Now the bunting's packed away and the bills start rolling in OutUK's Adrian Gillan
asks leading gay campaigners, business people and you what you think the future of Pride events
should be. Many of this year's events ended up hundreds of thousands of pounds in the red and
were marred by rows with local authorities. Does the gay community need Pride?
Are Pride events as relevant today as they were a decade or two back? What should be the
main point of a Pride event in the UK in 2002? Is the emphasis rightly shifting from
politics to partying? Or are events now just too commercial with their door fees,
expensive drinks, in your face corporate sponsorship and irrelevant overpaid pop acts?
We had a very large number of responses to our online survey
and the results to each question make interesting reading. Overall you thought Pride
was still important to the gay community, there should be a major national event in London
and that you weren't averse to commercial sponsorship. Read the full results
Human rights campaigner and co-organiser of the UK’s first Pride march in 1972.
"The party has lost its soul"
"Homophobia is not as rampant as three decades ago, but it's still evident in queer
suicides, blackmail, job discrimination and hate attacks. So long as prejudice remains,
we need to celebrate our sexuality and press the case for human rights.|
Pride should be about queer visibility, defiance and equality, as well as being an
exuberant, fun celebration and a wild, hedonistic party. The two different strands
are not incompatible. However, the main London event at least has now become
depoliticised and over-commercial. It is not much different from the many other summer
pop festivals, such as Reading and Glastonbury. The party has lost its soul.
I've got no objection to corporate sponsorship, providing the sponsors are pro-gay
rights and providing the sponsorship advertising does not overwhelm the human rights message.
All sponsors should be required to sign up to a basic commitment to oppose discrimination,
both in their own employment practices and in terms of parliamentary legislation.
Local Pride marches and festivals are tremendously important. They can have a big,
positive impact on local communities and attitudes. But there is also a place for
mega national and international Pride events to globalise queer issues and forge
world-wide queer solidarity."
||Angela Mason OBE
Executive Director, Stonewall
"There is a big problem in London"
"I think that there is still a need for Prides. They are an opportunity for people to come
together, be visible, feel strong and have a good time.
I don't think that they are directly political but successful Prides do demonstrate
the strength of the LGBT community - a good example is Birmingham Pride and Cardiff
Mardi Gras. The success of both has been important in getting LGBT issues on those
There is a big problem in London because it's so big and there isn't that sense
of a local community. London used to be the national event and it no longer is, but
we don't have a sufficient sense of ourselves in London to substitute for this.
I think there are big problems about money to finance Prides. Where Prides have
a clear purpose and clear connection with the communities they spring from this
can be dealt with, but without that anchorage they can become too expensive and
In London getting Hyde Park would make a real difference, but could we afford it?
If we could, the march and the festival could be integrated much better and I
think attendances would increase."
Chair, Manchester's Village Business Association.
"We are not shouting about rights, this is a Lesbian and Gay party."
"Manchester Lesbian and Gay Mardi Gras 2002 has been one of the most successful
and safest Mardi Gras over the last ten years. There were only 8 arrests made and
31 offences were reported over the Mardi Gras weekend, an overall reduction of 43%
on reported offences compared to Gayfest last year. Not bad considering the quantity
of people who visited. Over 250,000 people saw the parade and over 100,000 people
were estimated to have attended the daytime activities in the village over the weekend.
Room for improvement? The quality of entertainment could be better and we could do
with creating a greater understanding of what Mardi Gras is about. The trust needs
to be put back into Mardi Gras - it has been put back into the hands of the community.
Yes, it makes money, but it's more about putting the heart back into the Gay Village,
strengthening community and raising funds for charity.
Politically, we still have a lot to fight for and make people aware of. We may be
more visible and outspoken, but still don't have equal rights as heterosexual couples.
However, I think Mardi Gras has gone from being a political event into a party. From
what we see, we get the impression that most young people do not align themselves to
a political party these days, although we know some do. And a lot of people aren't
after a protest, just a fabulous long weekend. Unlike "Pride" events in other cities -
Birmingham or Brighton - we are not shouting about rights, this is a Lesbian and Gay
party, showing the diversity within the City of Manchester.
The cost to the public for events over Manchester Lesbian and Gay Mardi Gras 2002
was very little. Yes you had to pay to get into clubs, but the prices weren't hiked
up substantially - any price changes were relative to their extended opening hours,
acts booked, and the donations to charity from door entry fee.
Sponsorship wasn't about making Mardi Gras commercial - a huge amount of capital
was required to fund such a large free event, and sponsorship gives us that capital.
Speaking on behalf of The Village Business Association who organised Lesbian and
Gay Mardi Gras 2002, we can hold our heads up high after the event and say that
by using good business sense and good planning, we borrowed nothing and owe nothing
As for location, it makes a huge difference where a lesbian and gay event such as
Mardi Gras takes place. Look at London Mardi Gras on Hackney Marshes and the
atmosphere created from everyone traipsing two miles in the pouring rain to get
to a muddy field. I was there myself and everyone on the tube afterwards just looked
depressed, not happy and excited. Location, location, location, darling!!!
Finally, I'd like to say that any city that wishes to hold a Europride or national
Pride gives a focus to their community. Manchester hopes to host Europride in August
2003. This will be a focal point of the national Prides and European Prides, since it's one
of the last LGB events of the Euro festival season."
Chair, Gay Business Association.
"I feel it is right for the main UK Pride event to be held in London"
"There is definitely as much need for Pride events now as ten or thirty years ago
since gay visibility is still extremely important. The emphasis has shifted more
to a Mardi Gras style celebration of the gay lifestyle. I believe the old-fashioned
black and white poster style protesting that was once evident at most Pride marches
still has its place, but more as part of a wider celebration.
Of course we want equality and we want to make people aware that we don't currently
have it - but surely we can party at the same time? The fact that I might want to
have fun in the bushes at a day long party is no hindrance to the fact that I
might be wearing a "Queer as Fuck" T-shirt while I'm doing so.
And Pride definitely means different things in different places. A Pride event
in say Bally-Go-Backwards, may be more about bravely promoting the fact that
homosexuality is a fact of life in order to start to change opinion, rather than
being a celebratory knees-up.
However, I feel it is right for the main UK Pride event to be held in London,
and that this has the potential to become a worldwide celebration much as Sydney
used to be seen as. Clearly the organisers of this year's London Mardi Gras made a
disastrous error with their location on the Marshes. However, despite making a loss,
the shareholders have passed a resolution to continue into next year and still provide
funding for the Parade."