Manchester Pride

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Manchester Pride is an annual LGBT pride festival and parade held each summer in the city of Manchester, England. It is one of the longest running in the country and attracts thousands of visitors to the city's gay village, Canal Street, each year. The festival's events that take place within the Village require a paid-for Pride wristband for entry, while other events, such as the parade, can be watched by any spectator.[1]

The current ten-day festival includes a "Pride Fringe" with a series of arts, music and cultural events all over the city as well as community events including poetry readings, quizzes and film showings, culminating in "The Big Weekend", a 72-hour party during the August bank holiday weekend in Canal Street and the surrounding area, with a parade through the streets of Manchester.

History[edit]

The Manchester Gay Pub and Club Olympics and Gay Centre Fun Day took place on August Bank Holiday 1985. The following year in June 1986 there was a Pride North across the north-west of England with a launch in the Rembrandt Hotel. In 1990 there was again a Pride in Manchester in June. Around the world June was traditionally the month for pride because the Stonewall Riots happened in June of 1969.

In 1989 the Northwest Campaign for Lesbian & Gay Equality organised Manchester's "Celebration of Gay and Lesbian Diversity" Love Rights. It consisted of a music festival (performers included Jimmy Somerville and Yazz who performed her #2 UK chart hit of the same name "Stand Up (for your Love Rights)") at the Free Trade Hall and a political march starting at All Saints Park culminating in a rally with stalls in Albert Square. At the time the main focus of the gay rights movement was opposing Section 28.[2]

The jumble sale fundraiser on August Bank Holiday outside the Rembrandt took place in 1990 as it had done in 1989 and probably earlier. Although these days Manchester Pride likes to claim this as its roots, it's clear that the August jumble sale was not a pride event. We can see that in 1990 there was both a pride in June and a jumble sale on August Bank Holiday.

This is confirmed by a booklet that the Village Charity published for its annual general meeting in 1994, which states: "many volunteers of the charity get upset when the press call our weekend the 'Northern Pride'. It's not and never has been." The purpose was solely to raise money for HIV and AIDS causes and in particular for the ward at Monsall Hospital where people received treatment. In 1991 the event was expanded to include a full programme of activities from Friday to Monday and it was named "the Carnival of Fun Weekend". The jumble sale moved into Sackville Park. On the Monday night there was a substantial fireworks display that was funded by the North West Development Agency and it was announced that good-luck telegrams had been received from Diana Princess of Wales and other high-profile people.

In 2015 Manchester Pride claimed that it was the 25th anniversary of "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) celebrations in Manchester." As there was a "Gay Centre Fun day" in 1985, a Pride in 1986 and Love Rights in 1989 (actually billed as a celebration) we can see that wasn't true.

Over the following years, the event grew and was known as Mardi Gras. It developed with support from the VBA (Village Business Association). According to a report in The Pink Paper just after the 1996 Mardi Gras, the Village Charity hoped to top the £77,000 raised with a further £50,000 from donations included in ticket sales to the Sunday Freedom GALA at the G-Mex centre. Total: £127,000. Entry tickets and fences were first introduced during the council-run event in 1999, but despite a large income, there was no money for charity that year.[3] As a result, the event reverted to community control in 2000, 2001 and 2002. From 2000 to 2001 the event was called Gayfest and was organised and managed by a committee of volunteers led by local businesswoman Julia Grant. During this time the Gayfest team bid for, and won, the right to host Europride in 2003.

In 2002 the event reverted to the name MardiGras and was organised by a committee of the Village Business Association. During these three years, no entry fee was charged, yet money was still raised for charity: Gayfest 2000 collected £105,716.77, Gayfest 2001 collected £87,666.63, and Mardi Gras 2002 collected £65,007. In 2003, about 37,000 people paid for tickets for EuroPride which was hosted that year by Manchester. This can be gleaned from the fact that Operation Fundraiser sold the £10 tickets and gathered £388,946 from tickets and bucket collections, with a final figure of £127,690 for good causes.

At the closing ceremony in 2003, it was announced that the event would be now be known as "Manchester Pride" (the manchesterpride.com domain name was registered by the web designers on behalf of Pride in April 2003) and in 2007 it became a Charity in its own right (charity number 1117848).

In 2014 Manchester pride invited people from the LGBT community to help shape the way the organisation is run. [4]

Festival[edit]

During the August bank holiday weekend of Manchester Pride, the city's gay village becomes a gated area; The gated system and entry fee have been in place since 2003,[5] however, the candlelight vigil held in Sackville Park each Pride does not require a wristband for entry.[6] Additionally, the parade, starting on Deansgate, is free for anyone to watch and does not take place within the gated zone.

In 2013 it came to light that wristbands were never required to enter the gated area. In the words of a Manchester City Council representative "The closure orders do not restrict any pedestrian wishing to exercise their right of way and the event organisers are instructed to facilitate such movement as requested."

