EastEnders just celebrated its first ever Pride

EastEnders held its first ever Pride parade this week (Friday July 5), as the streets of the fictional borough of Walford were strewn with rainbows.

The episode was topped off by drag performer Tom Rasmussen taking to a stage erected in the middle of the square performing a rendition of M People’s ‘Proud’.

Speaking to Metro.co.uk he said: “It’s a really celebratory moment where everyone is joining in. They had a lot of queer people on set like me and a lot of my friends from the east London night life and it really did feel like a momentary feeling of Pride.

“This is an exciting thing for EastEnders to be doing. I said yes to doing it instantly as I grew up watching EastEnders.

“My mum is amazing but no matter what I have done in my life, nothing has made her quite so excited as me being in EastEnders! ‘She’s having a little viewing party with her friends — it feels like a really big step, personally. For my mum to gather her friends to watch her drag queen child on EastEnders feels strangely natural in a way.”

“I said yes to doing it instantly as I grew up watching EastEnders.” (BBC)

The episode is part of new producer Kate Oates’ plans to make the 34-year-old BBC soap more diverse, after EastEnders was previously accused of not being an authentic depiction of modern London.

The show got its first gay bar earlier this year and will be introducing more LGBT+ characters in future.

Oates, who joined EastEnders earlier this year after a stint on Coronation Street, told The Guardian: “I am … really interested in bringing some more LGBTQ characters in, and maybe we will have a new precinct for them as well.

“We are looking at opening a gay bar on the square, which will be a super-cool precinct where gay and straight characters can all just hang out and loads of stories can cross and should just be something really exciting, really fun, really visual and feel really true to multicultural London.

“Hopefully that will be something exciting for the next year.”

The fictional east London borough of Walford celebrates its first ever Pride. (BBC)

EastEnders made headlines in 1987 when it aired its first gay kiss between characters Colin Russell and Barry Clark. It was only a peck on the forehead but the scene was heavily criticised at the time.

Two years later a full mouth-to-mouth kiss attracted further controversy, and questions were asked in parliament about the appropriateness of such scenes.

A spokesperson for Stonewall said to The Sun: “It’s been more than 30 years since EastEnders featured the UK’s first on-screen same-sex kiss. So it’s great to hear Walford will be celebrating Pride.”