It was an uncharacteristically sunshiny weekend in the city centre for Manchester’s Pride weekend and Canal Street was dressed up to the tees! There were flags galore, pronouns hanging from the sky and a beautiful collage of people below, all immersed in the experience that was Pride. Being at the heart of that with my favourite people really was something else. I felt surrounded by queer love and joy on Canal Street, right in the thick of everything and everyone. In general public displays of affection (PDA) is always a hit-or-miss experience when being queer but it felt so natural on a street full of people with no judgement.
If I had to choose my favourite part of the weekend, it would be celebrating with my friends and my girlfriend at our first Pride together. It was magical. Yes, certain bars and events were ticketed, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves. The street was alive. We were packed in with queens performing in windows and djs spinning out bop after bop on their platforms. Waving at queens high up in the bars sort of felt like the queer version of a coronation. Chaotic is the best word to use, but I wouldn’t expect anything less!
Reflecting about the weekend, I do find the pricing and accessibility to Pride events to be concerning. Wristbands were needed to access Pride stages, with it being £32.50 for a full weekend ticket. Thankfully this year wristbands were only needed to get into certain bars and events rather than to access Canal street. We found our way to Canal Street and enjoyed our day without having to go inside a bar or a ticketed event. It was amazing for everyone to be able to access the party and celebrations this year.
Whilst I adored spotting the spattering of rainbows and flags around the city – I would love the celebration of our community and education of LGBTQ+ issues to be in people’s minds all year round, rather than just down to a week or a month. Equality can’t be temporary for it to stick. Leave flags in windows, educate employees, add it to your agenda and celebrate queer events all year round. The city and the businesses within it should show that they are allies and promote equality, not just over the bank holiday weekend, but after too. We exist for more than those 4 days.
I think Manchester Pride could do more when it comes to promoting equality with more events focusing on different communities within the LGBTQ+ family, such as Black and Asian pride. I definitely would have loved to see more representation for queer POCs when I was growing up, so I know how important it is to have visibility and representation at these events. Another gripe would be tickets for Pride. If one of the factors of Pride is to be inclusive then having a pay wall to access part of it is counteractive. Yes, there are so many events across the weekend that are free, but the main flagship event should be more accessible to everyone, no matter what their circumstances are.
Ways to address this issue would possibly be setting up a fund that people can apply for to access said events or subsidise tickets, but this would have to be means tested. Manchester Pride itself do offer 1000 discounted tickets too however on average there were 10,000 people participating in the parade alone. This would have to be advertised to make people aware of it but it would also be lovely for it to be a specific fund that both businesses and the general public can donate too.
All in all my Pride weekend was full of joy, love, celebrations and learning. The things that made it special to me was being around my loved ones, but also making new friends that I hope to see again next year. Manchester Pride really is a great celebration for the queer community in Manchester and beyond. Bring on Pride 2023!