THE route that will paint the town pink for Sunderland’s first gay pride parade has been revealed.
Plans for the inaugural festival are in full swing after the Echo announced the Pride event in November.
Since then, the festival’s committee has worked alongside Northumbria Police and Sunderland City Council to finalise a route, which will start behind the Civic Centre and end at Park Lane.
Organisers say that including the city centre’s major roads as part of the parade is an important way of recognising the importance of the festival.
Arnie Taylor from the Pride committee said: “It was a massive deal for us to have roads like Fawcett Street as part of the parade. This parade is a chance for the whole of Sunderland to celebrate equality and diversity.
“It’s about bringing Sunderland into the 21st century and everyone coming together to have fun, not just the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender).”
Newcastle and Middlesbrough already hold host Gay Pride events, but Sunderland has so far been missing a spectacular of this kind.
Arnie added: “We are so pleased with the response and support we have had from people. We want to make this a big annual event.”
Roads will be closed for the parade, which will take about an hour, on September 25.
At the end of the route, revellers will gather at Park Lane which will host stalls and musical performers.
In the coming months, a number of fund-raising events, including a burlesque night, Easter extravaganza and a ghost hunt, will take place across the city to help highlight and pay for the proceedings.
They include a carnival drag king and drag queen contest which will see winners ride their own float in the parade.
Lynne Roxburgh, a co-ordinator of Gay Pride Sunderland, said: “Other carnivals usually have a carnival king or queen so we wanted to keep with the theme.
“We are limiting the parade to about five floats for the first year to see how we get on in the first year.
“The support we have had has been fantastic, but we are looking for more sponsors. There are a lot of people who still don’t know the parade is taking place.”
Pride organisers are looking for volunteers, sponsors and stall holders to help make Gay Pride Sunderland a success.
The team can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or search Sunderland Pride 2011 on Facebook to find out about fund-raising events.
PRIDE parades are events celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) culture.
The events also serve as demonstrations for legal rights.
Most pride events occur annually and many take place around June to commemorate the Stonewall riots, a pivotal moment in the modern LGBT rights movement.
The parades take on a festive character. Large parades often involve floats, dancers, drag queens and amplified music, but even such celebratory parades usually include political and educational contingents, such as local politicians and marching groups from LGBT institutions of various kinds.