Pride events. Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people will attend one during their lifetime. But one question seems to enter my mind at certain times, have we started to lose pride in our ‘Pride’ events?
I’m lucky enough to have been a director and the chairman for Sunderland Pride in the north east of England. I was a member of the Board of Directors for four years, having joined as a volunteer during the early planning stages. I’ve seen the hard work that goes into these events, the dedication by volunteers, many of them doing it simply to give something back.
Dedication is one of the main reasons I was part of such a cause. With the 2018 Pride season in full-swing, I question what people really understand about a Pride event, and if people really appreciate how far the events have come, and why they were created in the first place.
In New York City, 1969, riots took place in the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar which catered to a marginalised group of people in the gay community such as transvestite, transgender and homeless young people. The Stonewall Riots signalled the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. It was the first time in modern history where a significant amount of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people resisted arrest, and the chance of change, began.
By the following year, New York City was at the forefront of the gay rights movement, producing the first event known as the Gay Liberation March. The first march was serious with an addition of fun, and was there to inspire the activist movement, a movement which nowadays has served to change attitudes as well as laws around the world, to make life for LGBT people easier, and more importantly, equal.
Not so long ago I sat in a meeting and answered a barrage of questions from the local community, as well as from organisations, and figures. One of the main questions that I struggled to answer was a question relating to a Pride event as young LGBT people may see more often - “a drunken day out”, as he described it.
I struggled to answer the question, because to many people, that’s exactly what the event is all about but, with such a positive event having been created, it makes me question why aren’t we celebrating our history, how far we’ve come, and what these events mean to us?
The main question that I asked for a long time while I was in my position was if we really needed a Pride event anymore, at least in its current form. For the majority of people in society, they’re accepted. We have equal marriage, among many other things that thirty years ago were not possible, and if we aren’t actually celebrating the past or being who we are - is there a point?
I was reminded quite often that my view was not the view of the majority and in fact, things aren’t as good as some of us like to think or make out. People are still likely to face discrimination simply for being who they are in society, and that is the main reason why Pride needs to continue. I’m sure many people have heard or seen comments on social media aimed towards a Pride event asking “when is straight Pride?”. The fact that that question is even being asked shows that Pride needs to continue but must evolve to survive.
I’ve seen great individuals, run some wonderful events for the community. And I’ve then seen them completely fail for one or two reasons; either they make the whole Pride event commercial, or they sell-out to cash in. That’s a blunt point I know, but it’s also a true one. The fact of the matter is, Pride events cost a huge amount of money, and to get that money, you need to sell it - if organisers aren’t going hard enough, the event fails, if they go too hard, it becomes too commercial and the event fails to remain true to its roots, and therefore fails. On the flip side, some events struggle more than others and become so reliant on sponsorship they sell-out - they name a stage after a local housing company because they sponsored a part of the event or, they name the Pride parade after the Chairman of a football club, because he promised to send players for a good PR stunt with the event.
For Pride to not only evolve, but continue, it’s members of the LGBT community that need to show support. In life, everyone’s a critic, but for the people behind the events, they need support. If you don’t like what they’re doing, tell them, and offer some constructive criticism. If you have questions or comments, voice them, and get the answers that you want.
The actual reason for Pride, from all those years ago, is now lost on the vast majority of people the event has been set up to support and acknowledge, and with more and more people events, bigger names performing at them, and a bigger party every year - but perhaps not offering more support to their local events - have we lost pride in our ‘Pride’?