Back in 2010, Liverpool Pride was born. The powers-that-be decided that Liverpool needed a Pride event, a safe space to celebrate diversity and inclusiveness in a city scarred by homophobic violence. It was a fairly small-scale event and it was fun, with a great atmosphere and community spirit. It wasn’t just LGBT people and their friends who took in the event – ordinary city-dwellers, shoppers who wandered past, and rail passengers heading to Moorfields station all stopped to take in the festivities.
Then, next year, they decided that the safe space wasn’t big enough, and moved it to the Pier Head. It lost a little something from being moved away from the gay quarter, but it was still a fun event, as bemused tourists getting off the Mersey Ferry encountered drag queens.
Then, in 2013, they decided that the safe space wasn’t safe enough, and introduced a new security policy. The Pier Head was fenced off to keep the pridegoers caged in. People would have their picnics searched on entry and any drinks confiscated. There had been too much drunken behaviour in previous years, it was claimed. From now on, the only drunkenness tolerated would be from alcohol purchased at the official stands for £5 a go.
Then, they decided that they could no longer afford the safe space, and started charging an entrance fee. To celebrate diversity and inclusiveness now costs £11, for a wristband which allows a lucky few to walk down streets which are open to all the other 364 days of the year. The casual passer-by was, it seemed, no longer welcome in the gay quarter and had to find a route avoiding it.
They decided to abandon community spirit in favour of getting sloshed and watching music acts perform 15 minute sets. It was the Mathew Street Festival, but with drag queens.
The volunteers still rattled their donation buckets. In previous years we were asked to “help keep Pride free”. No word on their purpose this year.
Ah well, it was nice while it lasted. For what it’s worth, here are some pictures from the Pride march.