GLOUCESTERSHIRE'S equivalent of London's Gay Pride takes place in Gloucester this weekend.

Organisers say Gloucestershire Pride, which is being staged at Gloucester Park from 12.30pm on Saturday, with a parade through the city center at 1pm, is set to be the best-ever.

"We realised a year ago that the financial climate was such that even our modest funding from Gloucestershire County Council of previous years would be difficult, if not impossible, this year," said committee chair Michael Charlton-Hubble.

"So we simply didn't apply for any cash grant. We like to think that the gay community in Gloucestershire is playing its part in the "big society".

Headlining this year is Claudia Patrice and among the local acts appearing will be the Gloucestershire Drag Kings, a group of four gay women from across the county.

Mr Charlton-Hubble emphasised that the Pride was truly a county-wide celebration of diversity. "We hope that people, gay or straight, all over the county will join us.

"Diversity and combating homophobia, especially at schools, is a serious topic, but we intend the day to be fun," he said.

The parade starts at Shire Hall at 1pm and will take-in Westgate Street, Eastgate Street and Brunswick Road on its way to The Park where there will be a "village fete" atmosphere with stalls, competitions, a fun far, inflatables, entertainment on the stage and refreshments.

"We are very grateful that we continue to have the full support of Gloucester City Council and Gloucester City Homes," Mr Charlton-Hubble said.

Gloucestershire Pride will be the first Gay Pride event to be attended by the Sussex-based international GRIN Campaign which was founded last autumn by a group of six-formers at Bedales School to raise awareness of bullying in schools worldwide.