Sir Ian McKellen to lead Manchester Pride

Sir Ian McKellen is to lead Manchester’s Pride parade, it has been announced.

Organisers announced today that the X-Men actor and veteran rights activist will lead the parade on August 29, serving as its Grand Marshal.

The Vicious star is set to follow Orange is the New Black’s Lea Delaria in the role, serving at the head of a Pride march for the second time this year. He also headed up New York Pride last month.

Mark Fletcher, Chief Executive of Manchester Pride said: “We’re privileged that Sir Ian will be leading the parade through Manchester City Centre in this milestone year, where we are marking 25 years of charity fundraising events celebrating LGBT life in Manchester.

“Sir Ian is a genuine inspiration for the global LGBT community, not only for his status as one of the world’s most acclaimed actors but also for his unwavering dedication to campaigning for LGBT rights.

“Manchester is a city devoted to embracing and celebrating diversity, especially the LGBT communities that have helped to shape Manchester’s cultural heritage and landscape over the centuries.

“We want people to celebrate the fact that Manchester is proud of its LGBT history and shares in its future.”

Sir Ian’s latest film Mr Holmes opened last month– with the star sharing a kiss with close friend and X-Men colleague Patrick Strewart on the red carpet.

It appeared to be the pair’s reply to criticism of Stewart – who took to Facebook to defend himself from claims of homophobia after siding with a Christian bakery that refused to make a ‘support gay marriage’ cake.

Appearing on Newsnight, Stewart said he was “on the side of the bakers” and “supports their rights to say no” – but the gay rights campaigner did not seem too upset with his friend’s comments.