Belfast Pride parade brings party mood to the city
The parades will all be about the Orange and red, white and blue next week, but there was a rainbow of colour and personalities out in Belfast yesterday as the annual Pride parade marched through the city centre.
Everyone from trade unionists to transsexuals could be seen marching in celebration of Northern Ireland's LGBT community, the highlight of the 10-day Belfast Pride Festival.
Cross-dressing superheroes and a convoy of mobility scooters, whose riders were more man than gran, were loud and proud in the most eclectic procession of the marching season.
The most fabulous parade of the year did a lap of the city centre before The Party in the Square at Custom House Square.
Political Pride supporters included Justice Minister David Ford, Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín and Belfast's Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir.
Alliance party leader Mr Ford said: “Pride provides an excellent opportunity for staff from my Department, and other organisations in the justice sector, to talk to members of the LGBT community, their friends and family about issues important to them.”
Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said of the festival: “Over the years, as a supporter of Pride, I have been heartened to see it grow and develop from a small event into one of Belfast's biggest festivals.”
Local firms also came out to court and support the pink pound — taxi company fona CAB had several of their cars and rainbow painted banner wavers in the parade and Pure Gym had their hulks out in gorgeous green.
Headlining the free Party in the Square event was Spanish singer Ruth Lorenzo, who was an X Factor finalist in 2008, and there were family entertainment and activities all day at the Pride Village beside Lagan Weir.
This year's parade was also notable as it is the first since the death of PA Mag Lochlainn, a veteran gay rights campaigner and founding member of Belfast Pride who passed away last November.
Beginning in 1991 with around 100 people taking part in the first parade, it has now become one the city's biggest annual events with up to 30,000 people attending the main event last year.
Sean O'Neill of the Belfast Pride Committee said: “We think people are more engaged this year, because of issues like marriage equality and the blood ban.
“People want to have fun but they want to make a point as well.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital