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Pride before a fall?

Helen Clifton and Manchester Pride's dissident voices plus the view from the top about the Festival

Published on August 19th 2008.


Pride before a fall?

Manchester Pride is 18 this weekend. But as the event comes of age, several within Manchester’s LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) community say the event has lost touch with the people it was created to represent. The organisers deny this and say the event has simply moved on.

“I think it's very mainstream. There are lots of fag hags,” she says. “It definitely has no politics in it. Being political at Pride means walking into a bar and getting twatted.

After starting out as a Bank Holiday party, Pride became Mardi Gras and a fundraiser for HIV charities. Now it runs over ten days, generates more than £17 million for Manchester’s economy and tens of thousands for charity and boasts a line-up of which most festivals would be proud.

But Joey Hateley of Trans Action Theatre says an event that was once about identity and expression has now become a way for Village bars and clubs to make lots of cash.

“I think it is very mainstream. There are lots of fag hags,” she says. “It definitely has no politics in it. Being political at Pride means walking into a bar and getting twatted. You used to be able to march - now you have to register. They have asked me to leave quite few times. It is all about policing and giving the right impression to the paying public.

“Brighton Pride is free, and there were straight people and queer people celebrating together,” Joey says. “Families were sat down having picnics.”

Joey is not alone in her views. Last year, in response to what they perceived to be the overpriced tickets and lack of diversity of the main event, the Get Bent collective held alternative, free Pride events in the Northern Quarter.

Get Bent member Tomboi says this year the group is running a ‘Pride as a Protest’ event on August 23. Details are a little vague it seems but the event will involve, “street theatre and campaigning”.

Tomboi says: “We haven’t got to where we are because of pink credit cards. We have to continue struggling if we want things to get any better (for the queer community). The city sees Pride as being about big business and tourism, and we get to pay a fortune to go to a nightclub. That has got nothing to do with queer culture.”

Rumblings about Pride ticket prices are common. In their recent bulletin, LGBT History Month called ticket prices the 'big Manchester rip-off'. Blackpool is the only other UK Pride to charge this year, with tickets costing £7.

Meanwhile, Manchester Pride ticket prices have risen by £2.50 to £17.50. With booking fees, the total cost is £20.95. Organisers claim this is the first increase since 2003, but early bird prices have this year gone up by £2.50.

Andrew Stokes

A stall at Pride costs between £55 to £412 for three days: floats are free for non-funded LGBT and HIV organisations, but a large commercial organisation can expect to pay £1,250. An arrangement everybody might agree with.

Last year Pride sold 40,000 tickets, and organisers say they expect to do the same this year. According to 2005 research, Pride generates £17 million of consumer spend throughout Manchester. But last year – despite being a registered charity – Pride raised £95,000 for charity, considerably less than 2004’s £131,000, when operating costs were half what they were in 2007.

But according to Manchester Pride Chairman Andrew Stokes, ticket prices are “not an issue”, and floats representing gay and lesbian parents and anti-homophobic bullying organisations tick the non-for-profit and campaigning boxes.

“There are some people who are going to say that Pride wasn’t what it was, and there are some people who say the Village wasn’t what it was,” he adds. “But that is not where things are now. We could put a different event on, but I think this is the right event for Manchester at the moment.”

Andrew, who is also Chief Executive of Marketing Manchester, the body tasked with responsibility for promoting the city, says Pride has been identified as one of Manchester's six “pillar events” – and the prices ensure the event’s future.

“Our development budget is half a million pounds – if we don’t get that, we don’t have an event, we just have another Bank Holiday weekend. But this event acts as a showcase for the Village.”

Ashley Byrne, presenter of BBC Radio Manchester’s GayTalk, agrees that Manchester Pride has become a, “huge international event” – but thinks lots of Manchester-based LGBT people tend to stay at home, with the majority of tickets sold to outsiders. Although this is anecdotal and many many locals still clearly attend.

Still, there can be no denying that Pride has become one of Manchester’s biggest tourist attractions. Its size and popularity is a symbol of the strength of one of the UK's most thriving LGBT communities.

It's a simple fact that the larger events become the more expensive they are to organise and the more some individuals feel excluded. Joey Hateley and Tomboi are clearly some of those who feel this - possibly as default mode when things get 'commercialised'.

It's too late for Pride in Manchester to be like Pride in Brighton. The event here has evolved, just as Manchester United has outstripped Brighton and Hove Albion FC, and Glastonbury has outstripped WOMAD. In which case it's inevitable that Pride, like United and Glastonbury, will be criticised for growing away from its roots. Some good things might get left behind and other qualities become emphasised, but that after all is the nature of growth.

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70 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Sir Terence StampAugust 19th 2008.

Actually isn't that me in the picture not Andrew Stokes.

MelAugust 19th 2008.

Not sure I liked the tone of that article but hey ho.I have my wristband, just like every year, and I don't actually begrudge paying for a ticket. It's just the lack of transparency that gets to me - when you put a pound in a bucket, who really knows where that goes? Why is the tourist board running Pride? Where are the open meetings and involvement of the community? Why is the Pride in cheering Selfridges and Barclays floats? And what happened to all the smaller charities and voluntary groups? But of course with the MEN as corporate sponsor I'm sure none of this will reach the mainstream press...

GaryAugust 19th 2008.

That should have read: "£60,000 was raised by the Village Charity in the year 93/94 (equivalent to about £94,000 in today's money)"

AeronAugust 19th 2008.

