Gay Pride is Fantastic – For Those Who Can Afford It
Pride is supposed to be an inclusive, political event. Not one that charges people for the privilege of attending an event which, at least in its inception, was a fight for equal rights and equality for the LGBT community.
An absence of friends and my sincere disdain for biblical hangovers now I’m rapidly approaching the age of thirty lead me to the decision to abstain from my local Pride event taking place in Manchester last weekend. However, come Sunday morning, I’d had my fill of brooding mornings over cafetieres filled with strong coffee and getting The Carpenters soundtrack habitually interrupted by adverts on Spotify – I’m certainly not about to pay the subscription fee. Screw the big man. You might well see a theme emerging throughout this column.
Alas, I’d made the decision I was about to write off my bank holiday Monday and don my favourite t-shirt and head for Canal Street. That is, despite my preferred top being a little too tight since I made the call to eschew my beloved rollie cigarettes and instead start consuming enough carbohydrates to eliminate a significant proportion of the East African famine.
I mentioned to a German friend of mine via a nameless application that I would be attending the festivities later that day. His perfunctory response was a little underwhelming but his declaration that all the wristbands had ‘probably sold out’ was even more alarming to me than the disappointment that his apathetic message indicated he’d already found somebody else to fuck.
Now, I feel I must disclose a disinterest here. I’ve never been to a Pride event before. To me, this isn’t necessarily a significant matter in the rich, booze-stained tapestry of my life. But it appears to many of my friends and acquaintances I might as well have declared my support for the Islamic State. I don’t hate Pride. I’m just not a fan of large crowds or waiting for 45 minutes to be served at the bar and then queuing equal amounts of time to piss it straight out the other end.
It turns out wristbands were still available and what a bargain at only £21.45 each. I wasn’t particularly angry at this as much as I was genuinely despondent that I couldn’t really afford to shell out for the ticket – which is equivalent to three hours work for somebody earning minimum wage. Irked that I was somehow being ostracized by fiscal circumstances.
I understand Pride is a costly event to stage but it’s already been highly commercialised with sponsorships adorning everything from floats to flags. Maybe next year we’ll have condoms, emblazoned with the logo of a notorious high-street bank so you can be reminded how they continually fuck you while you’re fucking someone else?
It’s part of a wider trope of commercialisation. Gay bars and pubs are sadly being closed at an exuberant rate and been converted into luxury accommodation – ridding our cities of gay spaces as we’re assimilated into the masses.
Pride is supposed to be an inclusive, political event. Not one that charges people for the privilege of attending an event which, at least in its inception, was a fight for equal rights and equality for the LGBT community. This fiscal infiltration, particularly at this direct level, alienates and dilutes what it is supposed to be. If you want to charge, call it what it is – a party. What kind of message does it send to young people, perhaps 17 or 18 and just affirming their sexuality? ‘Come celebrate who are you – as long as you’re from a nice middle-class family where mum and dad can afford to shell out twenty-two quid before you’ve even left the house.’
I don’t wish to be too down on Pride, which is ostensibly a positive thing. There are enough torrid events in the world to feel dismayed about without adding Pride to the list of reasons we’re all pretty sure the end of time is nigh. Maybe I’m lamenting an era which is lost to history, but then again, not everything is better these days. Let’s campaign to make Pride free again so that it can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of gender, sexuality, race or economic status.