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Gay photographer 'told to leave' Manchester Pride's Candlelit Vigil after taking pictures of parade protests

Joel Goodman claims a PR officer working for Manchester Pride told him to leave the public act of remembrance after he refused their request not to photograph transphobic protests during the march.

2019-08-30

A gay photographer claims he was told to leave a candlelit vigil honouring victims of anti-LGBTQ violence and Aids by a member of Manchester Pride's public relations team after he refused their request to not take photos of transphobic protests during the city's Pride parade.

Joel Goodman alleges that a PR officer working for Down at the Social, an independent firm which handles Manchester Pride's public relations, asked him to leave the public act of remembrance on Monday night (26 August) after telling him he was "not on their side."

Goodman, who is gay and HIV-positive, claims the same PR had previously tried to prevent him taking pictures of anti-trans demonstrators who gatecrashed the Manchester Pride march on Saturday (24 August), reportedly saying it wasn't the messsage the event's organisers wanted to "put out".

The freelance photographer says the Down at the Social staff member was also unhappy that he had taken photographs of Ariana Grande's set at Manchester Pride Live using a long lens camera from outside the event venue after photographers were banned from taking pictures of the performance.

In a blog post, Goodman detailed the confrontation which took place when he tried to set up his equipment at The Candlelit Vigil in Sackville Gardens, an event which closes the four-day Manchester Pride festival.

"As in previous years, on Monday night I covered the Candlelit Vigil. It’s a sombre, joyful, tragic memorial and celebration of the lives of those killed and affected by HIV," he wrote.

"I count myself amongst their number but have always made a point of covering this element of Pride with exactly the same care and professionalism as I put towards the parade, the music acts and the crowds in the village.

"I was therefore stunned when the same member of Manchester Pride’s PR team approached me as I was setting up and told me that they didn’t want me to be there, that she wanted me to leave.

"She said that I was not on their side, that in photographing the protest I was lending their cause support and that Manchester Pride were upset that I had photographed Ariana Grande, when they hadn’t facilitated this."

He continued: "To be told by Manchester Pride’s public relations team that I, a gay, HIV+ man, am not welcome to cover the Candlelit Vigil because they were upset that I had and was doing my job effectively, that I was not – in their words – “on our side”, that I needed to leave the vigil and that I would not be granted accreditation for Pride in future years, was truly shocking and extremely hurtful."

Goodman, who has covered Manchester Pride for at least five years, went on: "My job as a journalist is not to provide PR in exchange for a wristband, it is to cover events as thoroughly as possible, regardless of how they turn out.

"This includes occurrences that might not suit an event’s organisers or be palatable to some members of the public. If a thing happens it’s my job to document that thing, not to judge whether it’s worth coverage based on the values and ideals of a specific group."

He added: "This leaves me with a question relevant to the community whom Pride is meant to serve: in whose interests are Manchester Pride and their PR team at Down at the Social running and censoring events, if not the community itself?"

Attitude has contacted Down at the Social for comment.