I'll say again, Pride has NOTHING to do with charity. This is unique to Manchester. Pride would not go ahead if business did not make money. If you're so hung about it, stay at home and send a nice cheque to the LGF/GHT. No one is forcing you to go.

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

To me Manchester Pride is all about education, information and raising money for the charities. For a lot of people, the Pride weekend is the ONLY contact they have with the LGBT community throughout the year so I feel that the better organised and more professional the Event is, the better. The quibbling about ticket prices to get into the event is just sour grapes. Most of the people who complain think nothing of spending 2 or 3 times that on a night out. I do agree however, that some of the businesses in and around the Village who benefit so much from Pride should seriously think about how much they are donating to the Charity and those businesses who do not contribute at all should be named and shamed. The atmosphere in the City Centre during the Parade is absolutely amazing – and that is what makes it all worth while – people of all sexes, races and ages all mingling together enjoying the event. I think the whole City of Manchester should be proud to be involved with Manchester Pride and I really hope its 18th anniversary is a huge success!!!

ZBAugust 19th 2008.

It's not JUST for people who want to party get smashed! There are SO many other things going on through the 10 days that the event runs which cater for absolutly everyone, and are free as well. Everyone gets so wrapepd up in the Big weekend seeing it just as drinking and dancing and socialising but there are other things to see and do over the big weekend. If you don't like drinking or having a little dance or socialising and meeting other people then just how do you celebrate things, what else would you suggest?? Why not volunteer for pride and help out and see things from a different angle.

cpingAugust 19th 2008.

Since the trauma of 2002 Pride has been organised 'professionally' through Marketing Manchester That year is the last year I can recall when there was any collective gay community involvement. For the last three years Pride has had four major components: the Parade who quality has much improved; the pre-Pride events; the music festival within the enclosed area in the Village accompanied by various 'garden fete' type stalls ... and finally and usually the most 'real' of these events, the Vigil. The charity part and the organisation part are kept separate financially though I still can't find away of giving a donation to the charity without going to the music festival. Manchester Pride's view is what you pay is for the music and the associated security and cleaning up. The community needs to get together and decide what it wants how it should be organised and where it should take place. Just do it, rather than just moaning about what it is given to us and how much it costs. For my part I think the charities should sustained, the parade held, the the vigil renewed. The pre-events should be a part of a continuing gay culture /sport festival though the year. And the music should move to a park and become a real National event, 'Gay Glastonbury' with real Manchester mud. I heard some time ago Salford was interested. :-)

adrienAugust 19th 2008.

Thank you for pointing out how vibrant and dispersed the 'scene' was, how few truely gay venues survive and how ghettoised it has become, this is profit over progress. My point was that there was a very coheasive LGBT community because it had to be. when did it all become about Canal Street.

Kevin @ M4August 19th 2008.

By the sounds of there are still some issue that need to be addressed, and more transparency as to how Pride is run. I think this is probably down to a lack of communication, which is not a difficult thing to fix. There are a lot of questions (good and bad) which have been raised here, and perhaps this is an opportunity for us all to be more involved in the process for next year. Just as we had to stand up and be counted for Clause 28, homophobia etc, if we are all feeling this strongly about it, then perhaps we (and I include myself) should become more involved in the process, and have our ideas/worries/thoughts heard, and also perhaps donate a nbit more of our time to LGF and all the other organisations that our community relies on. I think in some instances we (and again I include myself) don;t full understand what organisations do what for our community, and with all of our collective skillsets we could make Mardi Gras and the charirites better run, more efficient, more relevant and available to all. Once the glitter settles and the hangovers wear off, I will get off my arse this year and actually become involved in some of the organisations, donating my time and getting a better understanding of how they work, what they need, and perhaps what I can do to contribute. I hope that some of you will join me.For the time being I wish everyone who is going to Mardi Gras a safe, happy and enjoyable occasion. Hugs 2 All!

VicAugust 19th 2008.

The Real world says these young people need to get a grip.... I think you need to embrace the "real world". Manchester Pride can say it is about showcasing the LGBTQI communities and making our lifestyles acceptable. Well it might be making someone's lifestyle acceptable but not mine. I agree with anonymous, being a queer woman with friends and a lover who are also queer, but who fail to meet the stereotype, I see nothing in Manchester pride that does anything to "promote" my lifestyle. It isn't about pride, it's about money and beer and companies who have nothing at all to do with me. Ticket prices might be trivial to some, but to those struggling on a low income or unable to work - are they not allowed a measure of Pride? Good luck to the queer youth protesting, it's great to see some politics in them. Lets not rest on our laurels people, in Manchester in 2008, you're only "acceptable" and proud if you're under 30, attractive, mainstream, able bodied and affluent. Everyone else can go to hell. You don't look right? You have an alternative queerness? You're trans? Disabled? Older? Forget it. The LGBTQI community is not Queer as Folk or Sugar Rush. We're a diverse group of people who need to fight for liberation and acceptance of WHO WE ARE, not what people think we're palatable as.

kevin @ M4August 19th 2008.

Aeron, Point 12: don't tell me you have been hiring out your sunbed again? :-)

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

meant to add the one redeeming feature of the whole gay exploit is the vigil which can be quite moving but even that requires a wristband denying those who just want to pay their respects...

