West Lothian Pride 2016

Our volunteers were invited to attend West Lothian Pride last Saturday for a day of stalls, singing and chanting. Here is our write up of the event.

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We arrived at the Howden Park Centre in Livingston at 11.30am, where representatives from various LGBTQ+ organisations were already setting up stalls and banners. There were quite a few community focussed organisations in attendance, including Pink Saltire and the Scottish Transgender Alliance. The first couple of hours was spent setting up stalls and chatting to people. Our volunteers sold badges and offered polaroid pictures for people to take home as souvenirs of the day. There were lots of people from the local area in attendance, and it was great to get to talk to so many people who were excited about the event, which is only currently in its second year. Members of the Glitter Cannons, an LGBTQI+ youth group and primary organisers of the event, arrived with colourful paints, flowers and pride flags to be passed out on the march.

At 1.30PM, we left the centre and moved on to West Lothian College, where the march began at 2pm. Around 200 people waved flags and chanted, whilst passing cars blew their horns and waved, shouting messages of support and encouragement. Free Pride marched behind our own banner and joined in with the chants, thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere. What was really amazing and positive about the event was the energy and enthusiasm which had been poured into it by the main organisers, and especially by the Glitter Cannons themselves. Made up largely of children in their mid-teens, it was incredible to see so many young people, some of whom could only have been around 13 or 14, being so completely brash about their identities. I saw hair spray dyed in the colour of the bi flag; faces painted in trans colours; I saw one person wearing the Ace flag as a cape. Given free rein of the megaphone, chants were bellowed and whistles were blown in a parade which, although small, demanded unashamedly to be heard.

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No Rest Until We’re Free”

Back at the Howden Park Center there was face painting, stalls and celebrations, as well as an impromptu musical performance from Mr Gay Scotland himself, who snubbed the Mr Gay Europe competition in Stockholm to spend a day at West Lothian Pride instead. This was followed by a demonstration from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, where everyone present was given an insight into an important legacy of LGBTQ+ culture, as well as a short lesson in polari. By the time we had packed up our things and prepared to catch the train back to Glasgow, the stage had become an open mic, and the hall was full of revellers of all ages dancing and singing, celebrating Pride.

This was only the second West Lothian Pride, and there’s still lots of room for it to grow and develop. But the confidence and self-assurance of the young people organising it just demonstrates why community pride and LGBTQ+ movements are so important to building and uniting our community and making it stronger.

Anyone between 13 and 26 can join the Glitter Cannons, so if you’re interested in finding out more then be sure to like them on Facebook. There will be information on the page about plans to organise Pride for next year, which people of all ages are welcome to get involved with.

By Róisin Caird