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Issue 18

Writers - Paul Matthews, Nick Laird, Allie Cherry, James Whyte, Alan Surgeon, Linda Thompson, Ann Mariott, Paul Robertson. Edit and Design - Brian Houston

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Gay Men's Health
Pride Scotia


I couldn't go to Gay Pride this year because I was on holiday. Last year I was, like, shopping or something that weekend.

In fact, I haven't been for ages, but at least I feel slightly guilty about it. To be honest, your average Gay Pride shenanigans set my teeth on edge, but far worse is having to listen to 'ordinary' gay people trying to justify their non-attendance by droning on about how it doesn't "represent" them and sends out "the wrong message" about the LGBT community. I suspect what they really mean is that they don't want their straight friends and neighbours to associate them with a procession of tinsel-draped dancing queens and butch women with unconventional piercings.

My first experience of Gay Pride in Scotland was not particularly edifying. As is usual at such events, the heavens opened; turning the festival site on Edinburgh 's Meadows into a corner of the Somme circa 1916. Expensive trainers were sucked down into the mire and lost forever, a group of enterprising ladies started a mud wrestling competition and my friend, having blagged his way into the comparative safety of the VIP tent, was rudely pushed aside by a slightly famous dance diva in the line for the tea urn.

The London version is much the same except that you have to pay for the privilege and nowadays it tends to be called Mardi Gras despite the fact that this is technically a religious festival in February. Of course, it's also much bigger and so there's always the entertaining possibility that 30,000 poofs squawking "I'm in the Bacardi Breezer Tent, where are you?!" into their mobiles all at the same time might, as happened one year, crash the entire London cellphone network. (Yes, I was one of them.)

Despite the organisers' best efforts Gay Pride probably doesn't represent the daily lives of a large number of LGBT people.

But why should it? If mainstream society is dumb enough to be outraged by a spectacle as harmless as a few men in dresses miming to dreadful old songs while a formation of mustachioed dykes rides past on mopeds (or whatever), then frankly they deserve to endure Gay Pride parades every single day until they wise up and get over it. Besides, I can't believe that all that embarrassing excess could really make gay people look worse than anyone else.

Heterosexuals constitute the majority of the population and must, statistically at least, bear responsibility for a large proportion of the world's ills. So you can guarantee that a Straight Pride event would be even more ghastly than anything dreamed up by the most stereotypical committee of ketamine-addled drag artistes and Wimmin in boiler suits. A trailer full of oiled-up Muscle Marys in silver thongs gyrating to Hard House in broad daylight might give a slightly skewed picture of the full richness and diversity of gay life in Scotland (or it might not), but at least they're not vomiting lager and trying to glass strangers in the proud tradition of heterosexual nightclubbing.

Gay rights campaigners like to lecture us about how Pride honours the achievements of previous generations of activists - people who were risking a lot more than a few blushes whilst explaining to Grandma about

the simulated fisting on the S&M float. This is undoubtedly true, but it's not the only reason why Pride should have everyone's support. It can be tacky, embarrassing and unrepresentative - but for one day a year it forces ordinary people, straight and gay, to acknowledge some of the weirder and wackier peopleout there. Good.

Next year I might even go.

Mark Kendal


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Core is a partnership project representing the LGBT community in Scotland. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the partners. However, if they're witty, intelligent and insightful - they probably are. If you flicked through this mag, saw a photie and made an assumption about someone's sexuality - then you're about ten years behind what we're trying to do here. Click the mag off and walk away. Accurate at going online time, but hey, we didn't get this sarky without making mistakes.