Aimee Challenor, the Green Party’s candidate for Coventry South in the June snap election, argued that the London Pride movement has betrayed its protest roots and marginalised the broader LGBTIQA+ community, in an article on Pink News.
Challenor, who is a trustee of Coventry Pride and member of the Stonewall Trans Advisory Group, highlighted the campaign’s failure to sufficiently represent its more marginalised and vulnerable groups while giving predominance to straight people.
Commenting on the controversial poster campaign in the lead-up to the event, she said: “The posters that caused the most offence appeared to depict being gay as a cool social accessory.”
London Pride have since apologised for the poster campaign and “undermining the individuality, importance, and dignity of the LGBT+ community.”
Visibility of our more marginalised groups in our community is something we should all be fighting for.
However, Challenor identified this as part of a much wider issue, with Pride sponsors pinkwashing their abuse, such as Virgin Atlantic which, with the Home Office, has deported many people to countries where they face discrimination, abuse, torture, imprisonment, or even death as consequence of their gender or sexuality.
Last week’s Pride in London saw flag-bearers representing countries where it is still illegal to be LGBT+, and the Pride rainbow projected onto Westminster palace for the first time in order to show the UK’s support for those living in these countries.
Meanwhile, Theresa May, who made a speech at the event, was booed by an apparently disgruntled audience weeks after the Prime Minister announced a parliamentary alliance with notoriously anti-gay rights party, the DUP.
As well as permitting pinkwashing, or the use of political and marketing strategies to appear progressive and friendly to the community, Challenor argued that London Pride has forgotten the origins of the movement; the first official UK Gay Pride rally was held in 1972, deliberately marking the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots started by a trans woman of colour, Marsha P. Johnson.
She added that being gay was “celebrated with rainbows and big splashy words” while bisexual and trans people were left as a side note and other identities, such as asexuality, pansexuality and non-binary were virtually ignored.
Speaking to The Boar on Coventry Pride, she specified: “Something we’re really proud about is our commitment to inclusivity.”
“Accessibility is key through things like keeping Pride free and making sure everywhere in the venue is wheelchair accessible to making sure that we use inclusive language and promote diversity of our community.”
“Visibility of our more marginalised groups in our community is something we should all be fighting for.”
It’s naive to view Pride in itself as a protest, its image has been co-opted by white, cisgender, gay people who can fit into capitalist society.
A Warwick student, who chose to remain anonymous, added: “Mainstream Pride today focuses on assimilationist tactics and how to fit into a cisheteronormative world because cis white gays and lesbians don’t really challenge gender norms anymore, with the passing of “same-sex” marriage so their image has been easily co-opted by corporations.”
In comparison, they highlighted the struggle and wait to be accepted for “those who cannot escape notice as easily, like trans people.”
“Even then, if you choose not to change your body, you don’t fit the narrow narrative of what it means to be trans.”
“It’s naive to view Pride in itself as a protest, its image has been co-opted by white, cisgender, gay people who can fit into capitalist society.”
The student identified other methods of protesting at Pride, such as Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants or other blocs “that give some much-needed visibility to marginalised people”.
Meanwhile, when asked how students could support the movement, Challenor suggested: “If you see exclusionary behaviour or language on campus to challenge it. Make spaces around you not just tolerating diverse groups, but have them actually welcoming and accessible to these groups.”
Don’t tokenize LGBTIQA+ people, we’re more than just our sexuality or gender identity.
“I’d also say don’t tokenize LGBTIQA+ people, we’re more than just our sexuality or gender identity.”
“Encourage diverse representation in other spaces, have for example a non-binary person in your publication because they’re a good medical student, for example, not just because they’re non-binary.”
Students can get involved as volunteers for Stonewall, Coventry Pride and Coventry’s LGBTQ+ youth group, PRISM.
Challenor also urged students to support Warwick Pride: “They run amazing campaigns to help ensure that LGBTIQA+ people on and around campus are supported.”
Despite her reservations towards the event, Challenor pledged continue attending the event as an opportunity to protest companies which pink wash their abuses and fight for the community as Britain moves towards repealing the Human Rights act. She concluded: “What better place to take that protest than Pride?”