There will be glitter beard face painters and silly costumes, dancing and lots of laughs at this year’s Cumbria Pride event tomorrow.

Performances by nineties disco diva Whigfield, Voice stars Jolan and Jordan Gray, Matt Pagan of Collabro and Danny Beard will entertain thousands in a celebration of diversity and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT)

But there will also be a harder, more serious edge to the occasion.

This will be the third time the event has been staged in Carlisle city centre, the day will also mark a series of important firsts.

It will be the first time the Rainbow flag will fly from a civic building (the Old Town Hall); the first time Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall will speak at the event, the LGBT rights campaign group Stonewall will make its first appearance; Jamie Reed will be the first Cumbrian MP to speak at the event; Amnesty International will be appearing; it is the first year Pride Cumbria will be a registered charity and it is the first time London Pride group attends and the first time European Pride will attend.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell will also speak to the crowd.

His appearance comes just before he is due to address a side event for the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

Peter Tatchell Mr Tatchell, who helped organise the first Pride event in London in 1972, says: “It is really important that we don’t just have Pride events in big cities like Manchester and Glasgow.

“LGBT celebrations need to be everywhere and it is great to acknowledge the positive contribution that LGBT people make to Carlisle and Cumbria.”

Glenn Anderson counts the milestones off proudly.

The producer of Pride for the past three years, he will have the biggest smile of the day.

The softly spoken 44-year-old Northern Irishman escaped the bullying and homophobia of his homeland to start a new life in England when he was a teenager.

He moved to Carlisle in 2007 and opened the city’s first gay-friendly bar Outrageous with business partner Dan Russell a year later.

When the partnership ended, Glenn decided to set up the county’s first LGBT centre three years ago, as well as Sticky Bits cafe and the Regency nightclub in Fisher Street.

He said at the time: “I fronted the opening of the LGBT centre and equality cafe, as well as the nightclub and restaurant, to create safe spaces for anyone who is part of a minority group and we are trying to stand up to bullies.”

The centre is home to a range of support and campaign groups and also provides a counselling service.

Sadly, three years ago, he was a victim of the bullies and was forced to leave his home in Morton and Carlisle following a series of homophobic attacks. He now lives in Blackpool, but remains a key part of the centre and of the Pride event.

It has cost him a lot of cash as well as time.

This time last year the Sticky Bits centre closed and there were fears that Pride would not be held as it struggled with £4,000 worth of debt.

Glenn and his team have managed to turn it around and, for the first time in years he says, Cumbria Pride will take place without being in the red.

A big part of the success of the event has been the help and support provided by establishment organisations such as Carlisle City Council and Cumbria County Council.

Glenn Anderson Glenn, 44, also gives credit to former Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes for his backing and his work against discrimination.

But most of it is down to the drive, determination and single-mindedness of Glenn and his team of supporters including Pam Eland, Simon Dalton, Martin Reeves, Carol Nash and Judith Taylor who work at the centre and who help organise the show.

This year’s Pride coincides with the launch of the first exhibition of LGBT history in Cumbria.

Featuring real-life stories, the display at Tullie House Museum charts a social revolution from persecution to equal marriage in one lifetime.

Attitudes have changed in Cumbria towards those who are LGBT, though there is still much to do.

Carlisle will never be Manchester and it is unlikely Whitehaven will be transformed into Brighton any time soon. There are still incidents of homophobia and discrim- ination in Cumbria, but Glenn has noted some improvement, especially among younger people.

“They say you can’t teach an old dogs new tricks, but through education, younger people realise that there should not be any discrimination and that it is wrong to bully people.

Whigfield “It is 300 per cent easier being LGBT than it was five or 10 years ago. When you have got events like Pride happening every year to celebrate and educate, it can only continue to help acceptance.

“The problem is that we don’t live in a one day a year society.

“I’m staggered and amazed at how much we have been embraced by the city council, the county council and the police and police and crime commissioner compared to four or five years ago.

“For organisations to embrace us in such a way means there has been a sea-change in attitudes and they are able to support such events publicly without a backlash and people saying ‘where is this money coming from?’

“Cumbria is small in the size of its LGBT community, but that does not mean that problems are not there.”

Copeland MP Jamie Reed adds: “There is a need for events like Pride to remind people of the need for equality in society for people in same-sex relationships. Any kind of event which highlights equality should be celebrated.

Jamie Reed “There is a hidden history almost in socially conservative areas of people being afraid to be honest about their sexuality and that is something we would all regret.

“Young people growing up today would struggle to understand why anybody would not be honest about who they are and that too is worth celebrating.”

The event and providing the advice centre in Carlisle have been a mission for Glenn, who is living with a terminal illness.

There is much for him to be proud about, but he has two ambitions left.

He would like someone to take over his role as chairman of Pride and lead the LGBT centre. And while he wants Cumbria Pride to remain free and open to everyone in Carlisle centre, long term, he wants to see it turn into a music festival and celebration of LGBT life.

He explains: “It celebrates the gay community and educates.

“The only way we can keep issues in people’s hearts and minds is to make it free. At the moment I don’t want it to become a commercial event, or for it to lose its political message, it is a political event.

“But if it outgrows the city centre we will have done our job and it could be a massive pop concert and celebration of gay life.”

To donate to Cumbria Pride, which is being held as a free event, open to all, text LGBT20 and the amount you would like to donate, to 70070,