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Sheffield Radical Pride "The fight's not done yet": Taking the pinkwashing out of Pride

Grassroots group Sheffield Radical Pride plans a trans rights march and a free Pride event for the city, promising no corporate or police intrusion. 

Sheffield Radical Pride.

Sheffield Radical Pride

The first Pride was famously a riot. In New York, 1969, when trans women of colour Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera led a group that beat back police officers when they raided the Stonewall Inn, a local gay bar. It led to the formation of the Gay Liberation Front and sparked years of Pride marches across the world.

Today, however, Pride is far from its grassroots origins and its meaning has been stripped away by "pinkwashing" and corporations falling over themselves to be the best ally each June. Sheffield Radical Pride are a new group of activists who want to change that and say they will return Pride to its street movement roots.

“Pride events the UK has seen in the last few years have been increasingly commercialised and no longer about the community coming together, celebrating their shared identity and protesting against the conditions that oppressed them” says Matt*, a trans activist and one of the organisers. They stressed the organisers want to stay anonymous for safety reasons and to keep the focus on their activism and politics.

Our vision is to remind people Queer liberation isn't over and the fight is still ongoing, especially for trans people and gays who don’t fit the acceptable image of queerness [...] We wanted to unite the queer community and draw visibility to our lived conditions.


In Sheffield, recent parades have seen tension between a more corporate vision of Pride that celebrates queer liberation as if it has already been achieved, and its original intention as a protest that resists the ways LGBT+ people are still marginalised. In 2018 the organisers banned political groups and stated banners and placards must be inspected by the Parade Manager.

Since the pandemic, Sheffield has struggled to organise a Pride march and plans this year appear to have fallen through. Instead of reviving the existing plans, Matt says Sheffield Radical Pride want to organise their own event because “there's a lot of evidence that trying to work with corporate Prides have too many barriers.”

Matt gives the example of Toronto Pride in 2016 where Black Lives Matter protestors blocked Canada’s largest Pride parade after the organisers allowed the police to have a float. After thirty minutes the organisers relented, only to back out from their agreement days later. The following year, the Toronto Police Service’s float was noticeably absent but Matt says the reliance on sponsorship and corporate partnerships only leads to performative actions like this instead of addressing the roots of queer oppression.

Radical pride Reclaiming pride. Sheffield radical pride are a queer grassroots group not asking for permission to take up space in our city. Our mission is to reclaim pride as our own, for queer people. We want to bring the anticapitalist protest back to pride and return it to its grassroots origins. Pride will not be there for corporations, the police or the state to pinkwash their exploitation. Neither is it a place for terfs and fascists to divide our community and threaten our existence. We consider accessibility as one of our highest priorities so we can do our best at making space for all queer people.

Reclaiming Pride

Sheffield Radical Pride

Whilst their plans go against the grain of Pride parades that most people have become used to, Sheffield Radical Pride organisers see themselves following a proud tradition of Sheffield’s left-wing activism and queer history. In recent years Steel City Queer History have tried to trace this history and have a section in their zine dedicated to queer activism in Sheffield.

It's important to look at the history that Sheffield has because it is a city that's had a lot of really important movements … Sheffield can be somewhere that is influential and stands out from the rest of the country.


Most campaigns to reclaim Pride push for change within the existing events but Sheffield Radical Pride want to create something entirely new that they feel is owned by the community.

We want a Pride event that has queer artists and queer musicians; queer performances available to the community without having to buy tickets to march in the parade or pricing out the community with expensive events.

We want to do something where we can actually shape what's being spoken about, shape the space that we're creating and take control of our presence in the world […] our collective identity isn't being dictated by this corporate idea of Pride where the institutions complicit in our oppression can dictate what people see of us.

Joy Power Protest Trans march Saturday April 1, Dev Green 12pm

Joy Power Protest

Sheffield Radical Pride

To kick off their launch, the group has called a trans rights march through the centre of Sheffield on 1 April, following Trans Day of Visibility today.

Matt says the way Prides have been corporatised to present an acceptable, often white, middle-class and cisgender image of queerness means they can often exclude big portions of the LGBT+ community.

A large amount of the LGBT community are still facing a lot of resistance to their identities, and one of these cases is trans people. Trans people are seeing a lot of attacks on their lives, both in the rise of hate crimes and through the institutions that make up our society.


Over the past year there have been a few pro-trans demonstrations in the city, most notably the vigil for Brianna Ghey and a protest demanding conversion therapy be banned for trans people but these have all been reactive.

Sheffield Radical Pride want to get on the front foot and start pushing for trans rights instead of rushing to organise counter protests.

It's about time we did something proactive and said 'We are the trans community and we're here to celebrate our lives and protest against those trying to take that away from us', which is why the slogan for the event is ‘Joy, Power, Protest’… because the fight's not done yet.


The group expect their Pride will happen later this summer and expect to announce a date soon.

*Not their real name

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