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

And Pride includes what for people who don't drink or who don't like pop or loud clubs and bars? What about the majority of LGBT people who are over 35? We're not all teenagers. Walk around the village with a Trans person or anyone who looks slightly different from the 'norm' down there and experience the abuse. Much worse than 20 years ago in Manchester, despite the hype!It may come as a surprise, but for lots of us life is about more than getting smashed and off your face. This isn't a lifestyle, it's a marketing scam aimed mainly at gay men who have money.If one person ends up HIV+ due to this weekend of partying (and alcohol is a factor in many HIV infections), the total charity amount raised in 2006 (£65,000) will pay for just five years of treatment for that ONE person. The tiny amounts are a joke.The businesses make 22 million pounds each year. We're funding a tourist event. There is no need for tickets. Make it free and let's see the organisers put on some cultural and other events that cater to the entire LGBT community and not just those who have the most money.

The real worldAugust 19th 2008.

I've just watched the video about the protest on Friday night... I think these kids need to get a grip. What would they prefer? A bunch of market stalls in the corner of Sackville Park that no-one even passing by would notice - let alone attract thousands of people from across the country. As a relative newcomer to Manchester (two years) I think Manchester Pride is great. The parade goes right through the city centre and I’ve never seen the village busier! That's the best way to promote LGBT life – out and proud - not bitching about trivial little stuff like ticket prices. I wonder how many times throughout the year these guys pay to go to other festivals and concerts, never mind paying to get in Cruz and Essential on a Saturday night. Stop moaning and get real!

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

Whilst Pride might be the succesful fundraising event that it is and the sucessful promotional event for all that is good about being gay in Manchester, there are those who seem to view it as their way to cash in. Having paid our ticket price to enter the village, to be then faced by profiteering bar owners hiking up prices (£4.50 for a bottle of carlsberg at Baa baa ) and charging for entry ( £1.00 to get into Via ) seems to be going that bit too far. Of course this extra money might very well be being donated to the charitable causes that Pride supports but on questioning the collector of the £1's at Via he could give no explanation as to what the charge was for. You would feel that if the bars made some effort to entertain or make you feel welcome then it would go someway to eleviate this extortion , but their seems to be only one aim which is making their tills ring louder than the music being blasted from the speakers.

DJKAugust 19th 2008.

Pride is a fantastic event that celebrates diversity and promotes the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. It also raises money to support the community groups that work tirelessly to promote everything from good sexual health, preventing discrimination, supporting young people and everything in between. Of course Pride is also a celebration and a time for people to enjoy themselves...so people should stop being negative, come along and enjoy themselves. I FOR ONE INTEND TO DO SO!

AdrienAugust 19th 2008.

I think we're having the same argument

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

I forgot New York New York and probably others...

Proud of PrideAugust 19th 2008.

I may as well wade in to this debate for what it's worth. As someone who's been a volunteer 'behind the scenes' of Pride for the last 14 years, I've seen it grow from strength to strength in terms of putting HIV/AIDS awareness on the map, as well as donating to good causes in the LGBT community. The simple facts are that the whole thing began on a couple of trestle tables outside the Rembrandt in 1990 (and you can see the photo at the current 'My First Pride' Urbis exhibition). This bring and buy sale was to raise money for the AIDS ward at North Manchester Hospital. Eighteen years on and raising money and, crucially, awareness, around HIV/Aids is still at the heart of Manchester Pride, as the Vigil proves. Yes, the money going to charity has gone up and down over the last 18 years but the main thing is that money has kept going in that direction, unlike so many other UK Pride-type events. The commercial/business 'free-for-all' of Manchester Pride has been an unintended by-product of the success of the main event and, like it or not, it's a fact. So live with it, 'cos it's not going away as long as Pride remains along Canal St, and I suspect that even if Pride was moved to Heaton park or similar, people would still flock to the Village before, during and afterwards. In addition I still meet people who complain about the old chestnut; the 'roping off' of the village area and how terrible this has been. As someone who has experienced many Prides first hand (as a volunteer and as a punter) it has become much safer over the years, and less crowded overall. The staffed barricades were necessary not only to keep numbers and homophbic attacks in check but also to allow for the ticketing system. This was the only way in which a lot of money could be raised as there was simply not enough bucket-rattling volunteers to staff the doors of all the bars and clubs for three days solid, a fact that Julia Grant knew only too well when she ran Gayfest (very successfully, it has to be said). And of course the barriers, security and clear-up all cost money which rose with inflation and the expansion of Pride over the years. Pride will never be perfect, but I for one support it for remaining true to its roots in terms of HIV/AIDS and its charty 'core'. Remember, there was and is no rule book to say that Pride should raise more money for charity year on year! The fact that SOME money is going to HIV/AIDS and LGBT community groups after all these years is a cause for celebration not penny-pinching moaning. All those involved in Pride over the years should be justifiably proud that it's still solvent and raising money and awareness after so many years. Happy Birthday Pride...

Ernies hotpotAugust 19th 2008.

Agree with other op's, having spent many early years dancing behind bricked up windows of backstreet clubs most of us paid a fair price in order for Manchester to buck up and accept what and who we are, now it seems we have to pay again for the privilege of being accepted. Pride organisers have always been incredibly good at not only throttling the wallets of the very people they are suppose to be supporting, but also at raising a pittance when all other businesses do far better out of it, so! why do we have to pay to go to our own party?.

Simon TurnerAugust 19th 2008.

