Porty Pride is coming to Edinburgh this weekend
“It’s about making a political statement, and celebrating all that we are freely and without fear” says Kate Gillwood. She’s one of the organisers behind Porty Pride, a new community festival about to be held for the first time along Edinburgh’s seafront. Porty Pride is a chance to “demonstrate a positive commitment to the whole LGBTQ+ community and do something for all of us” she says.
“I’ve never felt community like it, I’ve really not, it makes such a difference” says Chloe Brain who’s been helping organise a street party on Mentone Street. “It’s just really exciting” they said. The street has bulk ordered progress flags there’s one in almost every window. The family friendly party will include music from several bands including “riot girl queer band” Dear Srrrz, from Girls Rock School which helps women and non-binary people break into music. Chloe has also been curating a playlist for a beach clean with Keep Porty Tidy and turning their mascot into a “big gay lobster” for the day.
Other events include a Roll Along the Prom with Lothian Roller Derby which Kate is excited about. “I have a vision for that” she says. It involves “tight sparkly gold pants and feather boas” although she thinks it might be a bit tamer than that in the end. Mark Miller who runs swimming group Edinburgh Blue Balls, was planning to have the group march up the high street to the after party in Bross Bagels back garden “in the budgie smugglers” but thinks that might be too much for the town.
Civerinos are putting on a beach volleyball tournament with pride pizza, there’s a singing workshop with the Community Choir, a 5k run with a prize for best outfit, queer beer tasting at Beer Zoo, rainbow bagels at Bross, and Porty Pride Pale at the Portobello Tap. Craft and Natter, a local group, have hidden handmade items all over Portobello, finders keepers. “Honestly, the response has just been incredible. It’s exactly what I’d hoped it would be.” says Kate, beaming.
Porty Pride grew out of a campaign to fly the progress flag up and down Portobello high Street in 2022 after a flag and flag pole were pulled down and a flag burnt. “It was just kids” says Nick Passey who owns one of the businesses with a permanent flag.
“The fight’s not over” says Chloe. Pride is still a protest. They’ve been engaged in a “sticker war” placing stickers with slogans like “segregation isn’t feminism” over anti-trans stickers that have been appearing along the Prom. The police “took it quite seriously” but the stickers are still appearing.
Figures published this week show hate crimes directed against trans people in Scotland have gone up 84% in just the last year, with homophobic hate crimes up 10%.
“It’s important for the trans community to feel safe” says Rob Jarvis from behind the bar at the Portobello Tap. He’ll be pulling pints of special Porty Pride Pale throughout the weekend. He’s taken down a few of the stickers himself. “Who’s buying stickers?!” he shakes his head. Both he and his colleague Toby Jones were “a bit shocked” when they got some pushback from a customer when they put up their flag in 2021. These days they have a “zero tolerance” approach.
Sarah Drummond will be at Porty Pride to talk about the film she’s directing about Section 28, the law that prevented even the existence of LGBTQ+ people being mentioned in schools until 2000. “Our rights in the UK particularly trans rights are at risk and I really want to make this film to show how quickly policies like these can come into being” she said. She organised a pride march in Alloa in 2016 after she and her partner experienced a homophobic incident on a train.
Keir Glasgow says he and his boyfriend Ryan had an experience of homophobic hate recently. In an attempt to create something “positive and uplifting” in the wake of it he has thrown himself into organising a day of wellbeing events at RAW Hair studio on the 26th of June. All five staff members are donating a day to fundraise for LGBTI youth. Expect Prosecco, hair treatments and a raffle. Prizes include a blow dry every week for a month, a free haircut and express curls.
“We will get over it, we will get through it, we always have. And we do that by moving forward” says Scott Cuthbertson of Equality Network a charity working for LGBTI equality. Someone shouted homophobic abuse at him on a cycle path only last week. “We are still moving forward on LGBT issues. I think people are feeling more confident to be who they are in their local communities.”
This year is the 50th anniversary of the UK’s first ever Pride march. On the 1st of July 1972 about 700 people marched through central London with the slogans “gay is good”. There were no floats, no music, no corporate sponsors and barely any media coverage.
Today is also the anniversary of Scotland’s first “major” pride event, a march in Edinburgh in 1995. There had been previous small events like Edinburgh’s Lark in the Park in 1988, but it wasn’t until the 17th of June 1995 that 3,000 people marched from Broughton Street to the Meadows. Scotland decriminalised sex between men only in 1980, almost 13 years after England and Wales. “There was a lot more confidence building to do” says Scott but “we’ve certainly caught up.”
“Events like Porty Pride are incredibly important, it’s about not just sending a message locally but also sending a message nationally. Here we are in this community and this is our position and we are inclusive and we want to support the whole LGBTQ+ community and we’re going to do that.” Scott says. “It’s turned out really positive. It’s exactly what I’d imagined.” says Kate. She’s already dreaming up new events for next year.