Now in its 21st year after its first “run through the city centre” Belfast Pride has a week of activities (and a growing set of events on the fringe) surrounding the Saturday afternoon parade through Belfast city centre.
This year only one group has registered a protest with the Parades Commission. So unless the normal protest from Sandown Road Free Presbyterian has merged in with the Stop the Parade Coalition, they must be staying at home this year. (Or else planning to protest illegally!)
This year’s Pride programme features, films, talks, music, and faith.
The annual Pride Talks Back debate moves to Parliament Buildings at Stormont at 2.30pm on Monday 25 July. Politicians from all the major parties have been invited (the DUP didn’t turn up last year) along with panellists from the LGBT sector. Tickets available from talksback AT belfastpride DOT com.
There’s a Northstar Science Fiction Night in the Europa Hotel on Tuesday 26 at 7.30pm.
Laramie Project – a powerful play chronicling the aftermath of the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming – will be performed in the Lyric Theatre on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 at 7.30pm. £3 tickets available from Lyric Theatre.
The Pride Parade leaves Custom House Square at 2pm on Saturday 30 and will tour the city centre before returning for the rest of Party in the Square music, dancing and costumes. New for 2011, Families in the Square will be a calmer venue based beside the Lagan Lookout with a community market place, bouncy castle and face painters.
Practically, the Rainbow Project have teamed up with the Royal Hospital to offer two walk-in sexual health clinics. Pipeworks Sauna (Union Street) on Friday 29 between 5.30pm and 8pm; the Rainbow Project Tent in the Families in the Square area on Saturday 30 between 3pm and 6pm (offering a simple blood test for HIVB, Syphilis, Hepatitis B & C and vaccinations for Hepatitis A & B).
From a faith perspective, the festival offers a number of events.
Two consecutive talks will be hosted in All Souls' Church, Elmwood Avenue at 7pm on Sunday 24.
- Jonathan Loved David - “Andrew McFarland [Faith + Pride] will look at the compelling reasons to believe that David (who became the greatest King of Israel, and wrote many of the Psalms) and Jonathan (the son of the first king) were in a same-sex relationship.
- Oy Vay I’m Gay – “Paula Rita Tabakin will explore homosexuality from a Jewish reform perspective, using texts and traditions.
Hymn or Us? will debate whether LGBT and Christianity can co-exist in the Europa Hotel (Glengall Street entrance) on Thursday 28 at 7.30pm. Panellists include Rev Chris Hudson (All Souls’ Non-Subscribing Presbyterian), Rev David McIlveen (Sandown Road Free Presbyterian) and Dr Mike Davidson (Core Issue). Chaired by William Crawley.
£2 (in advance), £3 (on door). Now free.
Annual Pride Church Service is at 3pm on Sunday 1 August in All Souls’ Church, Elmwood Avenue. The programme indicates that “everyone is warmly invited to attend, and will be made welcome, regardless of orientation, gender, denomination or faith”.