The big ‘Gay’ weekend 2013 hits Manchester with ‘Pride’

It’s that time of year again, when explosions of colour, music and joy fill the streets of Manchester for gay pride. Rainbow flags flapped, drag queens strutted their glamorous stuff and the music line-up was better than ever!

Pride Awards fun
Pride Awards fun

So what’s gay pride all about?

The first British Gay Pride was held in London in 1972. One thousand people took part in a march from Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park. Now in various cities across the UK, tens of thousands of spectators show up to celebrate being a part of the LGBT community, whilst many more show their support.

From the late 1980’s Manchester has taken part in this annual event, and then later with the introduction of the festival has raised money for charities that help support the LGBT minority, like the George House Trust who are key combatants against the AIDS virus.

Ooh so what was this year’s Manchester Pride like?

This year was in the theme of ‘acceptable in the 80s’ but there was a more relevant sub-theme about the injustice and prejudice in Russia.

The Feeling rocking Manchester
The Feeling rocking Manchester

The organizers of the event left luggage tags around the village and urged people to leave a message with love to be sent over to Manchester’s sister city, Saint Petersburg.

On a lighter note, The Feeling headlined the main stage on Friday, playing their most notable songs. At the press launch earlier that day, lead singer, Dan Gillespie Sells showed his support for the Manchester Pride, “I’m not from Manchester, I’m a London boy but I think this event is brilliant.”

On Saturday the highlight of the day had to be barber-pop quartet, Scarlet Street. Their vintage sound complimented the covers they chose, Blurred Lines, One Way, Mr Sandman and Troublemaker. They also threw in a couple of their original songs showing they’re not a just a cover act. Their original songs were well thought out and brought the 1940’s sound into 2013.

Sunday boasted a collection of many great bands and artists and the cast of the hit West-End and Broadway musical, Wicked gave a performance of their most well-known songs. Nikki Davis-Jones and Liam Doyle performed as a powerful duet, and delivered exceptional vocals during their rendition of ‘As Long As You’re Mine’, whilst Nikki held her own soon after with the infamous ‘Defying Gravity’ giving a startling and profound performance.

The Quangos played a memorable set of 60’s rock inspired music and I liken their style to early Beatles music but with the band’s own twist.

Kate Nash exciting the Pride crowds
Kate Nash exciting the Pride crowds

Then there was, Patrick Wolf. He is reaching his 11th anniversary in the music business and it’s no surprise he’s stayed around as long as he has. With his well thought out and sometimes political lyrics along with his 80’s New Romantic sound, it’s obvious that Mr Wolf definitely still has it!

During his set he talked about the current situation in Russia and he changed the first line of his song ‘Bermondsey Street’ from ‘she kisses him’ to ‘she kisses her’ to highlight his message.

Kate Nash also made an appearance wearing a coat of hearts to show her support for the LGBT community. She gave it her all, and at one point during the first few songs she jumped off the stage and engaged with the fans.

The festival came to an end late on Monday evening. There was a massive reality TV show spectacular which involved some of the best known names from shows like the X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice. Rylan Clarke was among the performers. He gave an energetic performance – bouncing around the stage and getting the audience moving.

Soon enough though, the festival was at an end and finished with a candle lit vigil. It was very moving and touched on subjects such as AIDS and the current crisis in Russia. A piece of the AIDS memorial quilt hung at the back of the stage marking the many people that had been lost to the disease.

Quotes were read out by actors on stage, and one in particular stood out, “Fight AIDS, not the people with AIDS.”

Rylan can’t hear you

Ren Harvieu broke the minute’s silence that followed by singing the Disney song  ‘A Dream Is a Wish your Heart Makes’.

Just before the festival ended a video was made of the crowd holding up candles saying ‘To LGBT Russia, with Love’ as a sign of solidarity with their Russian brothers and sisters. The weekend then finished on a high with a firework display over Sackville Gardens.

If you missed this year’s festival, don’t worry because tickets for 2014 are already on sale. Be sure to grab your tickets so you don’t miss next year’s excitement.

Words and photography by Alexandra Watt. Check out all her great photos of the event here.

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