Gran Canaria Pride: The gay Marmite

Latest posts by Adam Thomas Gilberts (see all)

Photo by Charlotte Butcher

As my eyes stumble down my Twitter feed on my commute to work, I notice that it must be that time of year again. It’s that time when the gays migrate to Gran Canaria and back. Now I’m not one to turn my nose up at anything that promotes LGBT rights, or raises awareness of our lovely community, but there is something about Gran Canaria Pride that has always hit a Marmite nerve with me. However love it or hate it, you can’t deny the fact that Gran Canaria Pride is astoundingly successful, but why?

I can cast my mind back to my first Manchester Pride. Schools of smiling, happy LGBT people packed shoulder to shoulder in the streets of the village with the sun beating down. One year later, and that same street was packed full of cold, wet folk, adamant not to let the weather ruin their Pride. So why wouldn’t you pack your bags and fly on over to the sunshine for a guaranteed Pride/Holiday mash up?

I can’t speak for everyone, and I can already hear the torches being lit for voicing my opinion, but to me, Gran Canaria Pride seems to promote a negative stereotype, and slightly unravels some of the work we have done to battle stereotypes and prejudice. As someone who has admittedly never attended Gran Canaria Pride, I have the perspective of an outsider. Would I want to go to Gran Canaria Pride for Sun, Sea, Sex, and Sangria? Or would I want to go to Gran Canaria Pride to show unity as a community and celebrate our achievements, and quite importantly, raise awareness for our changing rights?

It’s easy to forget sometimes, that Gay Pride events were established as a political statement, following on from the Stonewall riots in 1969 New York. I am not saying that Gran Canaria Pride offers nothing to help the LGBT community, or raise large sums of money for charities, but as an outsider, this is drowned out by images of semi naked bronzed muscle men in skimpy Speedos pouring bottles of Vodka down some unsuspecting 18 year old first timer; a sort of ‘Holiday Reps – Gay Edition’

My initial ‘yuck’ reaction to Gran Canaria Pride may offend some regular attendees who may be thinking ‘Jheez, Gran Canaria pride raises loads of money and addresses LGBT issues’ to which I ask, where is this information? Their website is dedicated to making sure you enjoy your pride, there are no success stories. London Pride, Manchester Pride, and Liverpool Pride all explain why they hold a gay pride event and what the money raised goes towards. If Gran Canaria pride operates on an economical motive, much like London Soho Pride did, with the aim of pumping money into the bars and local amenities, and using Pride as a ‘Cash Cow’, then hats off to them. But if Gran Canaria pride sets out with the same morality of UK Pride events, born out of prejudice and stereotypes, to stand as a symbol of solidarity, then it seems they have taken a detour along the way.

UK Pride Events have naturally evolved from political events to social events over the years, although they have not lost their politics completely, yet. Maybe Gran Canaria Pride is simply ahead of its time, maybe it’s naïve, or maybe it exists as an escape, a way for LGBT people to go somewhere and enjoy themselves in an environment which does not exist in the UK. Is there a gap in the UK for a Gran Canaria-esque Pride, coexisting with our current Pride events? I believe there is, a possible UK LGBT Festival.

But to me, Pride events have been centred around, and always will need to maintain that political drive. It is that constant awareness of our struggle, which Gran Canaria Pride does not appear to be marketing, that leads me to think that maybe it’s about time they dropped ‘Pride’ from their title, and became ‘Gran Canaria LGBT Festival’.