Manchester Pride: Does the rainbow flag need black and brown stripes?

A pride flag containing a black and brown stripe Image copyright Getty Images

The rainbow flag with six colours - red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet, is the most well-known symbol for the LGBT community.

Now, Manchester Pride has revealed it's using a different flag for its 2019 event - one that includes black and brown stripes.

It says the additions are to ensure people from black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds feel represented and welcome at their events.

But the change has had a mixed reaction.

A fierce debate has raged between people who believe the move is inclusive and those who feel it is unnecessary.

Image copyright Manchester Pride
Image caption Manchester Pride is using a flag with black and brown stripes

"The suggested flag is patronising and offensive to BAME LGBT communities," Jon, from Sheffield, tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"The whole point of the rainbow flag is it literally represents anybody and everybody.

"Once you start including this group or that group you've lost that diversity and universality."

Other people share Jon's views and have said so on social media.

But Manchester Pride has also been praised for becoming the first UK Pride to adopt the additional colours on the flag.

"The criticism comes from cis-white gay men who have never gone through half of the things I have gone through in my life," Phil Samba, a sexual health worker from London, tells Newsbeat.

"They've never experienced stereotypes to the extent I have. They've never been objectified sexually in the way I have."

Phil says the decision by Manchester Pride to change the flag sends out a message that BAME LGBT people deserve the same recognition and visibility as white people at the event.

Image copyright Phil Samba
Image caption Phil says that racism toward LGBT men on dating apps and social media can be "quite tragic"

But he admits he's seen criticism of the updated flag from people from ethnic minority backgrounds as well as people who are white.

"There has been gigantic strides in the community in how we've progressed over the last 50 years," he says.

"One thing that has remained unchanged is that it is not a very inclusive space for people of colour and it never has been. This is a sign that this needs to change."

In June 2018, a report from Stonewall revealed that 51% of LGBT BAME people reported having experienced racism within the LGBT community.

And gay dating app Grindr launched a campaign last year to try and stamp out racism.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Manchester Pride will use the same flag that Philadelphia has used since 2017

Phil hopes Manchester Pride's action will help motivate change in opinions and actions in the LGBT community.

"All Manchester Pride did was reveal the flag they were going to use and everybody lost it.

"That is a start. Doing things like that, and triggering people, is how you make change."

Manchester Pride officials say the changes they've made to their event will go further than just the updated flag.

"We have created a new visual identity for the charity which includes many different groups and identities within the LGBTQ+ spectrum in 2019," says Mark Fletcher, the event's chief executive.

"BAME people have told us that they feel under-represented within LGBTQ+ spaces across the region so we have worked hard to ensure that they feel represented within our marketing and welcome at our events."

Stonewall's head of campaigns says Pride season is the "highlight of the year for many LGBT people".

"So it's important every person feels welcome and able to attend.

"There are a range of things Pride organisers can do to better represent the breadth of the LGBT community, like having a diverse volunteer board, engaging with local community groups and making sure every event is accessible to all people."

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