Reclaim the Scene aims to build on last year, which was its first event, with another post-Pride-parade picnic and (Out of the) Village Fete. This year we're promised it will be 'bigger and better than ever, with free food, performers, live art, stalls, music, and kids' entertainment!'
The date is Saturday 28 August, the place is the UMIST students' union building off Sackville Street and the start time is... a bit vague because the Manchester Pride parade is notorious for not starting on time (although it did last year) and for getting delayed en route. So it's a case of making your way down there once the Pride parade has passed along Whitworth Street and when the more gullible people begin queuing, clutching their expensive tickets, to get into the fenced-off gay village ghetto.
Assuming the parade starts on time at 1pm, I estimate it will finish at about 2.45pm.
Last year certain aspects of Reclaim the Scene seemed disorganised and, although it felt welcoming, the overall feeling was that it was for students. But I'm happy to give it another chance this year.
Queeruption describes itself as 'a free, non-commercial, autonomous, D.I.Y, radical, grass-roots, accessible, non-conformitive, creative, inclusive, outside-the-box, happening'!
Events begin this Sunday 22 August with the Checking In Point from 2pm to 6pm. Here you can 'collect your free Queeruption pack, map, events guide, condoms & lube, claim a grassy bed and get an opportunity to meet and greet queeruptors from around the world.' There's something called 'Autobiographic Pavements', which I won't try to describe, running alongside this from 2pm to 6pm.
This is followed by the Queeruption Opening Party from 7pm to 12:30am with 'live music, queerbands, punk, queercore, electro, trash, comedy, art, visuals, radical politics, stalls and more...'. Sounds good!
Both the checking in point and the venue for the Opening Party are still secret as I write this and are due to be announced on Friday. As is the location of the Queeruption Base Camp which also starts on Sunday 22 August. Apparently visitors and locals will camp in tents somewhere in Manchester City Centre and form a 'peace village'.
To receive details of the various locations you need to join the Queeruption Facebook group.
I'm hoping Queeruption will be a success, although I have a few concerns. One activist went as far as to describe some of the discussion there has been about camping in the city centre as 'delusional'. If you know Manchester city centre at night you'll wonder how this is going to work. But I really hope it does.
If you follow my website you'll know that for several years I've played some part — large or small — in alternative Pride events. However this year I haven't got involved at all and neither of the events above are on the same scale as Get Bent! in 2007.
But what I hope to do is bring you daily coverage (posts, photos and video) of all of this year's alternative events as they happen and regardless of whether they flop or are a big success. With all the spin, self-promotion and rewriting of history that goes on in Manchester these days, it's important that what really happened is reported accurately for reference in the future.
So tune in right here on my site for regular updates!
I can't finish without a quick mention of Manchester Pride itself which has a 'fringe' this year and no you don't have to go to Toni and Guy for it. It runs from 20 - 26 August with a number of events that are free.
Manchester Pride has certainly made an effort with this and the small 'community fund'. A genuine attempt to be more inclusive or a cynical move to annex some of those areas that alternative events covered in previous years, the aim being to stay in control? You decide...
UPDATE (18 Aug 2010): the Queeruption Opening Party will be held at Saki Bar next to Whitworth Park in Rusholme. Very disappointing indeed...
I know at the moment there appears to be a shortage of spaces for free events in Manchester but, as the commercial gay scene is driven by alcohol, in no way can any bar or club be considered an 'alternative' space. It's just another evening of spending money on expensive drinks, unless you want to go thirsty. What about people who don't have the money to do that?
The bar setting ensures that the event pre-selects the same old demographic that everything else targets: the students and under-30's. So, something that claims to be 'alternative' and different is actually part of the same framework as the rest of the commercial gay scene, with a little bit of slightly-different tinsel (marketing?) on top.