Free Pride to Welcome Drag Performers

There was never a ban on drag queens and kings attending Free Pride.

There was a decision to not book any drag acts, which has been overturned. Free Pride now welcomes drag performers of all genders and gender identities.

Free Pride is inherently challenging; we have known that from the start. As a small organisation, we disagree with the highly commercialised and depoliticised nature of mainstream Pride. Our aim continues to be to create a safe, accessible space for the most marginalised LGBTQIA people.

This issue was picked up by many famous LGBTQIA bloggers, spreading this local issue internationally. Sadly, this attracted not just fair criticism, but also an immense amount of harassing, abusive behavior. This harassment took the form of rather nasty insults and threats which were aimed at free pride organisers. This kind of abusive behavior is unacceptable.

The original decision was made because many trans members of Free Pride have had negative experiences with drag acts veering towards racism, misogyny and transphobia; the lack of contact with the drag community contributed.

We made a mistake, and we apologise.

Drag is an art form, a form of expression and performance, a community with a rich history. The most useful comments and advice that we have been sent from around the world have been from trans people of colour and working class trans people who support drag and have let us know that, without it, they might not have had access to trans/queer culture at all. We are extremely grateful to those individuals who have contacted us to explain this.

Drag, like all forms of art and performance, can entertain us and challenge us. But it also has the capacity to perpetuate oppression such as misogyny, transphobia and racism. Free Pride is a safe and accessible space for all of us to join and celebrate.

We hope to learn from this in order to foster the kind of community we want to see. We believe there is a greater need for dialogue within, and indeed between the trans and drag communities. We look forward to creating spaces where these dialogues take place with mutual compassion and respect.

Thank you for reading, and we hope you’ll join us.

Free Pride Safer space policy

  • Do not discriminate on the grounds of sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, ability, class, survivor status, HIV status.

    • Do not assume anyone’s gender or sexuality.

    • Try to use accessible, non-academic language and be aware that some people will have less experience and knowledge than others (however this is not an excuse to make offensive comments).

    • We are a big group and disagreements are inevitable, however please refrain from making any personal comments against an individual.

    • Be aware of topics that may be triggering for some people and always use appropriate content/trigger warnings.

UPDATED: Free Pride Drag Performance Policy Response

UPDATE: Drag performers are now welcome at Free Pride. Please refer to our current Free Pride Drag Performance Policy to be found at the following link – https://freeprideglasgow.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/free-pride-to-welcome-drag-performers/

The following statement is outdated and no longer representative of Free Pride’s performance policy.
__________

At Free Pride we hope to create a safe space for all people within the LGBTQIA+ community. We understand that sometimes this will disappoint some people within the community, however our priority is always to put the needs of the most marginalised groups within our community first.

This is why, after much discussion, the trans and non binary caucus decided not to have drag acts perform at the event. This does not mean that people of any gender can’t wear what they want to the event, we simply won’t be having any self-described drag acts perform at our Free Pride Event on the 22nd August. We hope people can understand and support our decision. However we feel it important to fully explain why we came this decision.

The decision was taken by transgender individuals who were uncomfortable with having drag performances at the event. It was felt that it would make some of those who were transgender or questioning their gender uncomfortable. It was felt by the group within the Trans/Non Binary Caucus that some drag performance, particularly cis drag, hinges on the social view of gender and making it into a joke, however transgender individuals do not feel as though their gender identity is a joke. This can particularly difficult for those who are not out and still present as the gender they were assigned at birth. While it was discussed whether we could have trans drag acts perform, it was agreed that as it would not be appropriate to ask any prospective drag acts whether or not they identified as trans. It was therefore decided that having no drag acts perform would be the best option as it would mean no-one would feel pressured to out themselves. This also adheres to our Safer Spaces Policy, where we ask that no-one assume anyone else’s gender identity, and to always ask people’s pronouns.

We would like to reaffirm that this is not to say that we do not want gender expression, which we do encourage, at our event. We encourage everyone to wear what they want and express their gender however they please! There will be no policing of peoples gender identity. We will be re-inforcing our safer spaces policy at the event and asking that no-one assume anyone else gender and remember to always ask pronouns.

Free Pride is intended to be a safe space for all individuals. It is also intended to bring a new vibrant change to Glasgow’s LGBTQIA community; putting marginalised people at its heart.

