We need the Pink Pound and Parade

After being canceled last year due to COVID restrictions, Manchester Pride was going ahead as planned this year. It would have involved the annual gay pride parade, festival, and various other celebrations of queer people and identity. However, Manchester Pride recently announced that the march – which is free – was to be canceled. The reasoning? COVID restrictions made it too much of a challenge. They claim that there is no way to ensure that the parade could go ahead safely. Why? It’s because of the pink pound.

The live concert is okay. Nightclubs full of people dancing next to each other are still okay. But, each of these will have people in very close proximity with each other. What ties this together? What makes these events appear acceptable?

It’s a simple fact. They make money.

Manchester Pride canceling the pride march is just another example of how businesses exploit queer people.

What is the pink pound?

A fake £1 note, designed to look like a "pink pound". There are rainbow flags on the side and the picture of Queen Elizabeth has a moustache.

If you didn’t know, the pink pound has been a successful marketing campaign for the LGBT community since the 1990s. It was an excellent tool for acceptance and was initially used to show straight people that the gay community spends money just like everyone else.

But now, this symbol has been perverted. It was once a symbol of equality. Now, it’s a symbol of exploitation. Manchester Pride is a perfect example of this. Companies would instead capitalize on the revenue of Pride than take action to improve the lives of homosexual people.

It’s a fact: the more money spent by LGBT people in this world, the more that companies make money from it. As time goes on, this makes it less likely we will see actual change for our community. 

You might be thinking that the parade is just a parade. It’s simply a bunch of people walking together in support of gay rights. After all, the UK government legalized same-sex marriage in 2013. America gave the same rights two years later. Surely the parade isn’t needed anymore?

That’s where you would be wrong. For all the advances the LGBT community has made, there have been numerous steps back, too. Just look at what is happening in Hungary, for example. Or how about in Georgia? There’s also the literal genocide of LGBT people in Chechnya.

And that’s just looking at Europe. There are numerous countries where there are no pride movements because homophobia threatens our lives every day. 

Why do we need a parade?

Pride marches aren’t just about having a party. We have parades to celebrate from where we have come. They also show the advances that we still need to make. We need to fight hate crime, tackle oppression, and help support queer lives.

Even Pride was born out of the parade. The first march was held in New York in 1970 as a direct response to the Stonewall riots. This pivotal moment in queer history was a gathering of the entire community to show that we are unquestionably here. We are undeniably queer.

The specific goals may have changed, but the overall message stays the same. Pride parades come from a need for acceptance. There is no actual pride event without the pride march. If you remove the parade, what do you have left?

Look at the gay rights celebrations in Manchester. Without the march, this becomes a way to party and have fun. There is nothing outwardly wrong with this. After all, we all know how much gay people love to party! 

But the fun and festivities should accompany the parade. We shouldn’t be focusing just on these.

How does the pink pound help us?

Of course, it isn’t all bad. We cannot deny the significant steps forward that the Dorothy dollar has given us. 

For example, every pride month, you see many brands show off rainbow flags. They change their social media icons to pride versionsSome stores even sell unique products emblazoned with the pride flag as part of their marketing strategy. We need to recognize this.

Companies no longer see gay people as a threat to their sales. Instead, they view them as potential customers who can spend lots of money. So, when we buy things like clothes or makeup, those items now say “proud” instead of “gay.” That’s huge.

It shows that businesses want to work with us. And if they don’t, then they lose business. So by supporting LGBT-friendly companies, we’re helping ourselves. We are proving our spending power and ourselves as individuals.

We’ve seen other changes too. Some businesses have started offering benefits such as health insurance coverage to employees who identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ+ community in recent years. These policies were previously only available to married couples.

We can see that society is changing. The LGBT+ community is a viable market for businesses now. And if companies want to keep up with the times, then they must offer inclusive benefits. They cannot deny our purchasing power.

We’ve seen some remarkable changes over the past few decades. But, we haven’t reached equality yet. We’re only getting started.

The future of the parade

So while I’m not going to lie: yes, the pink pound does hurt us sometimes. It hasn’t always been perfect. But, it doesn’t mean that we should give up hope. Companies targeting our wallets have certainly improved our situation over time. But it doesn’t mean that everything will stay positive forever.

There are plenty of problems facing the LGBT community today. For one thing, employment equality remains elusive. Many states allow businesses to fire their employees simply for being gay.

In fact, according to the Human Rights Campaign, more than half of American counties don’t provide any legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation. So despite the strides made, there is still work to be done.

You might be asking – where can we start this work? The simple answer – pride parades. They bring awareness to our plight. They help raise funds so that we can continue fighting for equal rights.

And most importantly, they remind everyone else what we stand for. Pride marches aren’t only about partying. They’re about standing together and showing solidarity. They also serve another purpose.

By marching in public, we make sure that others know how much we value our relationships. We normalize our existence by holding hands, kissing each other, or walking down the street hand-in-hand.  

We can show the world that we are proud gays! So let’s not take away this vital part of Pride. Let’s show the world how far we’ve come. Let’s prove that we are not ashamed. Let’s show that the pink pound won’t keep us down.