As founder of Shetland Pride I am so proud the people of Shetland came out in their thousands to support our Pride festival last Saturday. There was a real carnival atmosphere in the parade that carried on to our Pride village at Gibby Park that culminated in a five hour Pride party at the Islesburgh Community Centre.
So why is such a Pride festival so important to Shetland?
The history of the Pride movement goes back to the Stonewall riots that started on 1 July 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, New York that saw the creation on the modern day LGBTQ movement that eventually grew into the freedom of rights against the discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other genders.
Sadly, we in the LGBTQ community are still fighting homophobia, transphobia, bigotry, discrimination and even hate crime, whilst more than 70 other countries have laws that still allow discrimination or persecution of LGBTQ+ people, and in some cases the death penalty for simply being gay.
Pride festivals are designed to celebrate and enshrine our rights and freedoms and to promote equality, diversify and inclusion and to remind people we are 10 per cent of the population and we have the right to live our lives as we choose and being born ‘different’ is Ok and is who we are.
Many LGBTQ people suffer from isolation and fear being ‘found out’ by family or work colleagues they are ‘different’. Pride helps to promote confidence within individuals to ‘be themselves’ and to ‘come out’.
This helps their mental health and wellbeing so they can start to live their lives without fear. The movie we produced in our recent mental health campaign illustrates the point of Pride and the issues many LGBTQ folk can endure when they are isolated.
Again, a big Hurray and enormous thanks to the people of Shetland who supported the values we in the LGBTQ community hold.
We’re currently planning our next Pride festival on 1 July 2023.