A Pride event in Scotland is facing backlash after banning drag queen performances because they may be offensive to transgender and non-binary people in attendance.
Free Pride Glasgow, an “anti-commercialist” alternative event to the city’s main Pride event, announced the decision in a statement that claimed some transgender individuals had expressed their discomfort with drag performance because they feel it mocks gender identity.
The statement reads in part:
After much discussion, the trans and non binary caucus decided not to have drag acts perform at the event.
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.
Organizers of the official Glasgow Pride admitted they had a similar discussion internally back in 2010, though they ultimately decided to continue welcoming drag queens.
“We can understand the actions behind Free Pride over the banning of drag performers but believe this is the wrong action to take and is going against what an inclusive event should be about,” they said in a statement.
Though Free Glasgow Pride organizers have clarified that drag queens are welcome as attendees and that "there will be no policing of peoples gender identity," the decision has enraged many including longtime RuPaul’s Drag Race judge and die-hard ally Michelle Visage.
Airing her discontent on Twitter, the 46-year-old former girl grouper railed the “bullshit” decision as “embarrassing”:
this bullshit about no drag queens at scotland pride is embarrassing. HELLO?! WE ARE CELEBRATING PRIDE!!! what part of that do you not get?
this is also what i mean about gay on gay issues. IF WE DON'T SUPPORT AND PROMOTE EACH OTHER, WHO WILL?! we need to lift each other UP! — michelle visage (@michellevisage) July 20, 2015
they said no drag queens as it is deemed offensive to trans people. HELLO?! DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY TRANS PEOPLE STILL WORK AS DRAG QUEENS?!
what is happening?! AAAAHHHHHHHH!!! — michelle visage (@michellevisage) July 20, 2015
we are a FAMILY, we live TOGETHER.
oh yes, and if you are cis? your opinion doesn't even MATTER. i. am. APPALLED. — michelle visage (@michellevisage) July 20, 2015
THE FIGHT FOR EQUALITY AND LOVE AMONGST THE COMMUNITY NEVER KNEW ANY RACE/COLOR/GENDER. WHY NOW, SCOTLAND? this picking and choosing? NO!
WHO. THE HELL. BANS DRAG QUEENS FROM GAY PRIDE? THE VERY BACKBONE OF THE PRIDE CELEBRATION? hello, ever hear of THE STONEWALL RIOTS?!!! — michelle visage (@michellevisage) July 20, 2015
On that same note, Gay Star News points out that it’s New York City drag queen Marsha P. Johnson who’s credited with launching the modern-day LGBT rights movement by starting the 1969 Stonewall Riots.
Irish drag legend Panti Bliss joined supporters on Twitter in condemning Free Glasgow Pride for the decision:
What a load of old bollix, from Glasgow. Ridiculous. https://t.co/8woJSSW8kO
— Panti Bliss (@PantiBliss) July 19, 2015
Glasgow Free Pride bans drag queens? The world's gone feckin mad. — Antony Cotton (@antonycotton) July 20, 2015
What a load of joyless pretentious over-PC'ed stinking donkey bollocks that Free Pride Glasgow farce is.
— G.E.O (@geomixes) July 19, 2015
Quite glad not to be in Glasgow for Pride this year. Either pay to go to a carpark, or go to the free one (drag verboten, fun discouraged) — Chris (@asoopdragon) July 19, 2015
Glasgow Free Pride pandering to PC bollocks, clearly forget this history of drag artists and Stonewall. Boycott it. #pride
— Shane Sweeney (@shanedsweeney) July 19, 2015