PERCHED on a chaise-longue in the foyer of the Malmaision hotel in Piccadilly Jackie Crozier is being interviewed by BBC Radio whilst I nurse a monstrous mid-Pride hangover, awaiting my ten minute slot.
“I think I’ve gone as far I can” she tells me, choosing her exit strategy well as this year marks the fifth year in a row that the Pink Paper has named the festival the UK’s best.
Crozier, the festival director of the UK’s biggest and best LGBT Pride event, has announced that this will be her last stint as Queen of the Village after six years at the helm.
“I’ve got to get back on site soon” Jackie tells no one in particular before I’ve even sat down. I’ve not got long, this being the busiest weekend of her year.
“Why are you leaving?” I ask, cue well embarrassing and vague answer: “It’s not a job, it’s your life really. It sounds a bit cheesy, but it really is.”
For six years Crozier has managed, not only a boozy weekend that stretches the August bank holiday, but an annual ten day festival that brings together art, theatre, cinema, music and LGBT people from all over the world to celebrate Pride, Manchester and each other.
“I think I’ve gone as far I can” she tells me, choosing her exit strategy well as this year marks the fifth year in a row that the Pink Paper has named the festival the UK’s best. 2011 also saw Attitude magazine doff their tiara to Manchester after an “embarrassing” London and druggy Brighton.
Not having missed the event since 1995, Crozier’s best bits during her time as the leader of Manchester Pride include seeing Gossip, Human League and the first time she walked in the Pride Parade. The first time Jackie stood on main stage to address the 10,000 strong crowd of Pride party-goers was her worst memory, “They can’t shut me up now” she laughs.
Manchester Pride has not all been plain sailing for Crozier however. Reaction against the wrist-band prices and the ‘Pride not Profit’ movement has sometimes stolen the limelight.
“There will always be those with their opinion on Manchester Pride” Jackie tells me, “we can’t please everybody, all of the time. One thing I will say is that I was in Mantos (on Canal Street) in 2002 when a bunch of homophobic idiots came into that bar and smashed it up at Pride. I was there again at EuroPride in 2003 when it became a gated event and I will never make any apologies for Manchester Pride being a safe and secure event.” Someone hand this girl a soap box. I’m sold.
Her closing line, one reiterated at numerous intervals throughout the Big Weekend, on screens, banners and by Anthony Cotton: “No other Pride event in the UK raises as much money as Manchester Pride and that is something I am really proud of.”
Whoever wins this job has got a lot to live up to.
Jordan McDowell runs Manchester blog www.fashionrambler.com.
Follow Jordan on Twitter @jordanjmcdowell
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