EastEnders is set to air its first LGBTQ Pride march this year.
According to reports from The Sun, the long-running BBC One soap, set in the fictional east London borough of Walford, will celebrate Pride at the same time as Pride in London, which takes place in the first week of July.
It comes as part of senior executive producer Kate Oates’ plans to represent “multi-cultural London” by improving and celebrating diversity on the show, including the introduction of a gay bar in Albert Square.
“It’s going to be a huge event on the square filled with joy,” a source told The Sun.
“Kate thought that with Walford’s London identity it was a natural fit to tie in the two. But, as with any event on Albert Square, there is certain to be plenty of drama happening alongside the celebration.”
“I’m really interested in bringing some more LGBTQ characters in. We’re 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,”she said at the time.
“It should be something really exciting, really fun, really visual and feel really true to multi-cultural London. It’s an important move for the show to authentically reflect modern London life.”
Eastenders featured its first ever gay kiss in 1987 between Colin Russell (Michael Cashman) and Barry Clark (Gary Hailes), but it was just a peck on the forehead. Two years later, the series aired its first mouth-to-mouth kiss between Russell and Guido Smith (Nicholas Donovan). At the time, both scenes were criticised.
Ever since, the show has introduced many more LGBTQ characters, most notably Binnie Roberts (Sophie Langham) Christian Clarke (John Partridge), Ben Mitchell (Harry Reid), Paul Coker (Jonnh Labey), Irene Mills (Melanie Kilburn) and Kyle Slater (Riley Carter Millington).
A Stonewall spokesperson said: “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.”