Pride is making changes and marching for peace in 2022

Manchester Pride means whopping photo galleries, streets filled with colours and performers, and a right good knees up in venues across the Village and beyond. Throw in a few rainbow cocktails and bottomless drag brunches for good measure and you’ve got yourself a good time. 

However, in recent years, the true purpose of Pride has perhaps been displaced by the promise of big-name headliners, rainbow-washed branding, and some sneaky suspicions that the money raised at the event wasn’t going where it should’ve been. 

Pride is a protest. It started with a black trans woman throwing the first brick at stonewall, not Ariana Grande headlining the main stage

When we caught up with ex-Lord Mayor, Carl Austin-Behan, ahead of last year’s Pride, he explained that people were “sad”, “devastated” and “fuming” about the charities involved with the event being neglected without consultation:

"In 2019 I started asking questions to Manchester Pride about when the George House Trust and the LGBT Foundation were going to get their money. In 2019 both the LGBT Foundation and George House Trust received £41,250 from Pride 2018. Then in 2020 the LGBT Foundation received £28,500 from Pride 2019 and George House Trust received nothing from Pride 2019.”

These enquiries, and the general consensus that Pride’s activist roots were slipping, meant that changes had to be made for Pride 2022. 

Chatting to Mancunian icons and those involved in the inner workings of Manchester Pride, we’re delving into everything that’s changed ahead of the 2022 celebrations. 

Manchester Pride 2021 Street Performers And Costumes Canal Street Party
Pride started as a little fundraising event in 1985 Image: Confidentials

Bit of background 

The first Manchester Pride event took place in 1985 when Manchester City Council were awarded a £1,700 grant to host a two-week celebration. The initial event set out to raise money for local charities and provide a sense of unity and community for the LGBTQ+ folk of MCR. 

In recent years, Manchester Pride has got bigger and bigger, its itinerary has included the likes of Ariana Grande, Emile Sandé, and Yungblud, raising questions as to whether the focus on inclusivity and raising both money and awareness has perhaps been overshadowed by two-for-one shots and big name celebs. 

The price of a weekend ticket for Pride also increased from £28 back in 2018 to £64.50 in 2019, with "The Big Weekend" event held at Mayfield Depot. The Rainbow Pass required to access the Gay Village Party on Canal Street was priced at £15 plus booking fee. Prices this syear have dramatically dropped to £32.50 for the whole weekend and just £2.50 for a wristband to access the village and its party, all of which goes to charity.

Manchester Pride 2021 Crowds On Canal Street From Manchester Pride Parade
Fun and fundraising are central to Pride's initiatives for 2022 Image: Confidentials

Going back to my roots

Following on from these concerns, it was announced earlier this year that Manchester Pride Live would be completely scrapped. A six-month review was also conducted after members of the LGBTQ+ community expressed their concerns that grants were failing to benefit the causes that the events used to champion. 

For this year’s celebrations, Paul Wheeler, Chair of Manchester Pride’s board of trustees, has assured that The Parade, Superbia Weekend, The Candlelit Vigil, the Gay Village Party and the Human Rights Forum will all go ahead, but a greater focus on campaigning and fundraising is first and foremost on their list. 

Canal Street Manchester Pride 2021 Party And Crowds 2021
Pride is well and truly back on its original turf Image: Confidentials

A fixed donation of £2.50 from every wristband bought will also go directly to the Manchester Pride Community Fund and LGBTQ+ charities, with the organisation pledging to be more transparent about where the money from their tickets ends up. There is a handy infogram on the Pride website if you want to see the breakdown in more detail. 

Most of this year's events are also heading back to their point of origin, the Gay Village. A variety of stages and events will be crammed in and around Canal Street and the parade will feature more than 10,000 participants all of which will make their way around Manchester both on foot and float. 

There are still some celebs on the agenda with Mel B and Nadine Coyle already confirmed, but all three main stages are this year situated in Sackville Gardens, Chorlton Street Car Park and Sackville Car Park harking back to former years.

Ali Saeedian Go Go Dancer Interview 2022
Ali's brought everything to Pride in the past, including his diamanté cowboy hat Image: Ali Saeedian

"Pride is a protest" 

So we know about the changes that Manchester Pride are supposedly implementing for this year's weekend bonanza, but what do those that are directly involved make of it all?

Confidentials' favourite male go go dancer, Ali Saeedian, has been involved in Pride in loads of different ways throughout his career. He's danced, designed costumes, co-ordinated floats and done some charity work along to way too. 

When asked about his views on the changes for Pride 2022, he said, "I personally didn’t enjoy or appreciate the focus lifting from openness, equal rights, and community spirit, to pop stars and selling tickets at an inflated price. Pride is a protest. It started with a black trans woman throwing the first brick at stonewall, not Ariana Grande headlining the main stage. It takes a certain amount of intelligence to recognise you’re LGB or T, but it takes a bigger amount of bravery to live it and be your true authentic self in a world where we’re being told we shouldn’t exist.”

Barb Just Barb Drag Queen Performing At This Years Manchester Pride Parade 2022
Barb just being Barb whilst getting ready to march and party Image: Barb Just Bard

Barb - one of the drag queens appearing on the George House Trust float at this year's parade, added, “I am so so pleased that this year Manchester Pride’s focus is back in the village. It gives the local community a sense of heart, rather than it being commercialised, and we have to remember that Pride is a protest. Now that it has re-centred, being part of pride is so much more meaningful, and I cannot wait to march for peace alongside our community (and to party in peace too, of course)." 

Bbc Radio Manchester Presenter Jsky On The Red Carpet Pride Of Manchester Awards 2022
Jsky chatting to Confidentials on the red carpet at The Kimpton Image: Confidentials

A radio star and a final comment from Carl

We also chatted to Jsky, whom we briefly spoke to at thePride of Manchester Awardsearlier this year - in a dazzling sequin cocktail dress, obviously. 

