This article was amended for clarity and also for factual accuracy regarding the origin and use of the flag for BAME LGBT+ community members. This was done on 28/02/19 following a discussion between the author and the Students’ Association LGBT+ Officer on the 25/02/19.
There have been alarming reports of racism from within the LGBT+ community recently. Some 51 per cent of people who identified as BAME (that’s Black and Minority Ethnic, to the blissfully unaware) reported that they had experienced some form of racism within the LGBT+ community, according to an investigation by Stonewall. A serious issue, to be sure, and one that demands immediate attention: I’m confident very few people would think otherwise.
And so, Manchester Pride, our nation’s most prominent LGBT+ Pride parade, leapt fearlessly into action to eradicate this great evil from their community. There is precedent, of course, for this worthwhile effort, and the campaigns of William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King Jr, and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu loom large over the process. It would therefore be foolhardy to think that there was neither example nor appetite to follow, not to mention vast resources for Manchester Pride to draw from; surely, therefore, their solution would be cogent, effective, and welcome.
Well, I wish we were that lucky. No, at a number of events, Manchester Pride’s grand solution to racism has been to follow the example set by Philadelphia in 2017 and add two startling “new” colours to their all-inclusive rainbow flag because apparently it wasn’t, ahem, inclusive enough. Of course, we should have all seen this coming; after all, what rainbow is complete without its dazzling shades of Brown and Black? And what could make that forced rainbow more beautiful than the knowledge that its strained and emaciated hues were delicately deployed as an ultimate weapon against racism?
Aside from corrupting the beloved rainbow of my erstwhile nursery days, I feel obliged to point out the fact that adding Brown and Black to the already beleaguered LGBT+ flag will probably not help end racism anywhere, let alone in the community the flag represents. Indeed, as a bona fide Brownie™ myself, I find that it merely exacerbates British racial tension. For example, this “solution” completely ignores the plight of my yellow, East Asian brethren, for they are ostentatiously denied their special spot on the rainbow, to say nothing of Britain’s Jewish, Celtic, Romani, and Hispanic people. Are they not also men and brothers?
This rank cognitive dissonance is further demonstrated by the naive belief that racism can be fought by highlighting and emphasising racial differences, instead of working to suppress and ignore them. Manchester Pride seems to be explicitly stating that we’re not all the same, after all, and that our country’s black and brown people now need their own, separate stripes on their flag’s maelstrom of colour in order to be fully “included.” As you can imagine, this move hasn’t been universally welcomed; it certainly seems a bit patronising and unnecessary to carve out space on a flag for specific racial minorities, especially as the flag is ostensibly already meant to represent absolutely everybody.
Unfortunately, this brand of condescending, vain, and self-righteous “liberalism” is becoming more and more common, and I don’t expect it to go away anytime soon. Indeed, I’ve been reliably informed that Manchester Pride HQ are already preparing to expand the flag so that it includes colours that are beyond human perception so that homosexual aliens (when we discover them) don’t feel out of place at our space station’s annual Pride parades. I mean, come on guys – bigotry has no place in the twenty third century.
If I were a Manchester Pride attendee, I’d think it would be much more appropriate to spend time and effort sorting out the eye-watering increase in ticket prices. They’ve shot up 105 per cent on last year, and now you’re expected to cough up 71 quid for a weekend ticket. The parade itself is free to attend, but this is little consolation given that “Manchester Pride Live” and the “Gay Village Gathering” (whatever they may be) are also ticketed events. Lecture about inclusivity all you like, but it seems to me that the ticket price alone excludes most people from Manchester Pride.
This is not to say that adding extra colours to the rainbow is some grand act of malice; it’s just futile, and not to mention a bit silly. This new flag won’t induce a damascene conversion in racist members of the LGBT+ community, and I doubt that racists outside of the community either know or care about the change. To me it seems self evident that drawing attention to someone’s race, as well as exemplifying and accentuating those differences, is no way to go about fighting racism.
Not that anything will change. I also must concede that as a cisgendered, (half) white, heterosexual, and egregiously middle-class man, not only does Manchester Pride just know better than I do, but there are some people that will actively ignore and condemn my opinion. I don’t think this is fair, to be quite honest; I’m not sure anyone’s opinion should be discounted on the basis of sexuality, gender, or background. There should be a march against such injustice. Maybe even a flag.