Belfast Telegraph: Derry’s ‘pride’ over first gay parade

By Brendan McDaid

History is being made today as Londonderry prepares to stage its first ever Gay Pride Festival.

Mayor of Derry Colum Eastwood will join the march along with numerous local politicians standing in solidarity with the city’s gay community.

The colourful procession gathers at the Waterside Train Station this afternoon, in preparation for the one mile march to the city centre.

One of the organisers of the Pride Festival, Sha Gillespie, yesterday said there was a “great buzz” across the city ahead of the event.

“Hopefully it is going to be amazing, lots of people are excited about it. The festival has been going fantastic and there has been a great vibe and lots of support all week.”

Ms Gillespie said that the parade was aimed at increasing the visibility of the North West’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning community across the North West.

“There hasn’t been much in the town before apart from the Rainbow Project and this event will be about solidarity, people walking together in the street and it will be a full family day, with a festival and carnival atmosphere.”

She stressed that the event was “not a protest”.

Following the march there will be series of events across the city centre and into tomorrow evening.

A Creative Village will be set up in Guildhall Square featuring a series of bands and local drag comedy act the Foyle Follies. There will also be speeches from Mayor Eastwood and human rights activists Eamonn McCann and Bernadette McAliskey.

Close by at Cafe del Mondo in Guildhall Square there will be face-painting, balloon modelling and storytelling.

Mayor Eastwood urged everyone to take part in the parade and celebrations afterwards in the city centre.

SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan paid tribute to the founders, volunteers and supporters of Pride for their “courage and inspiration”.

Speaking about homophobic attacks and insults, Mr Durkan said: “As a community we can show our solidarity with those who suffer this awful prejudice — both the latent homophobia of prejudiced remarks and the blatant homophobia of violent attacks — by attending and supporting this week’s events and this important parade.”

The Pride Ball will take place tonight at Cafe del Mondo from 9pm.