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Comment: Selfridges and Calvin Klein don’t get Pride

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  1. Jamie Crick 7 Jul 2009, 2:40pm

    I think the inclusion of Selfridges in the Parade was excellent and their choice of fit men entirely appropriate. If Pride London is to succeed it needs the inclusion of the whole city, people and business, as Sydney tends to have – much more than here.

    I do agree however that the Pride Themes in London are a little bland and we should have seen a 40 years since Stonewall focus as well as support for Eastern Europeans in the future.

    The party and the protest can sit well together – that is what makes Pride such a successful event because we get the message across as well as celebrating.

  2. If you read my article, you will see that I am not saying they should not have been there, on the contrary. I just object to the way they did it.

  3. Yep, Nicolas has a point. Still, keep the muscle boys!!!!
    Sexiness plus activism is perfectly possible.

    Actually, it would be nice if the BBC, when covering it, realised Pride was also lesbian, gay and bisexual and transgender, and not just drag-queen pride. Not that i have anything against, the latter, but I want balance.

  4. Of course the gay community is shallow.Reading lots of comments on various blogs highlights that. people making rash statements yet never getting up off their arses to do anything about it.

  5. Eric James 7 Jul 2009, 3:51pm

    What year is this? I found Pride to be very political, much more political than it used to be… If Selfridges want to send along a few sexy men to lighten the mood, then good for them. What would you have preferred? It’s supposed to be a celebration of our sexuality. Don’t let’s make it such a pious affair that no one wants to come anymore.

  6. Of course Tony T’s above comment is shallow. Reading it highlights that. Making rash generalisations yet not specifying what people and what missing action he has in mind. He should get up off his arse and do someting about giving more detail to make his statements less enigmatic.

  7. Brian Burton 7 Jul 2009, 4:42pm

    I echo Eric James. I find it all too amusing to comment myself!

  8. Black Hawk Down 7 Jul 2009, 5:13pm

    Why blame Selfridges and CK when in fact it is the Pride London board that is “engaging in clumsy and crass commercial opportunism” to the detriment of the political message.

    Grass roots activists no longer have a say in how the Pride London march and rally is presented; committees representing different strands of the community were replaced by appointed Pride London convenors who took it upon themselves to decide what was best for the LGBT communities. When this was challenged in a public meeting, at City Hall, the Chair of Pride London had to be told to be less aggressive when addressing the concerns of BME and Trans groups. He didn’t even bother to listen to what the women had to say and left the meeting early.

    It was Trans and Queer grass roots activists who organised the march and cabaret in London commemorating the Stonewall riots’ anniversary. Not all in the LGBT community are shallow. If the grass roots activists had been listened to, the theme might well have been one relating to the Stonewall riots 40 years ago.

    The “Come out and Play” theme was decided by the Pride London board, which refused to consult the LGBT communities because it believed the LGBT communities were incapable of coming up with a good idea and that any ideas would be incompatible with their commercial branding strategy.

    When you have a “charitable” organisation such as Pride London refusing to engage or listen to the people it purports to represent, when you have an organisation more interested in image than ideology, when you have an organisation which charges £4.00 for a bottle of beer in Trafalgar Square, you just know they are saying screw you and let’s take your money in the process.

    At least Selfridges and CK know what their values are. Pride London has lost its.

  9. Dennis Hambridge 7 Jul 2009, 8:16pm

    I agree it is the Pride Board that as destroyed the true meaning of what Pride stands for,
    “The Pride Board should be Impeached” before they destroy PRIDE events,
    And to be quite honest i thought the immitation GO GO Boys looked quite pathetic and an insult to what LGBTQ people really are.

    PRIDE must remain a Protest until ALL our brothers and sisters Globally can equally attend a celebration of the fight for Equality and Human Rights, we must remember ” IT IS NOT OVER YET”

  10. Hmmm, interesting… does the medium have to be the message? Does every float in the parade have to be 100% LGBT or can we have a smattering of guys and gals who are easy on the eye offering support? If they’re not gay should they be excluded? I’m all for seeing buff guys in Calvins of any sexuality… however I acknowledge Zefrog has a salient point to make. It’s not as though Selfridges doesn’t employ gay staff, and it does seem strange that these staff should be surplus to representing their employer’s equal opps credentials. It can come across like flagrant commercialism without them. I’d settle for a 50/50 split of eye candy and gay staff if they really can’t find any LGBT staff members buff enough to go out in their undies, but even then there must be LGBT models they could hire for the occasion.
    That said… at the risk of sounding shallow, the one thing that does depress me about the majority of British parades compared to Rio de Janiero or Notting Hill is most of the parades I see don’t really look like they can be arsed with the set dressing. 90% of the floats seem to be cobbled together the morning of the event (even pride parades). I know this from experience of being on one. Would it be too much to ask that people plan ahead a bit better? If I wanted to see some guys jigging about on an unadorned flatbed truck in an outfit they wear every day of the week, I’d hang out at the local brewery. There’s no telling me the LGBT community suffers from a shortage of window/ set dressers, costume designers and choreographers. If you’re going to put on a show… make a bit of an effort, please!

