SUNDERLAND flew the flag for diversity as the city celebrated its first ever Pride event.
Hundreds of people turned out to show their support on the parade around the city centre, as former Eurovision pop act Scooch headlined a concert in Park Lane.
People from the gay community expressed how pleased they were to be able to celebrate their sexuality. Malcolm Pyke, 34, who lives in the city centre, said: “We’ve all got every right to be here and so has everyone else too.
“I’m gay and sometimes it can be hard because you can get called names.
“But I hope they do other things like this again.”
Many of those taking part in the Pride festival yesterday wore colourful outfits or costumes.
As well as Scooch, also performing at Pride Sunderland were Missing Lynx, Beauty, Miss Lucy, I’m So P!nk, Take That tribute act Envy and Bears Aloud.
DJ Ross Hogarth, of Pride Radio, helped to co-ordinate the day along with drag queens Miss Trixi and Ophelia Balls.
He said: “There were lots of people on the march today.
“We are hoping that it will be something that’s really successful.
“You can see how popular it has been.”
Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Norma Wright, also took to the stage to praise organisers of the inaugural Pride gathering.
“We are proud that we now have the gay pride event in Sunderland,” she said.
“The turn-out in support of the gay Pride has been tremendous.
“It’s really inspiring to see so many people involved in the procession.
“We want everyone to have equal chances in our city, and for everyone to feel included in what they do.”
It was also a special day for Wearside funeral director Tony Clarke and his Polish partner Marek Filipkowski, who tied the knot in a civil partnership at the Pullman Lodge hotel, Seaburn.
The couple were transported in the same horse and carriage used by Cheryl Cole for her wedding to Ashley Cole.
Tony was given away by his friend and business partner Linda Scanlan and Marek’s friend Michal Zdziarski was his best man at the service.