26 May 2014
our friends and comrades at AntiUK have written an article on the plans to further privatise Brighton Pride:
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Brighton Pride have announced plans to turn the legendary (and free) St James’ Street party into a ticketed, controlled event. Health and safety is the official justification, but there are deeper and more unpleasant motives behind the move. Supporters of the proposal essentially argue that the free street party is attracting the wrong kind of revellers. One complainant from GScene magazine states that last year party-goers were too ‘rowdy and noisy’ and were insufficiently ‘LGBT’:
Now that Pride is a paid for event, each year the Gay Village Street Party comes under ever increasing pressure from numbers attending, attracting a rough, noisy and especially on the Saturday night, a not too LGBT friendly community crowd to St James’s Street.
This is part of a broader attempt to ‘exclude those participants that do not match their vision of homonormative gayness.Pride have a problem with queers. Politics returned to Brighton Pride in 2012 with organisers collaborating with the police to move Brighton Queers Against the Cuts to the back of the parade and then kettling them half way round before attempting to arrest anyone who joined their group. Brighton Queers Against the Cuts were a fully approved and paid up group with the backing of Peter Tatchell and Caroline Lucas. Much of this has been analysed by the Queer in Crisis collective
As Queer in Crisis argue:
According to the CIC, Brighton Pride is not a space for protest, but the company constructs Pride as a highly politicized space for expressions of normative gayness. The imposition of a violent, continual stasis on the parade entrants—their hypervisiblity, their subjection to multiple forms of scrutiny and regulation from both within and without—bring me back to the violent, paradoxical simultaneity of “fitting in” and “being yourself.”
All this feeds into a discourse which seeks to police gay politics and queer identities and exclude perceived deviants from participating in Pride. At root, Pride are seeking to monetize this successful free event because their previous efforts to charge for the Pride party in Preston Park have proven deeply unpopular.
Of course this is part of a broader trend towards the privatisation of public space but it is also indicative of the way in which some people within ‘gay politics’ have been thoroughly incorporated. The most worrying thing is that Pride are seeking to exclude those who don’t perform their sexuality in a homonormative, demure, middle-class way.
This proposal to privatise a street party is so far from the original founding principles of gay pride as espoused by the GLF that it beggars belief. The ‘theme’ of this year’s pride is rather ironically ‘freedom to live’ – presumably this ‘freedom’ doesn’t extend to those who can’t afford the entrance fee, to those who are queer, or too straight-looking, to the rowdy and the noisy. Pride want “controlled partygoers” – after all the best kind of party-goers are controlled ones, aren’t they?
There is a public meeting about these privatisation plans Wed 28th May at 7pm at Dorset Garden Methodist Church (upper hall). See you there.