Liverpool Pride: Dilemma
A couple of days ago I got an email inviting me to an afternoon and evening of fun and games. I turned it down because I already had something else planned - Liverpool Pride. Now in its fourth year, Liverpool Pride does hold a place in my heart as feeling like a real community event.
It started a year after the killing of Michael Causer and that event, through the Michael Causer Foundation, has been very visible. It banned floats which meant that community groups were just as visible as the commercial groups (the Corona bus is a particularly depressing focal point of too many Pride Parades). In the first year it was in the gay quarter of Liverpool City Centre. It had no fences. It had a stage which introduced me to Stealing Sheep and Lonesome Georginas among others.
The second year, it moved out to Pier Head. Still without fences and, what was now the "Community Stage" had me howling in hysterics at Caz and Brit and enjoying some lovely music. Bit disappointing to be slightly away from the centre and into more of an "event space", it lost some of it's specialness. By using an "event space" it becomes special, marked as different, in a very different way to the integrated feel of the first year where we were literally playing in the streets.
Last year, I have previously noted my disappointment at the replacement of the Community Stage with a club and bar "Stanley Street" stage featuring favourite drag acts and club DJs. I felt like there was nothing on offer to me - not interested in the "I love my gay fans" attractions on the main stage nor the scene stage, I was bereft of entertainment. But it was still open. We may have been in an event space, but we weren't fenced off.
So, today Liverpool Pride make an important "Safety Announcement". For "our safety", they are fencing the Pier Head off and doing bag searches for alcohol. We've gone, in four years, from a festival which was integrated with the city, to one which was slightly off from the city but still freely accessible to being fenced off and searched on entry.
This, apparently, passes for progress in Pride.
I did not feel unsafe last year: bored, but not in danger. I am not aware of there being problems with violence or drunkenness. I am not at all convinced that bag searches will stop people being drunken arseholes.
What this does do is draw a line... In here is Pride, out there is not. And that disgusts me. That is violence against the idea of Pride.
So now, I need to decide... do I go for an event which does not cater for me and feels the antithesis of what it should be? Or do I go play board games and Cards Against Humanity with friends?
P.S. oooh... Actually, looks like The Lomax Stage may be for me... Ahhh... starts at 19:30, not a "stage" so much as an evening (night?) event at a local venue...