This year saw Manchester Pride celebrate its 25th birthday and UNISON North West Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Group celebrated Pride in style.
On Saturday, the group took part in the Manchester Pride parade, armed with the North West Regional Banner, massive Pride float adorning the message “we love our public services”, UNISON flags and several branch banners including Bolton, Salford City and University of Manchester. There was an incredible turnout, supported not only by activists from the regional LGBT Committee, but members from right across the region.
This year as part of the Regional LGBT SOG’s ongoing commitment to foster links with community organisations UNISON was joined by Juba do Leão who delivered a high-energy powerhouse percussion performance throughout the parade, accompanied by Cabasa Carnival Arts who came with their beautiful giant rainbow butterfly backpacks and rainbow flower dresses getting the crowd in a serious dancing mood. UNISON flags were interwoven throughout the performers maximising visibility.
UNISON had the honour to have members of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners lead the entry with their beautiful banner as featured in the 2014 hit film ‘PRIDE’, which tells the story of how a group lesbians and gay men came together to support the miners during the 1980’s strike, which was another major crowd pleaser. This was by far UNISON’s largest entry yet, with a great reception from the public, with many chanting supportively as members passed along the busy streets of the city.
The UNISON stall in the Manchester Pride Expo was also extremely popular, and over the course of the three days activists not only spoke to thousands of people about on-going campaigns to protect our public services but also recruited new members and activists.
The proudest moment of the weekend came when it was announced on the Pride main stage that UNISON had won best overall parade entry, piping Coronation Street to the winners post.
Eileen Best, Co-convenor of the Regional LGBT Committee said: “The LGBT Group has worked hard to produce the float and are over the moon to have achieved so much in the past few years. Looking back we have gone from strength to strength, from a very small walking entry five years ago to the loud and extremely visible entry we saw on Saturday.”
John McSwiggan, Co-convenor said: “We recognised that as Manchester Pride is the biggest pride events in Britain that as the largest public sector union we needed to be making a bigger impact both demonstrating our support for our LGBT members and as a recruitment strategy for engaging future members.”
Overall, Manchester Pride was a huge success for UNISON, and we want to say a huge thank you to everyone who participated on our stall and our parade entry over the big weekend.
Looking ahead, we still have three Prides to come this year:
1. Preston Pride – Saturday 26 September
2. Chester Pride - Saturday 3 October
3. Bolton Pride – Sunday 18 October
If you would like to get involved please contact James Bull via email: [email protected].