‘Disturbing Pride is too straight’: Manchester Gay Village community member’s concern over festival future

By Alan Ross

A prominent figure in Manchester’s Village community, Julia Grant, has spoken to MM expressing her concern about Manchester Pride.

Ms Grant recently wrote an open letter to the media about Pride and chaired a meeting last week entitled ‘Better Rethink’.

At the meeting the possibility of setting up a Village Community Alliance was discussed to help stop the ‘decline and fall’ of the Village.

Ms Grant, who ran Gayfest in 2000 and 2001 wants to see the LGBT community involved in the planning and consultation process if a new event to replace Pride was set up.

“I am deeply disturbed to hear the news flying around the gay village and gay community that there are problems at the offices of Manchester Pride,” Ms Grant wrote.

“I think that sends a message to everyone that something has gone wrong with Manchester Pride 2013.”

Pride has been criticised for moving away from the origins of the event and Ms Grant believes that this is something that needs to be changed.

“The fun has gone out of it. You don’t need the headline names as there is lots of local talent that would go on for free,” she told MM.

“All these £28 tickets – it’s not what people want. They don’t want Rylan. They want it to be a community event.”

She feels that the event needs rebranding and return its focus to the LGBTQ community not wider commercial success.

“When it was Gayfest it was very gay. The word was in the name,” she told MM.

“But since you have had Manchester Pride it should be Manchester Gay Pride – a gay event. If it was a gay event a lot of [straight] people won’t go down.”

“I would say at this Pride just gone, I was there every day, it was 75% straight.”

Manchester-resident Adam Prince, who is supporting Ms Grant’s Community Alliance proposal, has voiced his discontent at the drop in charitable donations from Pride in a letter to the media.

“I believe that the gay community is increasingly disgusted in this appalling legacy of a model of Pride that clearly has failed the community,” he wrote. 

“I sincerely hope this appalling model will no longer be supported by Manchester City Council.”

In his letter Mr Price cites a number of concerns that he has about the issues facing the LGBTQ community in Manchester and the Village itself.

“This is a demand for stronger leadership and for the support of a community lead model for the Village, its investment and Pride,” he continued.

“It is now a time for action and whatever small part I can play in this movement and its progression.”

Paul Wheatley, who recently forced Pride to amend statements made in catering application packs for this year’s event after appealing to the Advertising Standards Authority, also believes that Pride is having a negative effect.

“Perhaps without realising it, LGBT people have retreated from Canal Street and therefore mixed straight / LGBT socialising,” he told MM.

“I think the same has happened at Pride and I know for a fact a lot of LGBT people stopped going a long time ago as they don’t think it’s for them.

“They’re not in nursing homes, tee-total or disinterested in current music; they just don’t want to take on board our straight guests who are unwilling to recognise that it is an event for LGBT people in somewhere called the Gay Village, as well as the many other things about the current Pride set up that makes people’s blood boil.”

Manchester Pride did not respond to requests for comment.

Image courtesy of emilestefanov, with thanks

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