Scottish Pride: the gay scene plans to get out and about
The first Pride Scotland event and Edinburgh’s burgeoning pink economy are evidence of two different forces, reckons Dominic d’Angelo.
This year's launch of Pride Scotland might seem a case of Scotland coming late to the phenomenon of Pride events staged around the world. After all. the monster events staged every year in New York. San Francisco and Sydney. and nearer home in London. attract participants in their hundreds of thousands.
Compare that with the 5000 participants expected for the country‘s first lesbian. Gay and bisexual march and festival. and Scotland's contribution might seem small beer. But for others the mere fact of its existence remains a cause for wonder. even though it comes on the back of the substantial growth in recent years of Edinburgh's local pink economy. The regular smattering of weekly gay or lesbian club nights and the development of the collection of bars and eateries that is the Broughton Triangle into which fair-faced youths of both sexes disappear only to emerge exhausted and broke hours. days or even weeks later.
Sometimes. however. that commercial grip is a precarious one. Over the twelve months in the capital alone. Edinburgh's long-established gay bar the Laughing Duck has gone. as has the shorter-lived Edge Cafe. Others have been taken over. revamped and renamed: Chapps is now Fusion; The French Connection is now Maggie Raye‘s. while Route 66 and CC. Bloom’s have both joined the pack after taking over previously straight boozers.
The difference is that gay men and lesbians are increasingly to the fore in both the management and ownership of such venues — a significant shift from the time when gay bars appeared to be run exclusively by heterosexual males with an eye for the main chance. At least that was a change from the Mafia. who ran New York's Stonewall Tavern where the modem gay rights movement launched itself a quarter of a century ago.
Compare these developments with the way Pride Scotland has arisen out of a need by gay men. lesbians and bisexuals to make a public ‘out and proud‘ statement in Scotland. and there
is evidence of two different forces at work. in the commercial sector. the lead was taken largely by straight businessmen seeking to make a profit from an unexplored market at a time when few gays and lesbians — even
those with the necessary finance — were §
willing to do so. Sociologically. there may even be a direct correlation
between the size of one's wallet and the
size ofonc‘s closet.
in the voluntary sector. however. the impetus for establishing venues and activities whose primary target is not the realisation of big profits has come from lesbians and gay men themselves. Examples ofthis include: the Lesbian. Gay and Bisexual Centre in Edinburgh and its proposed counterpart in Glasgow; Lark in the Park — a precursor to Pride Scotland; Scottish Aids Monitor‘s Highland Fling in the Meadows last summer. or the Glasgay! festival (due to return in October).
Not only has the impetus come from the voluntary sector. but the funding has as well. According to Dougie
llothersall. one of Pride Scotland‘s organisers. the cormnercial sector has provided ‘buckets of support. but not universal support. There's been kindness and help from many. but others have been slow on the uptake. unsure whether it‘s going to be a success. it's a first-time thing.‘ Certainly. the level of commercial financial support gained for Pride Scotland in its initial year bears little resemblance to the large-scale sponsored bash being promoted a week later in London. and now accompanied by an arts festival to boot. Yet in the 1970s. even Gay Pride in London had its rain-sodden wanderings by a few hundred gay men and lesbians through sundry back-streets of the capital. Only the scale has changed . . initially the event up here was to be called Scottish Pride until the nation‘s dairyrnen objected. thinking that housewives wouldn't be able to tell the difference between two pints of Fresh 'n' Lo and a rnoustachioed man in a lilac tutu. Since then Pride Scotland
Boxer beat: a dog has a day out with its owner
. and the name.
at SAM's Highland Fling last year
was announced as an event for gay men. lesbians and bisexuals.
Such inclusivity is designed to ensure that as many as possible feel able to be committed to the event. For l-lothersall. such inclusivity has been an important element in planning: ‘Right from the start we had an access working group to ensure it was as accessible as possible. talking to lots of groups such as Disability Scotland, creating a women‘s tent.’ he says. ‘And where we haven‘t met our targets. the reasons have been purely linancial.‘
There‘s a paradox, of course, between the often exclusive nature ofgay bars and venues and the inclusivity of events such as Pride Scotland. Whatever the reason for the difference. Pride Scotland organisers are hoping that gay men. lesbians and bisexuals — as well as straights — will feel included enough simply to have a good time together. Dominic d 'Angelo is editor of Gay Scotland magazine. Further details of Pride Scotland in Days Out and Rock listings or (all 0131 556 8822.
I Doing the biz Bands looking for information on finding a manager and signing records deals might like to check a one-day seminar called ‘Lifting the Lid on the Music Business'. Speakers include entertainments industry lawyers and representatives of the Musicians Union with opportunities to quiz the experts. The seminar is on Monday 19 June at Caledonian University. Glasgow. Call Sarah or Jayne on 0161 336 1563 for more details.
I Theatre study Consultants are to be appointed to look at the impact of the Edinburgh Festival Theatre on the city‘s economy and whether it has generated more theatre visits since it opened. There was concem last year that the new venue would draw audiences away from existing theatres in the city. particularly the King‘s Theatre. The Festival Theatre board argued the new theatre would attract audiences from outside the city and increase the number of trips by residents.
I Acting award A special drama
student bursary has been set up in memory of 721ggart star Mark McManus. Students at Glasgow‘s Royal Academy of Music and Drama could benefit from the bursary. which has been partly funded by Scottish Television.
I Scottish reporting BBC Scotland is understood to be working on a bid to replace the main network news bulletin with a Scottish-produced news show which would cover national. UK and international stories. The idea comes from the recognition that London-based news is frequently irrelevant to
Scotland‘s different political and legal set-up. The possibility of a Scottish parliament would increase the gulf.
I Volunteer action The Government has set up a task force to look at ways ofextending the work of the voluntary sector. particularly among young people. However the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations has warned that volunteers should not be seen as a ‘quick fix' for social probelrns. The Government wants to increase the number of volunteer exchanges which put potential volunteers in touch with voluntary bodies.
The List 16-29 Jun 1995 5