CORRECTION - Aeron, according the Manchester Evening News yesterday "Manchester Pride began 18 years ago, as a way of raising funds for HIV and Aids charities." The paper also tells us that local businesses stand to make £19,000,000 from the event. An estimate of the amount that pride will give to charity this year is £120,000. That's NOUGHT POINT SIX Per Cent of the total amount. 0.6%;. That's why 'big business' sucks; they look after themselves, take everything, leave us with nothing. That's the 'real world' true, but that shouldn't stop people questioning it or even demanding a 'better world'.

GaryAugust 19th 2008.

Young queer protesters gatecrashed the opening event of Manchester Pride 2008 in Albert Square. As officials, the city’s tourist chief and Manchester’s Lord Mayor looked on, protesters unfurled banners and waved placards in protest at the commercialisation of the city’s Pride, high ticket prices, low charity amounts and Pride's lack of inclusion.Six minute video, including exclusive video footage from August Bank Holiday Monday 1991:www.g7uk.com/pride-balloon-launch-invaded.shtml…

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

If anywhere in the village served a decent pint I might consider going there now and again.

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

Gay Shame more like! The only pride worthy of the name is Brighton which is FREE to ALL.There bars and businesses express their support and thanks to the gay community unlike Manchester which rips us all off.Put Pride in Heaton Park and make our bars pay to be there.I'm ashamed that Manchester takes pride in ripping us off/furthers ghetto-ising the community and then serves up a diet of lipsinching has-beens.One massive high security ghetto - no thanks.

GaryAugust 19th 2008.

The entire set up is very clever. If you criticise, all you hear are cries of 'it's a charity event'. The charity aspect is used to try and stifle any protests or criticism of Pride. But the charity amounts are tiny compared to the amount of money now involved: £22 million of extra income for Manchester businesses each year thanks to Pride, according to official city council publicity. The charity amount is the part that hasn't grown in the way every other aspect of Pride has. It isn't just a few protesters who have concerns. The amount is now so small in relative terms that both the taxman and the Charity Commission say that Pride isn't a charity fundraising event anymore. That's why Pride had to pay three years back VAT to Customs and Excise in 2006. Let's compare. Years when August Bank Holiday was free: £60,000 was raised by the Village Charity in the year 93/94 (equivalent to about £105,000 in today's money). In 2000: £105,000 and in 2001: either £70,000 or £100,000 (anyone know?). Now ticket events: in 1999: ZERO raised for charity, 2003: £127,690, 2004: £129,426, 2005: £120,772, 2006: £65,000 (after paying £56,000 VAT), 2007: £95000. Inflation over a decade is about 30% and bear in mind that the public is paying massively more than it used to. Running costs in 2002 were reported as being £106,000. In 2007 costs were £708,000 and about £535,000 was paid by the public for tickets! You talk about volunteers giving their time and efforts, and I applaud those lovely people. But volunteering under the current regime is completely pointless. Instead of just accepting that you have to keep feeding more and more money into this, do you ever ask yourself exactly why the charity amounts were so similar for the four years 2003-2006 and why they are now falling?

AeronAugust 19th 2008.

Gary - How about none of my money goes to charity, or at least charities I don't choose to donate to. The £22m is the income to the city not just village businesses. Manchester Pride is a 10-day event, culminating in the Big Weekend. The first seven days ARE culturally based. Now can you please stop making comments based on ignorance?

AeronAugust 19th 2008.

On a more serious note, has Andrew Stokes been on holiday? He's looking very sunkissed.

Simon TurnerAugust 19th 2008.

Aeron, I think Gary is right to focus on "the numbers thing" because it's a way of showing that the over-commercialisation of the event has led to it being more about pounds than pride - money in the pockets of big business - and inflated claims about the event are there to lure sponsors and to deflect criticism.

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

There was nothing on Canal Street pre-1994 because the gay bars and clubs were spread across the city centre. It is not true there were just three or four gay bars and clubs overall. Some venues for you: in 1983 I remember Stuffed Olives near Deansgate, next to it was Heros, Manhattan in Spring Gardens, Dickens on Oldham Street, Napoleons, Thompsons, Rembrandt, Union, High Society on the other site of Princess Street. A year or two later there was No.1 club near Albert Square, Archway on Whitworth Street and Rockies near Piccadilly Station, La Cage, Paddy's Goose, there was the poly disco and the gay centre and the cafe on Bloom Street. They were entirely filled with LGBT people. Are there really as many bars and clubs now? And they are mixed... So please let's have the truth and not the 'you've never had it so good' spin and hype which is intended to convince younger people who don't know the real facts.

carl gAugust 19th 2008.

i have been to the last dont know how many manchester prides but 2 years ago was brilliant, last year was rubbish half the area was not there as a new hotel is being built so the dodgems etc where not there.This year the price of the ticket has gone up 25% and is manchester the only place you pay?? well me and all my friends are boycoting pride we will watch the parade donate some money but we are not getting the bands.The pubs are all heaving warm beer flat beer, and soon the main stage area will have gone as the national express bus station is expanding( we think).Why cant this event be held at either heaton park or another park better atmosphere bigger?????Rant over!!!!!!!!!P.S if any of my friends read this party at my house is still on Saturday 5pm lol

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

I think the whole idea of fencing off a part of the city does nothing to improve relationships and acceptance of the wider community. The people who will be inside the fenced off event are already accepting are they not?But really, you people, you are so happy and joyful. I wish I could wrap all these happy words so far in a little box and keep it to myself. Cheer up!

Simon TurnerAugust 19th 2008.

