These accounts of racial profiling and bias at Manchester Pride are damning

Manchester Pride

Three queer people of colour have told PinkNews about their experiences of racism at last weekend’s Manchester Pride.

These new accounts of racism and racist micro-aggressions follow multiple previous accusations of discrimination and bias at the event.

The Pride festival has been slammed after officials failed to remove anti-transgender protesters, ticket-holders were refused entry from a headline set by Ariana Grande, disabled people complained of being blocked from seeing the parade, and Pride-goers faced hour-long queues for drinks and toilets.

And Ariane Grande’s presence at the festival meant there were reportedly more straight people there than in previous years, which contributed to the negative experience of people of colour at Manchester Pride, according to attendees of the event who spoke to PinkNews.

Manchester Pride security ‘humiliated’ people of colour

Amrou Al-Kadhi, a 29-year-old writer and filmmaker, told PinkNews that they were a victim of racial profiling while entering the arena at Mayfield Depot to see Ariana Grande.

“We were all supposed to have clear bags to get into the Ariana gig, and I didn’t, so I was singled out by a white security guard who told me to get a see-through one,” Amrou says.

“So I went into a shop and got a see-through plastic bag in which I put all my things. When I arrived back, he bollocked me for having a ‘plastic bag’ and not a clear one, and was being quite intimidating – even though the plastic bag was clear.

“I was like, ‘It’s clear and plastic’, and he was like, ‘I said nothing about plastic, just clear.’ He was being SO rude and dismissive of me.  

I realised I was victim to racial profiling.

“Then a bunch of white customers had the same kind of plastic bag as I did, and he let them through, which is when I realised I was victim to racial profiling and that he was humiliating me as one of the only people of colour there.”

Amrou also told PinkNews that they were chased down the street at 5am by a white man they had refused to kiss, although they don’t know if this incident was racially motivated.

Although they would go back to Manchester Pride, they wouldn’t revisit Manchester Pride Live – the paid-for arena gig that saw performances this year from the likes of Ariana Grande and Cheryl.

“I don’t think there should be pop stars at Pride. It means there are too many straight people there and it becomes about the structural mechanics of getting everyone in, rather than celebrating LGBTQIA+ people,” they say.

‘Too many straight people’ at Pride

Abi McIntosh also told PinkNews that she thought there were too many straight people at Manchester Pride.

“I was told over and over again that I was ‘pretty for a lesbian’,” she says. “And I think non-LGBT+ people respect my personal space a lot less.”

“I do understand how important it was to have Ariana Grande there because of the bombing, but lots of people were there just for Ariana and didn’t care that it was Pride,” she says.

Abi, who tweeted that she “could have made a very hefty profit at Manchester Pride if I charged people every time they tried to touch my hair”, used to go to Manchester Pride every year when she was at university in the city.

“I’ve always had a really lovely time, because it was the final big Pride of the season and a chance to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen since the end of term,” she says.

Lots of people were there just for Ariana and didn’t care that it was Pride.

But going back to Manchester for Pride after moving to London meant that the racist micro-aggressions she experienced were “more noticeable” and have “soured” her opinion of the event.

As well as having multiple people throughout the event attempt to touch her hair, Abi also noticed she was patted down by security for longer than her white friends when going into bars on Manchester’s Canal Street.

‘I needed white privilege to get served’

Ben Hunte told PinkNews that he also had issues with unwanted touching throughout the day.

“There were just issues with people walking up and touching my arms and touching my chest,” he says. “The idea that my body was just available and free for people to come and like grope and stuff was really weird.”

He also says he struggled to get served in bars, at one point getting so frustrated that he asked a white friend to come and stand with him because he “needed some white privilege to get served”.

“My friend was standing behind me,” he says. “We were laughing, and then the barman reached over me to get his order.”

“It was shocking, to be honest, and that was when we kind of realised, ‘Oh, there actually is an issue here.’

I needed white privilege to get served.

“But then in other bars as well, I just couldn’t get served. I was being completely overlooked at bars, like I wasn’t a human, like I wasn’t there trying to get served at all.”

Ben also told PinkNews how, when trying to get into the Mayfield Depot venue to see Ariana Grande, he was stopped by security who said he “didn’t have the right wristband”. The security “kicked up a storm” about this, but then let Ben’s partner – a white man with the same wristband – straight through.

“It was just weird,” Ben says.

Lib Dems demand investigation into racism at Manchester Pride

The Liberal Democrats have demanded an investigation of the Manchester Pride organisers after comparisons were made between Manchester Pride and the disastrous Fyre Festival.

The Lib Dems’ Manchester leader, John Leech, wrote to the chair of the Communities and Equalities Scrutiny Committee outlining his “serious concerns” about the organisation and running of Manchester Pride.

Leech’s concerns include accusations of racism and lack of disabled access.

The event’s chief executive, Mark Fletcher, told the BBC he was “sad to say” he was “all too aware of discrimination that is still facing LGBT BAME people in alleged LGBT safe spaces in Manchester”.

He said the event had developed an “all equals” charter that would help businesses “recognise and take action against discrimination”.

“We also now hold listening groups with BAME people to gain essential feedback on what more we can do to address the issues and ensure that our events are as inclusive as possible,” Fletcher added.

PinkNews has reached out to Manchester Pride for additional comment.