Last week I wrote about the importance of queer community connection, calling for us all to maintain the electric feeling of Pride all year round. But I think it’s important for us to pause and ask ourselves who we tend to connect with, and who we more often leave out? Queer women and disabled people are frequently ignored and forgotten, and racism and transphobia are increasingly on the rise in our local and national communities, including, unfortunately, in our LGBTQ+ spaces. Yes, even here in Manchester.
If we are ever to achieve true equality then we must fight together, joining forces for collective liberation. Our endeavours must be intersectional, meaning they address the needs of those with multiple and overlapping marginalisations. It is not enough to create safe spaces and celebrations just for able-bodied white cis gay men; every member of our varying queer communities deserve these things too. We must improve diversity and inclusion in our local LGBTQ+ community, supporting and celebrating those who may be different from ourselves as we work to solve shared issues. As Marsha P. Johnson, a trans woman of colour and one of the most important figures in our movement’s history, once said: ‘No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.’
Quick check-in: how do you feel after reading the above paragraph? You might feel (justifiably) angry, especially if these issues apply directly to you. But if they don’t, then you might feel defensive, or even threatened. It’s not uncommon for a social critique to feel like a personal attack, and the idea of changing your (much-loved) community can sound scary and risky. I think sometimes we can hear the call for greater diversity and inclusion within our community and worry that this will involve too much work, conflict and shame. And so we don’t get involved in this fight. We celebrate our own Prides while ignoring the need for others’ liberation.
But what if we imagined it differently? What if we imagined a world where all LGBTQ+ people are free to live and love without prejudice? Doesn’t that then imply that this process of greater connection and collaboration would actually be one that would create joy? We’d be making a world where more people are happy and healthy and safe! Isn’t that something to pursue earnestly, with eager hope and excited wonder? After all, if the partying at Pride is a form of protest, then surely the protests of our movement can also be a party?
I witnessed a small taste of this intersectional joy at the Manchester Pride Festival this year. It was on the MancUnity stage at Black Pride MCR; it was in the cheering audience at Superbia’s Disabled, Queer and Hear event; it shaped lives at Youth Pride MCR; it coursed through the dancers at the Queer Women’s Takeover; it resonated powerfully during the Cutie-POC Cabaret show. I am so grateful that we had these and many other moments of intersectional joy at Manchester Pride, for unfortunately it is a rarity in our community and an unlikely occurrence at many other Pride events across our country. But for us, we celebrated Pride with a great variety of artists and speakers, over 50% of which were people of colour, over 50% were women and roughly 40% were trans and non-binary!
At the beginning of the Manchester Pride Festival this year, during the Human Rights Forum: Pride is a Protest, we repeated Marsha P. Johnson’s above words like a mantra, reflecting on what these words mean. At Manchester Pride, we will always fight for ‘liberation for all of us,’ whether that be through the voices and arguments we platform at our annual Manchester Pride Conference, the consultations and feedback delivered through the All Equals Charter, or the growing list of resources we provide for free on our website (see, for example, our QTIPOC Liberation Resources and Trans Liberation Resources). We are imagining things differently, and in turn creating spaces of joy for our varied LGBTQ+ communities.Will you join us? Will you imagine it differently?