Aeron, according the Manchester Evening News yesterday "Manchester Pride began 18 years ago, as a way of raising funds for HIV and Aids charities." The paper also tells us that local businesses stand to make £19,000,000 from the event. An estimate of the amount that pride will give to charity this year is £120,000. That's POINT NOUGHT SIX Per Cent of the total amount. 0.6%. That's why 'big business' sucks; they look after themselves, take everything, leave us with nothing. That's the 'real world' true, but that shouldn't stop people questioning it or even demanding a 'better world'.

MichaelAugust 19th 2008.

AS someone who's experienced Pride as a non-paying customer, a paying customer, a volunteer and someone who has investigated the political/radical/scene queer scene I agree with almost everything that's above. This year I am avoiding the village as, delightfully, there is enough alternative queer culture out there to have a great weeekend without a wristband these days.

AeronAugust 19th 2008.

Kevin @ M4 - I told Andrew just 3 minutes, so I'm not taking any blame ;)

Kev PAugust 19th 2008.

The people who run Pride work *extremely* hard to make the festival a success year in and year out. Most of them are volunteers who do it because they believe in what Pride is about. It isn't just about 'getting twatted', it's about celebraring LGBT culture and showcasing Manchester's diversity. I was disgusted to hear about the protesters on Friday night - some people just have too much time and like to protest simply for the sake of it. The fact is that Pride raises thousands of pounds of vital money for really really important causes and without the entrance fee this wouldn't be possible, it'd be just another piss up. £17.50 (£12.50 if you bought it in advance) is a small price to pay for the range of entertainment that is on offer on the main stage and other stages throughout the village. In answer to someone who said "And Pride includes what for people who don't drink or who don't like pop or loud clubs and bars?" - check the website! There are arts events, cinema, theatre and all sorts of other stuff that is widely publicised for anyone who bothers to look. Yes we have a way to go and we should never give up fighting for complete equality, but bashing Pride for 'forgetting its roots' and complaining about having to fork out a small sum which helps raise money for groups who are fighting for the equality we all want is just absurd.

GaryAugust 19th 2008.

The published Saturday parade crowd figures are another way the wool has been pulled over the eyes of the public in the name of promoting tourism. It has regularly been claimed (including in the Manchester Evening News) that 200,000 or 250,000 people watch the parade. However the 2007 route (Beetham Tower to Piccadilly Station) was just 2,270 yards/1.3 miles long and in most places the streets are only about 15 yards wide from building to building (you can measure this for yourself on satellite images on Google Maps). If you squeezed four people into every available square yard of road and pavement along the entire route you could only fit in about 136,000 people: (2,270 yards x 15 yards) x 4 people. That would leave no room for a parade and people would be dying in the crush. On 29 August 2001, in the article ‘Fury Over Rubbish left by GayFest Revellers’, The Manchester Evening News reported that ‘on the Saturday 385,000 people turned out to watch the Parade’.In 1999 the organisers claimed that 600,000 gathered to watch the parade. More than one quarter of the entire population of Greater Manchester! In June of this year Trading Standards asked Manchester Pride about their crowd figures and they admitted they could not substatiate them. They have been told to remove them from the website and publicity. The BBC says 'tens of thousands' watch the parade, which is correct. More: http://www.g7uk.com/p222

AlexAugust 19th 2008.

"Gay Community" - What an oxymoron!

Simon TurnerAugust 19th 2008.

Aeron, I am staying at home and I am donating direct to charity. I was going to say that in my original post but I thought it might come across at a bit holier-than-thou. It's a private matter, but as you have challenged me I thought you'd like to know. To be honest I'd rather give £30 of my hard-earned direct to charity than put in the pockets of the police, 'security firms', clubs, and pubs of Manchester anyway.

Kevin @ M4August 19th 2008.

By the sounds of there are still some issue that need to be addressed, and more transparency as to how Pride is run. I think this is probably down to a lack of communication, which is not a difficult thing to fix. There are a lot of questions (good and bad) which have been raised here, and perhaps this is an opportunity for us all to be more involved in the process for next year. Just as we had to stand up and be counted for Clause 28, homophobia etc, if we are all feeling this strongly about it, then perhaps we (and I include myself) should become more involved in the process, and have our ideas/worries/thoughts heard, and also perhaps donate a nbit more of our time to LGF and all the other organisations that our community relies on. I think in some instances we (and again I include myself) don;t full understand what organisations do what for our community, and with all of our collective skillsets we could make Mardi Gras and the charirites better run, more efficient, more relevant and available to all. Once the glitter settles and the hangovers wear off, I will get off my arse this year and actually become involved in some of the organisations, donating my time and getting a better understanding of how they work, what they need, and perhaps what I can do to contribute. I hope that some of you will join me.For the time being I wish everyone who is going to Mardi Gras a safe, happy and enjoyable occasion. Hugs 2 All!

AeronAugust 19th 2008.

And Caroline, I think Prime Minister will have to wait but if I run for council in Whalley Range, will you be my campaigns manager? :)

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

It isn't sun-kissing that makes the business wheels go around in Manchester.

BGCAugust 19th 2008.

As a gay man Im allowed to say this...but the gay community bitch more than any other. they're never happy - when volunteers give their time in an effort to raise money - and give everyone a good time - there will always be those whinging minority who would gripe if given a million (pink) pounds. If you dont like it, get off your arse and volunteer. HAPPY PRIDE TO THE REST OF YOU, And thanks to Andrew and his team for all their hard efforts.

AeronAugust 19th 2008.

