Belfast’s LGBTQ Pride parade is being held online this year with a virtual celebration instead of the usual colourful street parade.
The city’s 30th LGBTQ celebration was postponed due to the pandemic and an online event will be broadcast instead from 1pm on Saturday at facebook.com/belfastpride.
Last year’s parade was the biggest to date with more than 50,000 people taking to the streets.
Curtis Lee from Co Antrim said while he enjoyed being in Belfast for last year’s parade, he put on his rainbow colours and celebrated at home this time.
He said: “It is definitely not the same feeling compared to being out and about in Belfast itself for the Pride parade.
“The people and the atmosphere around the city is what makes it special each year for me.
“But have got to make the most of what we have so I am celebrating at home from Ballymena by watching the virtual parade and having a few drinks later on this evening.”
Happy #Pride Belfast - Love from all of us at @TRPNI. We look forward to celebrating with you at 1pm during the @belfastpride virtual parade! Check out https://t.co/y9OEfHwfzG for the live feed. pic.twitter.com/Q1icJ5Vt7K— The Rainbow Project (@TRPNI) August 1, 2020
For 2020, the organisers have asked people to send in a short video instead about how they are celebrating.
Parade hosts Trudy Scrumptious and Gareth Woods will present a four-hour live show featuring the best of the videos sent in.
From 7pm, an online Party In The Square will take place featuring music and talent from Northern Ireland’s LGBTQ community.
🏳ï¸â🌈🏳ï¸â🌈🏳ï¸â🌈 Happy #Pride Belfast 2020 🏳ï¸â🌈🏳ï¸â🌈🏳ï¸â🌈— Green Party NI (@GreenPartyNI) August 1, 2020
This Pride will be unrecognisable but it doesnât have to be unremarkable!!!
Safe stay whatever you get up to & a huge thank you from us to all our #RainbowHeroes
💚 Hereâs a short message from our @queergreens 💚 pic.twitter.com/pOjhJVr0l6
Public Health Agency spokeswoman Fiona Teague said Pride is an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the organisations working to support the health and wellbeing of the LGBTQ community.
“Due to the Covid-19 restrictions we, like so many other supporters, are unable to take part as usual in the Pride parade.
“We want to send a message of support to the LGBTQ+ community and let them know there are support services available for their needs, and to not struggle on their own with whatever they are going through.
“Research has shown that overall, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender community are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and other mental health issues due to discrimination and social isolation.”
Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said Pride is a chance to reflect on positive changes for the LGBTQ community in Northern Ireland.
In a video posted on Twitter, Ms Long said: “While we will certainly miss having the gathering of the Pride parade, it is still nevertheless very important that we focus on what we have achieved over the past few years as a community and what we can achieve in the future by working together.”
“Obviously we have had big wins with equal marriage but we still have work to do to ensure those in civil partnerships can transfer them to be marriages if they wish to do so.”
The first same-sex marriages in Northern Ireland took place in February.