Manchester Pride has launched a brand new rainbow flag featuring black and brown colours in a bid to “promote inclusion” in the region’s LGBT community.
Unveiled after many black and minority ethnic people said they felt underrepresented within LGBTQ+ spaces, the move has also caused controversy among those who say the flag shouldn’t be “about race”.
Manchester Pride CEO Mark Fletcher told HuffPost UK: “As a charity which campaigns for LGBTQ+ rights and equality, it is our responsibility to recognise the needs people of all backgrounds and to constantly evaluate what we can do to promote inclusion.
“It would be reckless of us to ignore the experiences of those who feel marginalised,” he said.
A Stonewall report published last year found that 51% of BAME LGBT people have experienced racism within the gay community.
But Manchester Pride’s announcement has received heavy criticism, with many arguing that it is an empty gesture that will not prompt real change.
Nathan Gill, an MEP for Wales, tweeted: “Don’t recall ever seeing black or brown in a rainbow! But is am colour blind so maybe I’m wrong? If you’re adding colour of races – are they going to add a white stripe too?”
An account called Keiso, also writing on Twitter, said: “So instead of working on the racism in the LGBT community, adding two unnecessary stripes of colour to the flag would help...? Doesn’t this mean we have to add more colours to represent the other races?”
Another account under the name of Richard Wilson tweeted: “I’m sorry but I think adding black & brown to the rainbow flag is SO WRONG @ManchesterPride I thought the flag was to represent diversity, if we start adding colours to show different ethnicity does this become a race issue? Shouldn’t we be past the whole colour of skin issue!”
But the director of Black Pride, Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, lauded the initiative. She told HuffPost UK: “LGBTIQ+ does not belong to one single lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer person. It belongs to our communities and so does the flag.”
Speaking of Gilbert Baker’s original rainbow flag design from 1978, Opoku-Gyimah said: “I believe he wanted us all to show it and be proud of it, and now in 2019 as we have different voices who have often remained silent or been erased, we are now weaving ourselves in to the tapestry of our history.”
Faizan Fiaz, British-Pakistani filmmaker and journalist told HuffPost UK: “It’s wonderful that Manchester Pride has taken a notable step like this. I’m sure it will be a welcome signal to Black, Asian and other ethnic minority LGBTQI people that Pride really is for people from all cultural backgrounds.
“If countries like Pakistan can be progressive about transgender equality, Manchester and the rest of the UK can add some extra colour to the Pride flag.”
Activist Chardine Taylor Stone wrote: “Great stuff @ManchesterPride. Anyone upset about it is upset because they think Black and Brown LGBT ppl should not be or aren’t part of the community. Two extra stripes on a flag is not the apocalypse. They’ll get over it.”
Trainee journalist TJ Gallagher tweeted: “Everyone who’s kicking off about the new Pride flag - I was at the consultation meeting and there were lots of concerns raised about BAME folks feeling uncomfortable at pride. @ManchesterPride are responding to the needs of the community so just take a chill pill.”
The move has also been praised by other LGBT organisations. Christopher Joell-Deshields, who works in community engagement for Pride in London, told HuffPost UK: “We support Manchester Pride’s decision to use the Pride flag which includes black and brown stripes alongside the rainbow.
“Racism is rife in our community and it’s important we continue to talk about it.”