Gloucester's pride in the gay community
HUNDREDS hit the streets of Gloucester on Saturday to march out in support of the city's gay community.
The Pride parade has moved on since its humble beginnings at the Wagon and Horses pub seven years ago when just 150 people turned out to support Gloucester's gay and lesbian community.
The event has gathered pace since then and more than 600 people pounded pavements for the 2012 march.
Despite more widespread acceptance of homosexuality in modern life, organisers insist the future of the parade should be protected to ensure the voice of the minority continues to be heard.
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Michael Charlton-Hubble has been instrumental in the event since it was first established in 2005 and says it is an important barometer to gauge public levels of acceptance of the gay community.
"Pride is still relevant today, even though homosexuality is much more accepted than it once was, " he said.
"It doesn't matter if you are gay, lesbian or straight. Everyone who has turned out to support Pride in Gloucester is showing their support for equality. That is vitally important for a modern society."
Gloucester has followed many other cities around the UK in holding a Pride carnival. Saturday's event had a real party spirit and rather than protest, the atmosphere was one of acceptance and enjoyment from the majority who joined in.
Rosie Gardener, 54, from Gloucester donned a pink wig, rainbow sunglasses and a pink and blue Pride flag to show his support for the cause.
"This event has grown each year and although there is more tolerance in society, Pride is still hugely relevant for many, " he said.
"There is still prejudice and there has been huge debate about gay marriage - that shows why we need to come out and continue to support the gay community."
A huge array of colours, balloons, fancy dress and floats filled with part-goers made for an entertaining sight. Starting outside Shire Hall in Westgate Street the parade continued through the city centre towards the Park where a huge outdoor party was launched.
Rob Neal, 51, and Mark Merrett, 49, from Gloucester are both veterans of the Pride parade and set up stall in the park or the Gay Outdoor Club.
Mr Neal said: "People still need to be made aware of people's rights. Although Gloucester Pride isn't as big yet as Swindon, Oxford or Bristol - it is far more intimate and there is a great atmosphere.
"The event has a huge amount of integrity and the community seems to be supporting it well, not everyone here is gay."
Mr Merrett said: "We're hoping to get more people like us to sign up to walking, canoeing and cycling events that we organise for gay people.
"The Gay Outdoor Club is a good way to meet people. There is definitely more acceptance now and you can tell that by the people that have turned out in Gloucester."
The event in Gloucestershire Park starred a range of acts including The Gloucestershire Drag Kings, Miss Felicia and Clair Le Brocq and The Bordellos.
On the dance stage, house music, trance and techno hosted by The Dog's Balearics and Fidget Factory Records with Ted O'Shay and James Condon entertained party-goers.