'Only gay' slur prompts Beccles support group
A man who started a support group after being mocked as the "only gay in the village" said he wanted people to feel "happy and proud" of their sexuality.
James Gallacher set up the LGBTQIA+ group in Beccles, Suffolk to make the town "less narrow in its outlook".
On Saturday, Suffolk's first Pride parade in five years was held in Ipswich and hopes to help people who would otherwise feel isolated.
Mr Gallacher, 23, said people should not feel they have to "hide" feelings.
The woodworker said he would often have "loads of slurs" thrown at him when he walked down the road.
Mr Gallacher, who lives in Beccles, said: "I got fed up of being treated like the only gay in the village.
"I would get called 'drag queen' and things like 'faggot'.
"I know I don't dress like a normal person but it's still uncalled for and I don't ask for any of it."
The LGBTQIA+ group, which refers to people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex or asexual, meet on a regular basis at the Graze pub in Beccles, which has a population of about 10,000.
It has been welcomed by the town council, which has been flying the Pride flag at the town hall.
"If you're gay you should be happy with who you are and proud of it, hold your lover's hand when you're walking down the road, not feel like you've got to hide it all the time," said Mr Gallacher.
Former town mayor Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw said she arranged for the Pride flag to fly at Beccles town hall to show "all people are valuable in our community".
About 3,000 people took part in Saturday's Pride parade on Ipswich Waterfront, previously held in 2012 and 2014.
Adria Pittock, chair of Suffolk Pride, said: "There are still LGBT people in our communities and workplaces and schools who feel isolated and don't feel they can come out.
"Pride is important every year and I'd like to have it in Suffolk every year going forward."