Friends, family and followers of HISKIND co-founder and LGBTQ activist Dean Eastmond joined forces last night to celebrate his remarkable life and legacy. Earlier this month Dean tragically lost his battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone and soft tissue cancer. After seeing so many people posting online about how Dean inspired them, we felt that it was important to come together and remember him.
Since founding HISKIND, Dean used his platform to tirelessly fight for LGBTQ equality. As many of you know, he spoke with remarkable honesty about life with cancer. It was incredible to see so many people last night who were as impacted by Dean as we were.
Held at Oval Space, a dynamic venue in the heart of East London, last night’s event was headlined by Dean’s favourite band Years & Years. Introduced by RuPaul’s Drag Race favourite Detox, the group provided the perfect soundtrack for our night of reflection and celebration. The room came to a standstill when frontman Olly Alexander closed the set with an emotional solo rendition of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’, before playing us out with dance banger ‘King’.
With music, dancing and lots of glitter, our guests were treated to a DJ set from rising star Will Joseph Cook and a fabulous lip-sync extravaganza from drag collective Sink The Pink. There were also performances from artists that Dean loved including Oscar King, Charles and Samson. Each performer spoke candidly about Dean’s positive message and incredible talent.
Another emotional peak of the night came when Dean’s friends and peers took to the stage to make moving speeches. Praising his legacy of social justice, campaigner and Guardian columnist Owen Jones said that Dean “achieved more in 21 years than most people do in their whole lives”. BuzzFeed’s LGBT editor Patrick Strudwick told the crowd about how Dean helped to change the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA)’s policy towards same-sex couples. Thanks to Dean, the male partner of a man who passes away or becomes mentally incapable can now use his sperm sample just as a female partner can. This is just one of his remarkable achievements.
After a final speech from HISKIND co-founder and Dean’s best friend Josh Fletcher, the music continued as we danced into the wee hours – a fitting tribute to our fearless friend.
In addition to celebrating Dean’s life, the event was organised to raise funds for charities that have helped Dean throughout his illness. Proceeds from the night will be split between Teenage Cancer Trust, Clic Sargent, Macmillan, Sarcoma UK and Dean’s family. Donations are still being received online via Just Giving, and we’d encourage anyone who is able to donate to contribute to such an important cause.
We’d like to thank everyone who supported the event or has donated so far. It’s been a difficult time for us at HISKIND HQ, but seeing your messages of support has meant the world to us. As last night showed, there’s so much love in our community and we look forward to continuing Dean’s legacy together.
Check out our pictures below to re-live the incredible display of queer solidarity.