A TRIBUTE performer is holding an LGBT festival to encourage young, gay people to not hide away from their sexuality.

Paul Sutton, who performs as Boy George tribute act 'Boy Gorgeous' is holding the 'Let Love Unite' festival at The Clifton Arms in Blackburn.

Mr Sutton, who came out as gay when he was 31 in the 1990s, wants to encourage those in their teens and 20s to feel confident enough to express their true selves.

The singer, who has regularly performed at the Blackburn pub for five years, wanted to put on the event after experiencing a homophobic slur in public.

He said he was out with his partner at a supermarket and overheard a man, who had noticed the pair, tell his grandson to get in the car as quick as possible, before making another homophobic slur.

He said: "I couldn't believe it, I felt really sorry for the grandson, he must have been about eight or nine.

"He's having homophobic thoughts like that put into his head at a young age, imagine if he grew up to be gay.

"This is why I want to hold the festival, I want to encourage people it's fine to be who you are and you don't need to be something you're not."

Mr Sutton, originally from Wigan, said he was bullied from as young as 10 year's old.

He said: "I wasn't a typical boy, I liked performing and drama at school.

"I came out in the 1990s, I had tried to conform.

"You try and be the person you're not, it's a very difficult thing to do.

"But I feel so much better now, I am what I am."

Mr Sutton also performs as a Ronan Keating tribute act and won ITV's Stars in their Eyes Christmas Special in 2000, performing as the Irish star.

The festival will take place at the pub in Grimshaw Park on Sunday, June 2, and will feature live music, tribute acts.

The festival is aiming to raise money for the mental health charity MIND.

Carole Davis, who runs the Clifton Arms, said: "I'm fully behind this festival and what Paul wants to do.

"Paul has been a fantastic performer here for many years.

"People should not have to hide their real personality.

"We live in a modern, open-minded world, but sadly there are people who look negatively on people for their race, gender and sexuality.

"I hope this festival helps people who are unsure about coming out to do so, they will feel much better for it."