Words: Will Stroude
Manchester Pride's Chief Executive has stood by the decision to use an eight-stripe Pride flag bearing black and brown stripes as part of the event's visual identity for 2019.
Organisers announced last week that Manchester Pride would become the first UK Pride to use the design - a variation on Gilbert Baker's classic 1978 six-stripe rainbow design - in order to better recognise BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) LGBT+ people.
The announcement was met with a mixed reaction from members of the LGBT community on social media: While some welcomed the decision to highlight racial diversity within in the LGBT community, many argued that the traditional six-stripe flag already represented LGBT+ people of all racial backgrounds.
Others pointed out that the degree ill-feeling towards the new design was symptomatic of racism within the LGBT+ community itself.
Manchester Pride has stuck to its guns, however, with Chief Executive Mark Fletcher saying he hopes those who "don't yet see the need" for the eight-stripe flag will "grow to love it".
In a statement, he said: "Last week we launched our new visual identity which we have designed to better represent the make-up of LGBTQ+ communities within Greater Manchester
Manchester Pride's new visual identity for 2019, which features the eight-stripe Pride flag in the top right corner
"As chief exec for Manchester Pride, a charity which campaigns for LGBTQ+ rights and equality, it is my responsibility to recognise the needs of LGBTQ+ people of all backgrounds and to constantly evaluate what we can do to promote inclusion.
"As a charity which campaigns for LGBTQ+ rights and equality, it is our responsibility to recognise the needs of LGBTQ+ people of all backgrounds and to constantly evaluate what we can do to promote inclusion.
"Through the process of drawing up our own Equality Charter we have spent time listening to the opinions of LGBTQ+ people and time and time again BAME people have told us that they feel underrepresented within LGBTQ+ spaces across the region so we have worked hard to ensure that they feel represented within our marketing and welcome at our events.
He continues: "We have created a new visual identity for the charity which includes many different groups and identities within the LGBTQ+ spectrum in 2019.
"We celebrate Trans, Intersex, Bisexual, Pansexual, Asexual, Non-binary, Genderqueer people along with some of our community’s subcultures such as Bears, Leather & Rubber.
"Pride is for everyone and we want to celebrate the differences and this was our way of doing it. I hope that those who don’t yet see the need will understand our reasons for making this change and grow to love it.
"As a charity which campaigns for LGBTQ+ equality it would be reckless of us to ignore the experiences of those who feel marginalised - especially at our events."
Meanwhile, Manchester Pride has announced a brand new home for its annual music festival after the event was forced to move from its home in the city's gay village last year.
Manchester Pride Live - formerly known as The Big Weekend - will take place over the weekend of 24-25 August at Mayfield, a disused railway depot and indoor venue close to Manchester Piccadilly Station and a 10-minute walk away from the site of the former event in Sackvill Street.