As Liverpool Pride celebrates its 10th birthday Getintothis’ Sean Weaver argues why we still need it more than ever.
For some it comes as a shock when they learn Liverpool Pride has only been going for 10 years.
How could this European Capital of Culture, this city of love, peace and acceptance not have a celebration of all things LGB&T?
After all some of our most famous sons & daughters are out, loud & proud, from the pioneering April Ashley, to the vivacious Pete Burns and Marc Almond.
For some the shock comes with the need to still have such an event to promote equality and send the message home that we are in fact all the same and it doesn’t matter who we love.
For me however the true shock lies in the fact people still question why we ‘need’ such an event.
‘They have equal rights’, ‘You can get married now, what more do you want?’ and many more to such a tune.
The sad fact of the matter is, if we are honest, it seems we still have a massive way to go, and even though we have seen many matters such as the Marriage Act of 2013 and the official pardons of historical offences, which by the way were long overdue!
But the truth of the matter is, we have an eternity to traverse still, only last month on the streets of our fair city were a couple were stabbed no less for walking down the streets of Anfield together, and it was at that moment I felt, maybe the last 10 years have been a waste of time.
Let’s not forget the origins of how Pride came about in Liverpool.
In 2008 a man was attacked whilst he slept because of his sexual orientation and a few days later died.
Subsequently the community began to mobilize and eventually a group of like-minded, good intended souls got together and started giving up their time to help make a festival celebrating LGBT culture in Liverpool a reality.
The original charity was founded with the purpose to host the event and promote and educate across the 5 boroughs of Merseyside and Halton, encompassing most of the city region.
This was to be achieved by way of community engagement programmes, and of course, the festival itself.
The festival, like many of its kind, has had a colourful journey to say the least, moving from its humble beginnings and massive growth in early 2010s.
There were occasions over the years, of course, when the organisation’s back was against the wall for funding, and it looked nigh on impossible for the event to go ahead.
Many will talk about the move to the Pier Head, which some in the community weren’t happy with, yet not only was it cost effective but also integral to the survival of the event.
Little did we know it would also be a catalyst for catapulting the event not just to national fame, but it became one of the biggest free Pride events in Europe, with up to 75,000 people attending at one point.
In 2015 the event relocated again, this time to the smaller St. George’s Quarter site, and now it seems after a few years they are ready to spread their wings once more and are returning to one of the original sites on Tithebarn Street.
And what of the community engagement?
Over the years there have been several different community engagement projects, from theatre groups with partner youth organisations to the cinema programme curated each year, all lovely, yes, making an impact, possibly on a small level.
It can be argued however, that such endeavours albeit very worthy, only touch those already connected in the community for another reason I’ll come to later.
Still ran entirely by volunteers, all of course with the best intentions, Liverpool’s Pride event has been a true tale of grit determination, sweat and tears and love.
But pardon me to speak my mind (I don’t usually) – but why on earth should it be left to a charity to fight for the civil rights of our brothers and sisters in the back yard of our own city?
It needs to start at home, and in schools.
Yet we have parents protesting outside schools every day in our own country, saying they don’t want their children to be taught about such perversions, as the mere fact homosexuals exist.
And what about the mothers of Breck Road, who tell their sons they best bring a grandchild home for her, and make her happy and what of the fathers of Halewood who are repulsed, because their daughters aren’t going to bring home a Prince Charming?
Maybe it needs to start with the person looking in the mirror – every single one of us has a duty of human decency to accept one another regardless of creed, colour, race or religion – can you look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and say you aren’t prejudiced against anyone?
Because there’s people within your communities, our communities, our great big happy Liverpool community who are still to this very day being homophobic, be it verbal, be it physical, be it in the school corridor or be outside the local shops – let alone outside or even inside people’s own homes.
So to the people who question it, and who didn’t grow up getting punched, kicked, spat on and called names, to the people who don’t live in fear of their own life because of who they love, this is why we ‘still’ need Pride, and maybe why Liverpool as a city, needs a Pride more than anywhere.
Is it really too much to ask for?
Images by Getintothis’ Peter Goodbody