Something is currently wrong with pride. In England, UKIP were able to walk in the London Pride while trade unions were snubbed for banks. Pride Glasgow has decided to charge those who attend and, in the process, is highlighting how pride has become more exclusionary and corporatised, just like many other lgbt spaces in the modern day. The political fire which started pride in 1970 is in danger of being extinguished, and we need to stop it from happening.
In retrospect, the Stonewall Riots didn’t happen that long ago. Just under fifty years ago, the abuse and maltreatment of lgbtqa+ people, by the authorities, pushed the community in New York to fight back. In 1970, the first anniversary of the riots was commemorated with the first pride march in the U.S. Excitement and wariness permeated the march, with the idea of carrying signs proclaiming the authenticity of one’s identity being totally alien. By branding and commercialising pride, it is stripped of its inherently political nature.
By charging for entrance, Pride Glasgow went against what pride ought to be. Regardless of income, pride should be open to people of all sexualities and genders. By setting a price on the celebration of queer identity and liberation, they cut off many people who could otherwise benefit from pride.
The world we live in today is vastly different from that of 1970 or even the 1980s. As a transgender and asexual person, my queer experiences have differed from someone in the 1980s, at the height of the aids crisis, or someone in that crucial march of 1970. However, queerness remains something which doesn’t meld well with many corporate institutions.
Free Pride wants to raise awareness of the problems that currently exist at pride events, while also making celebrations significantly more accepting and inclusive. We’re using different methods to make sure that all voices are heard during the organisation of Free Pride; for example, I am part of different caucus groups including the one for disabled people and another for transgender/non-binary people. By using these groups, Free Pride can be organised to take into account the needs of specific marginalised groups, such as people of colour (POC), transgender people, and asexual people. Often people who do not identify using the labels of gay or lesbian can made to feel be excluded, even at mainstream LGBT events, Free Pride is actively trying to prevent that. Racism is also a problem in many spaces. We want to try and highlight these issues whilst making a positive change for the better through the creation of a pride that is accessible for all.
We have just had an indiegogo page created and, in the last week, held our first fundraiser through the LGBTQA+ club night Polyester.Through sources of funding such as these, people who feel able to financially support the event are able to help; however, I believe that it’s important that no one will need to pay for the supposed privilege of expressing their identities.
Our event is fully intersectional and radical; however, we have not tied ourselves to any political group as Free Pride is socially motivated – fighting for lgbtqa+ rights and inclusivity.
Recently, Pride Glasgow responded to the launch of our campaign, asking us to merge with them. They also have claimed that the council is partly responsible for the entrance charge due to charging Pride Glasgow for the use of the venue and for the police presence, unlike other events they don’t receive public funding. Saddeningly, Pride Glasgow also claim that Glasgow City Council has made it very difficult for them to hold the event in the past.
This response conveys that even pride, which seems to have become a feature of life for many, is still despised by prejudiced individuals and institutions. We are making a statement about how wayward pride has become, and therefore we will not merge with Glasgow Pride. We need to draw on experiences of all the lgbt people that came before us and make a stand for a better pride. That is, we need to make a stand for a pride that is inclusive and accessible for all. We need to fight like our predecessors did at Stonewall and, by doing so, keep their work alive.
Please follow the work of Free Pride through their facebook page: freeprideglasgow