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Why the LGBTQ+ Community deserves a non-commodified Pride

LGBTQ+ Pride has always been, and should always remain a space to protest.

It's really tempting to celebrate Ariana headlining Manchester Pride, but this isn't necessarily something to celebrate.

Pride is not a music festival, and should not be an opportunity for people to make money. LGBTQ+ Pride is first and foremost for those who want to protest for their rights and celebrate their identity, and they shouldn't have to pay to do that. The issue surrounding the cost of Pride is deeper than "we shouldn't have to pay"—by charging for tickets (especially such a high price) those members of the LGBTQ+ community who haven't a disposable income can't attend, and chances are the people who need to be at this event the most are those who are priced out of it.

"But poor people can still go to the parade!"

That's not the point, yes the parade is free, but the organisers are privatising the spaces in which the Community should be celebrating, but instead these spaces such as The Gay Village in Birmingham or St. James's Street in Brighton are left exclusive to those with a disposable income, regardless of their need for an LGBTQ+ Pride. A festival costs a lot of money to put on (I know, trust me), but there are ways of covering these costs without obscene ticket prices, and if that isn't the case, then perhaps the viability of the event ought to be considered in relation to organisers' 'target audience'—or is their target audience in fact not who they claim?

It's not just the performers...

The issues surrounding the commercialisation of Pride don't stop at the performers: there are plenty of Pride events affiliated with brands who don't support the cause, either directly or indirectly. Last year Brighton Pride was supported by British Airways, who deport LGBTQ+ Asylum Seekers on their charter flights. The so-called Community Interest Company who organise Brighton Pride showed non-inclusive approach to Pride by doing this: as in, they support LGBTQ+ people who are British, but when it comes to non-British LGBTQ+ people, their rights are clearly deemed less important.

Pride and Identity

In recent weeks, Parkfield Community School in Birmingham made the decision to end its lessons on same-sex relationships following pressure from parents. The parents were concerned over the age-appropriateness of the education and the incompatibility with religion, something which Shabana Mahmood (MP for Birmingham Ladywood) explained in a parliamentary debate. On the surface, one may find it perfectly acceptable for a parent to opt their child out of RSE (relationships and sex education), but it is far from productive.

So what's all the fuss about?

Parkfield Community School's initiative entitled "No Outsiders" was aimed at reducing homophobia through educating children and most importantly normalising same-sex relationships. RSE is nothing new to Primary education—we all learnt (to different extents) the basics of heterosexual relationships at that age, which immediately mitigates the 'age-appropriateness' argument.

Depriving children of this precious education is homophobic and it is not a decision parents should have the right to make. Just this week I was speaking to someone in Birmingham who identified as bisexual, having recently discovered sexuality is not always binary—so while it may be acceptable to be gay, we're not being taught about the LGBTQ+ community, we're not being taught that it's perfectly normal to be LGBTQ+: and be doing so we are teaching children is that it's shameful.

(Video CW: homophobia)

The protests which followed outside the Brummie School are particularly damaging for young people, especially children who themselves identify as LGBTQ+ (whether Out or not) as they are being told by their role models and influential people in their lives including their parents and carers, that their identity is not valid and should be hidden.

The fact is that Pride is not a commodity to be sold and needs to be accessible to people such as those caught in the crossfire of Parkfield Community—they need a space to feel comfortable to be themselves, because out in the normal world this is not always possible, and even when it is, it's not easy. Without an accessible, public (and therefore not commodified) Pride, this is not easy to find, especially for younger people (Manchester Pride is an 18+ event).

It is clear there is still a long way to go in order to change attitudes - if there was true equality there would be no issues in teaching kids about all kinds of relationships. When you go to Pride, whoever you are, you should keep in mind these issues and make sure your voice is heard.
Featured image: Filippo Andolfatto on Unsplash