One of Europe’s biggest celebrations of LGBTQ+ life won’t be happening this year
Organisers of LGBTQ+ charity Manchester Pride have announced that this year’s Manchester Pride Festival is to be postponed until 2021, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The charity, which campaigns all year round for LGBTQ+ equality, is behind one of Europe’s biggest annual celebrations of LGBTQ+ life, which is held in Manchester over every August bank holiday weekend. Pride festival generates over £34m of economic benefit for the city.
In the meantime Pride will continue its charitable work throughout the year as usual
This year, with the safety of everyone who is involved with or attends the event in mind, the festival will be moved until it is considered safe to hold large-scale gatherings again.
Those who have already purchased tickets for this year’s postponed event needn’t worry as the charity has rolled over all tickets to the next festival in August 2021. Those who no longer wish to attend can apply for a refund or make a donation to the charity.
Mark Fletcher, chief executive for Manchester Pride, said: “Since large gatherings were banned in March, we have been working tirelessly to map out the options available to us for the four day event that forms the heart of our year. Cancelling the festival altogether was something that my team did not want to consider, but after consulting with our partners and reviewing every option, the only way we can deliver what we have planned for this year is to move it to August 2021.”
The charity does plan to hold a celebration of LGBTQ+ life in 2020 but it will be very different from the event that the world has become accustomed to.
Mark continued: “LGBTQ+ people in Greater Manchester look forward to the Manchester Pride Festival every year as a safe space where they can celebrate with their communities and meet like minded people. We take our role in providing this very seriously, especially at a time when social isolation is at its worst. We are committed to delivering a safe and suitable alternative celebration, but we aren’t in a position to confirm exactly what that might be yet as the boundaries that we must work within are dictated by the pandemic, which is still changing day to day.
“I want to add that everyone here at Manchester Pride is devastated and heartbroken by this decision. Manchester Pride Festival is our flagship event, one of the biggest celebrations of LGBTQ+ life in the UK, and the highlight of the year for all of us. The LGBTQ+ community and its wellbeing is at the heart of everything that we do, and we are proud of everything that we have achieved as an organisation over the last two months - including delivering the Manchester Pride 2020 Conference online, alongside our Live in Your Living Room events, community conversations, listening groups, online consultation and youth pride workshops - all while working in isolation from our team members, and in a completely unprecedented situation."
He added: “We will continue with our mission to work with LGBTQ+ people, helping them to live free from discrimination and to feel safe in their own environment and to educate people on how to recognise, understand and prevent discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, in order to achieve our vision of living in a world where LGBTQ+ people are free to live and love without prejudice. There are tough times ahead, but we are confident that with the support of the city, LGBTQ+ people and allies and the organisations that continue to support us year on year, we will weather the storm.
“In this unprecedented time I ask that Greater Manchester remembers that we are a charity and we need its support more than ever right now. We recognise that LGBTQ+ people may be living in difficult situations and that they need to engage with their chosen families and communities to get them through. Donations received will ensure that we are able to carry on our work digitally to provide this vital work throughout the year.”
Cllr Luthur Rahman, Manchester City Council's executive member for culture and leisure, said: "Along with other major events across the country, the news that Pride will not go ahead this year may not be surprising, but we know the announcement will come with a huge amount of disappointment to the thousands of people who eagerly await the celebration each year.
"We know that this decision has been made with a heavy heart, but the safety of everyone who either attends, volunteers or performs must come first and foremost. And it would be wrong to forge ahead with an event where the well-being of those involved could not be guaranteed.
"The City Council has supported the Pride movement since it arrived in Manchester in 1985, and its growth since then into one of the largest and most important Pride events in Europe isn't just the story of a successful party, but the parade and weekend celebration shows how far society has come in LGBTQ+ rights and visibility. And when it returns, the Council will continue to support the event into the future.
"For now we will have to wait with excitement for 2021 - but in the meantime Pride will continue its charitable work throughout the year as usual, and look out for their other LGBTQ+ celebrations during the coming months."
Carl Austin-Behan OBE DL, LGBT adviser to the Mayor of Greater Manchester said: “The most important thing at this unprecedented time is the safety and wellbeing of all residents of Greater Manchester. The cancellation of this year’s Manchester Pride Festival is of course a bitter blow – Pride is central to the lives of so many people, not just living here but nationally, even internationally.
“Over the last few weeks Manchester Pride launched its online initiatives to continue engaging with and supporting the LGBTQ+ community and I know they want to ensure they’re doing everything they can to achieve their vision and support the LGBTQ+ community with year-round campaigns, events and opportunities.
“With this I am so pleased that Manchester Pride as a charity has announced its commitment to delivering a safe, accessible, inclusive and fun event, celebrating LGBTQ+ life, later this year. Please continue to support the charity, and all the vital work it does particularly in this strange and unsettling times.
“I look forward to seeing you all at Manchester Pride 2021 – given its 12-month delay it will doubtless be bigger and better than ever.”
Manchester Pride has delivered a number of successful online events in 2020 already. The annual Manchester Pride Conference was delivered online in March and the charity has just announced a programme of community engagement with online Youth Pride workshops and listening groups open to LGBTQ+ people in Greater Manchester throughout the year.
For more information visit manchesterpride.com
How to donate to Manchester Pride:
Donate through the charity’s Just Giving page or donate £3 to Manchester Pride by texting MCRPRIDE to 70450. Texts cost £3 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about its work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. Those who would like to give £3 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text MCRPRIDENOINFO to 70450.