By Amy Senior, Chief Entertainment Correspondant
As part of our lead up to Manchester Pride 2011, Festival Director, Jackie Crozier, tells us all about the annual celebration, its significance and the secret to its success.
What does Manchester Pride mean to you?
Manchester Pride is all about community and support. We have a fantastic team of staff and volunteers supporting local businesses and the general public – each of these cogs help to make a difference to fantastic causes – each cog that makes the Manchester Pride machine function so fantastically comes from these different community areas.
Our Pride Fringe shows off all the wealth of comedy, sport, art and culture that the LGBT community in Manchester can offer. The Parade and Big Weekend demonstrates the sheer support we have from the public, sponsors, friends and organisers. Similarly we all come together at our Candlelit Vigil to commemorate members of the community we have lost to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
It is great to have such a meaningful message to a festival that is also such a time of fun and celebration for all of those involved.
What are you looking forward to most at Manchester’s 21st Pride Festival?
This year I am looking forward to celebrating our theme: Best of British. We have some fantastic talent lined up for this year who represent our fantastic culture -Alexandra Burke, Pixie Lott, The Sugababes, Blue and Patrick Wolf to say the least. In addition to this, the support from huge pillars of our media community such as ITV and the BBC is brilliant, and something we look forward to demonstrating over our parade.
The parade is always one of my favourite parts of the Manchester Pride festival, as it is colourful, fun, diverse and huge in its spectacle – it is so important to parade around the city to show we are ‘Loud and Proud’ as well as show how much we are supported by those around us in our wonderful city of Manchester.
What would be your advice to a Pride virgin?
That you should lose it to the special one – Manchester! Manchester Pride is the only UK Pride event of its kind that consistently fund raises for LGBT and HIV/AIDS organisations. We have won the Best Pride Award for the Pink Paper Awards for five years running, and are renowned for hosting ten days of fantastic sports, arts, theatre and music that cannot be rivalled.
Above all, have fun! Make it your Pride. There is so much to do at Manchester Pride that you should definitely come with a plan of action of what you want to see, who you want to bring etc.
“Once you go proud, you’ll always stay loud”. Most first-time Pride goers carry on to attend the festival each year. Once you have come to the event once, and seen how much fun we all have at a great cause, you will be helping all your other friends ‘lose it’ from Pride to Pride!
What is the key to the festival’s success?
Manchester Pride is successful for a number of reasons. Our line-up is fantastic, as are our loyal attendees, sponsors and supporters. We have a fully staffed office who works hard all year round to ensure we produce a festival of world-class standard. In addition to this are our Pride Volunteers, who help over the Fringe and Big Weekend purely out of the goodness of their hearts as they believe in what we do.
Without the support of all of our Pride friends, we may find it even harder to put on the festival each year.
How is Manchester Pride still so significant?
As a festival, Manchester Pride will always be significant, as long as we remain proud of who we are and strive for full equality and to help those in the LGBT community. It is fantastic that we have grown so much over 21 years, that work with AIDS/HIV groups is being done and that homophobia is being addressed and fought more than ever before.
However, there are still instances of name-calling in schools and in the work environment, still the ‘odd case’ of homophobic abuse we read about in the papers; what you could call ‘every now and again’ cases of homophobia. These – I think we can all agree – are too often. Our festival celebrates our support and how far we have come as much as it does the lengths we still need to go.
When there are still young men and women afraid to come out to their parents, or to openly hold hands with their partners in the street, we know that Pride festivals are still significant and that our work is nowhere near done.
What are your Top 3 Pride festival moments?
I have many fantastic artist memories – Human League and Gossip put on spectacular performances at previous Pride events. Another fabulous memory each year is the Parade; watching the support from the public, our dedicated volunteers and our sponsors and friends on the floats is a heart-warming experience.
It is also a visually stunning experience. Finally, a third memory, the George House Trust Candlelit Vigil, to pay respects to those we have lost to HIV/AIDS. The Vigil is always touching as it brings everyone together in Sackville Gardens (you do not need a wristband to attend this)
If you could tell a teenage you anything what would it be?
Make the most of what you’ve got whilst you’ve got it, because it might just go.
What makes you proud?
Manchester, our strong community, my beautiful partner and family, friends, and belief – Pride, and being able to have it out-loud, makes me Proud.
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