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Pride 2007


“Birmingham City Council have been trying to accommodate us or relocate Pride into a proper place, even last year. Got the commercial sector to put up a quarter of a million pounds for Pride, the Mardi Gras, and we dismissed it out of hand. By ‘we’ I am referring to a collective representative of the B5 traders group and our current people who run it. In my opinion we were disgusting, we thought they were trying to hijack our event, but to my mind all they were doing was trying to make our little private event a big public event, which we had been campaigning for all our lives! For me, a big Mardi Gras, led by the gays through Birmingham was all I ever wanted, total acceptance. To say Broad St businesses were hijacking our ideas was bullshit, it just meant we could have used all of Broad St and the whole of the city and finish off down here, where we belong! But we knocked back a quarter of a million funding on the table, not from the Council, but the Council had managed to get a lot of local businesses to support it, and we knocked it back! And we didn’t even say ‘No thank you’, we were absolutely gross in our rejection. I went there quite confidently with the Midland Zone Magazine, that they would welcome it at long last and stop piddling about with little grants of five or ten thousand, with a quarter of a million we could have done the most superb thing, beyond what we could raise, and any money we got for events held in our own area, we could keep. It was the cake, and the icing as well, but we were foul-mouthed, arrogant; we shocked the majority of people in that room and we disgusted all of them. We told them where to go in a most horrendous fashion. I’ve never been so embarrassed and offended in all my life. Steve Ball was there fortunately, and made some nice comments, and he can tell you how it was so offensive. It was then that I decided to retire from the gay scene, nothing to do with the previous Pride (Pride 2006), and the £10 in the park and all that, as that came and went every year. But then, I thought, I cannot, and refuse to be, part of this. I was offended as a gay man, and as a citizen of Birmingham. I felt since that meeting, and with these people and companies, that we are no longer welcome as we were before, we as a group, normally it would be open arms, now it’s almost with contempt, and I believe we’ve taken a serious step back. That was commercial going crazy, our little queens in their little castles terrified of losing their own bit, whereas it would have given us the same level as Manchester. Manchester had plodded along with their gay prides the same as we did, went bust, people ran away with loads of money, we’ve never done that, we’ve always been able to donate loads of money to charity, but they tripped along until they managed to get the local commerce and council behind them. We eventually were given it, and we snubbed it. So for the people that say the Council do nothing for us, that is not true, we just don’t want it.”

Contributed by: Bill Gavan, 56

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