You probably heard about Carl Austin-Behan, previously Mr. Gay UK, becoming the very first openly gay mayor in Manchester back in May of this year.
Now, it has been revealed that the Lord Mayor will be leading this year’s Manchester Pride Parade, which is taking place this Saturday. When Behan was sworn into office early on this year, he pledged to use his position to highlight prejudice towards trans people and also make it easier to access HIV testing in Greater Manchester.
At the time, Bahan said: “I thought it was time we had an openly gay lord mayor. We have had different races and cultures doing it – so this is a recognition of the LGBT community. It’s not a case of saying everyone needs to be like me, but as part of the diversity of Manchester it should be embraced.”
“I was kicked out of the air force for being gay in 1997. We have come such a long way but there’s still barriers there. I see this as an opportunity to put it out there that we are all as normal as each other.”
“We have come such a long way but there are still barriers there. I think people don’t understand [trans issues] so well. It’s about awareness and education. We also need to look at HIV. It’s still on the rise and Manchester is one of the worst places.”
Mark Fletcher, Chief Executive of Manchester Pride said: “We are honoured to have the Lord Mayor leading the parade through Manchester City Centre this year. Since taking on the post earlier this year Councillor Austin-Behan has become a figurehead of the LGBT community, particularly in Greater Manchester.”
“The parade theme this year is Once Upon a Time and we’re celebrating the many stories, moments, events and occasions they have occurred in order to allow us to reach the level of freedom our LGBT communities enjoy today.”
“It’s hard to believe Councillor Austin-Behan was thrown out the RAF for being gay back in 1997; since then he’s gone on to become the Lord Mayor of Manchester. His own story is one of true inspiration. I can think of nobody better or more relevant to be leading the parade this year as we march ahead into the future.”
The parade that Mayor Bahan will be leading will consist of 3,000 people from Greater Manchester, and includes 115 entries from small groups to large organisations. The theme for this year’s event is “Once Upon a Time”.
The official press release reads: “The Manchester Pride Festival is an award-winning four-day event celebrating LGBT life. The event takes place in August, with The Big Weekend running from Friday 26 to Monday 29 August and the Parade on Saturday 27 August.”
“The Big Weekend tickets are on sale now, priced at £25 for weekend tickets. Day, family and children’s tickets are also available. Tickets are exchanged for Pledge Bands at the festival providing guests with access to the event, including the Main Arena, Sackville Gardens, the Gaydio Dance Arena and the Expo and help Manchester Pride raise essential funds for LGBT and HIV causes in Greater Manchester.”
“Manchester Pride asks the community to wear their bands with pride as they pledge to; help Manchester Pride create a safe, world class LGBT celebration, support Manchester Pride’s commitment to raising essential funds for LGBT and HIV causes in Greater Manchester and support the organisation’s campaign for greater LGBT equality.”
For more information on The Big Weekend visit the new website at bigweekend.manchesterpride.com.