• Manbears Manchester

Hugs for All at Manchester Pride

Updated: Nov 1, 2018

August Bank holiday in Manchester can only mean one thing - Pride! The whole city really comes alive with support for the LGBT+ community and the highlight of the weekend is the Pride parade, which brings the city centre to a standstill. As has been tradition for many years, Manbears once again joined in the fun so I thought I’d put together a few words to show how we go about putting together an entry and what it’s like to take part.

It seems a long time since we got the first notification from Pride in May, telling us what this year’s theme would be and inviting us to take part. As Manbears Pride coordinator I made sure our entry form was submitted in plenty of time as there is always a massive demand from organisations who want to enter. As soon as this was confirmed we put a call-out for volunteers to join in. The response this year was overwhelming- within a few days we had already reached the maximum number of people that Pride allow per entry! This meant there would have been too many guys to fit on a float so we decided on a walking entry instead. This year’s theme was ‘The Circus of Acceptance’ and instead of concentrating on the circus side of things we decided to interpret the acceptance idea by offering ‘hugs for all’

So several months later, after getting together all the bits and pieces needed to make an impression, and getting t-shirts printed for everyone (thanks Moodybear) the day of the parade arrived. The night before had been cold and wet but thankfully that had passed and the weather had improved. I for one was very thankful as it was going to be the first time I was going to wear a kilt in public and I’m not sure I would have been brave enough if it had been cold and windy!

It’s always an early start unfortunately as we all had to be assembled and ready to go by 11am, but the build-up is a great part of the experience, helping each other with outfits (lots of glitter this year!) and getting to know the rest of the group. There’s a long wait once lined up but we had our speaker turned up and with the help of some camp disco classics we had the groups around us singing along too.

Unless you’ve taken part in the parade before, it’s hard to describe the experience of being cheered on by the crowds. There is a fantastic welcoming atmosphere and when you first turn onto Deansgate and are met with the cheers and whistles it really is an amazing feeling. Within minutes, some of our group needed no encouragement to act upon the offer on our t-shirts of ‘Hugs for All’ and were venturing out into the crowd to give them. Our mascot for the day was a 5 foot tall teddy in a showman’s outfit, and got lots of cheers as we wheeled him along the route (it was also a challenge avoiding all the potholes!) We got a massive cheer when we passed the judges stand by the Midland Hotel, which is always good.

The best reception from the crowds is always the final section, as we pass by the Gay Village. There are always hundreds of people crammed on the streets and leaning out of windows and the noise from them all is fantastic. It’s a challenge to try and spot friends amongst all this.

There were lots of guys who walked with us this year for the first time and all of them thanked me for organising it and said how much they enjoyed it. It really is a great experience and, yes, I am already thinking about next year.

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