  11. @flapjack. I have two points to make to expand on what you’ve said:

    a) I am not sure that Selfridges have a constituted LGBT staff group. Ok this should come from the staff themselves but an employer that truly believes in diversity would certainly try and support the creation of such group. Attending Pride could be a good starting point to bring people together…

    b) Having been at the organising end of that float business, I know that it’s hard to find people with the time and talents to actually get involved (it usually ends up being the same people who do all the work). There is also a financial aspect to the question. Get a float at pride (if you take the ready made but undecorated option) is (or used to be £5000. Add to this what it takes to decorate properly and you are talking about a tidy sum, that community organisations would probably prefer to use for something else. In this respect, getting corporates organisations to team up with community groups and charities would probably benefit everyone…

  12. @black Hawk Down I agree that there is a problem with the Pride organisation (I am aware of what you mention and was at that meeting) but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Selfridges and CK have botched their work…

  13. Zefrog – Thanks for your feedback. It’s an interesting point for discussion and I’m learning stuff here.
    On your first point… it’s probably true that Selfridges haven’t got a constituted LGBT staff group, but the 2 branches I visit in Manchester, my gaydar was peaking constantly, especially around the fashion department.
    It wouldn’t take a genius to work out who the LGBT staff are and offer them the chance of representing Selfridges in a parade unless they’re genuinely closet. A flyer asking for volunteers on the staff notice board would suffice.
    Speaking as an artist with 3 arts degrees, I wish folks would use my talents more often… a lot of time is spent at home waiting for the phone to ring. And if you run Selfridges, you already have a small army of window dressers on the payroll! Why not use them?!? However I appreciate the floats themselves don’t come cheap. As you say, with the right kind of commercial sponsorship it should be a done deal.
    I think if we can strike a balance between the necessary commercial sponsorship and the kind of cynical hijacking of the event for blatant corporate advertising without paying dues to the community, then we’ll be getting somewhere. All it requires is a fair portion of genuine LGBT representation for every parade entrant. It’s not rocket science!

  14. Flapjack, good, you’re hitting Zefrog’s nail on the head. Indeed, Selfridges employs MANY gay men and some of them ARE no doubt part of its excellent team of window-dressers. So, Selfridges has everything required to sponsor and put together a truly genuine pride float: they have the gay men, and probably the gay women, and they have the gay talent to dress up a truck like no other company in London!

    I wasn’t in London on Saturday but I saw a pic of the Selfridge’s men walking and it stopped me in my tracks. I saw hunky buffed men and was glad to see something partaking in pride that was non-freakish – not that I don’t enjoy most of the bizarre elements!

    But now, thanks to Nicolas’ article in PinkNews, I find the truth: that the men were hired models, and probably few of them were gay. To all of them it was “a job”. That’s probably why, on the street, Nicolas and others found this tanned group “strangely unattractive”. The reason for this unattractiveness is probably the fact that what they clearly all lacked was GAY PRIDE!

    Now, in Sydney you get group after group of buffed tanned men marching and dancing their way, in formations, down the street, but you know they are gay, you can SEE they are all gay, and you can SENSE their determination, their effort, their out-goingness, their preparation, and their PRIDE. This is what we somehow have failed to get going in this country. All we get are a few extroverted individuals or couples masking themselves up in some wonderful and colourful form of drag. Proud good-looking British gay men are not yet willing to throw their clothes aside and take to the streets and celebrate openly. As far as I am concerned this indicates that in this country we simply DON’T HAVE the gay pride that is to be found in some other countries. We are still, generally, fearful.

    I have been on Gay Pride marches in London with friends who have been constantly alert as to the position of CCTV cameras! I have other friends working in the heart of London who lead a gay old life after hours but who I simply have been absolutely unable over many years to get out on the streets for the Gay Pride march!

    What does this say about us?

    Will all you good-looking gymn-haunting gay guys now, finally, get together and prepare to strut your stuff at next year’s pride? We see you in the clubs. You can’t wait to expose your torsos in the safety of the clubs. Now show us you really have pride in who you are!

