Saturday the 7th August saw Liverpool’s first Pride march, with over 21,000 flocking to the city centre to enjoy the festivities.
The march itself was estimated at 2,000 strong, including banners from unions and activist groups as well as dancers, drummers and local businesses. It was well-supported by residents and visitors, who lined the entire route from St. George’s Hall to the Victoria monument, cheering the procession on its way. The only opposition was from a small group of Christian fundamentalists, who waved placards from behind their police cordon and feebly attempted to shout Leviticus quotations over the samba drummers. Aside from a few boos, they
were confronted only by a general tutting and shaking of heads.
The greater threat to the spirit of the day came in the form of the multitude of corporate promotions that set up shop in Dale Street, from banks and accident claims lawyers to betting shops, crowding the genuine LGBT information and campaign stalls into obscurity. As with Pride in other cities, the event was seized upon by businesses and politicians as an opportunity for self-promotion, and a scrabble for the pink pound (and pink vote) ensued. In one particularly shameless example, Seacombe Tory councillor Denis Knowles was to be seen attempting to improve his public image after his recent brief suspension for making homophobic comments on his Facebook. He had referred to Labour party leafleters as: “of the limp wristed variety and definitely NOT local”, but at Pride told PinkNews.co.uk that he had “plenty of gay friends” and was praised for helping out on the LGBTory stall. Meanwhile, independent LGBT artists and activists had faced frustrating obstacles procuring stall space.
The crowds may have come out in support of the event, but being openly and visibly gay in Liverpool on any other day of the year is still decidedly risky. If Liverpool Pride hopes to truly be a show of support for Liverpool’s LGBT community, and not a mere spectacle, it has to be less for the benefit of its corporate sponsors and more for the people and organisations who directly confront homophobia and transphobia every day – in our workplaces, on our streets and in the politicians who wave their rainbow flags with hypocritical pride.