Saturday 7th August saw Liverpool’s first ever Pride.
The day began with a march through the city centre. As the groups taking part assembled outside St George’s Hall, the noise and excitement grew. Everything from samba dancers to trade union groups to drummers were impatiently waiting for the festivities to formally begin.
The Town Crier’s bell officially opened the event and at just after 12.30 we were off.
The family of Michael Causer led the march. Michael was just 18 years old when he was seriously assaulted in a homophobic attack two years ago. Tragically he later died from his injuries. It was a poignant and fitting tribute to Michael to have his family guiding the thousands of marchers on this historic occasion.
We weaved our way through the heart of Liverpool, passing through the commercial hub, up by the Town Hall where the rainbow flag was proudly flying for the first time in the building’s 200-year existence and finishing at the end of Dale Street.
LGBT Labour was out in force. Dressed in red t-shirts, the buzzing team of Labour activists from across Liverpool and the North West stuck over 3,000 ‘Never Kissed a Tory’ stickers on the lapels of onlookers who had lined the march route, including many grandparents. Nearly all of Liverpool council’s cabinet and councillors joined in too. The Tories had a handful of representatives present on the day; the Lib Dems were notable by their absence.
Speaking to the many organisers and volunteers during the day I was struck by how delighted they were with how it was going. Spectators, clapping and blowing whistles, were at least three people deep along the march route. It was so great to see so many of the public, of all ages and backgrounds out in support and enjoying the day. The press put the spectator figure at 21,000. A fantastic amount of people, although I’m sure it was more.
Following the march, three different stages provided a range of entertainment – singing, dancing and cabaret – throughout the day and night. A whole street of stalls was teeming with organisations and companies providing information, food, freebies and more to everyone as they passed.
Thanks must be extended to Cllr Louise Baldock and the LGBT network at Liverpool Charity and Voluntary service for having the vision for the event and working so hard over the past two years to make it all happen, actively supported by so many of Liverpool’s key partners including City Safe and the police. And one of the best things about the inaugural Liverpool Pride was that it was all provided free of charge.
Late into the evening, Dale Street was heaving with revellers enjoying the acts on stage including Robin S and Adam Ricketts, before Liverpool’s many bars and clubs provided a haven for partying into the night.
The next day I received an email from a constituent telling me how he hadn’t always felt safe as a gay man growing up in Liverpool and he sadly hadn’t always felt proud. However at Saturday’s event he felt completely safe and extremely proud. I had such a great time throughout the day; it was an incredible success and really showed off what a great city Liverpool is. It made me really proud to be an MP for Liverpool. Plans are already underway for the next Pride. I can’t wait.
Luciana Berger is the Labour Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree