Thousands have turned out to party at Manchester Pride in north-west England, but the revelers’ thoughts are with LGBT people in their twin city, St Petersburg, Russia.
Manchester Pride’s Big Weekend is bringing rainbow colors to the city’s grey skies today (24 August), starting with a colorful parade through the city center.
The world famous Gay Village will see three days and nights of partying with cash raised going to support local LGBT and sexual health charities.
Community groups taking part in the pride march through the city center include the Albert Kennedy Trust which helps homeless LGBT kids and the local Lesbian and Gay Foundation which works closely with Coming Out in St Petersburg.
They reflected what GSN has been told by many Russian campaigners – that the best approach is to maintain ties with the country and use the opportunity that brings to push for LGBT rights.
Stonewall, Britain’s leading gay and lesbian campaign organization is here in force and its new spokesman, Richard Lane, also said it was ‘important to keep links’ with Russia.
He said: ‘Events like this are an incredible opportunity to show solidarity with people around the world who don’t have the rights we have.
‘Everyone who is marching here today will, I’m sure, be thinking about our LGBT friends in Russia.’
After the march pride-goers will be encouraged to write luggage labels with messages of support for gay and trans Russians, which will be displayed on a wall in the Gay Village. They will send a message ‘to Russians, with love,’ organizers say.
Domestic controversy over the introduction of gay marriage equality in England and Wales is also reflected in a small counter-demonstration by anti-LGBT Christians.
But the handful of haters is overwhelmed by the crowds cheering the march on.
And the LGBT Christians @ Pride have trumped the extremists with a 12ft high Jesus puppet marching through the parade.
Another colorful addition to the march comes from the Scottish Gay Gordons group, who are being led by the bagpipers of the Oldham Scottish Pipe Band.
Law, order and emergency services are also out in force, with groups from Greater Manchester Police, North West Ambulance Service and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service. HM Prison Service has turned its float into a jail with dancing wardens inside.
Companies taking part include Cooperative, Barclays and Easyjet.
And Gay Star News is also joining in the parade, with our Lambrini white limousine and our make-up artist friends from Illamasqua.
Illamasqua are using the parade to show support for Stamp Out Prejudice Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere, a foundation in memory of Sophie Lancaster, who was beaten to death by a teen gang because she and her boyfriend were goths.
Gay Star News is global news partner of Manchester Pride.