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'Time to bring gay pride festival to Croydon'

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GAY PRIDE could be coming to Croydon after a mysterious social media campaign revealed its true meaning.

The "CGP – what does it stand for?" Facebook group has kept people guessing for the past two weeks, with suggestions including Croydon Green Party and Croydon's Great People.

And the founder of the page, Michael Castle, has now announced ambitious plans to bring the famous Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) celebration to Croydon.

Michael, 22, who is not gay, wants to have a huge celebration next July 19, with a parade from the town hall and all-day party at Wandle Park.

Michael, of New Addington, said: "It started when I was chatting with my friends, a lot of whom are gay, and we thought it was something that would come to Croydon eventually, so why shouldn't we organise it?

"It could be absolutely massive. We've had lots of interest from different parties. We want to do something the whole LGBT community can be proud of.

"I'm not gay and will probably be labelled as gay for trying to stage the event, but does that matter? Not at all."

More than 100,000 people took to the streets for Brighton Pride two weekends ago, and Michael hopes to recreate the city's success in Croydon.

He added: "It's really something positive for Croydon to show how tolerant a place it really is. If people say Croydon's crap we can show them that we're not.

"Croydon is one of the most diverse places in the country."

Michael stood in the 2010 general election for Croydon Central as an independent, but has since joined the Conservative Party.

The full-time carer for members of his family is organising the event with friends Matthew Lawrence, 21, and Marcelle Robinson-Newell, 20.

Michael said: "This is going to be a lot of organisation but we are going to throw ourselves into it. We've got a good mix. I'm straight, Matthew is gay and Marcelle is bisexual, so we cover all ends of the spectrum, as it were."

Jessica Chipperfield, 21, from Croydon, thinks it is a brilliant idea and could lead to more acceptance of Croydon's diversity in the future.

Jessica left her home in Addiscombe when her father's partner learned she was gay.

She said: "Pride is the sort of event that once people see it happening and see how much fun everyone is having it could help them accept the LGBT community.

"I go to London and Brighton Pride every year and it's a fantastic eye-opener for everyone. I know a lot of straight people who go just for the experience."

'Time to bring gay pride festival to Croydon'


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