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Page last updated at 14:42 GMT, Tuesday, 31 August 2010 15:42 UK
Manchester Pride has 'dumbed down', says gay group
Manchester Pride
Around 40,000 attended 2009's Pride Big Weekend

Manchester Pride has been part of the city's cultural landscape for two decades, with the centrepiece Big Weekend growing to a four-day party.

But the celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) culture has lost its way politically, according to gay rights group Reclaim The Scene.

Spokesman Alan Bailey said it has lost its edge and been "dumbed down."

Pride board member Paul Fairweather insisted that parts of the event were still "hugely political."

'Hate crimes'

Manchester Pride began as a small event in 1990 but since the city hosted Europride in 2003 it has seen major growth with between 35,000 and 40,000 attending 2009's Big Weekend.

Mr Bailey insisted that Reclaim The Scene was still very "supportive" of Pride but was concerned with "how it is organised and also its focus."

He said they want to see it return to its "free roots and put politics at its heart."

"We feel there's a huge amount we still need to be political about," he added.

We need politics at the forefront of Pride and we don't see that in Manchester. Pride has dumbed down and we need to get that edge back.
Alan Bailey, Reclaim The Scene

"Pride started primarily as a protest and originally as a commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, which kicked off the LGBT movement.

"We see hate crimes rising and LGBT people attacked and murdered in the streets because of their sexuality.

"Because of that, we still need to have a huge amount of politics at the forefront of our Pride and we don't see that in Manchester," continued Alan.

"Pride has dumbed down and we need to get that edge back."


Alan also claimed that the price of the weekend event excluded some members of the LGBT community from the Village.

"The scene and the Canal Street area is supposed to be a safe haven for us," he said.

"At Pride, it's walled up and then it's only a safe place if you can afford to get in there."

Adding finally: "I talk to students who are very hard up and cannot afford [the entry price], because they need to save that money to live.

"And last year, Reclaim The Scene had a group of LGBT homeless people, who obviously cannot afford that money.

"They should be at the heart of Pride and not outside it."


Manchester Pride board member, city councillor Paul Fairweather, disagreed with the claims and argued that, if anything, the event had actually regained its serious side in recent years.

Policemen marching in the Manchester Pride parade
The Pride parade has participants from the Police and the Army

"In the last few years, it's changed and Pride is more political than it was five years ago," he said.

"It's not just about the Big Weekend and having a good time, there's a whole range of cultural and political activities over the ten day period."

Cllr Fairweather also argued that three key parts of Pride were free and that it was possible to enjoy the event without spending huge amounts of money.

"The parade is free, the vigil is free, the whole fringe festival is free, so you can take part in most of Pride without having to pay to go in."

Paul added that he was especially proud of the charitable side of the event and the way it had changed the public perception of the gay community.

"One of the key political achievements for Pride is that it raises huge amounts of money for HIV and LGBT charities, which is crucial.

"And the thing that is still at the heart of Pride is the vigil, which commemorates people living with HIV and also the struggle against discrimination against [people with] HIV worldwide.

"But also, the parade now is hugely political and important," he added.

"The fact that we have the Chief Constable and hundreds of openly LGBT police officers marching in the parade and it's cheered on by people in the streets, with a whole range of people supporting Pride - 30 or 40 years ago, that would have been inconceivable."

Has Pride lost its political edge or does it still have a political agenda at its heart? Your comments below.

I would agree with Alan Bailey! Pride is no longer political and people only attend for the big weekend, which is mainly about getting drunk. The fact that they fence of a street, which is normally free to enter is disgusting. I think the Manchester Scene has lost a lot about what it should be about, being a safe place for the LGBT Community. Manchester Pride just highlights this point even more clearly.
Daniel Ridsdale

As a young member of the LGBT community, I thought this article highlighted a topic of importance that should be recognised and considered by Manchester's LGBT community on a much broader scale. The Pride festival has become a hugely popular event over the years, which is positive as it demonstrates that Manchester is embracing and expressing an accepting attitude; moreover, it raises a significant amount of money for AIDS and HIV charities. However, it has equally become increasingly commercial, and as a result it has, undeniably, begun to shy away from its political roots. I am always proud to see people of the LGBT community attend Manchester Pride en-masse, but I feel we should use this event to recognise the difficulties of the community across the rest of the UK and the world, rather than shut ourselves off from it. At its heart, the parade is a protest, and we still have a lot to protest about.
Hannah Henderson

The fact that the march is now called a parade says it all. Yes, it's about fun and celebration, but serious political messages regarding equality, respect and acceptance currently get buried beneath a mountain of mascara and sequins.

Reclaim The Scene isn't actually much of an alternative. It is run by students mainly for students and happens at the University, while Manchester Pride is mainly a pub, club and pop event aimed overwhelmingly at under 30's. Although some students and homeless people are excluded, the elephant in the room is the fact that about 60 percent of LGBT people are aged over 40 and most feel completely excluded from anything gay. I notice Mr Bailey made no mention of them.

In whose name does "Reclaim the Scene" speak? It certainly isn't mine - nor the vast majority of LGBT people in Manchester who see the value of Pride. Sitting at its heart is the vigil to friends we have lost and friends living with HIV. And you don't need a wristband for that. My personal view is that it is very disappointing that your article didn't find room to mention the £135,000 raised for charity last year. Manchester Pride is the only pride in the UK that makes this kind of serious cash that makes a big difference to people across Manchester - unlike "Reclaim the Scene" that makes a difference to precisely no-one.
Smyth Harper

Send your views on this issue to manchester.online@bbc.co.uk .


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