As different cities up and down the country are gearing up and winding down from pride events, it’s an entirely different scene in Manchester’s village.

Sparkle is The National Transgender Celebration and is open to anyone who identifies as trans.. This year will mark the 9th annual Sparkle celebration, taking place over the weekend of 12th- 14th of July with different events planned in and around the village to applaud and fundraise.

Unlike Manchester Pride, it is a free event and does not require tickets or wristbands to attend. The Highlight being the Sparkle in the Park main stage in Sackville Gardens which is hosted by Chelsea Attonley, for the fifth year and features a selection of different performers such as Amy Michelle Morris, who identifies as a “tranny who plays a guitar”, T-girl group The Supreme Fabulettes and drag king act The Chameleonz. The stage runs throughout the day with the main event in the evening being the converted Miss Sparkle 2013 contest and closing with the coronation ceremony. There are two categories in the beauty contest, Miss Sparkle 2013 and Miss Golden Sparkle 2013 for contestants over 50 years of age.

Traditionally Sparkle has focused on the male to female section of the trans community however this year there is special focus given to the female to male side too with the launch of BUFF. The Chameleonz section on the main stage sees the first time a drag king act has peformed at the event. The BUFF event is being held in conjunction with Sparkle with its own club night and brunch. Another first sees four of the Village’s leading ladies joining forces on the same stage.

Loose “Women” Sparkle 2013 features Belinda Scandal, Misty Chance, Billie Jean and Nana taking on the current events of the day and performing in a fund raising event at the Showbar. Aside from the events and performances, there are talks and workshops held at The Lesbian & Gay Foundation and market stalls within the village offering a mix of clothing, jewellery, advice and support aimed at the transgender community.

Sparkle has an important place within the gay community as it seeks to support and celebrate the diversity within. It can be the case with pride events that the LGBT banner is used and thought to be all-encompassing for everyone. However it would be naive to think that everybody’s needs and desires are the same. Trans-phobia does exist within the gay community, with so many guys trotting out the “straight acting” phrase on online profiles, it feels important that anyone not wishing to “act” a certain way or just wishing to express who they truly are inside are given the space and freedom to do so.

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If you’re curious or wish to join in, why not head down to Manchester next weekend and help spread the sparkle, it doesn’t just get better for some, it gets Fabulous.

Further information and listings can be found atwww.sparkle.org.uk and buffmanchester.wix.com/buff

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