Yesterday (the 20th of June) was the Pride festival in Edinburgh, and it was a great thing to be part of. It also marked 20 years of Pride in Scotland, so having this be my first Pride experience was that bit more special and I’m so glad that I could take part.
As much as I had been regularly checking the Pride Edinburgh website, and reading other bits and pieces on Pride, I still had no real idea as to what to expect so although I was excited going into Edinburgh, I couldn’t help but feel apprehensive at the same time. That said, it was really something to be sitting in a coffee shop with my friend and watching people start heading down to the Scottish Parliament, adorned with various LGBT+ flags, t-shirts, and an amazing fashion sense from all.
When it was time to start getting together at Parliament, I was slightly amazed at how many people were already gathered there and I must admit that I did feel quite out of place – I almost had no idea what I was doing there, as everyone I saw seemed so comfortable and confident, and there I was utterly convinced I was sticking out like a sore thumb. I wasn’t, of course, and after managing to find a friend of mine by chance, I lost any feelings of nerves or awkwardness, and started to really look forward to the march.
The walk up Edinburgh’s Royal Mile was quite surreal, as a good few people were around watching and taking photos, and it was wonderful being able to walk along surrounded by so many people all marching to celebrate being who they are. About halfway up the Mile, a big cheer went up from people in front of us, and it turns out we were walking past a (straight) couple who were just married, and the bride had taken one of the rainbow Nando’s “Worth coming out for!” flags that many of us held as we walked along, so that was very nice to see.
We stopped outside the City Chambers at the top of the Mile for speeches, and again I wasn’t sure what to expect from them. It turns out they were from members of the various political parties here in the UK, and I actually found them to be pretty interesting – I was also somewhat amazed that they (for the most part) managed to leave political matters and party jibes out of it. I have to say, my favourite moment from all of the speeches was when the member of the Green Party (I think) came out with “Give me a P! Give me an R! Give me an I! Give me a D! What have we got?!”, at which point my group and I almost yelled back “Pride!”, and then realised we only had…Prid. I’m still wondering how quickly it took for her to realise her error; nonetheless it was pretty damn funny for us, and was referenced a LOT throughout the day.
After the march ended, we wandered round a few of the stalls, where I was handed a couple of leaflets on fire safety (clearly they could just tell what a hazard I am!) and picked up the odd leaflet and Visi-BI-lity badge, as well as a “Some people are BI. Get over it” sticker, which I really love. We also paid a visit to the main arena, where they had the LGBT+ Youth Space and various other things going on, although it was a bit too crowded to really move freely and not get in anyone’s way. However, one thing I noticed throughout the march, and am thinking about again just now, is how diverse an age range there was. There was a lot of older people, and then on the other end of the scale a lot of young people – and I was almost surprised as to how young. I noticed a few people out with their young children, and it was lovely to see them getting so involved. From what I could see, the majority of people were made up of those of us aged 16-25, which was again really good to see as I hadn’t been too sure how likely young people would be to attend.
One thing that really jumped out at me was especially prevalent in the speeches, which is that a large part of the focus was on the LG parts of LGBT+. A couple mentioned transgender and intersex rights, and one at least mentioned bisexuals (only once, mind), but there was no mention at all of asexuality or anything else – and sexuality was definitely the main feature, with gender becoming a seemingly non–existent concept. It made me realise that although things have definitely changed over the years, so much more has to happen in terms of awareness. Just as gender doesn’t stop with “male and female”, sexuality doesn’t stop at “heterosexual and homosexual”. People identify as so many different things, and it’s important to be aware and inclusive to the best of your ability. In the speeches we heard at Pride, they all mentioned being lesbian or gay, and as I said only a few included bisexuality, transgender, and intersex, and I believe some did use the LGBT acronym too – but as my friend pointed out, “how hard would it be to say LGBT+? It’s only an extra syllable”. And I feel she made a very valid point; to some it may just be an extra syllable and so no big deal, but to others it could be a way to feel more accepted and less alone – and surely that can only be seen as a good thing?
All in all, I had a great first experience at Pride, and as well as being good fun it also really made you think; though perhaps not very coherently if the above paragraph is anything to go by! I’m looking forward to many more years of Pride, and I would urge people to go to any local ones if they ever get the opportunity.