GT rocks out at Manchester Pride
Round-up of the goings-on at this year's Manchester Pride
The hangover from this year's Manchester Pride has just about worn off, after the four days of partying, parading, live acts, and general debauchery. GT put on its shortest shorts, whipped out the Pet Shop Boys playlist and twerked like it was going out of fashion (which it totally now is, Miley).
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Manchester is a city that can hold its head high on its history of LGBT rights: their council fiercely opposed Section 28 in the 80s, and elected its first out gay councillor a quarter of a century ago. Its gay village, centred around Canal Street, remains a world famous spot - with more than one generation of gay men flocking to fulfil the Queer As Folk fantasy (and we think a few filled it this Pride).
The Big Weekend hit it off with The Feeling - whose hot lead man, Dan Gillespie Sells, is openly gay. After the small error of getting Dolly Parton lyrics wrong (we'll forgive him just the once), they rocked the main arena with the old classics. The rest of the weekend saw the likes of Sam Sparro, Kate Nash, MKS (really the Sugababes, obvz), Hed Kandi, and gay faves Rylan and Lucy Spraggan. Not to mention Shayne Ward, a Manchester lad born-and-bred, who brought Pride to an emotional close with his classic That's my Goal. Mind you, we're not sure if the wet cheeks were for gays sad the highlight of their summer had finished, or for what a travesty it is someone so beautiful isn't at least bi.
Manchester Pride is the priciest of the prides, coming in at about £20 for the Big Weekend. In other words, it's £5 a day, which on the August bank holiday is pretty much a snip. It's also raised more than £1.2m since 2003 for good causes - including the consistently impressive George House Trust, who help those living with HIV in the North-West.
And it's Manchester's focus on the political, and the charitable, that traditionally closes the four day event. Sackville Gardens - home to a statue of Alan Turing, the gay Mancunian scientist killed for being gay - hosted many thousands for its candlelit vigil to remember those lost to HIV AIDS, and to anti-gay bigotry. This year, former GT pets column contributor Les Pratt closed the event, with a call straight from Manchester to the LGBT population of Russia.
It's hard to fault Manchester Pride. The organisation is impeccable, the atmosphere is electric, the drinks are cheap, and there are as many live acts as you'd expect at a full-blown festival. Manchester Pride is in a different league; we'd argue it's Britain's best pride. The highlight of our summer.
Words: Benjamin Butterworth