Simon - it is naive in the extreme to think events such as Pride could go ahead without the support of business - backing that is only given if it has commercial viability. Whether you agree or not, this is the society we live in. If it wasn't for 'big business' do you really think we would have been enjoying the Olympics these last couple of weeks? I think not.

MichaelAugust 19th 2008.

AS someone who's experienced Pride as a non-paying customer, a paying customer, a volunteer and someone who has investigated the political/radical/scene queer scene I agree with almost everything that's above. This year I am avoiding the village as, delightfully, there is enough alternative queer culture out there to have a great weeekend with a wristband these days.

AeronAugust 19th 2008.

And MC, we need HTML - paragraphs etc!!!

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

There were no Get Bent! events in the Northern Quarter. They were held at the LGBT Centre on Sidney Street, Retro Bar, Manchester University, Contact Theatre and Fab Cafe.

Kevin @ M4August 19th 2008.

I agree that times change, and nowadays Pride is a more commercial event. I remember the first Pride I went to in London when I was just 18, standing outside Downing Street and kissing my partner at the time right in front of the police, as an act of defiance. 18 years on and so much has changed, and the organisers do have to put more work in to entice people to come and support the LGBT community. I think (and I include myself in this) we are all guilty of being lacsadaisical (sorry - word of the day toilet paper again), and the number of times my group of friends have said we chould do some charitable event and collect money, but not done anything about it is a lot. I enjoy the atmosphere of every corner of almost every community whether gay/straight/white/green/bi/trans etc all coming together and enjoying each others company, but we do take some of this for granted. The best part of the 4 days is the Candlelight Vigil, which although is a sad time in remembering lost friend/lovers etc, is also the most powerful one. Everyone coming together to help and support each other in the community. So, this year I will make sure that on each day I am at Mardi Gras, I will put £1 in a collection bucket. If everyone who comes put £1 in each day, we would have a charitable total which we can not only be very proud of, but which can make an impact on so many more lives. I for one am not going to take this opportunity for granted any more.

AdrienAugust 19th 2008.

Thanks for that Kevin it's good to hear - I too would be very interested in getting more involved. I particularly would like to support improved disabled access to future events and the village in general, something I have tried to raise on several occassions with the organisers and have recived no response.

AeronAugust 19th 2008.

Mel - Pride in Manchester has, for as long as I can remember, had a charitable element, yes, but it is unique in this. Pride, first and foremost, is about gay equality and celebrating LGBT life. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_Pride for more info.I am no longer involved in Pride and the way it is run now has changed but there are opportunities to get involved as well as to have your say. Visit http://www.manchesterpride.com

AeronAugust 19th 2008.

Gary - I think you're getting a little hung up on this numbers thing. Who cares?Mixie Min - Perhaps you should organise a Wigan Pride. It can all be free and then you can give your piggy-bank money to charity.Can Anonymous please tell me how to do paragraphs?Can someone tell Kevin @ M4 how to post his comments, as constructive as they are, just the once?

Caroline, Whalley RangeAugust 19th 2008.

Aeron for Prime Minister!!

GaryAugust 19th 2008.

Please tell us *exactly* what it does for trans people? I understand there are are actually NO events for trans people again this year? I don't like bars, clubs, pop or celebrities. I like intelligent cultural things. What is there for me?

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

Another surprise for some of you is that the people who are in the village during Pride are a minority of the 'LGBT community' as you put it and not a cross section. They are mainly young gay men with a high disposable income, who like to drink and party and their straight friends. 35,000 tickets are sold, some to locals, but many to the same kind of well-off young men from outside of Manchester. The population of Greater Manchester is 2.4 million. If 6.5% of the population is LGBT, that is 156,000 LGBT people in Greater Manchester. So please don't pretend that this event represents anything other than an unrepresentative and small minority of local LGBT people. It is far removed from the origins of Pride.

ZBAugust 19th 2008.

Blackpool may have only been £7, but it wasn't a 4 day event showing big acts and providing a safe and electric atmosphere for everyone. BIg weekend events like V festival and the like are £150, and although this is nowhere near the same extent in acts there is still a hell of a lot of entertainment on offer over 4 days for ONLY £20! You could go to the cinema for days in a row and sspend more! I think it is sad that other gay groups are protesting against something that should have us all unified together. Maybe it isn't what it used to be, but then time has changed, acceptance has changed. We used to have the parades and truggle to be accepted. Now we can celebrate the acceptance and the rights we have achieved. There is still a way to go, but why not celebrate? The event bring a focus to Manchester as a whole, which is undeniably a good thing for the city itself, and it seems selfish to try and keep it all about being gay. As a Manchester resident I welcome the tourists, I welcome the spotlight being here, and I welcome anyone who wants to come and join in a celebration of the better times we live in where being gay is far more acceptable.

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

Some celebration for Trans people when there isn't a single trans event. In the year 93/94 the bank holiday was free and The Village Charity raised £60,000 for charity (equivalent to about £105,000 now). In 2006 Pride raised just £65,000 and £95,000 last year. Last year it's income was £803,000, two-thirds of that from tickets. It seems to me that a lot of you are happy so long as what's on appeals to you and you don't care about anyone else. Part of growing up is about realising that it isn't all about you. And if people like me hadn't protested 20 years ago (and much braver people who got beaten and went to jail), you wouldn't be enjoying the freedom you have. So pretty rich that you criticise demonstrators who are trying to improve things for those people who are still not included.

AdrienAugust 19th 2008.

