Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Proud at Pride

I joined friends and colleagues at Manchester Pride last weekend. We marched together in the parade on Saturday morning wearing our bright red "Never kissed a Tory, never will" T-shirts (not technically true in my case, to be honest it is not the first thing I ask a potential snogee and a few have snuck through over the years.

There must have been around 40 in the Labour LGBT group, joined by various politicians including the North West Regional Minister Phil Woolas MP, Arlene McCarthy MEP, Peter Wheeler from the LP NEC, Lucy Powell, PPC for Manchester Withington, Tony Lloyd MP, various Manchester Councillors - Paul Fairweather, Mike Amesbury, Val Stevens, the Regional and Deputy Regional Directors, Anna and Noel Hutchinson. We were an impressively sized group, especially compared to the Tories who managed only to field about 10 attendees, all young men, no women; bisexual and lesbian women must have more sense than to join the Conservatives. I did not see any other political parties on the parade.

I was privileged to be allowed to carry the banner all the way round the parade. We were all thrilled with the response we received; there were literally hundreds of thousands of people lining the route and we were clapped and sometimes cheered as we passed, not a single "booh". I think it helped that we were carrying placards which said things like "Labour introduced civil partnerships" and "Introduced fertility treatment for lesbians" and "Scrapped Section 28" and "Removed ban on gays in the Military" etc. It was a real reminder to everyone just what great advances this party has made in the field of Equality and Diversity.

Phil Woolas MP, Regional Minister, took the opportunity at the NW Regional Board later in the week to congratulate and thank everyone concerned with Labour's attendance at Pride, saying it was the most impressive display and turnout in years. I spent the rest of the day and evening on Canal Street with friends, people watching and enjoying the atmosphere. A great time was had by all.

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