Stop Using The LGBTQ Community To Make A Profit

Monday, 13 August 2018

This years Brighton Pride Festival saw the legendary Britney Spears take to it's stage; the biggest artist to headline the event in the decades it's taken place. The annual event is set to bring in 400,000 people into the south-coast city every year, so you'd think more organisation and control would be introduced the year that the Queen of Pop was in town? Well, apparently not.

Myself and my friends decided to leave the festival a couple of songs early to avoid the crowd trying to exit Preston Park. Unfortunately this didn't benefit us at all. When we got to the station at around 10:40pm, we were wedged into a crowd of people with no regard for personal space. We hung around for about 20 minutes whilst the crowd grows bigger and bigger and began populating down side roads. There is no information from Station staff or Police, and there's no movement apart from becoming more crushed and actual bikes being thrown across our heads. It was sheer chaos, and not to mention dangerous.

When we realised there was no way of getting home via train that night, taxi's were then quoting us over £400 back to the outskirts of London to then get a tube. On an average day this would cost between £90-150. This is the first strike of organisations using Pride and the LGBTQ community to make a profit.

© Brighton Pride
Hundreds, if not thousands, of Pride goers were left stranded in Brighton that evening when Southern Rail decided to close it's station doors and deny entry to any one. Hotels were full, taxis were few and far between, so people were left in swarms on the beach, thankful for a warm evening.

When we finally got back to London at 10am the next day, my Girlfriend and I decided to book our hotel for next year's Pride to avoid being stuck in that situation again. There isn't a single hotel in Brighton that will put you up for less than £140 for one night the weekend of Pride, even booked 365 days in advance. Yet check the weekend before or after, and you can snag something for £50. 

We resorted to Air B'n'B and found a nice little studio flat on the seafront for £60. My money is taken and a booking confirmation is received. But just 2 days later, I receive a refund and a cancellation with no explanation. I decided to reach out to the host and ask why, in which they replied saying there was an issue with incorrect availability and prices. They told me that they are working on a fix with Air B'n'B and to check their website directly for correct availability and prices.

Of course, when I checked the website, the same studio flat (which is about the size of a garage), is being available, and being advertised for £543 for one night. Yes, you read that right. The host is completely exploiting Pride goers and would rather make a profit than give the community some affordable safety.

I get it, I understand how business works and I know that there will be increases on prices during busy periods because they know people have no choice but to pay it. But that is what's not fair here. Many people will now unlikely to be able to attend Brighton Pride next year because they cannot afford to stay over night, even in an extremely basic Travelodge. I wouldn't mind if organisations were improving and expanding their services to cater to busy periods, but you'd be lucky if you could even find a taxi before paying the extortionate fees at Pride.

After scouring Air B'n'B to attempt make another booking, of course every single Brighton home is hosted by the same company (who I won't be naming as they don't deserve the free promo) with nothing cheaper than £400 a night. I've worked in customer service for years, and I find it extremely unprofessional and greedy to not honour the original price to a customer. The host should have amended the price for their other listings and accepted their short fall for the handful of bookings. They couldn't have made it more obvious that they had missed a trick in not upping their price for that weekend and taking advantage of the LGBTQ community. 

My point is, Pride festivals and parades are the one time a year our community can come together and celebrate our love being accepted, and organisations are completely taking advantage of that just because they can. Don't fly a pride flag outside your building if you want to charge us double on that one weekend out of the whole year. As well as this, i've also seen copious amounts of fashion outlets selling Pride collections, with absolutely no disclaimer to donating to LGBTQ charities. Our struggle, our story and our sexuality, are not your salaries. This is our life.

If you run or work for an organisation exploiting the LGBTQ community, no matter how big or small, I beg you to please try and make a change. Help us enjoy this one event we have, make it more accessible for us, and let us feel good about buying your rainbow clothes.

To end on a positive, here's a list of awesome LGBTQ organisations, charities, stores and groups to check out: Stonewall, The Trevor Project, The Gay AgendaNational Centre For Transgender Equality, GLSEN, Revel & RiotAmnesty, turn2me, ThisShopSuxxLondon Friend, LGBT Shirts and Her.

© Image Source: Unsplash

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