Sunday, September 11, 2011

Liverpool and Manchester Pride

Two great Prides in the North West this year, Liverpool and Manchester. And two great turnouts by the Labour Party.

In Liverpool two teams, men and women, played 5-a-side football against LGBT teams down on the Pier head after the march. The men's team drew with the Mersey Marauders but I suspect they were being kind to us, to be honest. The women were beaten by a team of women who play football regularly, I am afraid I don't know their name, and the Labour ladies were beaten pretty convincingly - but there were some great goals including one from my oppo Wendy Simon. And no, of course I didn't play, I don't really have the feet for football you know!  It was a lovely happy day and I ended the evening watching music on the waterfront and then going for a meal with lots of pals on Wood Street. Liverpool Pride is free for everyone, there is no secure area and there was very much a family atmosphere  I was particularly delighted to see local (mainly pensioner) residents from Kensington and Fairfield's As One Community Task Group joining in with and supporting kids from the local youth club, carrying their banner along the march. A banner that the group had provided the funds to help make. This is part of our ongoing work in our ward to combat homophobic bullying in schools and on the streets. 

In Manchester after a great parade in front of a cheering crowd of thousands, we had a quick drink in a pub, where I had my photo taken with the FA cup - okay it was a replica really but it felt great all the same.

I then went off to meet friends including Jan Walker who stars in "Jan's Coming Out", a documentary film about a woman who came out at 50 years old and went round the world interviewing other lesbians about their experiences of coming out. This time I had to pay to go into a secure area around Canal Street, the Manchester gay quarter. It was a very different kind of event with a lot more drinking in a predominantly adult crowd. It was still good fun though and we sat in Sackville Garden and watched some great singers.

And at both events, as in the past three years and as at every Pride in the country that Labour LGBT attend - Brighton, Leeds, London etc, we wore our Never Kissed a Tory t-shirts and gave out thousands of stickers with the same message on the front.

It was rather depressing to see that a certain other political party tried to make something out of this light hearted fun in Liverpool this year by orchestrating a letter writing campaign to the local newspaper, complaining that we had "politicised" the event. This must be the first Pride in perhaps 40 where this has happened, despite us doing the same thing every time at each event. I guess they were jealous because we had a crowd of perhaps 50 on the march in Liverpool, including 3 MPs and countless councillors and we were cheered all the way round - despite our group being put at the back of the march to counter complaints from a politician from another party last year that we "got in all the official photographs".

Pathetic isn't it! Thankfully none of that stopped us from having a fabulous time and I know that the LGBT community in Liverpool - and in Manchester - are delighted to have the support of the Labour Party on such a special day.

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