I first came to Manchester in 1987, to protest against the then Clause 28. I believed the act was a stealth attempt to overturn the then 20 year old decriminalisation of homosexuality and the sexual offenses Acts of 1967. Also I came to protest at the hypocracy of the then Police Chief James Anderton, who believed god was telling him that Homosexuality was an abomanation, his lesbian daughter failed to agree. (ironically fewer people protested about the war in Iraq than clause 28). I was 20 years old and homosexuality had been illegal in my lifetime, I was with my 27 year old male partner, our relationship was illegal (I was under age) and we could have been arrested. The atmosphere of the event was electric, people were passionate and united about a cause, I still keep in touch with people that I met back then. We marched the streets of Manchester in one of the largest public displays of peaceful protest ever and it didn't even make the news. Following the march I attended a fantastic event at the Free Trade Hall with many bands performing for free, these were headline, professional performers, not some boy band assembled in a basement 3 weeks ago. After that something of Manchester remained with me, the people that I met, the sense of community. This was not about Canal Street, I went to canal street, I was verbally abused by prostitutes and there were many derelict buildings, it was at best seedy, there were 3 bars and a shop. Nothing on the scale of today.After many years of commuting I moved to Mancheser in 96 this coincided with the start of the redevelopment of the old mills and wearhouses around the perifery of the village and as residents moved in, Canal Street profited and grew, attracting investment from local residents and more significantly the Breweries who had previously lacked the confidence to invest in the area. This started with Manto's, Metz and Prague 5, then the more quality establishment began to open Velvet, with QVC on the mini TV's in the toilet, the now defunct Gaia, Abbeye and the 'members only' Spirit. Exposure through Programmes such as queer as folk did much to raise the profile of the area, and first came up with the idea of lighting the trees, some would say that it also bought about a decline in the clientelle that frequented the more tasteful establishments and the subsequent on-slaught of queer spotting, hen and more laterly, stag parties that can be found of a weekend. Recently we have seen a lack of cammeradery between establishments with commical bitch slapping between Mark Cain and Nigel Martin Smith, over Mark's attempts to reintroduce a little calm and, dare I say, glamour back into the village, nothing new or unexpected really and fear this is more about two of the streets most senior royals having a pop at each other and nothing at all to do with the long term viability of the village.My concern is not about the cost of wrist bands and then having to pay to get into bars or paying £9 for a burger, or trying to side step the 18 year old, shirtless, track suited, prison tatooed drunk who has just vomited on my shoes as he is forcefully ejected from a bar. I'm not even fired up by the demise of the 'safe gay space' that Canal Street never was. The village promotes itself as a commercial voice for the LGBT community and Pride as it's celebration. I fully embrace the concept of real and diverse communities but how can this be realised in an area that has become reliant on £2.50 house doubles with a mixer, £6 bottles of wine that leave you blind and BOGOF deals, to survive.As a man in my 40's who has campaigned for the rights that we all enjoy, equal age of consent, equal opportunities, and recognised legal rights in employment, pensions and civil partnerships, I have to ask if the village invests in me and the community it reputedly serves as much as I, and we, have invested in it? Prove me wrong VBA, make sure that all establishment give responsibly and fairly this year. I'm fully aware that we can all manipulate figures to support the argument but the millions that this event brings into the city and the pityful few thousands that are donated, which I understand are soley what is raised through donations on the door, and not through increased drinks, food and entry prices that bars introduce over the event are something that we should be ashamed of. Seems we've all comfortably slipped into a culture of "I'm sure it's everybody's responsibility but without somebody to lead, nobody will follow"

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

The businesses realised that if they could herd everyone into one area, they could monetarise them more effectively and even fence them in, which happened in 1999 when tickets were first introduced and zero raised for charity that year. 25 years ago part of the enjoyment of going out was walking around the city centre from one venue to another. I should mention also that we all dressed very differently to the norm then. It was the era of New Romantics, leather men and the lumberjack 'clone'. Yet the city centre felt much safer than it does now. You get abuse now if you look even slightly different. Some progress...

GregAugust 19th 2008.

"A large commercial organisation can expect to pay £1,250. An arrangement everybody might agree with."Erm, no. I would agree if, instead of getting back slapped for what's basically cheap advertising and self congraulatory behaviour, Barclays or Selfridges had stepped in with cash when the LGBT youth centre almost had to close. Put your money where your mouth is. Why should I be happy that a bloody BANK and an overpriced department store are on MY parade? I won't congratulate them for supporting gay rights, they're legally obliged to do so. And to reiterate somebody else's question, why are football holligans allowed to drink ALL OVER the city for two days while we pay to get penned into our own Village? And suggesting that people 'volunteer' isn't a solution to those of us bothered where all the bleedin' PROFIT is going, is it? There seems to be little consensus between the pro-Priders and lots of unasnwered question for those of us who have them.

tankgirlAugust 19th 2008.

I agree with Anonymous.. People around the world still don't enjoy the freedoms we are now getting and this should not be forgotten .Pride should be more than just a party but a protest at countries such Iran that still hang suspected homosexuals. Yes Canal street can be very cruel to people who don't fit in. It's amazing the amount of transphobic and bitchy comments i've heard towards trans people. Which coming from a group who have suffered abuse themselves it's even more disheartening. I spent the day with a trans friend of mine a few weeks ago we went to the park, a few bars then a Japanese restaurant all with no problem !! Then literally the minute we walked down canal street she gets pointed at by some cockatiel haired lesbian who shouts down the street 'Thats a F**kin bloke' ...how very nice welcome to canal street!! Look at London pride Trans people were illegally forced to use the disabled toilets instead of the toilet of there acquired gender. When they protested they were threatened with arrest see http://www.transatpride.org/TransAtP

kevin @ M4August 19th 2008.

