'We're loud and proud' - Sunderland Pride parade hailed best yet by organisers

Sunderland city centre was filled with a carnival atmosphere as people of all genders and sexuality came together for the city's popular pride event.

Hundreds of people were loud and proud for Sunderland Pride 2018 with a parade of people waving rainbow coloured flags, blowing whistles and showing their support for the local gay, lesbian, bi and transgender communities.

Many people wore colourful clothes and costumes for the parade through Sunderland city centre.

Many people wore colourful clothes and costumes for the parade through Sunderland city centre.

Stilt-walkers, girls dressed as unicorns and people in drag all formed part of the parade which walked from the civic centre to Park Lane.

An afternoon of live music is taking place on stage in Park Lane until 6pm today headlined by 90s group Urban-Cookie Collective.

Chris Ramsay, chairman of Sunderland Pride, was delighted with the success of the event which is in its eighth year.

He said: "It's absolutely amazing. I would say it has been the best parade yet which I wasn't expecting with the weather warnings we have had this week.

The Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Lynda Scanlan showed her support for Sunderland Pride 2018

The Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Lynda Scanlan showed her support for Sunderland Pride 2018

"Hate crime is on the rise and we need to try to stamp it out."

A host of businesses and organisations supported the event and took part in the parade. They included the North East Ambulance Service, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, police, Gentoo, Barclays, Sainsbury's, Nandos, Washington Mind, Unison, National Education Union and the Labour party.

The event was also supported by the Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Lynda Scanlan who was in attendance.

Mark Tyers of organisation Sunderland Unites, which campaigns primarily against racism, said: "This is my third time, I think it is a fantastic event.

A group from insurance company More Th>n with their rainbow coloured banner for the Sunderland Pride 2018 parade

A group from insurance company More Th>n with their rainbow coloured banner for the Sunderland Pride 2018 parade

"I've always been very happy to see how many people come down and how happy everyone is to see everyone dressed up and having fun.

"It is events like this which bring us all together that remind us of the fact that homophobia is not OK and has no place in 21st Century Britain."

Clay Taurus, 23, from London, who took part in the parade with friends said: "We have made a lot of progress but we need to keep pushing for things to get better as there is still a way to go."

Fellow marcher Laurie Mackintosh, 22, from Sunderland, added: "At a lot of bigger parades you have to be part of an organisation, but here anyone can join in.

"It is so diverse and has a more family feel. I love it."

Pride Radio broadcast the event locally and to 125 countries online. CEO Peter Darrant said: "We have got people listening from America to Australia.

"The idea of being her today is to support Sunderland Pride and show it's an inclusive and diverse city."