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Liverpool's journey to Gay Pride
stanley street
Stanley Street is pedestrianised from 2200-0600BST

Liverpool will host its first official Gay Pride Festival on 7 August, 2010.

Until this year Liverpool was the largest city without a Pride festival and organisers hope the event will rival those in Manchester and London.

The event will take place in the city centre over two days and is fully endorsed by Liverpool City Council.

The festival is likely to be focused in the heart of Liverpool's Gay Quarter in and around Erbele Street, Stanley Street and Cumberland Street.

The gay scene in Liverpool dates back to its early days as a port when gay seafarers would come ashore and find gay bars from 'memory maps' shared amongst homosexual sailors.

The Lisbon was one of the first gay bars along with the Masquerade Bar in the area around Cumberland Street, which would grow to become the heart of gay scene.

The hidden history of gay life at sea from the 1950s to the 1980s is the focus of the Hello Sailor! exhibition, current running at Liverpool Maritime Museum.

A new generation

holly johnson
Frankie Goes to Hollywood hit Relax was UK number one in 1984

By the 1980s Liverpool band Frankie Goes to Hollywood caused controversy with their overtly sexual song Relax and its accompanying video. It topped the charts in 1984 despite being banned by the BBC.

As Liverpool became more cosmopolitan during the 1990s, a vibrant gay scene developed.

Unofficial gay pride events took place in the early 1990s and in June 1994 Garlands nightclub opened in Erbele Street.

In November 2004 the annual festival 'Homotopia' was launched celebrating gay culture in the city.

The two-week event featured the best in gay theatre, film, photography and art in venues across the city and is now a highlight on the Liverpool cultural calendar.

Homotopia also became a regular feature in the annual Lord Mayor's Parade, representing the gay community with its own float and street performers.

The community voice

In 2006 a report was undertaken by Stormbreak to hear the views of LGB&T people living and working in Liverpool. The report found that despite a raised profile and accepted nightlife, the gay community still felt threatened.

The results showed that almost six out of ten Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people had experienced homophobic crime in Liverpool and that the average homosexual adult living or working in the city was likely to experience 15 crimes in their lifetime, with more than half saying they lived in fear of attacks.

Two years later, in 2008, the Liverpool LGB&T (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Network was launched to provide the gay community with an official voice.

The gay area of Liverpool continued to develop and the number of new gay bars and clubs opening led to the announcement in June 2008 of plans to partially pedestrianise the streets and create an official Gay Quarter.

Two months later, in July 2008, an 18 year old gay man was seriously injured in what police believed to be a homophobic attack. Hairdresser Michael Causer suffered massive head injuries at a house party in Huyton and later died in hospital.

One hundred pansies were planted outside Michael's family home in Knowsley in his memory and as part of The Pansy Project, an initiative supported by Merseyside Police to tackle hate crime.

Gay Pride

homotopia
Homotopia was launched in 2004

Throughout Liverpool's Capital of Culture Year in 2008, the LGB&T Network had campaigned to make a Gay Pride event a key priority in the city.

In January 2009 the event was approved by Liverpool Council and on 17 May 2009 Liverpool Town Hall flew the Rainbow Flag, which represents gay pride, as part of its commitment to end homophobia in the city.

Later that year, in October 2009, 22 year old James Parkes was attacked in the heart of Liverpool's Gay Quarter as he left Superstar Boudoir club on Stanley Street.

The trainee police officer suffered multiple skull fractures and fractures of his eye-socket and cheek bone after being set upon by a group of teenagers.

Two months later Stanley Street was pedestrianised during the evenings and overnight. Nearby Cumberland Street was also pedestrianised, and Erbele Street remained closed to traffic 24 hours a day.

The first official Gay Pride festival takes place on 7 August 2010. The date was chosen to mark the day of Michael Causer's death in 2008.

Events begins at 1130BST at St Georges Plateau with the march setting off at 1230BST on a route through Liverpool city centre.

The march will pass through Roe Street, Hood Street, Whitechapel, Lord Street and Castle Street before coming to an end at 1330BST at the main festival site at Dale Street at Exchange Street East.

The end of the march will be marked with a speech from the main stage and followed with live acts on three stages and performances by the Rainbow Circus.




SEE ALSO
Is gay bashing on the rise?
03 Nov 09 |  Magazine
Homophobic city attack 'unusual'
02 Nov 09 |  Arts & Culture
Homophobic attack on trainee Pc
26 Oct 09 |  Merseyside
Teenager 'killed for being gay'
03 Feb 09 |  Merseyside

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