PRIDE HAUS

PHOTOS: All Hail The Queens At Manchester Pride 2012

Tens of thousands of Brits got in on the action last weekend for the climax of Manchester Pride, a party-hearty eleven-day celebration of unabashed queerness.

One of the UK’s top gay destinations, the northern city of Manchester is home to scores of LGBT venues, the majority centered along or near Canal Street in the so-called Gay Village (site of TV’s original Queer as Folk).

Acting as grand marshal for Saturday’s parade was ageless Cuban singer Margarita Pracatan, better known in the UK than the stateside thanks to a spate of British TV appearances in the 1990s.

As they have been for years, the big crowd favorites were the SLUTS (the Salford Ladies United Temperance Society), a mock-crotchety crew of uptight old biddies bearing tongue-in-cheek slogans like “Gay sex gives me the willies” and “Ram it down my throat and I’ll blow my top.”

Some took the opportunity to address political issues, including the marriage-equality debate being waged in Great Britain, and the status of Pussy Riot, the punk band imprisoned in Russia. Others paid tribute to gay native son and computing pioneer Alan Turing, in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday.

Even shirtless YouTube sensation Davey Wavey was on hand, to the delight of some young (and not a few older) gay men in the crowd.

Pride weekend closed with a candlelight vigil in the Gay Village’s Sackville Gardens, where a statue of Turing graces a park bench. Alison Moyet, former lead singer of ’80s synth-pop band Yaz (or Yazoo, as they’re known everywhere but in the States), performed a touching rendition of the group’s first hit, “Only You“—just as she had the previous night as the Manchester Pride main-stage headliner.

Itching for more British Pride, and no plans yet for this weekend? Then get ye stat to the southern English seaside city of Brighton, where this year’s gay extravaganza happens on Saturday, September 1.