Free Pride

Response to Glasgow Anarchist Federation

On Sunday 28th June, the user ‘Foaker’ posted a blog piece about Free Pride on the Glasgow Anarchist Federation blog. We found the post to be misinformed and offensive. The post claims that Free Pride has only been driven to action by the fact that Pride Glasgow charge for the attendance of their events and that our only fight is to have a free event.

This is not the case.

In our manifesto we laid out the principles of our Free Pride ethos:

-We are against the commercialisation of Pride

-We want to make Pride more inclusive

-We see Pride as a protest

We see Pride as an event that is for our people, our families, our friends and our community- not for corporations, profit and pink-washing. We want to create a safer space that priorities the voice of the most marginalised and is accessible to all. We want Pride to be a protest against the injustices those within our community face, from the harassment and violence levelled at the trans community to the treatment of LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers. Pride is our platform to demand and to fight for radical change in society and challenge the assimilation of the queer community into capitalist society.

Free Pride is founded on ideas much wider than not charging for the event. Our event is called Free Pride and ‘free’ can mean many things. The name Free Pride references all of the following meanings:

  1. Not under the control or in the power of another
  2. Not constrained, restricted or bound
  3. The act of removing obstruction or barriers
  4. Given or made available without charge

We are not the same as Pride Glasgow. We are not giving liberation lip service. We are working together to provide an actual alternative. An alternative that affirms our identities, our beliefs and addresses our continued struggle. We are building an alternative pride which brings the focus back on community and not corporations. We are building an alternative pride to create safer spaces for prioritising the voices of the most marginalised. We are building an alternative pride which is accessible to all. We are building an alternative pride that is a protest. Pride is our platform to demand change and justice and to enact these things within our own community.

Solidarity in action exists within Free Pride. We are LGBTQIA+ people working together to build a community that can provide a free and safer space as an alternative to the commercialised and exclusive party Glasgow Pride has become. We encourage any LGBTQIA+ people to join us in our fight and we are disappointed that ‘floaker’ neither read our manifesto nor contacted us directly to allow us explain our ethos and principles and may now have misinformed or confused others in our community as to what we are trying to achieve.

We hope that the article published does not reflect the views of the Glasgow Anarchist Federation and that the Glasgow Anarchist Federation will reconsider giving a platform to views which diminish the work of LGBTQIA+ collectives attempting to build what is currently the only radical alternative to Pride. Whilst as a group we have been hurt by what was published we remain open to working together and we would encourage all LGBTQI anarchists to join us in the creation of an alternative LGBTQI scene in Glasgow and a community of support and solidarity.

We are aware that on the following day from the initial blog piece, ‘Floaker’ uploaded an apology piece directed to us for part of their initial post. While we agree with criticisms of holding events on University campuses due to these spaces being off putting and inaccessible to some, there are so few mobility accessible spaces in Glasgow available that are affordable or bookable. So while we try to avoid them where we can, using them is often necessary. The statement that queerness in university or art spaces is disconnected from queer struggles creates a problematic suggestion that queerness in these spaces is less real than in other spaces and ignores, for example, that you can be both poor and working class and at university. We also find it hypocritical and confusing that the queer movements we were suggested to be more like mostly all took place in the exact university and art scene spaces that we were suggested to avoid. AFEM 2014 was at Queen Mary’s University in London, Queer Mutiny in Edinburgh was above the forest cafe and Ladyfest in Glasgow was at the Art School.

The apology kept the view that Free Pride doesn’t care about the injustices and violence going on around the world to various marginalised LGBTQIA+ people, which is an unfair and ungrounded attack as Free Pride does aim to engage with these issues as shown in our manifesto. It is also important here to be mindful that for some LGBTQIA+ people, for example those who are disabled and/or have mental health issues, it can be difficult or impossible to engage with all of these things all of the time – but that doesn’t mean they don’t care or are ignoring them. Also, using ‘radicaler than thou’ language can put loads of people off and we want to involve as much people as possible. Not to mention such language is often academic, dense and not accessible to many in our communities. Within our Free Pride working group we have caucuses for those more marginalized so they have control over decisions and we are trying to actively reach out to folk who are less represented among us, for example folk oppressed as women, trans folk, Disabled folk, QPOC, and poor and working class people.

Yes we need to be doing more but we are trying to do these things and we are a brand new group. Constructive criticism or useful involvement would be a lot more helpful moving forward. We welcome all and any involvement from all LGBTQIA+ folk interested, including Glasgow AFED, and especially welcome any suggestions/ideas from further marginalised LGBTQIA+ folk about how to avoid decentralising them from our event.

Free Pride