You Should Go: Manchester’s Political Pride Wants to Take Pride Back to its Roots

While I won’t argue against Pride marches as an important part of the international LGBTQ visibility and equality movement, in many places it can feel as though the parade has become overcommercialised, non-inclusive and detached from its overtly political beginnings.

Via Manchester Pride Instagram

Manchester is one of those locations. With three major alcohol brands among this year’s sponsors, corporate parade floats (Tescos, Barclays and EasyJet have all participated in past parades), and celebrations focused heavily on the bars and clubs of the Gay Village, the Manchester Pride weekend is loud, expensive, booze-fueled and mainstream. Dancing and drinking in the streets (with ever-increasing numbers of straight folks) might be fun for many and a radical act for some, but not everyone feels welcome or comfortable at this kind of event.

Via Manchester Pride Instagram

Via Manchester Pride Instagram

Following an open meeting, a collective of Manchester-based individuals and organisations including the Joyce Layland LGBT Centre, LGBT Youth North West, Manchester Metropolitan University and The People’s History Museum have joined forces to create a weekend of alternative events to take Pride back to its roots.

Political Pride will take place on Saturday the 29th and Sunday the 30th of August, immediately following the Manchester Pride parade. There will be workshops, discussions and performances, and family-friendly activities, creating a platform to explore the politics of Pride, and to identify and explore some of the most important issues for LGBTQ+ communities today.

The event was the idea of Amelia Lee, Strategic Director at LGBT Youth North-West:

All LGBTQ+ people deserve and need thinking and social spaces, that are more than just drinking spaces. Many people feel excluded from Pride and as a result don’t always feel connected to the political and social networks we all need

Political Pride takes place at the LGBT Centre, 49-51 Sidney St, M1 7HB, All Saints Park (Oxford Road, opposite Sidney St) and MMU Business School (By All Saints Park) on 29 and 30 August 2015, with fringe events in the run-up on 27th and 28th August.

Find out more at

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Beth Maiden is a tarot reader and writer based in Machynlleth, mid-Wales. She has two cats, a hot builder girlfriend, far too many tarot decks and not enough coffee cups. She's really into bread, the colour red, camping and brand new notebooks. She'd love to cut your hair, read your cards or hang out with you on her blog, Little Red Tarot!

Beth has written 111 articles for us.


  1. This is exactly why I stopped going.

    Even in the mid 90’s it was so full of het’s (women AND men) that the ratio was about 80%+ het women to lbt women.

    I got so fed up after 2 days of this I would walk up to women and ask them if they were het or gay, and when they (almost always) said ‘het’ I’d ask why they were there and they said it was a ‘hassle free party’ environment.

    It’s DISGUSTING that our event gets hijacked and turned into a 3 days drunken loud music festival.

    Having a separate place within the pride is a start – albeit a tiny and ultimately futile one.

    The entire pride should be scrapped or changed completely, and het women (and men) should be strongly encouraged NOT to attended. They have the rest of manchester 362 days of the year to themselves…

    • word! owen jones made a really interesting video on his youtube about that. pride has been completely appropriated by straights and corporations and has lost all its meaning, just like most gay clubs I know.
      definitely going to check the manchester political pride out and I hope the turnout is good!

    • Hmm, perhaps rather than encouraging het folks not to come, more efforts could be made to open up conversations about consent, drinking, the purpose of pride, etc. I think the kind of behavior Beth discussed can come from anybody, regardless of their sexual orientation. The LGBT community needs to work with, not fight and exclude, the straight community if we want to see some changes happening.

