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Drag queens banned from performing at Free Pride Glasgow event over fears acts will offend trans people

The decision has been met with an angry response

Kashmira Gander
Tuesday 21 July 2015 17:36 BST
Drag performers like aren't allowed to appear at Free Pride Glasgow
Drag performers like aren't allowed to appear at Free Pride Glasgow (DAVID LILLO/AFP/Getty Images)

A Pride event in Glasgow has banned drag queens from performing, after committee members decided acts could offend trans people.

Free Pride Glasgow, which bills itself as an anti-commercialist alternative to the Scottish city’s main Pride event, said trans and non-binary committee members were “uncomfortable with having drag performances“.

The organisation said in a statement that it hopes to create a safe space for all members of the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual) community, and that while the decision may "disappoint" some people "the needs of the most marginalised groups within our community come first."

It went on to stress that attendees can wear "what they want" and "express their gender how they please", but that "self-described drag acts" would not be allowed to perform.

Free Pride Glasgow said: “It was felt that it [drag performance] 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.”

First of all, we would like to confirm that after a further consultation trans drag performers will be invited to...

Posted by Free Pride on Monday, 20 July 2015

The decision has received a largely negative response, prompting the establishment of a Boycott Glasgow Free Pride Facebook page.

Michelle Visage, a judge on the hit cult TV show RuPaul's Drag Race and an LGBT ally, urged people to attend Pride Glasgow and Pride Edinburgh instead. However, some questioned her right to comment as a non-trans, or cis gender, woman.

Some Facebook users complained on the Free Pride Glasgow page that drag performers were being discriminated against, while others praised the organisation for taking a progressive approach.

Facebook fan Ben Goldstein wrote: "You seem like a group that is focused on progressive inclusive values [...] I understand the discomfort with drag by some - drag usually seems at least a bit misogynist to me, it relies upon stereotypes and characterizations largely created and enforced by patriarchy and male chauvinism."

However Andi Leipist wrote: "So more discrimination and segregation in an already small minority community. Is that really the way to get a supportive message across?"

Pridge Glasgow said that it understood Free Pride’s intentions, and said that its committee had a similar discussion in 2010.

However, the organisers told Pink News: “we took the decision that Drag Queens and Kings play an important part in the history of the Pride movement and should be included in the event.”

A spokesperson from leading LGBT charity Stonewall said: “We must always ensure that all parts of our diverse LGBT community are catered for.

“Pride events are about celebrating how far we've come, and focusing on the work we have left to do. Individuals and groups who support this, and who support equality for all, should be welcomed to be a part of these events”.

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