The Guardian published an article last week highlighting that Manchester Pride will be charging £71 a ticket this year, compared to £30 in 2018. Accessing the Gay Village during the weekend will cost £10. Learning about this price rise sparked a wave of anger in me. Although the organizers justify the inflation of price by claiming that it is now a “festival” with “the biggest line up of artists we’ve ever had”, charging this much inherently restrains the poorest part of the community from attending.
“It really does need to be said that when it comes to LGBT+ rights, charging £71 for people to celebrate their being free is just, well, rich.” (Hannah Jane Parkinson)
This is not the first time that LGBTQ+ supporters and members prove to be discriminating. Bill White and Bryan Eure, a self-proclaimed Liberal gay couple, caused chaos online after proudly supporting Donald Trump, donating $50,000 to his administration. To focus on the British case, London Pride was accused of lacking diversity by Stonewall, an American LGBT+ liberation group. Right-wing parties capitalize on white conservatives who are part of oppressed groups, such as women and gays to collect a maximum of votes. Following the example of “divide and rule”, this allows the most privileged to avoid large and effective rebellion while perpetuating a flawed and oppressive system.
“No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.” (Micah Bazant)
Now, let us think. Typically, who could afford to pay a £71 ticket for a Pride event? Middle to upper class, mostly white men, who widely dominate the LGBTQ+ community, in other words, the same group targeted by conservatives. Tolerating a greater number of the latter in events like Pride increases the chances of racist and xenophobic supporters and therefore behaviours. The Economist highlights that anti-immigrant parties are becoming more gay-friendly, after interviewing a proud nationalist at a Finnish pride parade.
We must remember how Pride started. The Stonewall riots constituted an anti-police uprising against the American homophobic system of the time. It was fore and foremost a radical fight engaged by the most marginalized groups in the gay community, including homeless youth, male prostitutes, trans people and butch lesbians. It gathered New York’s most vulnerable population for them to contest the awful conditions they were put into by the police and the state. The revolt inspired thousands worldwide and kindled gay rights organizations and newspapers to be created.
“We believe in picking up the gun, starting a revolution if necessary.” (Marsha P. Johnson)
Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender black woman, who was herself homeless and a sex worker, now symbol of LGBT+ liberation, initiated the fight at Stonewall in June 1969. As a revolutionist activist, she widely participated in the struggle for AIDS’ care. At the age of only 23, she is alleged to have thrown the first brick which triggered the riots.
“Marsha P. Johnson could be perceived as the most marginalized of people — black, queer, gender-nonconforming, poor” (Susan Stryker)
At its core, Pride is therefore a form of anti-systemic activism. Although the improvement of LGBTQ+ rights has turned it into a celebration, it should at all costs remain a safe and inclusive space for ALL members of the community, especially of the most unprivileged, thanks to whom the event actually exists.
“It’s quite something, really, to organize an event that’s all about diversity, inclusion, freedom and equal rights, and then to charge an entry price that will shrink participation and scare away a number of demographics.” (Hannah Jane Parkinson)
Charging such a high price for Pride not only discriminates against a large part of the community, it also omits the purpose of Pride. Charging such a high price for Price is preventing us from celebrating who we are, showing us that, on top of not being good enough for the larger society, we are not good enough for our own. As a currently unemployed recent graduate, from a lower-middle class family, it would be impossible for me to pay this much money for an event, as it would for most of my friends. Are we not worthy of marching for our own rights? Are we not worthy of attending an event that was created for us?
We all deserve to be proud. We all deserve to celebrate. And above all, we do not deserve to be prevented to fight the system that oppresses us by the people whose hands we should hold while doing so.