      • I see what you mean and I do agree that this kind of behaviour can come from anyone and also that straight people that respect safe spaces and events and know when they need to take a back seat, here and there, sometimes.
        but in reality, at least in my experience, what ends up happening is that what was supposed to be a celebration of LGBT history, courage and perseverance is completely obliterated and turned into a drunkfest with the aim to make as much profit from selling alcohol as possible, and gay male flamboyance, stripped from all its revolutionary fabric, is placed centre-front as a token to show “how far we’ve come”, how “accepting” straight people are to party along with the drag queens, and now that “we can get married” and apparently reached the pinnacle of equality, let’s party and laugh along to the straight lads chasing lesbians for threesomes.
        I used the quotes in these phrases because I do think this is what the vast majority of straight people think it’s all about and I don’t see how the LGBT community can get together and bond over all the other major issues we have to deal with if we allow straight people to derail the conversation at any given opportunity. There’s enough LGBT people already that think “we’ve made it” that don’t know enough about our history and the issues the more disadvantaged members of the community are faced with and I think a major reason for that is that events like pride have prioritized profit and thus the participation of straight people over ourselves and needs.
        So it’s up to the organizers of these events to get their priorities straight (for lack of a better word) and, not necessarily exclude straight people but, show them where to sit down.

      • I also went to pride as a ‘het’ teenager before I was ready to come out…so I think it’s important to include straights because they might not actually be straight.

        • Yeah me too, my first Prides I was there as an ally. An ally who drools after butch women and who, for some reason, feels like crying all the time. Lol I was clueless.

      • I think it’s important that Pride is a queer-focused space, in which it is safe to assume that any person around you is in some way queer. Allies outnumbering non-het people is directly opposed to that goal.

        I think it’s less important to make space for the straight community than to emphasise space for the more marginalised parts of the queer community (generally bi and trans people, cynically everyone except young thin cis white gay men with disposable income.)

  2. I went to my first Pride this year and while I had some fun nights at the smaller, more alternative venues, it was frustrating to see the big gay clubs charge ridiculously expensive covers, make guests pay for water, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I love drinking and dancing with fellow queers, but please, hold the high prices, aggressive hook-up culture and materialistic focus.
    Very glad to see that Manchester is doing Political Pride though. Unfortunately I won’t be in the UK till September!

  3. This is why I love Oslo Pride: it’s both of these things. There’s debates, artshows, workshops etc. all through the week plus a festival area with concerts and drinks etc. in addition to loud splashy parties. The parade is very diverse, too, from the commercial to the radical. As I’ve been to Prides around the world, it’s still my favorite for it’s diversity.

    I think the value of Pride is both as a celebration, a community-building event and as a political act and that all of those are of equal importance. There should surely be room for a diversity of events in a festival celebrating diversity, right? Loud, splashy commercial stuff is not my speed at all, but for the people into that I think there should absolutely be room for it to exist. The problem becomes when the radical and the marginal and the non-commercial and the political isn’t given a space, too. Pride is about us claiming our space as LGBTQ people – and our community should be reflected as best it can in the events. Not everything can be present, but we should strive for it to be anyway.

    As such I hope this event encourages Pride to become a more diverse space.

    • I feel the same about Helsinki Pride! It’s organised by volunteers, and the week holds a lot of different activities, political and funny and radical and mainstream and and and. A lot of it is free. I haven’t been to a lot of Prides internationally so I never got the griping about Pride being too commercial – until I visited Stockholm Pride, saw the probably straight underwear models dancing on the Björn Borg float and couldn’t afford even attending the fucking Pride picnic even though I’m middle-class.

      I would advise anyone who is able to travel and who is looking for a less commercial Pride experience to visit Pride in a smaller country or city.

      Too bad Oslo and Helsinki Pride seem to be at the same time, otherwise I would pay a visit. :)

  4. This sounds interesting. I won’t be able to go, but I’d certainly be keen to hear how it turns out. The only UK-based Pride I’ve been to is Oxford Pride, which is a much smaller, laid-back affair – I’ve never been to any of the bigger ones and must admit that the main reason for that is the drinking/dancing focus (I’m mobility-impaired and teetotal) together with the commercialisation.

  5. I have never been to Pride. I came out a year ago to most people. I don’t really drink and am much more passionate about LGBT politics and representation than I am about getting drunk with a lot of drag queens and straight people piggybacking on a party – although this is fine, if that’s what you’re in to, I’m not. If I was younger, then maybe. But one night on Canal Street with friends was enough for me to know that isn’t where I feel comfortable.

