Ah, pride. An entity that should be held and celebrated globally. Notwithstanding what it is you are prideful of, it’s something to shout, something to wear like a smile and keep your head up high. When most think of Liverpool, perhaps a certain clan of mop-top babes comes to mind; however, their Pride events are other-worldly. With a record breaking crowd and “nautical” but nice sailors, it’s almost impossible to resist the charms and ambiance of an event like this one. Here is what Zoran Blackie, chair of Liverpool Pride had to say about Liverpool’s smashing pride, which happened this past weekend.
1. Let’s start with the basics. When is this years Liverpool Pride and how many people were you expecting?
The main event with the march and festival is on Saturday 4th August, with fringe events in the week before and a ‘Chill Out Day’ on the Sunday. We had more than 20,000 in year one, over 40,000 in 2011, and we had a record 52,000 for Liverpool Pride 2012.
2. Liverpool Pride was held on the weekend closest to August 2nd to commemorate the death of Michael Causer, a gay teen murdered in 2008. How did his death impact the community?\
Personally I was stunned and shocked, that in this day and age where we have made so many steps toward equality, that ignorance and prejudice is still out there. The community were understandably devastated and angry, but turned that energy and passion into making a statement that we’re here. The family have been incredible in their dignity and resolve in turning their grief into the great work that is now being done by the Michael Causer Foundation in Merseyside.
3. Liverpool was home to a few one-off, unofficial pride events in 1979 and then again in the 90′s, but the official Pride is a fairly recent undertaking, starting in 2010. Why was this the right time?
The catalyst was the tragedy described, but it was a combination of the fact that the city council were open and strongly supportive of responding to the needs of the LGBT community in the city as well as recognising the benefits of marketing our burgeoning gay quarter, with a fast developing gay scene and a number of key individuals who came together to make things happen. These factors came together to finally bring the event to Liverpool that it deserved, and not be under the shadow of similar events in Manchester and Blackpool.
4. How was the Stanley Street Quarter, known as Liverpool’s gay quarter, be incorporated into this year’s Pride?
When Liverpool Pride was forced to relocate to the Pier Head, the venues and community worked very hard to set up a parallel event on Stanley Street, where over 10,000 people attended. As the spiritual heart of the gay community in Liverpool we’re really pleased to have brought those previous organisers on to our Board, so that we have an integrated event taking place in the city, by having had a bigger stage on Stanley Street, a wider footprint and more venues involved than ever before.
5. We’re suckers for sailors. How did this year’s theme “Nautical but Nice” come about?
After last year’s Summer of Love theme we went out surveying on the day and asking our volunteers for ideas for themes for 2012. The trustees then picked out four possible themes based on those suggestions and put it out to the public vote, via the website and by going out on the town and asking people directly. We had a loose Olympic theme of ‘In the lap of the Gods’, and lycratastic ‘Superheroes’ and second place went to ‘Acceptable in the 80s’ for a retro theme. Much to Sonia’s disappointment, it was pipped by the Nautical but Nice theme, which is perfect with our Waterfront location and referencing our great maritime history and 100 years of the Titanic.
6. We had not heard of Marcus Collins, and now we’re obsessed with his version of “Seven Nation Army.” Why was he chosen as your headliner?
We came up with a wish list of what we wanted, which with our budget was always going to be tough to get. We wanted someone that represents what we’re about – distinctly LGBT, very Liverpool and encouraging up and coming talent. For those of us who followed his X Factor journey to the final, we were all thinking, ‘wouldn’t it be great if he could perform at Pride’. Plus he’s as genuine a guy you’d ever want to meet and a great role model for young gay men. As it’s a homecoming, he’s almost as excited about performing for us as we are to have him.
Wow, when we came up with our values, we wanted to make our Pride to be the celebration hosted by the LGBT community where everyone is welcome. That’s why we have events on different sites to offer something for everyone – a more mainstream event attracting anybody and everybody on the Waterfront, with a real community get-together in the Gay Quarter. I think you won’t find a pride anywhere like this –and its definitely scouse, but that’s cos we know how to have fun…
We are the largest free Pride in the UK outside London. Brighton, Birmingham, Manchester all have wrist-banded entertainment where you need to fork out anything from £10-25 a day for entry. Loads of that money goes on security and fencing and keep people apart. We are committed to keep Pride in Liverpool free for as long as we can, but are taking a responsible approach to finance and planning so we can stick around through these really tough financial times. It is free, but when an enthusiastic, ruddy-faced volunteer shakes a donation bucket under your nose, remember that it is free to you but costs us a lot to put on.
Bonus Question: Look, there’s no way around this. Liverpool gave rise to The Beatles and is the birthplace of one of the Spice Girls. What’s your favorite song from each group?
Come together – Not for any of the filthy reasons you may be considering, but because that’s what we’re all about – let’s come together for Liverpool Pride. As for the Spice Girls, I’m much more of a Mel C fan, and one day we will get her on that stage for Pride… 2013 watch this space…