Proud Mersey - Over 40,000 attend Liverpool Pride 2011
Over 40,000 people turned out to enjoy Liverpool’s second official Gay Pride festival this Saturday, which was held at the city’s iconic waterfront.
The number of attenders was almost double that of Liverpool’s first Pride Festival, which attracted 21,000 to the city in 2010, with 35,000 attending the main Pier Head festival site and a further 5,000 revellers visiting the Stanley Street Fringe events.
Thousands of people lined the streets as the as the Liverpool Pride march passed through the city centre. The March, lead by members of murdered teenager Michael Causer’s family, saw 2,500 of the LGBT community in addition to their friends and family flow through the city in a blaze of sound and colour. Numerous organisations including Homes for Everyone, Merseytravel, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, UNISON North West, and clubs and bars including Superstar Boudoir, The Lisbon, Masquerade and Garlands also took part.
At the Pier Head, Pride goers were treated to two stages, over fifty stalls, Zumba sessions, caged football matches and a whole host of street entertainment. On the main stage, acts including soul divas Rowetta and Kym Mazelle, accompanied by the Liverpool Pride Dance team from AJ Dance, blew the crowds away with stunning performances. The main stage line up also included House of Suarez, Nikki Belle, Cubstars, Bears Aloud and Diva Bliss, whilst up and coming local artists including Oh My, Alan Cross and Cocabelle entertained the masses on the second ‘Summer of Love’ stage. The day ended at the Pier Head with a dramatic balloon release, with hundreds of colourful balloons floating over the River Mersey. The Pride Fringe events held in the city’s gay quarter also attracted a large number of revellers, with several bars being packed to capacity well into the early hours of Sunday morning.
A further 2,500 people took part in Chill Out Sunday events, which were held at arts and cultural venues and restaurants across the city. The Big Gay Brunch event, which took place at Franklins @ FACT, The Bluecoat, TATE Liverpool and The Egg Cafe was well attended by Pride goers enthusiastic to recover and catch up on the main day’s events. The Gay Gardens at The Bluecoat attracted a large crowd of budding LGBT gardeners and the Costume Drama talk at Sudley House had visitors gasping in both amusement and wonder at the fashions of times past. The afternoon was capped off with a North West première screening of LGBT film, The Cost of Love. The weekend ended on a massive high at the glittering closing party at Homomodo.
Tommy McIlravey, Chair of Liverpool Pride said: ‘It was an absolutely brilliant day, everything went to plan and we were even blessed with good weather. We didn’t think anything could top last year’s event but this surpassed our wildest dreams. We smashed last year’s attendance of 21,000 with 35,000 coming along to enjoy Pride this year, which was incredible, at one point, 20,000 people were on the festival site. The whole of Merseyside was represented, which is what the event is all about, people brought along their children and their grandparents, there was such a great mix of people. Having the festival at the Pier Head in front of the Liver Building proved a huge success and we’ve had fantastic feedback about the festival site and our wonderful programme of events. Rowetta and Kym Mazelle, who was drawn to the event because of the site, really got the crowd going and everyone who came along really enjoyed themselves.’
Pride goer Carol Foley from Liverpool said: 'Pride being held at the pier head was a great idea as it meant people could be around longer as there was lots of seating there, which means we could relax and listen to some of the fab talent, they had on the stage’s and there was definitely more of a buzz about the day than last year, a moment i loved was when Pete Price had us all singing, Ferry across the Mersey, to hear it in such voice was heart –warming'
Pride goer Lara Sproson said' ‘I had a fabulous day - even the walk between Pier Head and Stanley Street was fun as the crowds flowed backwards and forwards across Liverpool. Will be back next year, bigger and brighter than ever!’
Collections on the day raised over £1000 to go towards the cost of Liverpool Pride 2012 and more fundraising events are due to be held in the coming weeks, with a screening of Break My Fall, an LGBT film at FACT this evening (Monday 8th) and a Liverpool Pride Zumbathon on Sat 20 August.
Before 2010, Liverpool was the largest city in the country that didn't have its own official Pride festival. At the launch of the LGB&T Network the public voted for a Pride festival to engage, empower and involve the LGB&T communities within the city and this was fully endorsed by Liverpool City Council in January 2009 and Liverpool Pride kick stated into action. Following the inaugural event in 2010, Liverpool Pride 2011 celebrated the diverse community of one of Europe’s leading cultural cities in spectacular style, cementing the city’s reputation as THE city to be in for great arts, music and culture.
HERE’S TO NEXT YEAR!
LIVERPOOL PRIDE 2012 HERE WE COME!
Photography by Sakura and Brian Plumridge