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SLIDESHOW: First Pride Parade hailed as a 'remarkable day'

Organisers of the Foyle Pride Festival have described the North West's first-ever Pride Parade as an "absolutely extraordinary" day. And it's now hoped that it will be annual event.

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David McCartney from the Rainbow Project said that friends who go to Pride parades elsewhere had travelled to Derry for this auspicious occasion.

"They found the entire event very emotional and I myself found it incredibly emotional too," he said. "It was absolutely extraordinary. We had quite a few guests from all over the country and beyond, many of whom are Derry men themselves. Everyone I met told me that the parade had been an emotional experience for them."

With reports of up to 5,000 people attending the parade, Mr McCartney added: "I'm no good at judging how many people were there, but the Guildhall Square was packed with people. The reception as the parade came up Ferryquay Street and turned into Shipquay Street towards the Guildhall Square was just phenomenal. We couldn't believe it.

"What they have done is extraordinary. I myself winced at the idea of ever having a Pride march in Derry, but this wasn't just a march - it was genuinely a parade. The members of the LGBT community were all understandably nervous in advance, worried that the parade might receive little support, but they needn't have been nervous. So many people came out to support us - cheering everyone on, waving flags, applauding - it was just fantastic.

Those behind the festival and parade were praised for their hard work and dedication.

Mr McCartney said; "Most of all, we should thank the Festival Organising Committee. It really was the drive and energy of these women who took this festival forward. Without them this wouldn't have happened."

When asked if the Pride parade will become an annual fixture, Mr McCartney added: "Without a doubt, the parade will now become an annual event. We've even been planning what we could be doing for 2013!"

Changed city

Speaking of the small gathering of anti-gay protestors present, Mr McCartney went on: "I have to say, apart from the 20 or so miserable people hanging around Duke Street, looking thoroughly unhappy, the day was filled with smiles and colours and happiness, with no negativity from anyone. Some people just can't bear the thought of people enjoying themselves."

"It was a remarkable day - I met so many members of people's families, all out to support their own relatives and thoroughly enjoying themselves. I remember the days when families would strive to keep homosexuality a secret, and so the success of Saturday is a fantastic indication of how the city has changed," he added.

 
 
 

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