    But I did want to do/see/hear something while Pride is on, so now I am excited that I will be able to go to this! It sounds much more positive and engaging and I hope that it will help us to see, really, how far we have come, but also how much more there is to do. So, hooray that I am in Manchester until September! Although, not, because I live in Piccadilly Gardens – terrible choice of location – if only I had known!!!!

    In conclusion, yay!

  6. I went to my first pride in Bristol a couple weeks ago and it was very chilled out, not what I’d feared at all (I have a disability and issues surrounding binge drinking). It’s a shame other prides within the UK seem to have lost touch :(

    Sadly I’m too far away from Manchester to check out that political pride thing, but it looks cool!

    Also, thanks for the UK focus :D always like it when things that aren’t American get talked about.

  7. Oh, yay, I’m glad to see this.

    The day of last year’s Manchester Pride parade, I was meant to go into town to meet my girlfriend. I’d never been before, and I sort of assumed it was like a march, a demonstration, where anyone and everyone could join in. As I tried to get to town, I found that I was totally wrong: it was blocked off by barriers and cops, and there was no way I could cross it to get to her. I cycled up and down Manchester, increasingly desperate, trying to find a way through. There was nothing. From one massive impassable road to the next, south Manchester had been cut off from the centre. I ended up crying in a parking lot from the awful dumb irony of Pride keeping me from seeing my girlfriend.

  8. Really wanted to go to this! It’s local for me and I’ve never been-unfortunately, preplanned holidays interfered

  9. My experience of Manc pride is a laundry list of all the stuff you listed which I felt didn’t fit me… (I felt- Like you do you, but wow this isn’t me…but everyone I’m with loves this orgy of capitalism, tokenism and normativity…get me outta here) I would love to come down to this but it is dog sitter and work dependant. I remember looking at a York based pride either last year or the year before and it having poetry, talks, political and non drinking non commercial based stuff but from what I saw online this year it had all changed…unless there’s an alternative one I missed somewhere but I have looked hard. Also does anyone know what family pride is like? Think it’s related to Brighton pride…which is pretty commercial itself. Leeds is a free event but relies on sponsors to remain so, also they gate lower Briggate and do a bag check on the way in, you’re free to come and go but it feels kinda them and us, the pride goers and the rest of the city.

    • There’s an alternative pride event being held in Leeds at wharf chambers on the same day as leeds pride (2nd august) which will have a more political, queer focus. Come check it out if you can :)

  10. I like this idea, and I really hope it spreads to more prides around the world. Cause the times I have been to pride I’ve seen at least one person passed out on the street, and a group of people holding some one’s hair back. I kind of want to avoid that and go to a event where it’s more laid back and more about the activism.

    As for hetro people, I’ve noticed a few times at the bar(& I think even at pride over the weekend) queer men will bring along straight women friends. I think they come to these events because they think they won’t be hit on. But, from what I’ve heard & read on this site, gay dudes still can be awful when it comes to personal space. Not to mention I’ve heard women say they prefer their one night stands to be hetro, cause they are less likely to run into them at LGBTQ events. I would think workshops and activism may curb some of that, but I am not sure of this.

  11. “All LGBTQ+ people deserve and need thinking and social spaces, that are more than just drinking spaces.” Well this sounds cool. Hopefully, it ends up being something great!

  12. I’m going to my first pride next weekend, in Brighton. I’ve never thought about the negative side to it. I’ve seen loads of pictures, articles and videos about pride, in America. It always seems like an exciting celebration, something I’ve wanted to be a part of for a long time. I think some straight people jump on the bandwagon of a lot of issues because it’s trendy. They don’t know the facts or history or feelings involved. For example, the rainbow Facebook pictures. The LGBT community shouldn’t have to arrange alternative events, when pride was originally set up for them. I hope the atmosphere at Manchester and Brighton pride at least does what it’s supposed to do by helping people to feel proud of who they are.

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