A Thousand Flowers understands at least 5 people have been arrested at Glasgow Pride. The decision by organisers to invite Police Scotland to lead the march was always going to attract controversy, given Pride has its origins in the Stonewall riots which were a response to police brutality, and the behaviour of the Polis today was nothing short of astounding.
[CONTENT NOTE: images of police violence]
As the march set off, a small but peaceful group of demonstrators held signs opposing the Police (according to everyone who made it on time, I was late due to make-up issues, as is customary). I did however witness completely needless brutally from the Police in an attempt to shut down those opposing them. One source reported a Pride Glasgow steward instantly tried to rip their banner (as you do?) and that one of those detained had blue hands due to the way in which they were held.
In a separate incident, Ebrima Kalleh, the convener of LGBT Unity was stopped and searched for “wearing a cagoule”. It was raining, it is Glasgow, there were people handing out BOXES WORTH of cagoules.
The protest against police leading the march was forceably broken up within minutes and most of the thousands of attendees today would have been unaware of what happened. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter or that we don’t need to keep highlighting what Pride Glasgow and many Pride events are slowly becoming.
anorak cagoule-esque photos of politicians and random hacks.
But I’m not going to pretend there isn’t loads wrong with Pride Glasgow and that the police being THE MAIN THING didn’t make this year more than uncomfortable. This blog is no stranger to prattling on about the commercialisation and militarisation of Pride. The choice to charge entry for the Pride Glasgow “main event” is something we’ve long opposed and this year, tickets for today’s event “sold out”, yet mysteriously entry could still be gained by buying a more expensive wristband for £15 to gain access both days. Rather than making more Saturday tickets available, accessibility to the event was restricted for those who can’t afford it, those most likely to have to leave making a decision about whether to go until the last minute, those who don’t have the luxury of financial planning. But who wants them at your festival when you can get both more capital per head by upping the entry fee? “What have they spent today to make you feel proud?” as the song probably goes.
The reliance on corporate sponsors for the paid “main event” means far too much of the march now also revolves around branded content about how everyone is equally free to BUY THIS STUFF, being delivered to passers by, often by unpaid employees. Instead of being a celebration of our resistance and community, Pride Glasgow runs the risk of becoming a day many people work for nothing, telling others their boss pure loves the gays. If you’re gonnae sell your soul to capitalism, remember the golden rule of capitalism: GET PAID FOR YOUR WORK. The national minimum wage is £7.50 for over 25s, so why not ask for a salary the next time you wear a T-Shirt with a corporate logo on it all day while carrying an advert?
If you want to march with people at your work, by all means join the union. There are answers to these questions if we make them happen.
Centring the Police in proceedings is a step beyond. We have to chose to be on the side of LGBT asylum seekers, sex workers and people of colour who’re routinely targeted by state violence. We want those who’ve been marginalised to be at the front of the march, at the centre of their own communities where they belong. Instead, we’re expected to cheerily wave at those responsible for and complicit in the violence that keeps people on the margins. No. Fucking. Way.
Pride Glasgow can chose to make money by bowing down to the corporate/polis agenda but if we want Pride to be more than a carnival of reaction wrapped in rainbows, we have to chose resistance. Thank fuck there was some resistance today.
Free Pride’s action at this year’s Pride parade was primarily in response to the decision to have the police lead the march. We wish to draw attention to the harmfulness of this decision which shows a disregard for migrant lives and LGBT people of colour.
Pride has its origins in protest against police brutality and anti-LGBT violence, particularly against people of colour and trans folk, and we believe it should remain a protest. In addition to this, the police service is a racist institution which serves to enact violence against LGBT+ people of colour and we condemn the decision to prioritise these institutions over the LGBT+ community. Corporate and police inclusion and centring within pride betrays its roots in protest and serves to uphold state violence against marginalised groups – we reject this pinkwashing and rewriting of history.
Free Pride prioritises community over corporations and see no reason to accept these revisions of history. We believe it is time to reclaim pride.
But despite the rain, the wristband scammers, the cops – Pride was absolutely made for me personally, as it always is, by talking to complete strangers, by marching with people I’ll never meet again, by shouting nonsense in the rain, on a street with no-one on it, just because, surrounded by so many amazing, resilient, downright fucking fabulous people.
The queer nation has no borders and it needs no cops.
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