On 25 September, the North-East city of Sunderland found a deluge of colour flooding through its streets; Sunderland Pride was finally here after two years of trying, and it was here to stay.
Addressing the parade before it departed, Councillor Norma Wright (Mayor of Sunderland) said, ‘By holding a pride event, we’re sending a clear message that we are a city that promotes diversity. Sunderland Council is a Stonewall Diversity Champion and this is really important to us. We want everyone to have equal chances in our city, and for everyone to feel included in what they do.’
As hundreds descended en masse on the city, residents came out in force to support their march for equality; some applauding and others sounding horns. The route led the parade through the city’s main street and along other prominent roads, ending in the city’s gay scene. Local organisations such as Northumbria Police and Tyne and Wear Fire Service turned out to discuss LGBT issues with the attendees, and take opinion polls on how they could tailor their services to better serve the gay community. Also appearing were previous Eurovision entrants Scooch, and Bears Aloud.
With a mixture of ages in attendance, the University of Sunderland Students’ Union was out in force recruiting equality reps. Speaking on behalf of the union, President Tobias Barker said he saw Sunderland Pride as ‘a real milestone in the way that the city identifies with its community.’ With extensive coverage of the event in their union publication, Degrees North, it’s clearly something they’re taking seriously as a student body.
As the day wound down to a close, it was obvious from the VK-fuelled revelling in the street that two years of graft had paid off, with Sunderland finally hosting a successful pride event. Perhaps next year will give way to an even bigger, better and flamboyant celebration. We’ll drink to that.