X Factor winner and number one selling artist Joe McElderry is to headline the annual National Student Pride event THIS WEEKEND.

The Geordie singer, who won the hearts of the nation singing his socks off to win the extraordinarily successful X Factor TV show in 2009, will perform his biggest hits.

In addition, rumour has it there will be a few surprises, too!

McElderry, who came out on The Sun newspaper’s front page, is showing his support for LGBT students across the country by performing at the event.

“Joe McElderry is recognised by the gay equality organization Stonewall as a role model for young gay people, and he’s a fabulous performer too, so we’re thrilled to have him at National Student Pride this year,” says Jack Snell, Vice Chair. “He’s sure to put on a spectacular show, and we all can’t wait to hear the voice that compelled millions to vote for him on the X Factor.”

Supporting McElderry will be Doll & The Kicks, an indie-pop four piece from Brighton, and one of the UK’s hottest up-and-coming bands. The band is championed by Smiths legend Morrissey, who personally invited them to support him on his world tour, where they played over 70 shows in over 22countries. In a recent letter to the NME, he described Doll as “the best British singer of recent years.”

In another slam-dunk for the event, Student Pride has announced that the NBA’s only out gay basketball player John Amaechi will be joining the celebrations.

American-born but British player Amaechi, who came out in 2007, will be part of the celebrity panel answering questions from LGBT students.

He will be joined by BBC Radio 1 DJ Aled Haydn-Jones and TV doctor Christian Jessen – famous for his diagnosis of ‘Embarrassing Bodies’, and Aaron Porter, President of the National Union of Students – a controversial figure with strong opinions about topical issues facing students, including the planned rise in tuition fees.

The ‘Question Time’-style debate is in association with Attitude magazine and will be chaired by Editor Matthew Todd.

National Student Pride, a three-day mix of partying and political debate, will take place THIS WEEKEND.

Last year more than 1,000 students attended the Brighton-based event from all over the UK – some from as far away as Edinburgh and Cornwall.

“We are so excited about the success of last year’s Student Pride and can’t wait for this year’s event to happen,” continues Snell. “We’re happy to say that the event gets bigger and better each year, with more celebrities, politicians, and LGBT students all keen to get involved.”

Last year, almost every major LGBT publication in the UK supported National Student Pride, and the love continues in 2011 with more titles getting on board. It has also just been announced that one of the world’s largest private companies – Ernst & Young – is confirmed as National Student Pride’s Platinum Sponsor for 2011.

“Ernst & Young is pleased to sponsor National Student Pride 2011,” says Cameron Cartmell, Partner sponsor of the EYGLES network. “We have long been a strong supporter of LGBT people, both within EY and in our wider communities. Being named the UK’s 3rd most gay-friendly employer in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index, together with our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Network (EYGLES) being named one of Stonewall’s ‘Star Performer Network Groups’ is a testament not only to our open and inclusive culture, but also the commitment we have to ensuring that all our people, whether straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, can be themselves. We look forward to seeing you all in Brighton.”

The fun kicks off on Friday 29 April with an official pre-pride party at Revenge nightclub, with the main event taking place at Oceana on Saturday 30 April. The Saturday daytime event – from 1 until 5pm – features the ‘Question Time’-style political debate, as well as stalls, food and the best live music – brought to you by Brighton’s Women’s Tent.

Brighton’s Green MP Caroline Lucas – a long time supporter of the event – will officially open National Student Pride 2011 at 2pm on the Saturday, with some very special guests in attendance.

“We’re keen to point out that the daytime Saturday event will be FREE this year,” says Danica Histed, Chair of Student Pride. “The decision not to charge is to ensure Student Pride’s daytime event is accessible to everyone – we’re eager to welcome as many people from Brighton itself as well as from around the UK to share in the fun and debate.” (There is a charge for all other events, see www.studentpride.co.uk for details).

After the Oceana attractions, students are invited to attend a pub crawl around Brighton, taking in the major gay venues the city has to offer, before moving on to the official evening party at Coalition nightclub on the seafront. At the club, there will be live acts, including local super group Doll and the Kicks, great DJs, angle grinders, stilt walkers and some surprise guests (last year, Boyzone’s Ronan Keating made a surprise appearance to show support for LGBT students).

Afterwards, partygoers move on to Revenge nightclub for the official after party from 3am.

However, it does not stop there! On the Sunday, the equality organisation Stonewall is hosting its annual Brighton Equality Walk fundraiser and invites students to join them for a fresh air stroll for gay rights (see www.stonewall.org.uk for details).

For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.studentpride.co.uk, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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