Manchester Pride Expels Gay Photographer Documenting Lesbian Protest

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Manchester Pride is reported to have asked a gay photographer to stop taking pictures and leave the event. Their public relations representative told Joel Goodman that he was “not on our side, that [he] needed to leave, and that [he] would not be granted accreditation for Pride in future years.” The reason for Goodman’s expulsion? He took photographs of lesbian protestors.

Goodman gave the following account on his website:

“This year a lesbian gender ideology protest attempted to hijack the front of the parade. Several in the crowd remonstrated with the protesters. This was a political action and a live story of direct relevance to those for whom Pride is important. It was newsworthy and I photographed it along with the rest of the parade. Once again the Pride PR team attempted to obstruct me as I worked. A PR stood in front of me as I took photos of the protesters on Peter Street, told me not to take photos and that it wasn’t the message they wanted to ‘put out’.”

Documentation is a vital part of preserving LGBT history. It is proof that – in spite of rampant homophobia – our community, relationships, and spaces existed. When lesbian and gay lives have been denied and written out of history for centuries, we cannot afford to have the Pride movement enable our erasure. Keeping records of our community is an essential part of resisting efforts to make us invisible once more. We cannot afford to be selective in what is recorded. Nor can we allow Pride to be defined by corporate censorship.

The whole point of documentation is to keep an account that is as full as possible. A story that tries to smooth over the texture of LGBT politics and conceal complications within the community ultimately serves nobody. Reducing our lives to apolitical, Instagramable moments might be convenient for the corporate side of Pride, but it does nothing to improve life for LGBT people.

Pride began as a protest, commemorating the Stonewall Uprising. Stormé DeLarverie, a butch Black lesbian, sparked the rebellion when she resisted police brutality. There would be no Pride without lesbians holding challenging politics. And now the Pride movement has no place for those lesbians, or a gay man photographing them. It’s embarrassing.

To make matters worse, Manchester Pride’s PR team told Goodman – who is HIV+ – that he was not welcome at their HIV memorial. Goodman was then informed that he would not be given accreditation to cover Manchester Pride in future years. He describes the experience as “truly shocking and extremely hurtful.”

It isn’t for a PR team to determine how a gay man documents the gay and lesbian community, or to try and erase lesbians from the account of Pride because their politics are challenging. Goodman finishes his summary of Manchester Pride with a question for the community:

“In whose interests are Manchester Pride and their PR team at Down at the Social running and censoring events, if not the community itself?”

The corporate face of Pride does not care about the community it claims to represent. By ostracising a gay man and lesbian protestors, they contribute to the stigma that many of us hope to fight through marching at Pride.