The chaos of London’s World Pride 2012 shows that grassroots involvement, rather than corporate control, is the way forwards, says Alex Tarran
If there has to be anything that will characterize this summer’s 2012 London Olympics, apart of course from the Mayor of London’s decision to reduce the planned Opening Ceremony to David Beckham, Seb Coe and a couple of sparklers, it is the decidedly corporate nature of the event – the Olympic Flame carried reverently from the Temple of Hera hardly visible as it travels around the country behind the sponsors’ buses and PA systems.
This is unfortunately the way of the world it seems; here, as in the Greek homeland of Hera, a growing dissatisfaction with the elected élite, happy to hob nob with the corporates, the banks, the oligarchs and the technocrats, but willfully deaf to the sound of their electorate banging on the door. No more left or right, for us just a dull, lifeless center politics and faceless, global corporates dictating the pace and promoting their name and their products at events with all the power they can muster. As with the Olympics, so with gay pride for the last few years.
While no-one can fault any company for opening their coffers to pay for our event and associating itself openly with an LGBT street party in glorious, in-your-face technicolor; it has come at a cost – grassroots activists, volunteers, local businesses and many others, feeling ostracized, ignored, out of touch, irrelevant, unwanted and unable to complain. Even worse than all of that, they feel like a consumer at their own event.
Maybe it took a failure of such classical Greek proportions as the organization of this year’s World Pride 2012 in London to give many of these people the courage to stand up and be counted. Judging from the comments on my Facebook campaign, Real Pride 2012, it certainly seems that way.
Three separate groups of people have formed their own pages and websites to promote a return to the roots of Pride – the LGBT community – their own virtual uprising set to seize power and give it back to the people. It’s their own grexit from a centralized, technocratic and compassionless authoritarianism that has dictated to us for far too long the currency of our own sexuality. [Grexit is the new word for if and when Greece exits the Euro.]
So what for the future? Well, perhaps we should go against this way of the world and reinstate local democracy. I for one would love to see a Pride Committee elected at every bar, every pub, every social setting and every community center in the country with public hustings and campaigns.
I want to see a charity whose primary focus, drawn as it is from our community, is community fundraising 12 months of the year. Alongside them, instead of corporate sponsors, I want to see local LGBT and supportive businesses from our local areas sit on a forum with charities and support the committee with what they know best – how to raise money and how to make money, and I would like to see collection boxes from September this year in every pub, club, social or community setting, Stonewall Top 100 business and local authority in the land (50% going to Pride and 50% going to LGBT charities).
And finally, to get over this awful World Pride 2012, I would like to see Winter Pride 2012 reinstated. This would be, as it used to be, our primary fundraising event, brightening the darker nights and not just in London – UK wide. Merchandising too, such as a whole Supporting Pride 2013 t-shirt range, will help us finance the lot.
Perhaps, with hindsight, Hera was a better starting point for this than I thought. As Mother of War, Youthfulness, Discord and New Birth, maybe her flame has arrived a little earlier than we expected! I hope so.
See the Real Pride Facebook page that Alex Tarran started here.