21 facts about Belfast Pride Festival – Ireland’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender festival which takes place this weekend.
1 Belfast Pride was founded in 1990, with the first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parade held in the summer of 1991. With just over 100 people, it made its way from Belfast’s High Street through the city centre to Botanic Gardens.
2 Last year saw almost 15,000 people take part – making it the largest cross-community festival parade in Belfast, as well as the largest individual parade held in Northern Ireland.
3 Belfast Pride is the largest LGBT festival on the island of Ireland, and sees visitors from all over Europe attending.
4 It also ranks in the top 10 largest gay pride parades in the UK.
5 Now boasting a fully-fledged carnival feel, revellers will parade and dance their way through Belfast city centre to Custom House Square for an open-air concert, featuring Lisa Scott-Lee from Steps.
6 Belfast Pride features a week-long festival programme in the run-up to the parade, including educational talks, discussions, art, theatre, dance, films and music. A religious service and a sponsored walk in aid of Aware Defeat Depression will also take place.
7 This year’s discussion panel will, for the first time, join the folks on the hill for what is sure to be a lively debate with politicians and representatives from the LGBT community at Parliament Buildings. While all other political parties have confirmed attendance, there is still a question mark over the DUP.
8 This year Belfast Pride is honouring Jeffrey Dudgeon, the gay activist who fought to have homosexuality decriminalised in Northern Ireland. To mark the 30th anniversary of the landmark judgement, he will be honoured at the Pride Awards Ceremony.
9 Belfast Pride is organised by a team of 14 volunteers, who devote their time and skills for free.
10 Belfast Pride hasn’t been without its controversies – in 2006 Free Presbyterian protesters infiltrated the march, handing out extracts from the Bible in protest.
11The following year a teenager waving a poster declaring "Jesus is a fag" caused uproar among evangelical and fundamentalist Christians.
12 In 2008, in response to the placard, Rev David McIlveen – whose Sandown Road Free Presbyterian Church annually protests against the parade – took out an advertisement in a newspaper, headlined: ‘The word of God against sodomy’, and quoted a passage from the bible calling homosexuality "an abomination".
13 Seven complaints were lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority in relation to the advertisement. It was originally agreed the advert had caused "serious offence", but the church appealed the decision and this year the court found in its favour.
14X Factor finalists Same Difference, S Club 3 and The Lady Gaga Experience will all appear at Belfast’s Gay Village Street Party event on Union Street the same day.
15 In 2007, the DUP was challenged by Free Presbyterians over a government grant given to Belfast Pride, with one preacher demanding the party block the payment, describing it as endorsing a "celebration of sodomy".
16 This year the parade will have a fairground theme, and participants are encouraged to come in fancy dress or build floats in a fairground style.
17 On Saturday, July 30, gay icon Boy George will be performing at the Mynt/Yello club in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter as part of the Pride celebrations.
18 A powerful play based on the true story of the brutal murder of American university student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, will be performed at the Lyric Theatre on July 26 and 27.
Created by the Dundonald Association of Music and Drama, and supported by the Policing Board, The Laramie Project, is a provocative piece of theatre which aims to break down barriers and promote acceptance.
19 It’s been 10 years since the Pride team launched their first Party in the Square, at Custom House Square, where the parade ends. It plays host to a music concert and festival atmosphere.
20 This year it has been extended to create a Families in the Square area, which offers a family friendly space for participants. It will include a market place with community information, carnival and street performers and retail outlets.
21 Last year saw 6,500 people turn up to take part in the first Foyle Pride Parade in Derry. This year Northern Ireland’s newest Pride festival will run from August 24-28.
It will be opened by Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, founder of Freedom and Roam Uganda, a leading LGBT rights organisation.
Source and for more details – Belfasttelegraph.co.uk