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Community / Preparations underway for Shetland’s first Pride event

The Lerwick Town Hall has regularly flown the rainbow flag. This picture was taken in 2019. Photo: SIC

SHETLAND is gearing up to host its first ever – and the UK’s most northerly – Pride event on the first weekend of July.

It will last 13 hours, starting with a parade in the morning and finishing with a variety show at the Islesburgh Community Centre.

The morning parade kicks off at 11am at the Market Cross and will end at Gilbertson Park where a Pride village will be set up. The parade will feature the Lerwick Jarl Squad’s galley and have two drag artists who have come up from Glasgow to perform.

Kerrie Meyer, founder of Shetland Pride, is leading the committee and has been planning Shetland Pride for over a year.

She said: “Promoting equality, diversity and inclusivity is really important for people in the LGBTQ+ community.

“Folk are very kind and supportive in Shetland, but the idea of our Pride that joins 27 other Pride’s in Scotland, is to show the whole community we not only exist and are here to stay, but we share the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. After all, 10 folk out of a 100 are LGBTQ+!”

The Pride village will be open all day and is a family event. There will be performers, a DJ, a bouncy castle and a variety of local exhibitors. The Pride committee will also sell LGBT merchandise and souvenirs.

Meyer first had the idea to do a Shetland Pride when she moved to Shetland, after running monthly LGBTQ+ events from her house in Sussex alongside her wife Diane.

She started LGBTQ Shetland to create some community for the LGBTQ+ community in Shetland. Kerrie solidified her plans to create a pride event during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She added: “It’s going to be awesome. We’ve had people confirm they’re coming up from the mainland to attend, and as far away as Sweden and Australia.”

Shetland Pride has registered charity status, and received funding from the National Lottery to support the event.

The Pride committee created a short film by Chris Harris, to spread the message about the meaning of Pride, focusing on diversity, inclusivity, equality, and acceptance.

Local bands will play at Islesburgh Community Centre from 7pm until midnight, including Zdenka and the Dirty Lemons. Additional performances will come from drag artists RuJazzle and Lily Minogue, alongside Roxy Stardust, a burlesque dancer. Kaela & Astryd Jamieson will also play fiddle and accordion music.

Zdenka said: “Pride is something that’s very close to my heart, and I can’t wait to perform at the very first Shetland Pride.”

Chris Coles, drummer for both The Fiction and Zdenka, has even changed the second night of his wedding to play at the event – after seeking permission from the bride.

He and Naomi Lewis have been together for 11 years. They are both excited to have the unique experience of blending their second night into Pride.

Coles said: “I was initially apprehensive, because it was going to be such a full-on weekend with the wedding on Friday night, but it would huge, missed opportunity if we didn’t perform at Shetland’s first ever Pride event.

“We are so excited to have the chance to celebrate being newly married while also supporting our local LGBTQ+ community.”

Meyer said: “You don’t have to be LGBTQ+ to attend, anyone can come along, and everyone is welcome. The Pride village is a family event. We’re just hoping that everyone comes out to support us.

“We are aware that homophobia and transphobia sadly still exists, so we have licensed security personnel and police presence who will be at the events.”

She added they are still looking for volunteers to support the parade, the Pride village, and help with the evening concert.

Anyone who is over 18 and wishes to volunteer can contact kerrie@shetlandpride.uk. Volunteers are also being entered into a prize draw with Loganair to win free flights.