It’s Saturday 28th May 2016 and I’m at Birmingham Pride. I attend each year and always have a great time. However, I cannot help but have mixed feelings about it too. Something sits very uncomfortably with me, despite the fact that I have a good time.
Before I continue, I must first congratulate Birmingham Pride for successfully running a festival of such magnitude. It’s not an easy task, but year after year the organisers do an amazing job of it and for that they must be praised.
As a fellow Pride organiser, the last thing I want to do is criticise another Pride event, as I know how difficult it is to put everything together. However, there is an aspect of Pride that worries me. That is the fact that the spirit of Pride seems to be getting lost along the way.
When the Pride movement began, Pride was a protest. People marched for their rights and what they believed in. Now that LGBT people have almost full equality in law, I can’t help feeling that the true meaning of Pride is being lost, despite parades and marches still being a part of such events.
I’m sure we are all aware that the larger Prides are now commercial machines that do not fully represent LGBT people or the spirit of the Pride movement. An example of this can be seen when looking at main stage performance line-ups. I only attended Birmingham Pride on the Saturday, but to my knowledge there was only one LGBT performer on the main stage that day. The rest were heterosexual and cisgender. It lacked the kind of representation that LGBT people deserve at a Pride festival.
It appears to be increasingly common these days for Pride festivals to book lots of straight acts to appear on their main stages. Having looked at several Pride line-ups, I’ve wondered where the LGBT representation is. Recently, somebody was protesting on Twitter that a certain Pride didn’t have any LGBT acts booked. I don’t know if that’s actually the case or not, but the lack of LGBT performers at LGBT Pride events is a worrying trend.
At Warwickshire Pride, 90% of this year’s main stage line-up is LGBT. It’s a percentage that we strive to increase or at least maintain each year in order for the festival to truly represent the people it primarily caters for.
That’s not to say that Warwickshire Pride is leading where others should follow. Far from it, in fact. It’s entirely up to the organisers of each Pride event to book the acts they want, move in the direction that they view as being best, and to respond to the wishes or needs of the community that they represent. At Warwickshire Pride, we pride ourselves on being a little bit different to other Prides and a lot of that comes from the feedback that local LGBT people provide. Yes, we have some fabulous elements such as Angie Brown and Wagner from the X Factor performing last year, but ultimately we try to create something in the spirit of the original Pride movement.
Perhaps it’s the activist in me. Every part of my being is about furthering the rights of LGBT people, both legally and socially. I believe that Pride is absolutely a protest, but do acknowledge that it’s a celebration too. There is nothing wrong with celebrating. However, I also feel that as a Pride movement we are in danger of losing touch with our roots.
What I’d like to see is more Prides having actual LGBT performers on their main stages, not just confined to cabaret tents. I’d also like to see more protesting and highlighting of social issues that our communities face. Finally, I’d like to see Prides being more inclusive. There are four letters in the acronym LGBT and it’s important that the B & T are remembered and included. This is something that the smaller, grassroots Pride events do very well, but it’s time that the larger Prides stepped up and truly represented their communities once more.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.