  15. I agree with you whole-heartedly Eddy but the problem is that those big hunky guys to be seen in the clubs with their shirts off just won’t see your message. They don’t read PinkNews – because they’re more interested in their abs!

  16. Steve – simple solution… advertise for parade models in gay gym notice boards or Mr. Gay UK runners up [the winners are usually already there]! If you want to know where to find these people go to source every time…

  17. Flapjack! Good constructive thinking! And perhaps once rounded up in the way you suggest they could take charge of themselves, organize themselves, schedule their own weekly rehearsals etc.

  18. Hi Eddy – Do I detect a hint of irony!
    Fair enough, it’s not all plain sailing, there is some amount of work in organising a float, but if you’re representing a big-bucks organisation such as Selfridges or Calvin Klein there’s no point in doing things half-arsed. Perhaps the weekly rehearsals is excessive… most parades can get by on just one dress rehearsal and Busby Berkley standard choreography isn’t mandatory, but in terms of finding the people to do it and a bit of basic set-dressing, most organisations I see at Manchester pride could easily afford to pull their finger out a bit more. Some folks don’t even attempt the cheap and cheerful stuff such as helium balloons! Even if it was 20% better than last year that would still be an improvement.
    Just saying… this is supposed to be the stuff we’re good at! I for one would jump at the chance to work on a float.

  19. Flapjack, no, no irony or sarcasm intended by me at all. I meant just what I said. Why is it that in this country when praise is given us, we are immediately cautious? Does it reveal that generosity is not a naturally-occurring British trait? Anyway, yes, weekly rehearsals starting NOW would be excessive – mind you, imagine if they did! Wow, such a well-practised troop could knock everyone sideways and really get the competitive juices going. So, what about the organizers advertising NOW various prizes!!!!! Prize for the best team of formation dancers in the buff. Prize for the best this, the best that! Surely this is the way to go! What do you reckon?

  20. Sorry Eddy – being praise averse is as British as having duff floats ;)
    From my limited knowledge of Manchester pride I think there are awards for best this and that, though there are still an awfully high percentage of duff floats out there.
    I think if you just gave it a week’s worth of someone who knows what to do with chiffon, MDF, bamboo canes and polystyrene dedicated to putting on a top display you’d have far better results, but if you wanted to get it up to Notting hill or Rio standards you’d be looking at between 1 and 3 monthsworth.
    It would just be nice to see some big efforts out there to up the average a bit. I realise that the charity organisations might be a bit cash strapped, but given the right sponsorship it should be anyone’s game!
    I only say this because the one float I appeared on (a bar on Canal st which will remain nameless), back when I was buff enough to do it… the costumes were hired the day before, the props were practically thrown together from unpainted scrap cardboard 2 hours before the parade and it won 2nd prize! Gives you some idea of the overall calibre… a little quality control goes a long way!

  21. Here in the USA, while we have big pride events, I don’t think we have a lot of business type floats. But we have all kinds of big corporate sponsors. IBM, Southwest Airlines, Banks, etc etc. who have booths. Generally in the big cities like DC and Baltimore where I attend, there are two main pride days. The firstday is the parade / block party. The second day is the booths selling and soliciting all kind of products, showing their support for the gay community. And yes, iflooking at hot guys and chicks is your thing, you’ll find some reasonably large number of scantily clad examples. But I think the community is trying to dress a little more responsibly, which is fine.

  22. Commander Thor 13 Jul 2009, 9:35am

    Eddy, I’m not even British, but I genuinely thought it was sarcasm as soon as I read it, lol!

  23. I hope everyone will come along and protest at Manchester Pride which has long been the leader when it comes to commercialising and depoliticising Pride in the UK.

    August will be the tenth anniversary of the first ticket-only Manchester Pride (then known as Mardi Gras) with the gay village completely fenced off. 1999 was also the year when zero was raised for charity.

    For ten years it has just been a handful of people who have highlighted what was going wrong. It’s great to see so many other groups and individuals now joining the protests.

  24. “Whoever in Selfridges’ marketing department had the idea of this stunt clearly has no clue of what Pride is about.”

    It’s about celebrating. Some people celebrate by dressing up to sell “themselves” (ie, come get me I’m hot) and Selfridges did so to advertise a brand.

    Tub thumping article that seems to have lost touch with the fun aspect of Pride in the hopes we will all run around with placards and political demands.

  25. Half naked men marching through the streets of London as a way of attracting the attention of men: that is a profoundly meaningful statement. Selfridges/CK are able, in Pride, to market to me the way straight men have been sold stuff for years.

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