This weekend I was dragged kicking and screaming away from Birmingham Gay Pride (stop laughing at the back!) down to Digbeth.
So yeah I popped down to Pride for a few hours on Saturday and really didn’t enjoy myself. To be fair, I wasn’t expecting to, but this year Pride reached new levels of frustration. There was absolutely nothing for me – and most definitely nothing to be proud about. My sexuality is just one aspect of me, and as my life goes on it’s becoming less and less important. My interests in talking to like-minded people, listening and dancing to music I like, not being judged for the fact I dance like a twat, etc, cannot be met on Hurst Street. The scene that best represents me and my diverse interests is the one in and around Digbeth, thanks to places like the Custard Factory and the Rainbow. Sexuality is totally irrelevant, what brings people together is the desire to enjoy something new and something different, not the same thing week after week.
Take the Rainbow on Sunday. In the main pub and associated rooms, two established brands, Gutter Skank and Rag & Bone, came together to throw a bank holiday shindig. Bringing together types of music that don’t normally mix (grime/dubstep/hip-hop in Gutter Skank and indie/alt in Rag & Bone) really mixed up the vibes and the people who were there. It was far from perfect – but made for a far more interesting night than yet another predictable night in a gay bar.
I was chatting to Andrew about Hurst Street yesterday. He said, “it’s just become the Broad Street for gays”. Never before have eight words rung so true!
There used to be a point to Pride. There is at other events I’ve been to, most notably the CSW celebration in Los Angeles. It should be about celebrating the victories of the past and campaigning on what can be achieved in the future. In Birmingham this year there was allegedly a theme of “Equality Through the Decades” although this was hardly central to the weekend’s activities. The community area is stuck on the periphery. For the casual observer, all that Pride consists of is alcohol and Hi-NRG dance music. Pride *should* have a point to it, but it seems to work to negatively reinforce stereotypes, which if anything works against achieving further equality.
Where’s the variety? Where’s the celebration of how gay people actually aren’t any different at all?
I tried to change things once. Many people know me as the creator of Club Distraction, at the time Birmingham’s only gay indie/alternative night. For a while we had some success, a couple of busy nights and something approaching a community. But it didn’t last long. A lot of gay people said things like “why would I go to an indie night, I’m gay” and a lot of gay people into the indie scene said they had more fun at Snobs or the Academy. We were caught in the middle and it became unsustainable. So I jacked it in. Here’s some photos from some of the more memorable nights: