Pride events should provide safe spaces where all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people and their allies are able to celebrate our dynamic and diverse community.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and these events can leave marginalised members of the community feeling shut out, unwelcome and isolated.
Expensive tickets, almost non-existent disabled access, drag acts picking on lesbians and a lack of representation for L, B and T people are just a few examples of how this can play out.
There is a dangerous lack of understanding and a need for education
LGBT People of Colour (POC) are also often left feeling excluded from Pride celebrations.
LGBT POC continue daily, within the wider LGBT community, to be fetishized, excluded or subjected to stereotyping.
For that reason, we should double down on our efforts to make sure all Black, Asian and other ethnic minority LGBT people feel included at events like Pride.
This Pride season we have already seen the booking and promotion of an act that performs in blackface*.
It has no place in society, let alone at Pride events
It’s not the first time we’ve seen this take place within our community, and unfortunately it probably won’t be the last.
When this sort of thing happens, the mixed response alone illustrates that this is a serious issue that faces our community.
There is a dangerous lack of understanding and a need for education here. This perfectly demonstrates why LGBT POC so often feel that there’s no seat at the table for them in the wider LGBT community.
We must all learn better how to recognise our privileges and be allies to LGBT people who are marginalised or experience discrimination based on other factors. We must champion their specific rights to equality and inclusion.
It will always be insensitive and should never be treated as a part of a performance
It is also so important, when creating something for LGBT people, to ensure those who you consult along the way truly represent our diverse community.
We cannot expect an event to cater for all LGBT people if the team behind it only represents a fraction of us. We need to ensure that the groups behind these events are diverse, and that, between them, they fully understand the issues that impact all parts of our community.
If they don’t, we need to change this, or consult with people who have the necessary experiences and knowledge to ensure you get it right.
Let us be very clear for those who don’t know or understand: blackface is always unacceptable and is a degrading and hurtful form of racism, regardless of the performer’s intent.
This Pride season, let’s learn from these lessons together
It will always be insensitive and should never be treated as a part of a performance. The act itself dehumanises and humiliates the ethnicities that it imitates, often as negative stereotypes.
It has no place in society, let alone at Pride events, where LGBT people and allies should feel free to be their authentic selves.
This Pride season, let’s learn from these lessons together, and ensure that all LGBT people feel proud, and that no one feels left out or excluded.
*'Blackface’ describes a performance where a white person would don makeup to appear black, often to mock and perpetuate racist stereotypes. Even though the wider practice of this ended in the 1980s, it’s still seen occasionally in Britain.