Has Pride Become All About Money, Business, And Product Placement?

As we start winding up to Pride Season across the nation and globe, calendars are being examined and vacation days are being planned.  Our local Pride events are always full of friends, family, and festivities, but there’s always a draw to go to a major city to experience something new and exciting. 

When we book that trip to a far off Pride, we contemplate how much of a personal economic investment we are willing to put into having a gay ol’ time.  Communities go through a similar thought process,  how much will / can they spend on showing their Pride?

Since 2012 Pride events in London have also had to confront financial difficulties, they announcing they were “cash strapped” – their events in recent years have been remodelled, rebranded, a new board of trustees elected and the events scaled back. Manchester and Brighton Pride have also faced criticism for expensive entry prices and wristband elitism, elitism the organisers say is vital to their survival. A quick search of my local Pride, in Southend-on-Sea, shows its social media channels are collecting dust and no event has been held since 2013 – is this all a shameful signifier that there is no longer a place for Pride in our community?

Pride has unwittingly become the allotted day where white queens with heterosexual hair wear their limited edition AussieBum jockstraps in public. A day where we’re all encouraged to cliché the gay away, hosted by someone who came 4th on Britain’s Got Talent in 2011. Pride used to be much more than a celebration of mass-produced rainbow flags, it used to be political.

Historically Pride in London was a rally that went past the Houses of Parliament and Downing Street, usually held on the first Saturday of July to co-inside with the anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Its aim was to make our politicians aware of our existence. In recent years the London Pride parade has marched past Selfridges, H&M and Burberry. Pride events across the UK have become opportunities for tax clever multi-nationals to market to the cis pink pound and we’ve welcomed the investment – last year Starbucks became a gold sponsor of Pride in London. Does the future of Pride lay in the wealthy hands of those eager to exploit our perceived frivolous and fabulous ‘lifestyle’? – i-d.vice.com

Do you feel that your city’s Pride is missing the mark?  Is it more about what business is represented, what liquor company is front and center, or which organization has the choice of who is the grand marshall?  Are we moving away from what Pride is / was / should be?  If it comes to represent the time where we block off city blocks so we can walk around in glitter and next to nothing outfits, what are we teaching our youth about Pride? And what are we celebrating?

With Homophobic hate crime on the rise, transphobia, misogyny and racism still rife in the mainstream and our own communities, we should be doing everything we can to preserve the protest, visibility and solidarity Pride can offer. But if Pride events across the country do anything well its echo the phobia many of our community members face – too often Pride events are produced by and for the benefit of the white, cis, middle class elite.

Perhaps it’s the model that is out-dated and not the sentiment. UK Black Pride has gone (and continues) to go from strength to strength, as has Trans Pride Brighton, last year’s birth of Queer Picnic is yet another brilliant signifier that there is a need and want for inclusive, political celebration, but most importantly it demonstrates it doesn’t need to be sponsored by Starbucks to work. – i-d.vice.com

With the gay white male being probably the most accepted group of LGBTers out there, and I’ll go out on a limb and say it is predominantly the gay white males that are the business owners and funders that decide what goes on during our celebrations, are GWMs the ones that are failing Pride while others members of the rainbow family are doing a better more responsible job of celebrating?

Pride should be about remembering what we didn’t have until recently, what has yet to be done and how we might support our global family. It can be free, DIY and community led. It can be inclusive, empowering and a force for good. In its current state its nothing but a lazy, theme park re-enactment of something that once was with added exclusivity. Patriarchal parades of slim, able-bodied zombies doing the GHB two-step – it’s this that is alienating so many and perhaps the real reason our Prides are fraying – we don’t feel like we fit into our own community. We want to belong, we want to feel proud, we want togetherness but the in its current form I’d rather bathe in gay shame. – i-d.vice.com

For more on this from Vice.com, head over to their cite for thier full story.

I recently moved from Maine to Florida, a drastic change in environment and gay population, but the gay politics seem to be the same.  I had watched Southern Maine Gay Pride go through many alterations with one group pushing out another, individuals and businesses looking for recognition and control without thinking about the overall success of Pride events.  It was sad to see the changes that took place, but those running the events saw no issues.  Portland, Maine, a city of 60,000 citizens had the same issues that Southern Florida has with their Prides. 

[In 2014], Pride South Florida took over the Stonewall Street Festival and lost money. Afterwards several prominent members resigned leaving the committee in debt and in flux. Kent, who joined PSF in September, said the board had no choice but to move the event to a later date. So they decided to combine the March event with the June event and have only one celebration in Broward County this year with the festival taking place in Fort Lauderdale and the parade in Wilton Manors.

In addition to Key West Pride being on the same weekend, the popular Gay Days is the weekend before in Orlando and typically draws a large audience from South Florida. – southfloridagaynews.com

My two cents would be … let’s return to celebrating Pride as an anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Let’s all celebrate on the same day, same weekend.  And let’s KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid.

What should be done about Pride? 

What do corporations and businesses need to know about what we want for a Pride? 


h/t  – southfloridagaynews.com and i-d.vice.com


What do you think?