Aberdeen was a great place to be this weekend! Not just because it was really sunny (for a change! I think I actually got a little sunburn!) but also because on Saturday 26th May, Aberdeen saw its first Grampian Pride event take place and what a day it was!
I took part in the Pride event village as a stall holder for my work – we are a friendship and dating project for adults with learning disabilities (all sexualities welcomed). We very much support and promote the idea that everyone deserves and has the right to find love whether they have disabilities or regardless of their sexualities etc. Therefore we wanted to show our support for the LGBT community in general while also spreading awareness of what we do. My work have previously linked with 4 Pillars who are a local LGBT charity and their founder, Deejay Bullock, is one of the Pride organisers so that is how I got involved in the event.
On Saturday, I popped in to town a little earlier to watch and cheer on the parade down Union street. It was great to see so many people being able to be themselves openly and the support for this lining the street was fantastic!
I then headed down to the beach boulevard to set up our stall with my colleague. The organisers had our wristbands and stall holder ID badges (on rainbow lanyards by the way which I loved!) ready along with 2 passes to the VIP after party and 2 free soft drinks vouchers which was a lovely touch.
The event village opened at 1pm to the 5000+ free ticket holders! I met with a few of my work’s members to go around the event with them waving our rainbow flags, while my colleague manned the stall with another member. I loved the opportunity to be fully immersed in the amazing atmosphere of the event. It was great! You could feel the happiness, love and the celebratory feeling in the air from the moment those gates opened.
The event village consisted of a stage with entertainment throughout the day from singing to speeches alongside stalls from local organisations which support the LGBT community. There was a bar, food stalls and face Painting (free), photo booth (again free!), other activities including a climbing wall etc. It was great that the event was free along with the face painting and photo booth so everyone was able to access this – I would have expected some of the activities to cost a bit of money once inside the event village as this is often the norm at events… so this was a very pleasant surprise. The photo booth had a fun rainbow backdrop and various props to create a memory of the day. Who doesn’t love a little photo booth moment! I do!
I noticed the song “This is me” was sang near the start of the event (my apologies I missed who it was that sang this but she sounded great!). I LOVE this song (from the very popular film ‘The Greatest Showman’) it was a fantastic song to kick start the day with lyrics such as: “I’m not scared to be seen. I make no apologies, this is me”
I also thoroughly enjoyed the speech from keynote speaker and Aberdeen born actress Annie Wallace. She is a successful transgender actress, currently playing transgender regular character Sally in Hollyoaks. I must say I love a bit of Hollyoaks so I was looking forward to this part of the day! I thought her speech was great, which I passed on to her when I got a quick moment to meet her later in the afternoon. I had to get a photo with her too!
I didn’t see all of the entertainment as later in the afternoon I stayed with our stall chatting to those who stopped by the information and charity tent about my work. I had a little chat with another stall holder in regards to the work they do for transgender rights in the UK and felt very inspired. There are some great people out there doing fantastic work and events which promote this and allow these channels of discussion to open can only be a good thing. I must say I can’t remember ever really having a conversation similar to that one previously and I would imagine I am not the only one. I am glad I now know a little more than I did before, thanks to the pride event.
It was such a positive, colourful and accepting environment throughout the day with a diverse range of people there integrating with one another for all the right reasons. As you may have noticed so far within my blog, I love events which bring a community together and allow fantastic opportunities for social inclusion for various groups of people. My focus through my work is social inclusion for adults with learning disabilities but seeing this for those who identify as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or Transgender was also a very positive experience. Now just imagine if this was the way things were any day of the year!? I can’t see how that could ever be a bad thing. I look forward to more similar events in Aberdeen in the future hopefully. Well done to the Grampian Pride organisers for this one!
Although I myself am not part of the LGBT community I am very accepting and supportive of those who are. Why wouldn’t I be… we all should! Our stall was next to the Equality network and Scottish transgender alliance stall who had badges for ALL from gay, lesbian, bi, pan sexual, transgender – he, she and more along with a straight ally badge. These were very popular throughout the day – I got myself a straight ally one as that is exactly what I am and proud to support others.
I don’t think you need to be part of a certain community to support their rights, integrate and value everyone as a person. For me personally; I work with adults with learning disabilities, I recently attended a meeting regarding the local autism strategy, I support a range of charities for various social issues and I attended Grampian Pride… however I do not fall in to any of these categories myself. But I still accept those who do as just another human being, we all have our differences and with that we are all technically the same in a way…
I will end this post with this thought – We need to stop thinking in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’… for example, They are autistic, disabled people, they are gay… We are not… Instead… can we all just see the world as WE ARE ALL HUMAN!