Flying the flag with Pride in Sunderland

Organisers of Sunderland first gay Pride march, in West Sunniside, Sunderland outside the Gay Advice offices.

Organisers of Sunderland first gay Pride march, in West Sunniside, Sunderland outside the Gay Advice offices.

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RAINBOW colours will light up the streets of Sunderland for the city’s first Pride Festival.

It’s taken two years of hard work to get the event off the ground, but this Sunday thousands are expected to parade through city streets in a colourful celebration of diversity.

Ryan Houston, press officer with Sunderland Pride committee, said: “It’s been a long slog, but things are finally taking shape. It’s taken two years to sort one year’s event, but it’s great to see it coming together.

“We are getting a lot of people showing interest in wanting to help and come along on the day. Hopefully Sunday’s event will be the first of many.”

The Pride march will be launched by the Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Norma Wright, at noon on Sunday at the Civic Centre.

A route will then take marchers through the city centre before ending at Park Lane at 1pm.

Entertainment will then be provided by acts including 2007 UK Eurovision entrants Scooch as the celebration of the city’s lesbian, gay and transgender community continues.

Ryan added: “The concept of Pride is about coming together. You don’t necessarily have to be gay to be part of the event. It’s about equality and diversity and bringing the whole community together.”

A number of city businesses and organisations have thrown their weight behind the parade which sees Sunderland follow in the footsteps of Newcastle which has long had a vibrant gay scene.

Among them is Sunderland University, a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual (LGB) Partnership in Sunderland, which is involved in a number of awareness-raising activities throughout the year.

Staff and students will show their support by joining the parade procession of floats, dancers and drag queens as they make their way through the city centre’s major roads.

* Anyone wishing to support the Sunderland Pride event, either on the day or beforehand, can do so by contacting the Sunderland Pride office on 510 1006. Participants will be able to register on the day at the Civic Centre from 11am-noon.