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The BBC's James Helm
"The 'Gay Day' is likely to attract the largest crowd since the Dome's opening"
 real 28k

Jeremy Hanamen, London Gay Men's Chorus
"It's an opportunity for gay and lesbian people to come on this day and have fun"
 real 28k

Chris Stafford, Headmaster Monkton Coombe School
"Our visit to the dome was withdrawn as the children would have been overwhelmed by the demonstration"
 real 28k

Saturday, 12 February, 2000, 17:05 GMT
Mixed verdicts on Dome 'Gay Day'

pink dome Organisers said it started as a day of fun

Visitors to the Millennium Dome during an unofficial "Gay Day" have given it a mixed verdict.

Some parents were furious they had not been warned before taking their children to see the Dome.

Others said they believed it was an educational experience.

The Dome is all about learning
Mother-of-two Maria Welch
But mostly, the "Gay Day" event went unnoticed by the thousands of visitors.

Hundreds of gay men and women, many in black leather, turned up, and the Dome's huge canopy was briefly lit up in pink.

Five schools had cancelled planned trips to the Dome after hearing about "Gay Day".

'Extra spice'

Maria Welch, from London, who went to the Dome with her two children Robert, six, and Peter, four, said "Gay Day" added "extra spice" to the day out.

She said: "I didn't know it was Gay Day when I came, but now I'm here I'm glad.

dome show The Gay Men's Chorus was performing at the Dome
"The Dome is all about learning, and if my children get an early insight into the diversity of sexuality, then so be it."

Another parent, Steve Perry, from Hull, said: "If someone hadn't told me it was Gay Day then I would not have known.

"There are thousands of people here and the gay contingent are hardly making an exhibition of themselves."

But Liam Jarvis and his wife Sally, from Warwick, said they were furious they had not been told about the special day.

Mr Jarvis, who had brought his two children, said: "I've travelled a long way and paid a lot of money to come to the show, and I didn't expect my children to be dragged into some sort of sordid gay pride event.

"I shall be making a complaint and I'll be waiting for a refund."

'Not appropriate'

Schools involved in the boycott have rearranged their visits.

Andrew Baker, headteacher of Westcliff High School in Essex, said: "I take the view that this was not an appropriate environment in which to send very young pupils."

The day, based on similar events at Disney parks in America, has been arranged by the London Gay Men's Chorus.

They were due to give a special performance to visitors.

Dome organisers hoped they could push the daily attendance figure past the 25,000 mark for the first time.

The Gay Men's Chorus denied the day was organised to make a political statement.

Chorus member Jeremy Haneman said: "It's a simply a fun day at the Dome, there is no demonstration, there is no political activity."

"It started out as an idea for a few gay people to invite their friends along and it snowballed from there."

Dome chiefs said tickets sold well in advance but a spokesman was unable to say how many people attended.

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See also:
07 Feb 00 |  UK
New Dome chief outlines vision
08 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Government struggles to lift Section 28

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