‘A space for all people’: What students thought of Birmingham Pride 2022

‘It felt like the show had been stolen by the interest of public relations and brand exposure’

For some reason Birmingham Pride takes place in September, rather than June AKA Pride month. So Birmingham has had to wait all year for the annual Pride festival, and it finally took place last weekend.

This years celebration marked the 25th anniversary of Birmingham Pride, so most people were expecting big things.

Birmingham Pride had multiple events going across the three days. Such as a street parade that made its way across Birmingham’s city area, however, this was the only free event. They also had an all day street party going on in the Gay Village. In the Gay Village is the iconic Nightingales, and if Nightingales couldn’t get any more iconic it had Cher Lloyd perform on Sunday night as part of its Pride celebrations.

Across Saturday and Sunday Birmingham Pride had many famous performers for people to see, providing they had the tickets to do. Headliners included Becky Hill, Steps and Ella Henderson

We spoke to locals and students who attended Pride to see what they thought.

Tash, 19

Tash went to multiple Birmingham Pride events which were the parade, the street party and Nightingales, all of which happened on Saturday 24th.

Tash told The Birmingham Tab how amazing she found the parade and that there was “a great energy all through the city centre”. Tash said how the parade felt “very inclusive” as it featured many different groups, including many minority groups with their own sections in the parade.

However, a negative for Tash was what she called the “over-commercialisation” of the parade. At the parade there were “so many big corporations”, which she says isn’t “what Pride is about”. Tash said it felt like the “majority of the parade were banks and supermarkets”.

Tash told The Tab Birmingham how the street party had a “similar vibe” to the parade and “felt like a festival”. However, Tash only ended up at the street party as she had tickets for Nightingales that night and had to pay extra money to access the Gay Village which Nightingales is located in. Tash said she and her friends were unaware of the extra cost and hadn’t realised it when getting the Nightingales tickets.

Tash told The Birmingham Tab she believes that generally “Pride should be more accessible” because some people may not have the money to do the extra events that all cost money, which for Tash made Pride feel “not very student friendly”.

Jack, 19

Jack attended the street parade in the day time and went to Nightingales in the night, both of which he enjoyed with his boyfriend and friends.

Jack “enjoyed the amount of queer joy that was present within the crowd and the parade itself”. Jack told The Birmingham Tab how he “particularly loved seeing Birmingham’s queer scene” out in the city centre dancing “proudly” as it is “usually seen only in the Gay Village”. Jack, his boyfriend and friends said how “the drag queen Dahliah Rivers will always be a favourite of [theirs]”.

Despite enjoying the parade, Jack told The Birmingham Tab he felt there was in “the overbearing presence of big corporations that were only there to boost their reputation and attempt to gain more customers”. Jack said for him this made Pride feel less liberating, as he believes for some big corporations “their activism only goes as far as changing their slogans to fit with a Pride message but they lack depth”.

When going to Nightingales in the night to carry on pride celebrations, which that had pre-purchased tickets for, they found out to enter the Gay Village they would have to pay an additional £15 on top of the ticket price. Jack and his friends had no idea they would have to pay this extra £15 because “the only indication that this was needed was on the small print on the club ticket website…. who reads that when buying club tickets?”

Jack told The Birmingham Tab how he and the group he was with, were “fortunately” able to afford this extra unknown cost but he is aware there are probably many who couldn’t.

Sydney, 19

Sydney went to watch the street parade through the city centre as her sister was taking part in it.

Sydney told The Birmingham Tab the parade was “really good because it provided engaging entertainment” it also “helped younger kids be apart of the day” and gave them the opportunity to “learn a bit more about the community”.

Sydney said how she “loved Pride this year”. It felt like a “space for all people to come together and celebrate”. Sydney also told us how “there was a lovely atmosphere throughout the day walking around The Birmingham City centre”.

Will, 19

Will went to the Pride parade that went through the city centre and then finished off the day by going to Nightingales in the night. This was Will’s first time attending Pride. He said “the beginning of the parade created a welcoming atmosphere celebrating the best parts of Birmingham’s queer community”. The parade felt inclusive in Wills’ eyes as there was “many different factions of the queer community” being represented.

However, after all the floats that Will enjoyed and believed were promoting what Pride was really about, he said he felt the parade to turn into a “business expo”, as it began just “representing multi-million dollar enterprises”.

Will says he “felt like the show had been stolen by the interest of public relations and brand exposure”.

Will faced the same problem as many others after being shocked with a £15 extra fee to enter the Gay Village, that he needed to go through to get to Nightingales. Will said how he felt “lucky that [he] could spare that £15” but for many people they would’ve had to miss out.

Will said if he could change something for next years Birmingham Pride he thinks “the aspect of over-commercialisation, logos and promotive slogans shouldn’t be allowed on the parade.” He said: “There should be no advertisement of for-profit enterprises at an event which is about community and queer inclusion and simply has nothing to do with business.”

Rohia, 31

Rhoia is a student at Aston University and was part of the parade march.

Rhoia told The Birmingham Tab how it was first time being part of Pride march and that she found the experience “phenomenal”.

Rohia thought it was inclusive but said how she couldn’t see “any other hijabi’s other than [herself]” but she said how she believes this is “probably because of their own choices”.

Rohia only had one thing she would want to change for next year and that is that she wishes “there were more brown and black people”.

Birmingham Pride and Nightingales have been contacted for comment

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