The Manchester Pride Vigil: Some Reflections of an Ally

In this article, Joseph Lynch passes on what he has learned from attending Manchester Pride 2023 with Central Chambers. This was not his first time at the event but, this year, something was very different, he explains. Joseph Lynch - Manchester Pride 2023

This year, I took part in Manchester Pride, proudly marching with Central Chambers in the parade.

I had a good time. I was intoxicated not only by alcohol but also by the general good feeling and the palpable sense of camaraderie in Manchester. I believed I was doing my bit to support and that I was truly embracing and understanding the spirit of Pride. I wasn’t. I had more to learn.

Pride is more than a celebration; it is a proclamation. It’s not just a party; it’s a powerful statement.

On Bank Holiday Monday, I returned to the village and met with members of chambers who have experienced things I will never fully understand. I spend a lot of time with my friends from chambers and have always felt close to them, believing I understood their journeys. I thought I appreciated what they had gone through at various points in their lives, but that day, I realised my understanding was only surface deep.

For the first time, I attended the vigil. It was enlightening, engaging, and emotional. People spoke about the struggles and inequalities they had faced. They talked about the loved ones they had lost, those who hadn’t made it to the stage, and those who had suffered prejudice, pain, exclusion, and inequality.

Standing in the memorial garden, surrounded by so many who had lost so much, I reflected on the family members I’ve lost in recent years. Many there had formed their own families, unlike me, who was surrounded by the family I was born into. The pain of losing a member from a chosen family, someone who embraced them wholeheartedly, is profound. It was a stark reminder of the daily struggles many endure in a society that claims to champion equality. As I stood in the crowd in the memorial garden in the village, I was struck by the extent to which the people around me had suffered, continue to suffer, and will likely suffer in a society that professes equality and acceptance.

This experience gave me a new perspective and prompted me to rethink my outlook. I recognise and appreciate the advantages I’ve been given. Many of these advantages came from the hard work of my parents, and I make no apologies for that. They came to England and faced their own prejudices: no blacks, no dogs, no Irish. I’m fortunate that they overcame the prejudices they faced, allowing me the opportunities I’ve had.

While the prejudices they faced may have diminished to some extent, prejudices still persist in our world. While some might pay lip service to equality and respect, what I learned from that weekend is that if we don’t actively challenge these biases, the progress we’ve made might be undone.

It’s our duty to actively challenge these biases to ensure the progress we’ve made remains intact.