and satisfaction given. As you will have seen recently with the huge investment and rebrand of the Viaduct Showbar, Mission & Tunnel having areas improved with great results, and Fibre once-more focusing on further change too, allowing it to win “Best Independent Bar’
two years in a row. Therefore, taking this into account I can assure you that the teams will be pulling out all the stops to ensure what we deliver for Pride is something that excites our customers and the staff too. Street bars, entertainment and top class DJ’s with endless hospitality will ensure an abundance of fun and partying.
If you could have a night out in Fibre and the Penthouse with any 4 people dead or alive in Leeds who would it be with and why?
If I could take any 4 celebrities, from past or present, alive or dead, on a wild night out to The Viaduct Showbar, Penthouse and then Mission, it would have to be the following:
Stephen Durham, my beautiful friend who died of an overdose in my early twenties. I loved
him dearly, we had so much in common and laughed so much about everything. We called him ‘electric’ Steve because of his high pitched laugh that would make a whole row of heads turn. He would light up any room and I miss him every day, as he really did leave this life to soon. He was my star!
Freddie Mercury, well does this really need any explanation at all? Nothing sexual, he simply ‘just was’. A man of incredible panache, talent and ultimate charm. He would have been the life and soul of any party and I’m sure every night out would be one to remember! Did you know he once dressed Princess Diana up as a male model and snook her into a gay bar called The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, in London, one night to party. Imagine that!!!
Paul O’Grady (aka Lily Savage), an amazing man of humour, character and quick wit. I have known him for almost 30 years and he has a story about everything (people often say this about me). He his most fun, incredibly warm in personality and has heartfelt compassion for others. He’s certainly party’d over the years and has the tights to prove it!
Bette Midler, simply a class act and all round entertainer with bags of energy. I bet she would know how to party (maybe more twenty years or so ago). Think of the stories and the laughs.
Life is all about meeting people, the moments we share, the experiences we encounter, what we give and how we’re remembered right? Therefore, imagine me on a night out with those. There’d never be a dull moment and you’d get home later feeling somewhat exhausted but I’m sure delightfully fulfilled with memories to last a lifetime. Our memories are the dreams we make ourself and let’s be honest; doesn’t everybody love to dream!