Over the past couple of days, I have been made aware of a website that boasts that Pride should be free for everyone. However, a couple of posts that they have made have forced me to question how “Free” their pride actually is.
Let’s take a look at their Manifesto:
* Anti-commercialisation – Pride is for people not for corporations to make themselves look LGBT friendly and make profit off us, however, our frustration is aimed at the commercial forces at work in Pride and not the LGBTQIA+ who participate in what has become.
* Inclusivity – We want to create a safer space that prioritises the voices of the most marginalised and is accessible to all.
* Pride is a protest – From the harassment and violence levelled at the Trans community to the treatment of LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers, we are continually reminded that society isn’t for us and that needs to change. Pride should be a platform to demand and make that change, not just an opportunity to be sold things and promoted to.
After reading this, something doesn’t feel quite right.
How many Pride’s in the UK are commercialised? Out of all the Pride celebrations in the UK, how many of them set out to make a profit? How many of them are registered companies? How many of them charge people to enter the pride celebrations without giving anything back to the people?
Leeds Pride for example accepts sponsorship from local companies and runs fund raisers through the coming months up to pride. Blackpool Pride is a registered charity. Manchester Pride does require a paid entrance fee, but being a registered charity, they pump all moneys raised back into funding the next pride celebrations.
The very definition of commercialisation is to make something available on the mass-market, after moving it away from niche markets. I think the idiot that wrote this section of the manifesto is worried that pride will become a festival for everyone…
Is this even a word? Pride is already inclusive. I think the only people that are generally not allowed to go to Pride events are the people that have been barred from entering the city centre by the police under court order. What makes these fools think that Pride is becoming an exclusive event?
I mean yeah, Manchester Pride has an element of exclusivity due to the fact that a wristband has to be purchased, but this is purely for crowd control. Do you think the event organisers look at someone and go “You’re not gay enough to be a part of Pride, go away” or “Do you even go here?”… I don’t think so Free Pride – your views of the Pride world are obviously jaded by experiences of time gone by…
Pride is a Protest
What are we protesting? Let’s use Equaldex (Crowd Sourced LGBT Rights Database) and see what is to be protested…
- Homosexuality – Legal
- Marriage – Legal
- Adoption – Legal
- Housing Discrimination – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
- Age of Consent – Legal
- Discrimination – Illegal
- Military – Legal
- Donating Blood – Banned (1 year deferral)
- Employment Discrimination – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
- Changing Gender – Legal (requires surgery)
- Conversion Therapy – Ambiguous
Okay, so out of these 11 data points (collated/verified by various members of the LGBT community) it is clear that being gay (and everything attributable to being gay that straight people can do), 1 is banned with a 1 year deferral (which essentially means that to give blood you’re not allowed to engage in any sexual acts for a minimum of 1 year), and the other is ambiguous (meaning that the law is not very clear).
What is there to protest about? Being gay is legal, being able to fight in our armed forces as a homosexual is legal, being able to apply for funded housing is legal, adopting is legal, employment discrimination is illegal… Are you honestly considering protesting because we’re not allowed to give blood? This is NHS red tape that under the current management structure is likely to stay (and to be honest, I agree with the deferral – though various changes should be made to enable a strict screening process and allow people with rare blood types to give).
Now that we’ve seen their manifesto, let’s have a look at what they want to do to Pride…
Their Free Pride Performance Policy Response is an entertaining read (to which I’ve had various discussions around other social media outlets about).
The first paragraph is somewhat bog standard for setting out their intentions. The second paragraph, however, is somewhat shocking…
This is why, after much discussion, the trans and non binary caucus decided not to have drag acts perform at the event. This does not mean that people of any gender can’t wear what they want to the event, we simply won’t be having any self-described drag acts perform at our Free Pride Event on the 22nd August. We hope people can understand and support our decision. However we feel it important to fully explain why we came this decision.
This paragraph makes it sound like Free Pride is fronted by a small group of Trans people who have something against drag artists. “Self-described drag acts” – seriously? I think anyone who lives their life as a male, and performs as a female is entitled to call themselves a drag act. They don’t claim to be a member of the opposite and recognise the fact that they are a female while under the limelight. They then move on to explain why they made the decision…
The decision was taken by transgender individuals who were uncomfortable with having drag performances at the event. It was felt that it would make some of those who were transgender or questioning their gender uncomfortable. It was felt by the group within the Trans/Non Binary Caucus that some drag performance, particularly cis drag, hinges on the social view of gender and making it into a joke, however transgender individuals do not feel as though their gender identity is a joke. This can particularly difficult for those who are not out and still present as the gender they were assigned at birth.
They claim that drag acts make the members of the trans community at Free Pride feel uncomfortable and that the drag acts make a joke of their gender and identity. I can kinda see where part of their argument comes from, but I’ve never met one drag queen who makes a joke of their gender/identity. Their gender is still male, and they still identify as male regardless of the fact that they are performing as women.
While it was discussed whether we could have trans drag acts perform, it was agreed that as it would not be appropriate to ask any prospective drag acts whether or not they identified as trans. It was therefore decided that having no drag acts perform would be the best option as it would mean no-one would feel pressured to out themselves. This also adheres to our Safer Spaces Policy, where we ask that no-one assume anyone else’s gender identity, and to always ask people’s pronouns.
Basically they’re putting a blanket ban on drag acts, regardless of whether they identify as their assigned gender or not (so much for inclusion… huh?). Also, their safer spaces policy? Where is this policy? Where is it published? What does it entail.. I mean they can’t mention a policy that’s not publicly accessible. Does this mean that people have to go around asking what their gender is? Because frankly this seems like it’s a bit insensitive. “Hello, are you cis-male, cis-female, trans-male, trans-female, gender queer, unsure, none of the above?”. If someone came up to me and ASKED me what my gender was so that they could use the “proper pronoun”, I’d get very pissed off, very quickly. What’s the point in having an inclusive pride event if you’re going to ask that people don’t assume someone elses gender identity? You’re effectively putting people on the spot who are UNSURE of their identity, and making them feel incredibly uncomfortable.
Honestly, this sounds like some organising committee members have had a spat with the drag queens over some bullshit politics at the event which has mean that everyone has to lose out on some potentially excellent entertainment. While drag queens are extremely entertaining (in most circumstances), many of them are impressive vocalists or world-class dancers. Just because you’ve had a spat with one of them doesn’t mean that you have to completely blanket ban potentially world-class entertainment.
I hope you have many successes in your future of organising Pride events in Glasgow, but with your current view of the world, I fear that you’re destined only to fail.