For those of us wanting to attend the first ever LGBTQ+ pride on the Isle of Man, this year was disappointing as the ‘Isle of Pride’ event was yet another victim of COVID-19, meaning we have another year to wait to have a big pride party of our own, more time to plan for a bigger and better event.
However, like some sort of rainbow saviours, our island siblings and new found air corridor neighbours in Guernsey have offered the next best thing. This year’s Channel Islands Pride, one of the only events of this pride season to be taking place in the British Isles, will probably look a little different with many from the island of Jersey unable to attend. The party will still be kept going though with the Isle of Man public going over to bring a bit of Manx fun to the festivities.
We wanted to make sure we’re all well informed on the event, whether you’re able to attend or simply watching from afar, so we present to you:
Gef’s Manx Guide to Channel Island Pride.
Channel Islands Pride (CI Pride) first took place in Jersey in 2015 with around 3,000 people taking part in the parade through the island’s town centre. Created by the Guernsey based organisation ‘Liberate,’ the first parade in Jersey came after an equality march the year before, arranged by a local political party. 5 years on, this is the third time that Guernsey have hosted the event with the parade going through their capital, St Peter Port, a town with a population just over two thirds the size of Douglas. The last pride event here had around 4,000-5,000 attendees and Liberate CEO Ellie Jones says they’re expecting similar number this year, with local enthusiasm overcoming the lack of guests from the UK and Jersey.
The theme of CI pride this year sees the organisers looking to combat the isolation of lockdown and being forced indoors by having a massive ‘coming out party.’ CI pride also have a particular focus on keeping the occasion suitable for all ages. Ellie Jones described how people often comment on the ‘all-inclusiveness’ of the event, saying: “We go out of our way to make it family-friendly.” True to this idea, the event has seen some performers come over especially from the UK and self-isolate before taking on the main stage. Attendees this year include singer Kalon Rae who appeared on The Voice UK and cabaret performer Ivy Paige who was also a contestant on the national singing competition and is a favourite of the event.
Whilst there are many events over the weekend from the 11th to 14th September, the main parade takes place on Saturday 12th. Starting at 2pm in the Candie Gardens there will be a variety of stalls including face painting, music and information points (maybe make a note of those if you get lost). The parade will be preceded by an hour Zumba session, of course, to get everyone moving before pride guests begin the walk through the St Peter Port town centre. If you’ve never been to a pride parade before, be sure to expect plenty of colour and a variety of unique outfits and costumes.
Pride is a place for people to be themselves so wear pretty much whatever you want (within reason, obviously) and get involved with an atmosphere of acceptance and love. After the parade you’ll arrive at the Market Square where the festivities will really kick off. You can rest easy knowing that the vast majority of events are free or ‘by donation’ meaning anyone should be able to attend without putting up a paywall, an often contentious issue at pride events across the world. This includes the performances on the main stage which will see Kalon Rae and Ivy Paige as well as Guernsey’s very own ‘Rainbow Chorus,’ a choir made up of members of the public from all walks of life. Finally, after the main events are over, you can attend the after party at one of the local clubs. However, the after party requires you to buy tickets so you should probably get that in ahead of time by heading to the https://www.channelislandspride.org/ website and booking them if you want to attend. Alongside the main pride there are plenty of other options across the weekend including a closing BBQ to chill out after some full on, but responsible, partying. Ellie Jones also encouraged any Manxies arriving for the weekend to try ‘island-hopping’ to any of the smaller islands located around Guernsey.
This year is an interesting time for the event which has seen LGBTQ+ related laws in the area develop significantly since its inception. Earlier this year there was debate in Guernsey over anti-discrimination laws which would have seen LGBTQ+ protections not included in an initial rollout, leaving some members of the community with no legal protection for up to two years. Although this ended up being changed, with protections based on sexuality being brought into the first phase of the legislation, Ellie Jones also mentioned the elections later this year in Guernsey. Ellie said that Liberate are “still fighting for trans people” but there are some candidates who would “see trans rights rolled back.” With this being a current and important issue for many of the people involved, don’t be surprised if you see anyone canvassing or mentioning the election at the event.
The whole idea of pride anywhere you go is celebrating individuality, community and love, something which Gef is all about. You don’t get much more individual than a talking mongoose after all. Ellie from Liberate described the importance of pride to put pressure on places where LGBTQ+ people are still persecuted: “there are still 71 countries where it’s illegal to be LGBT in some way.” She also spoke about how “it’s the one day a year that people feel comfortable holding hands down the street,” and that pride breaks down stigma in the community and gets people to have difficult conversations. So, if you’re attending CI pride as your first ever pride event or your 50th, remember to stay respectful, stay safe, have fun and show them what the Isle of Man is all about. I think we’re all growing rather fond of this air corridor with our island cousins down south so it would be nice if they invited us back to join again next year, even though we are clearly better at football than them, sorry guys. Finally, on welcoming the people of the IOM to Guernsey for the event, Ellie said:
“When we had the opportunity to welcome you here after your first pride was cancelled, it meant a lot to us. We hope you will be able to have your first event next year as it really does change the way people think. We’re excited to show the Isle of Man what gay Guernsey is all about!”
Although flights from the Isle of Man for the event are already fully booked, it’s never too early to start planning for next year, and let’s be honest, summer 2021 can’t come soon enough.