In the UK, Pride is an event where lgbt people can get together and celebrate the fact they are lgbt and the advancements that we have achieved in gaining equality over the years. We can take a break from our campaigning and activism and have a party in a relatively safe and secure space with other lgbt people and our family and friends. By doing so we are protesting against the hetero-normative, daily activities that are usually going on around us.
And there is a cost to pay for some of these events particularly if entertainment, facilities and security is laid on. But where else can you go for a full day's concert and only pay a tenner? Some of the organisers could be a bit more choosy with their sponsors and consider more ethical rules making sure that the sponsors recognise trade unions, have good employment and diversity policies which they actually put in to practice, have good fair trade records, are not corrupt and this is a genuine campaign that we can pursue.
I have attended a number of Pride events over the years both in the UK and abroad. In some countries, where Pride marches are banned and LGBT people face protests, hostility and violence for taking part in a Pride event which I have witnessed then 'Pride is a Protest'.
However, the Pride is a Protest group and campaign is a bit confused in my opinion. They claim to be a global, autonomous activist movement that aims to put the politics back into pride! They state that they campaign against profiteering, exploitation and commercialisation of queer and LGBT community events and festivals and organise their own grass routes events.
On their site under Manchester Pride Investigation, select the link and it takes you direct to the website of G7. Surprise, surprise, he had to be in it somewhere. And they also have connections with Reclaim the Scene which claims to be a grass-roots collective of people from all walks of life, tackling all that's bad about the scene, celebrating what's good and making Manchester Pride one we can all be proud of.
This year leaflets were produced titled 'Reclaim the Scene' which contained information lifted from the G7 website. These were distributed at Manchester Pride containing the logos of NUS, UNISON and the Queer Youth Network.
The NUS apparently passed a motion joining UNISON in their support of 'Pride is a Protest'. The May 09 newsletter of Pride is a Protest states:
"NUS LGBT Campaign national “Pride is a Protest” Motion passed 'Following the lead after UNISON’s LGBT group voted to support the Pride is a Protest movement the National Union of Students LGBT campaign voted in favour of a motion last weekend at their annual conference in Nottingham to proactively declare “Pride is a Protest” and will be marching around the country with placards that read “Pride not Profit” (censored by Manchester last year). Trade union types who oppose a commercialised model of pride organisations who have put so much hard work into ensuring what could well be the biggest representative bodies now formerly support the spirit of “Pride is a Protest” within their own campaigns for this year. Remember – Pride is a Protest is an autonomous collective and there is a multitude of individuals and groups who share our ethos and will no doubt be very visible and vibrant this year at events around the country.NUS LGBT Conference 2009 Final Motions:http://resource.nusonline.co.uk/media/resource/CD7%20Final%20Motions.pdf
UNISON LGBT Conference 2008 Record of Decisions: http://www.unison.org.uk/file/B4375%202008%20LGBT%20conf%20rec%20of%20dec.pdf
The NUS represents the needs and wishes of over 7 million students though 600 higher and further institutions. UNISON is Britain and Europe's biggest public sector union with more than 1.3 million members.Both LGBT campaigns are fully recognised bodies within each union. Their membership combined is almost as people who voted Labour in the last general election. Although democratically elected and accountable (give or take a bit of paperwork and the odd heated debate!) this news is a credit to all the many years of unsupported, frontline and grassroots action and campaigning that until recently has been ignored.Well done to all those people involved in the more structured political areas of public life to ensure the LGBT community has an even louder voice when calling for grassroots, community-focused pride festivals.'
Well the author of this ought to get their facts rights. At the UNISON LGBT Conference, where the motion was passed, whilst it was carried, it was not carried unanimously. The number of delegates at that conference was 209 and 38 of those will not have had voting rights in any event as they will have been members of the National LGBT Committee. The motion is only LGBT Conference policy and does not binf the whole of the union. For it to be UNISON policy, it would have to be carried at the annual National Delegate Conference.
The actual motion carried at the 2008 LGBT Conference calls on the National LGBT Committee to:
1 Organise mobilisation of unison members and delegations at pride events to openly oppose and challenge any attempts by pride organisers to vet, doctor or censor LGBT liberation activists organising at pride events, and to stand in solidarity with such activists. This should include distributing material condemning such actions on stalls, and encouraging unison members in all sectors to display materials highlighting and condemning such actions in their delegations to pride parades, where they are present;
2 Where they exist, organise linking up with 'pride is a protest' initiatives at pride events and marching alongside our fellow LGBT activists, putting forward the UNISON agenda in line with the policy and campaigning priorities put forward by LGBT conference;
3 Produce materials aimed at young workers for distribution at pride events setting out the work Unison has done, and is doing, to further the LGBT liberation agenda, as well as highlighting the benefits of trade union membership.
It is important to note that the instruction in point 2 states UNISON should link up with 'Pride is a Protest' initiatives putting forward the UNISON agenda in line with the policy and campaigning priorities put forward by LGBT Conference.
The Pride is a Protest Group also talk about the rip off wristbands for Manchester Pride sending you to a website called of all things Gay Mafia Watch which harps back to 2007. The Gay Mafia Watch says they are an anonymous, independent and impartial group of observers who felt the need for there to be a “watchdog” asking questions and raising standards within the LGBT Media sector. They watch Britain’s Gay Mafia who they claim are made up of an elite class of businessmen, entrepreneurs and politicians in cahoots with Multinational Corporations and dodgy underground figures. They state that the Gay Mafia as a term has many historic and contemporary connotations but the mafia-style, aggressive culture of the gay scene, the media and even a number of corrupt non-profit bodies is more visible than ever.
Maybe they have been watching too many episodes of The Godfather or even playing Mafia Wars for too long on Face book.