Worthing Pride organiser responds to adult boutique exclusion

The organiser of Worthing Pride has responded to criticism from an adult boutique that was excluded from participating.

According to Sarah Jane Orchin, owner of Cherry Bliss Boutique in The Royal Arcade, Worthing, the Worthing Pride committee did not allow her to have a stall at the festival in Beach House Park because of the sexual nature of her business, which sells adult toys and lingerie, saying it would be better suited to Brighton’s event.

Worthing Pride chairman Josie Kelly, left, with co-organiser James Spencer at Beach House Grounds in Worthing

Worthing Pride chairman Josie Kelly, left, with co-organiser James Spencer at Beach House Grounds in Worthing

She posted on Facebook to criticise the decision, with dozens of other users showing their support for her.

Sarah said she would have been happy to be a sponsor and help organise the event on July 14, had she been asked, and was ‘really disappointed’ with the decision. She also rebuffed claims she would have sold adult toys at the festival, saying: “We have dresses, corsets, fans, feather boas – anything pride related that people could wear.

“The thing with Brighton [Pride], they will out and out sell adult products, it is slightly different. So when they told us it was a family affair, we would have gone with that for sure, because I wouldn’t disrespect their decision.”

In response, Josie Kelly, the chairman of the Worthing Pride committee, said that only charities and food and drink vendors had stalls at this year’s event. She would be happy for Cherry Bliss, which has recently relaunched the burlesque side of the business, to take part in the parade, as long as it was tasteful.

Josie said: “We are not being conservative – we have drag acts onstage – but we just want people to feel comfortable with their kids, and there will be people who have never been to pride before. Just because it is pride, it doesn’t have to be like that.”

On Sarah’s Facebook post, many of the comments became personal, taking aim at Josie herself.

The adult boutique owner said it was ‘unfortunate’ that it escalated into ‘heated displays of emotion’. She said: “I definitely didn’t want to get involved with that. That doesn’t look good for anyone. I don’t have any personal views of the committee, because I don’t know them.”

To the critics, Josie said: “People were being quite nasty in the comments, but we have worked very hard to put this event on. I haven’t got the time to be involved with them – we have things to do.”

Cherry Bliss will be supporting the event in its own way, with a colourful pride display in the window and holding a party on the day. Sarah said she would ‘definitely’ be happy to be involved in next year’s event.

For Worthing Pride itself, there will be a parade along Worthing seafront, starting at 1pm from opposite The Burlington Hotel in Marine Parade, Worthing, leading into an afternoon and evening of live entertainment at Beach House Grounds in Brighton Road, from 2pm to 10pm. Click here to get tickets.

Organisers have also launched a selfie board campaign, and Josie had previously explained why pride events are still so important.

To find out more about the acts, click here.