A Queer man and a straight ally take to the streets for the LGBTQ+ community as Shaun Ponsonby and Alan Parry visit Liverpool Pride 2018. 

Liverpool Pride is one of the youngest major Pride’s in the country –Cornwall even had a Pride before Liverpool did.

The event has run for nearly a decade and goes from strength to strength every year, and in 2018 it was probably the best it’s ever been. It was certainly the biggest; over 50,000 hit the main festival space on Tithebarn Street, and around 10,000 on the march itself.

The latter point is even more incredible when you consider the rain earlier in the day. We even joked that after one of the most glorious summers in recent memory, the weather was being just a tad homophobic. I mean, it literally rained on our parade.

For one of our party – an ally – there was a sense of trepidation. While the streets, restaurants, bars, and shops were awash with colour and capricious, innocent cheer, he confessed that he couldn’t help but feel something of a fraud.

But once he began his ascent upon St George’s Hall, he began to understand it. People have spoken about atmosphere, and vibes previously, but the excitement among the throngs of people was tangible. Electricity? You could cut it with a knife!

For him, it was something new, and joyous. Being greeted by a smile every which way you turn can be an unfamiliar experience, but my word is it reassuring.

Before heading to the main festival site, we stopped off at Hus, where Gay Times were having a VIP brunch, with djing duties by our friends at Sonic Yootha. What started as a pretty relaxed, chilled out vibe turned completely on its head when Tracey Wilder stepped up to the decks, and dropped Donna Summer’s I Feel Love and Sylvester’s You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) in quick succession. It went from a casual afternoon to an explosion of energy and colour.

Pride line-ups are curious affairs, and this year seems particularly eccentric. International drag star Courtney Act, frantic punk from Queen Zee, the cast of Broadway smash Kinky Boots, Madonna tributes, cheesy pop from Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

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We did wonder how Queen Zee would go down in the middle of all of this. Far from the surprisingly conservative look displayed at LIMF the week before, the Queen entered looking every bit the over the top Queer icon. It was the biggest crowd they had ever played in front of, and you could see them revelling in every moment. Watching the entire of Tithebarn Street go nuts for their cover of Dizzee Rascal’s Bonkers was a sight to behold.

But then everybody seemed to be in their element on stage. Everybody knows that we are huge fans of the Queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race, and you can click here to read our regular Queenstion Time column where we speak to them. But Courtney Act seemed more enthusiastic than we’ve ever seen her as she presented a stripped down version of her Under The Covers show.

Finishing up with Sophie Ellis-Bextor as she ran down some of her greatest hits, including Murder On The Dancefloor and Groovejet proved to be the perfect end to the day, unless you count the plethora of after parties.

If there is a criticism, it’s that although we could see that much had been done to show different ways of being Queer – and to have a prominent trans artist on stage was incredibly important given the disgusting events that took place at the recent London Pride – we couldn’t help but feel that there was still a dearth of Queer people of colour.

But, of course, there will always be nit picking. It is clear that efforts had been made to make everybody feel welcome, and there is no way to reach some kind of mystical perfection.

Because, really, Pride isn’t about who is on stage. It is about the message. Inclusivity and acceptance is the order of the day.

So there was our apprehensive ally from earlier, carrying his flag, disco dancing his way through the streets of Liverpool with his wife and children for the greatest of causes, warmly welcomed, and appreciated by the most colourful array of people he had ever set eyes upon.

He said “Thank you Liverpool! Thank you Pride!

Pictures by Graham Smillie