Emotionally overjoyed and overwhelmed by Shetland Pride last Saturday, this is so very clearly and demonstrably one of the greatest gifts from and of Shetland to Shetland.
People openly demonstrating care and compassion for their fellow human beings, acknowledging and accepting their difference within a common humanity.
For such a tiny group to put this on – a very special mention to ‘the eight’ and ‘the six’ – you know who you are – who put up the marquee, rainbow village gazebos, set up the Gilbertson Hall and Islesburgh and organised everything else but also fully acknowledging the goodwill and support of others and organisations.
It makes this event a truly remarkable achievement, ultimately reaching 1,000s through the 100s who enjoyed the parade – walking or witnessing – the Gilbertson Park Village and Islesburgh Community Centre music, dance and drag.
Whilst only one day, it is a vitally important annual reminder of the need for day to day information, education, dialogue, compassion and care to help others struggling with their identity. It highlights the work required of all of us to enhance and embrace diversity and combat homophobia in our very small community.
A gentleman Shetland Wool Week attendee I met last October, whilst I was working at the museum, came up unannounced from southern England for Shetland Pride.
What a wonderful surprise! And yet another coincidence. I also met a trainee nurse, on placement here from Glasgow, who was born and spent her first six years in Strasbourg when I lived there.
This tiny group of islands never ceases to surprise and amaze me. We should never ever take it for granted and ensure that we are open to the world around us and the joy of difference therein.
James J Paton