Sunderland’s fifth Pride Festival to be ‘bigger and better this year’

Sunderland Pride committee outside Port of Call, Park Lane.

Sunderland Pride committee outside Port of Call, Park Lane.

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Sunderland’s fifth annual Pride Festival promises to be the biggest and best yet. So say the members of a new committee formed to push the spectacular forward.

So far, the group, made up of existing and new committee members, has managed to secure X Factor’s Marcus Collins to appear.

The singer, who’s had a top 10 album and single, with a cover of Seven Nation Army, since appearing in the talent show in 2011, will headline the event when it turns Park Lane pink on Sunday, September 27.

Other acts lined up to perform include Hazell Dean, who had hits in the ‘80s with tracks including Searchin’ (I Gotta Find a Man), and Australian singer Kelly Wilde.

Organisers hope to attract around 3,000 revellers to the free event which will feature a parade from the Civic Centre to Park Lane where a day of entertainment will take place.

Sunderland businesswoman Lorraine Griffiths, who has joined the committee as fund-raiser and promoter, said: “It’s definitely going to be bigger and better this year, for our fifth year.

The Pride Parade in Fawcett Street.'Sunderland Pride March 2013

The Pride Parade in Fawcett Street.'Sunderland Pride March 2013

“A lot of people think Sunderland Pride is an event that just happens once a year, in September, in Park Lane. But the committee also funds a support worker who offers support to the LGBT community all year round. They offer support to people coming out as gay, or even siblings of someone coming out.

“We had enough funds for the support worker, but needed to raise more for the Pride event which is why we formed a bigger committee. It’s been going really well and we’ve managed to secure a great main sponsor in Sunderland Experience It Here.

“The event is open to anyone, of any age, in Sunderland to attend and we are hoping it will attract people from outside the area to Sunderland, such as from Hartlepool, where they don’t have a Pride festival of their own.

“It starts with a parade, with lots of colourful floats, at 12.30pm and we’ll be announcing the route in the next few weeks. Then from 1pm there will be entertainment in Park Lane.

It’s definitely going to be bigger and better this year, for our fifth year.

Lorraine Griffiths, from the Sunderland Pride committee

“As well as the three headliners, we’ll be announcing other acts and we want local dance schools to get involved too.”

She added: “It’s a great atmosphere on the day with everyone celebrating together. Never in five years have we had anyone homophobic turn up, and we wouldn’t tolerate that sort of behaviour.”

Anyone who wishes to sponsor Sunderland Pride can contact hello@sunderlandpride.com.

Sunderland Pride 2012 Festival in Park Lane Sunderland - dancing around in Park Lane.

Sunderland Pride 2012 Festival in Park Lane Sunderland - dancing around in Park Lane.

Marcus Collins

Marcus Collins