Criticisms have arisen over the closed nature of the event, with those against the policy describing it as a "prison".[7] Pride organisers have rebutted the accusation, saying it increases safety and, by purchasing a ticket to enter, this gives Manchester Pride an increased income that will be donated to charities.[6] Additionally, though the wristband offers access to its arena sites, where music performances are held, certain bars and clubs within the vicinity charge their own entry fees. Manchester Pride noted the issue, stating, "we ask that bars do not charge an entrance fee during the Big Weekend; however this is something we cannot enforce".[6]

Totals for charity[8][edit]

2015: £146,000 (Pay event)

2014: £54,000 (Pay event)

2013: £34,000 (pay event)[9]

2012: £52,000 (pay event) = 3.7% of funds raised

2011: £105,000. £7,000 of this came from the "Pride Dinner" the previous November (pay event)

2010: £115,000 (pay event)

2009: £135,000 (pay event)

2008: £105,000 (pay event)

2007: £95,000 (pay event)

2006: £121,000 eventually, after challenging a £56,000 VAT bill (pay event)

2005: £120,772 (pay event)

2004: £129,426 (pay event)

2003: £127,690 (pay event)

2002: £65,007 (free event)

2001: £87,666.63 (free event)

2000: £105,716,77 (free event)

1999: zero raised (pay event - the first year with the 'pledgeband'/wristband)

1998: £131,062 (pay event)

1996: The Pink Paper reported £77,000 and that the Village Charity was hoping for a further £50,000 from donations included in ticket sales to the Sunday Freedom GALA. Total: £127,000.

Unlawful street closures[edit]

In 2013 "Facts About Manchester Pride"[10] campaigners were tipped off that Manchester Pride closing the streets to pedestrians was unlawful. In the run up to the 2014 event the Department For Transport confirmed in writing[11] that the streets closures had always applied to traffic only and that Manchester City Council had exceeded its powers by including pedestrians in its Traffic Order. There was media coverage. However the Manchester Evening News referred to a planned protest as a "mass trespass," turning the truth on its head.[12]

A protest organised by the Facts group took place at the gates on the Saturday of the Big Weekend. They were unlawfully blocked by Pride's private security guards while police officers stood and watched.[13] The media did not report this.

The following April (2015) the Local Government Ombudsman confirmed in a ruling[14] what the Department For Transport (DFT) had written. Pedestrians have every right to make their way to premises (businesses and homes) where no alternative route is available. Those who buy wristbands may not be given priority over access to the streets.

There was a big change in 2015. Members of the public were able to enter the gay village area without buying a wristband and enter any premises that would allow them in without a band. Greater Manchester Police acknowledged the situation and Manchester City Council appointed a member of staff to ensure access was allowed. However the Manchester Evening News misled readers by writing that a wristband was required to enter the gay village "as usual."[15] In 2015 and 2016 the Facts About Manchester Pride group published factsheets[16] to inform the public of their lawful rights. To date (May 2017) there has been an almost total news blackout about the victory by campaigners and the change. This applies to mainstream and LGBT media, and despite (paid) police officers having been used by a gay pride organisation to assist with the unlawful blocking of pedestrian access to the streets of a "gay village" during a "pride" weekend.

In 2017 minutes of a meeting[17] were unearthed in the archives at Central Library. These minutes date from 25 November 2002. The meeting was told that two methods could be used to close the roads but that a charge could not be made to enter either way. Present at that meeting were representatives of Marketing Manchester, Manchester City Council, George House Trust, The Lesbian and Gay Foundation (now known as the LGBT Foundation), Greater Manchester Police and the organising team of Europride (which was renamed Manchester Pride in 2004).

Despite this, pedestrians, residents and their visitors had their access to the pavements restricted or fully blocked every August Bank Holiday from 2003 to 2014. It had also happened in 1999.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Evans, Denise (2012-08-24). "Manchester Pride: Your guide to the 2012 festival". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  2. ^ "Love Rights festival poster". Manchester Archives / Northwest Campaign for Lesbian & Gay Equality. Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  3. ^ "BBC North-West Tonight report - no charity money in 1999". Youtube.com. Retrieved 2012-12-20. 
  4. ^ "MANCHESTER PRIDE INVITES PEOPLE TO SHAPE HOW ORGANISATION IS RUN". Manchester Gaztte. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  5. ^ McDowell, Jordan (2011-08-31). "Jackie Crozier Interview". Manchester Confidential. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  6. ^ a b c "The Festival". Manchesterpride.com. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  7. ^ "Reclaiming Pride in Manchester". Gaymafiawatch.com. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  8. ^ "Is it still a fundraising event?". Manchester Pride. Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
  9. ^ http://www.manchesterpride.com/press/release/moneyraised
  10. ^ "FactsMCR website". FactsMCR.com. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  11. ^ "Letter to campaigners from the Department For Transport". FactsMCR.com. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  12. ^ "MEN reports on planned "mass trespass"". MEN. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  13. ^ "Video of campaigners being unlawfully blocked in 2014". YouTube. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  14. ^ "Ruling by the Local Government Ombudsman". FactsMCR.com. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  15. ^ "Manchester Evening News misleads readers by writing that the gay village will be closed to those who don't purchase a wristband, "as usual."". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  16. ^ "2016 factsheet published by Facts About Manchester Pride campaigners". FactsMCR.com. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  17. ^ "FactsMCR website". FactsMCR.com. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 

External links[edit]