Aeron, Point 12: don't tell me you have been hiring out your sunbed again? :-)

AeronAugust 19th 2008.

Wow, some gays (that includes the LBTs) really get on their high horses over this Pride/Mardi Gras/Gayfest thing.Here's how it is:Some of you moan because not enough money goes to charity.Some of you moan because it costs too much for a ticket.Some of you moan because you don't like business making money out of you.Okay, here are the facts for moaning gays:1 Nothing in life is free2 Events on this scale cost money3 The barriers were put up to stop the homophobic attacks and muggings that took place when all and salfordry could attend Pride4 Many of those involved in organising Pride (including me) did it for no financial gain5 If you're a whinger, get off your fat, gay, lazy butt and do something about it, Get involved. No one is barring you6 Not everyone who attends Pride wants to give their money to charity. I don't like the LGF. In my view it serves no purpose. I therefore don't want to be forced to give my money to them. I like the fact that we now have the option of giving to a charity if we want to and don't if not7 Since when has Pride been about charity?8 I agree, there needs to be more politics. We're not equal under UK law, let alone across the world9 The running of Pride is now in the hands of non-business people, like Andrew Stokes. Andrew, whom I know, is an excellent custodian of Pride10 The 2002 event went ahead, so stop spouting naive bollocks11 If you don't like what is the most successful Pride event in the country, stay away12 Andrew Stokes did not get that tan in BlackpoolThat is all.

Kevin @ M4August 19th 2008.

I will be at Mardi Gras this weekend, but I will be expecting a whole lot more money to go to good charities this time. Last year there wasn't even an announcement on the Monday night of how much was raised? The amount of money raised makes me ashamed of the organisation. The bars and clubs (with a couple of exceptions) will make a fortune this weekend, and they will only give to the charity the absolute minimum they can possibly get away with, and pocket the rest. I will be making sure that I spend as much time as possible at Taurus, where they make an effort to entertain, and also in my opinion give back most to the community, not just at Mardi Gras, but throughout the year. As this is a charity, perhaps they need someone who is better at negotiating the cost of hiring the stage, bands, tents, toilets etc, so that more money is raised for those who desperately need it. I'm sure some of the acts could afford to donate their 'fee' to the charity, as they will get publicity being there, which will generate earnings for them. And I would hope that MCC & the police would be a bit more charitable in their costs. We are grateful for their help in making it a safe event, and the inevitable cleanup etc, but perhaps the costs can be trimmed for a good cause? Anyway, to all those going to Mardi Gras, have a wonderful and SAFE time; think about where you want those hard earned pink pennies to go. A big thank you in advance to everyone who volunteers to help over the weekend. X X X X X X X X

AeronAugust 19th 2008.

And finally, why are you moaning gays always 'anonymous'? Let's see some courage behind your convictions. Give us a name please!

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

Pride Manchester cannot please everyone. My first impressions were good for the 2008 event. As a outside visitor I felt very safe in the gay village. The streets looked very full and probably were close to capacity so maybe next year not everyone who are prepared to buy a band will get in.Based on last years figures released by manchesterpride.com 14% of the income went to gay charities. I'm sure with some serious tweeking and more local business sponsorship, more money could be created to help the gay charities.I would like to know which bar has officially sponsored the event with a banner outside each bar so that we can avoid giving extra business to the hanger-ons.Overall I was very impressed and worth repeating the 200 mile journey next year. I'm poor and on benefits and managed to save up for this event. I treated it as a holiday.

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

As a resident of the Village I have to put up with a lot over the August bank holiday. It has never bothered me before and I have looked forward to seeing some of the events take place. However, last night when I picked up my residents pass I was reminded that if I wanted to use the Village for anything other than access to the flat I would have to buy a wristband.I don't object to donating to the charities however, I think it is a cheek to ask the few residents who do live through all the crap bits of the weekend to pay for it.

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

We are! I wasn't arguing with you and wasn't implying that you were spinning the facts. I meant the vested interests do that.

Mixie MinAugust 19th 2008.

I live near Wigan. I cant go this year as I just cant afford it! Not the tickets but the beer the alchol the CLub prices are scandalous! It is a complete rip off! Not enough goes to the Charity! Thats what people are saying - not that its all money!

MelAugust 19th 2008.

Aeron - you say people should get involved - is there any room at the top or are you simply talking about how people should volunteer at the event itself (and not get paid any volunteers expense for doing so, which in itself is bad form)? "Since when has Pride been about charity?" - well correct me if I'm wrong but I thought that was exactly what it was about? Not just here in the past but everywhere else? If all we want is a weekend music festival then why not share that with the whole city so that we can have something 10 times better and get out of our little gay ghetto for once...

jonAugust 19th 2008.

I saw through this scam 3 years ago, It needs Stopping

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

How is it that Glasgow Rangers fans can 'party' in the city without fences, yet Canal Street must be fenced off? Remember how Mardi Gras 2002 was cancelled due to the police insisting on an 'alcohol tolerance zone' and we've been stuck with fences ever since? Convenient... When businesses make £22m a year, why does THE EVENT (eg. the long suffering ticket buyers) get charged for policing and street cleaning? Surely the businesses should pay that, seeing as they benefit so much? The answer is: they know that the suckers who buy a ticket will cough up.

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