An open letter to Pride Glasgow.
The first Pride was a protest- a protest against the violence, erasure and abuse of LGBTQIA+ people that has been carried out against us for decades. Pride was a riot, a way to fight back against our oppressors and show that we would not be silenced. Over time, as many societies across the world have become more accepting of LGBTQIA+ people Pride has departed from its roots and become commercialised and deradicalised. It is no longer a way to celebrate our history and remember those who fought for us to be recognised and treated fairly. It is no longer a way for us to come together and demand more for those of us who still face injustice. It is no longer about protecting the most marginalised in our community. Instead, it has become an excuse for corporations to push rainbow branded products on us as a marketing ploy, for marginalised groups to be excluded while cis white men are celebrated, and real issues that continue to affect the LGBTQIA+ community are ignored in favour of celebrating ‘gay marriage’.
Pride Glasgow has become the embodiment of so many things that are wrong with mainstream Pride festivals. It was last year that the decision was made to charge people for attending the events held in our city, except for the march, which remained open to all. At the time, many thought this to be a reasonable decision, especially as the events were clashing with the Commonwealth Games that received a lot more public and private support. But while last year the entry fee was £5, which was still unaffordable for many, this year it has been increased to a price that ranges from 8 (for a one day ticket) to 55 pounds (VIP experience for those who are extremely proud, of themselves, their community, and… their money?). This makes the event inaccessible and alienating to many groups, and we believe it is not in the spirit of Pride.
The fact that you are now charging again for Pride has made us realise we need an alternative- we’re tired of being patronised and marketed to by large companies, we’re tired of having our histories pink-washed, we’re tired of the exclusion of trans, non-binary, disabled, poor, non-white and other marginalised identities and we’re tired of the real issues facing our community being swept under the rug.
Your #BeHappy hashtag is another thing we take issue with. While the idea of #BeHappy may seem like a positive statement, in reality it trivialises the experiences of those of us who are still facing discrimination, violence, homelessness and poverty. Being given a chance to openly and proudly present ourselves does indeed make many of us happy; however, a huge part of the community is still treated with no respect and has it difficult even in the progressive country that the UK is viewed as. We cannot be happy when so many of us are being erased from the conversation about equality, and are continually discriminated against.
We also want you to be more transparent about your finances, particularly as you are a charity who supposedly exists to support our community. The last financial statement available on your website seems to be dating back to 2012–2013. You are charging people and companies who want to sell or advertise their products and services for stalls, and then you charge people for access to these stalls. We want to know why Pride is no longer free and where the money from our tickets goes.
While we are launching our own event to provide an alternative to your own commercialised, de-radicalised and drinking-centric party, we are happy to work alongside you to make Pride more accessible for the marginalised groups in our community in the future. Our ultimate goal is to provide a space for everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community to come and feel comfortable, to celebrate and to protest, regardless of how much money is in their pocket.