One aspect of life in Manchester that has always drawn me in is the way the city wholeheartedly embraces tolerance, acceptance and change.
I live in a city with an incredible food and drinks scene, a city who’s art, music and theatre is known nationwide as some of the best, and a city famed for its vibrant and quite frankly fantastic LGBT community, so I was absolutely made up when Thomas Cook Airlines got in touch and asked me if I wanted to cover the 25th Annual Manchester Pride weekend for them. I don’t think I’ve ever replied to an email so quickly in my life!
Unfortunately I was only able to attend the Saturday, however that didn’t dampen my spirits as I donned a full colourful outfit for the occasion and with one of my best friends in tow, prepared to celebrate what can only be described as one of the most important celebrations of the year. I was lucky enough that the annual parade fell on the Saturday, and it was one of the most fabulous things I have ever witnessed! Opened by none other than Sir Ian McKellan himself (I had to seriously suppress the urge to shout ‘I love you Gandalf’ in honour of his portrayal of one of my favourite fictional characters of all time) it was a riotous occasion filled with colour, laughter, happiness, positivity and most of all, love.
I will admit that before I went I was worried that we would encounter negativity from bystanders – I vividly remember being in Manchester for the bank holiday weekend last year and having to explain to my Mum why there was need for police riot vans to be in attendance at the festival – so I was absolutely delighted to see no negativity at all while we were there. Men, women and children from every walk of life turned out to show their support and it just filled me with joy – I still struggle to fathom how we live in a society that claims to be so progressive yet still concerns itself with what gender you identify as and whether you choose to love a man/woman/both/neither/an inanimate object. In my opinion, if you’re not causing physical harm to someone it really shouldn’t matter – but that’s for another post all together!
After the parade ended, we made our way into the ‘arena’ area and found Canal Street absolutely festooned with rainbow bunting and flags, and with the sun beaming down on us and the overall atmosphere so happy and infectious it was absolutely impossible to stop ourselves from smiling. Milling around the market stalls we came across the most delicious cupcakes for just £1, and after eating our fill of street food (and partaking in a cheeky vodka or two) we headed towards the main stage – which is where my camera promptly decided to die a death (note to self: buy spare battery!!) – so unfortunately we didn’t get any footage of the live acts that were on that evening, but with everyone from Sarah Harding to Alesha Dixon and DJ Fresh playing, the drinks flowing, and the energy pumping it was a party that went on well into the night!
I want to say a huge thank you to Thomas Cook Airlines for sending me to Pride and allowing me to show my support to a community very close to my heart, and you can watch my vlog from the day below! (Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel!)