LGBT+ parties return in Ipswich to 'celebrate life and each other'

The After Party Ipswich

Jay Austin is bringing back the After Party nights to provide a space for Ipswich's LGBTQ+ community. - Credit: Rebecca Gilchrist Photography/The After Party Ipswich

Pride music and drag nights are making a return to Ipswich, after its organiser spoke out against homophobic comments on social media. 

The After Party nights, held monthly between July and October, were put on pause after Jay Austin was subjected to abuse on social media platforms. 

Ahead of the last event - a Halloqueen party - he said that the events would be back "bigger and better" despite the negativity. 

Speaking about the decision to return, Jay said it was encouragement from people who enjoyed and appreciated the events that has brought him to this point: planning a relaunch on February 25. 

He added: "I was waking up and reading these really awful messages and it got to the point where I did have to ask if it was worth dealing with all of it. 

"I wasn't making money from the events, it was all going into the next one: the artists, the advertising. 

"But more recently I've been getting messages from people saying 'please come back' because it really was a queer space for everyone and now restrictions are easing I thought we should try." 

The After Party will be returning to the Music Room on Duke Street and entry will be free.

The After Party was attended by around 300 people at the Music Room in Ipswich

The After Party was attended by around 300 people at the Music Room in Ipswich - Credit: Rebecca Gilchrist Photography

Jay has also reached out to the Terrence Higgins Trust about having a presence at future events - he doesn't want to detract from the club night, but knows raising awareness within the community is vital. 

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"It's the same safe space, some guilty pleasure music, we have two local drag queens, Zoe Promiscuous and Iceni, taking to the stage. 

"That's what it's all about, giving a platform to local artists and a space for the Ipswich LGBTQ+ community to come together. 

"There's nothing in Ipswich for the community, in terms of nightlife, it's shocking. 

"In London, there's so much - drag brunches and people are RuPaul crazy - but here there's not even Betty's anymore." 

Jay reported the abuse to the police, who were honest about the challenges involved in finding those who send online hate. 

But since making his report, he's worked with the police to try and raise more awareness of staying safe on social media - with officers showing up at one of his dance classes to educate children about the dangers. 

"I haven't had any messages since, but don't know if they'll start up again now that the events are back. 

"I just want to say come on, people. It's 2022, we've just gone through a pandemic - now's the time to celebrate life and each other."