Manchester Pride celebrates 10 years of same-sex marriage with wedding theme

Manchester Pride 2023 celebrated 10 years of marriage equality with a wedding-themed parade.

Thousands of rainbow-clad LGBTQ+ people and allies descended on Manchester for its annual Pride festival, as the event took on a wedding theme to celebrate 10 years of same-sex marriage. 

Manchester Pride, which is one of the biggest Pride events in the country, kicked off its celebrations in the city’s Gay Village on Friday (25 August). 

The four-day extravaganza across the August Bank Holiday weekend sees live performances, a variety of events and the iconic Pride parade march through the city. 

This year’s theme was ‘Queerly Beloved’ and was chosen to mark the 10th anniversary of same-sex marriage being legalised in the UK, after the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was passed on July 17 2013. 

To celebrate marriage equality, a huge maypole comprised of all the colours of the rainbow flag moved through the city, flanked by queer folks in all manner of wedding attire. 

Parade goers enjoy Manchester Pride 2023 on 26 August, 2023 (Shirlaine Forrest/Getty Images)

Some of the phenomenal wedding-inspired outfits included suits with billowing rainbow skirts and traditional white wedding dresses topped with leather jackets.

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Drag Race UK season two star Bimini Bon-Boulash got into the wedding spirit too, headlining Friday’s celebrations in a stunning bridal ensemble, complete with pearl jewellery and fishnets.

The rest of the famous parade featured more than 200 floats from businesses, charities and local groups, including the NHS, IKEA, Fighting with Pride and The Real Housewives of Cheshire.

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Despite the risk of rain, the weather did not dampen Pride spirits and range of incredible queer artists, many of whom were local, entertained Pride goers. 

Performers including singer Alison Goldfrapp, Brazilian drag star Pabllo Vitar and dancer Raven Mandella took to stages across the city on Saturday. 

Manchester Pride CEO Mark Fletcher praised this year’s diverse and inclusive line-up, telling the Manchester Evening News: “I’m really proud of the live entertainment we have at the Gay Village Party this year.

“The line-up is just unbelievable … we have a 96 per cent queer line-up and over 51 per cent are people of colour, 54 per cent women and 42 per cent just over are trans or non-binary. 

“Thirty-two per cent are also disabled or neurodivergent.”

Parade goers enjoy Manchester Pride 2023 (Shirlaine Forrest/Getty Images)

Fletcher added: “It just shows the level of which we’ve been able to create space for all members of our community. 

“To be able to talk about this just solidifies the message that there truly is a place for everybody when celebrating their identity at Manchester Pride.”

Saturday also saw the hotly anticipated Queer Asian Takeover, which was hosted by Lucky Roy Singh and showcased more than 20 performers and house collectives. 

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The takeover event gives people of Asian heritage the opportunity to showcase their talent and artistry at Pride, as they are often sidelined at other national Pride events. 

Lucky Roy Singh, ​mother of the House of Spice – a South Asian and Middle Eastern performance house – told ITV Granada the discrimination they experienced inspired them to curate the takeover. 

“I experience racism on a daily basis and it is a real issue for me and that is one of the main reasons why I decided to move forward with the project,” Singh said, adding that the Queer Asian Takeover will allow Pride attendees “to see what our culture can bring, what our artistry can bring and what our fashion can bring”. 

Parade goers hold a banner that reads “Queer Muslims Exist” (Shirlaine Forrest/Getty Images)

“It’s really important to see people like myself on stage because when growing up I didn’t have it unfortunately and that’s been my drive and passion to get this done because I want a younger person to look and see that representation and know it’s okay to be queer and identify as themselves,” they continued.

“It’s really important to have that notion that we do belong, we do matter and we should be here to take up space.”

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