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Home » Behind The Scenes, Uncategorized

Leeds Pride, and why I’m hanging up the heels

Submitted by on August 16, 2010 – 10:55 pm6 Comments
Tia Maria at Leeds Pride 2010 (Nicola Roberson)

Tia Maria at Leeds Pride 2010 (Nicola Roberson)

I think it’s taken me until now to recover from Leeds Pride. (Well, that’s the reason I’m going to cite for this blog being so late anyway!). I don’t know how people like organiser Tom Doyle do it, although I suppose he didn’t do the day in six inch heels!

We had a very early start on Sunday 1st August, and I can officially say it’s the first time I’ve worn a dress before 9am. Helped by my good friend (and horn-designer) Nic, Maria came to life and looked hotter than she ever has done. We minced up to Millennium Square from my flat near the river, attracting the most attention on Briggate (I never know if the wolf whistles are ironic), arriving just as the event was starting.

Maria Millionaire and Nicola Roberson at Leeds Pride 2010

Maria Millionaire and Nicola Roberson at Leeds Pride 2010

I usually get ridiculously nervous before I go on stage, however at Leeds Pride my attention was diverted. Just before we were due on stage, Terry George (local gay entrepreneur) made a speech about a member of bar staff from The Viaduct, Dane Holdsworth, who had been homophobically attacked the night before. Whilst I’m not sure whether taking Dane on stage was the best thing for this vulnerable young man, the message rang across the Millennium Square crowd loud and clear. Dane left the stage in a flood of tears, and I caught a glimpse of his bruised face.

And that’s when it hit me. Right then. That’s what gay pride is about. At that moment I remembered watching the film ‘Milk’, about Harvey Milk, the first who was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California. One of the riots in the film features a drag queen so ferocious it scared me. That’s what I wanted to be at that moment – scary. When I stepped on that stage I wanted people to see me so confident, so defiant, so ferocious in what I do and who I am that it spat in the face of those who hated us.

Tia Maria at Leeds Pride 2010

Tia Maria at Leeds Pride 2010

Whilst that was a rather extreme feeling, I did feel proud. As I looked back on to the crowd of thousands from The Viaduct’s float during the pride march (note march, not parade), I felt so privileged to be part of such an amazing, colourful and diverse community. (I also felt pretty privileged to not have to do the march on foot).

Ten hours, ten costume changes and seven numbers later the day was over. My feet were bruised, my make-up was smeared and my voice had gone, but I couldn’t have asked for a better day. (Even if Adam Rickett did mime).

Tia Maria at The Viaduct at Leeds Pride 2010 (Nicola Roberson)

Tia Maria at The Viaduct at Leeds Pride 2010 (Nicola Roberson)

I end this blog on a sad note, to say that I’ve hung up the heels for the time being. It became too hard for me working as a duo, and I’m looking forward to spending some time chilling out with my lovely boyfriend and doing normal boy things. Whilst I’m not going to divulge too much, I will say that I’m grateful for the time I worked with my beloved Tia, and this is by no means the end of Miss Maria Millionaire!  Lock. Up. Your. Sons.

Tia Maria on Facebook.

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  • Most people believe, that San Francisco has always been a liberal city… not so! I arrived in S.F. in 1960, and there were laws on the City’s books, that if you wanted to dress in drag(not my forte) yo had to wear a lapel tag”I AM A BOY” or you could be arrested, even on Halloween! Many years before Stonewall, drag queens were the main source of entertainment in gay bars. Yet, police kept raiding those bars, and a drag queen by the name of Jose Seria, fought back. He would get upon the bar and sang”God Save the Queens!” He was tired of being arrested… and decided to run for City Supervisor 15 years before Harvey did… and begat gay politics in doing so. He received over 6,000 votes. Today there is a S.F. Street named after him.

    In 1977, 4 days before the June Pride Parade, a young man named Robert Hillsbough was murdered, the last words he ever heard was “Die Fagot!”I took it upon myself to post signs in the Castro and Haight, if you planned to march in the parade… please wear your work clothes. In other words… not in drag. I was a well known photographer, and friends with both Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone. Prior to the Parade, I noticed a young bearded man in drag passing out a flier… SISSIES ARE AN ENDANGERED SPECIES, and after reading it realized I was wrong for posting my signs… and realized many of the gay rights we had, were made possible by courageous drag queens.
    From that point in time, I have respected the rights for anybody who cares or dares to dress in drag.

    • Martin Carter says:

      Jerry -

      I don’t know how you ended up on my little blog, but I feel so honoured you did! Wow man, you were right there, on the front line. I don’t think enough people realise the importance of those early pioneers of the gay rights / pride movement.

      Drag queens will always be a staple of the gay scene, and whilst they aren’t to everyone’s ‘taste’ you can’t deny how defiantly visible they make our culture. I always consider myself a fan of drag before I consider myself a drag queen, and I’m so thankful for the courageous acts of those who have gone before me, such as yourself.

      I’d love to continue this conversation and hear more tales from the Castro. If you’re up for it, please feel free to drop me an e-mail at


  • David says:

    Your face in that second picture definitely says “Scary,” Martin! I’m sorry I missed that particular part of the day – good on Dane for going through what he did in terms of media coverage too. I don’t think I’ve ever even met him, but he really did do us all proud.

    In response to Jerry’s (extremely interesting, thank you!) comment, I just though I’d quote Steve Akehurst’s blog (sorry Steve!), because he put it beautifully when he summed up, in response to the suggestion that gays who broke the hetero-normative model of a man were somehow wrong: “It’s high time they thought twice before being so selfish and lazy, and recognised whose rather more fabulous shoulders they stand on.”

  • Adam Lowe says:

    Martin, you were wonderful at Pride. It’s always great to hear what you’re doing, although we need to have a wild night out sometime soon!

    Love ‘n’ hugs! Beyonce x

  • Wonderful goods from you, man. the culture vulture » Leeds Pride, and why I’m hanging up the heels I have understand your stuff previous to and you’re just too wonderful. I actually like what you have acquired here, really like what you are saying and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it smart. I can’t wait to read much more from you. This is really a great the culture vulture » Leeds Pride, and why I’m hanging up the heels informations.

  • Cal Strode says:

    Great article. Could you please email me with a contact email for yourself? I’m working with SD pride in California at the moment but will be back in Leeds for some projects I’m working on this summer that I’d like to discuss with you!



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