As a BBC / Gaydio presenter, performer, and a proud Manc, Jsky explains, "I see Manchester Pride as a celebration. The mere act of being visible in a way that goes against the grain is a form of rebellion. Manchester Pride has a difficult dance to do when it comes to pleasing all parties but I am proud of my city." 

Both big names and big gestures have their place at Manchester Pride, just as long as both of these things are celebrated in equal measure. If you can't make it to Pride, Jsky will be broadcasting live on BBC Radio Manchester throughout the event, and if you can, he's also performing on the main stage on Sunday at 5pm. Bring your heels. 

Carl Austin Behan Manchester Pride Is Changing 2022 Interview
Carl is keen to express that things are changing for Manchester Pride Image: Confidentials

Catching up with Carl Austin-Behan, we asked for his closing views on the shift in Pride's focus for 2022. As a long-running associate of LGBT Foundation and George House Trust, Carl explained, "Last year Manchester Pride committed to carrying out a review. After employing an agency to carry this work out, a 66-page report was produced, and overall it basically said the same as what was all over social media and in the press. It was noted that it needed to go back to its roots, and Manchester Pride should be about the community, should support the village, and the local LGBTQ+ & HIV charities."

Looking forward to this weekend's shenanigans, Carl adds, "From the events taking place over the bank holiday weekend around the Gay Village, it looks like Manchester Pride have listened and taken everything on board - so hopefully they will be able to deliver the Manchester Pride Event that the LGBTQ+ community expects and wants. Happy Manchester Pride 2022."

Pride People On Rainbow Flag Strewn Canal Street At Manchester Pride 2021 Chris Keller Jacksonjpg
More of this this year, please Image: Chris Keller Jackson

Get me there, now

Pride 2022 is making some very positive changes, and the itinerary is still looking just as packed and fun as always. The theme for this year's parade will be "a march for peace". There's a dog show hosted by Drag Race's Ginny Lemon on the Alan Turing Stage, and events go on into the early hours in and around Canal Street as always. 

Everything kicks off at 7pm on Friday 26 August and runs up until around 1pm on Monday 29 August with a silent disco rounding everything off in Sackville Car Park (don't worry, it's a bank hol). 

For a rundown of all of the times, dates and events associated with Manchester Pride 2022, we've put a handy little guide together in the box below. There are some in our round-up of August things to do too. Have a happy Pride Weekend all, and nab yourself some tickets quick before tomorrow. 

Manchester Pride Events 2022

Friday 26 August

The Alan Turing Stage in Sackville Gardens - official Pride events begin at 7pm

Mancunity Stage, Chorlton Street Car Park - official Pride events running from 7pm - 10pm

Cabaret Stage, hosted by Donna Trump in Sackville Car Park - official Pride events running from 7pm - late

Saturday 27 August

Parade from Liverpool Road - 12pm

Superbia: Feel Good Fest, Feel Good Club - 12pm

Official Gay Village Party opens, The Village - 12pm

Family Pride opens, Great Northern Warehouse - 12pm

Alan Turing Stage, Danny Beard and Friends in Sackville Gardens - official Pride events from 12pm - late

Mancunity Stage, Swagga/Black Pride MCR in Chorlton Street Car Park - official Pride events running from 1pm - late

Cabaret Stage, hosted by Donna Trump in Sackville Car Park - official Pride events running from 2pm - late

Sunday 28 August

1Superbia: Disabled Queer & Hear, Feel Good Club - 12pm

Youth Pride MCR opens at YES - 12pm

Superbia: Fatty Acid and The Niallist present QUEERCORE at Islington Mill - 1:30pm

Alan Turing Stage, hosted by Cheddar Gorgeous and Anna Phylactic, Sackville Gardens - official Pride events from 12pm - late

Mancunity Stage, Queer Women’s Takeover in Chorlton Street Car Park - official Pride events from 1pm - late

Cabaret Stage, hosted by Misty Chance in Sackville Car Park - official Pride events from 2pm - late

Monday 29 August

Cabaret Stage in Sackville Car Park - Village Disco from 1pm

Mancunity Stage in Chorlton Street Car Park - Silent Disco from 1pm

Alan Turing Stage in Sackville Gardens - official Pride events from 2pm - late

Foodie specials

The Alan - Limited edition cocktails

The Black Friar Big Gay Bottomless Brunch - from 11am to 3pm, Saturday 27 August - Monday 29 August. £2 from every brunch will be donated to LGBTQ+ Youth Charity AKT.

Pong and Puck - Pride special drag brunch and bingo 12:30pm - 3pm Sunday 28 August.

The Village Brasserie at Velvet Hotel - 50% off the a la carte food menu on Monday 29 August.

Bundobust - Pride peach wheat beer special with charity donation

Roby 1844 - BBQ Party

Other events

Afflecks are giving away Pride goodie bags

Manchester Pride Cinema screenings at King Street Townhouse - Tickets are £10 per person

Escape to Freight Island - Love Is The Message takeover

Pride special Quizingo at Nell's - Thursday 26 August

BarkPRIDE Dog Show at Kampus gardens - 2pm-10pm Saturday 27 August

LOVE PARTY at Kampus gardens and Bungalow - 7pm-1am Saturday 27 August

Love Takes Over at Ramona and The Firehouse - Thursday 24 August - Sunday 28 August

Pride Film Festival at HOME Friday 5 - Thursday 25 August

Read next: The best things to do in and around Manchester: September 2022

Read again: Queer raves and juxtapositions: an interview with male go-go dancer Ali Saeedian

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