Grampian Pride 2021 is happening online for the second year in a row due to COVID-19. While the virtual event will still be a fun-filled day where we can remember the LGBT+ history and celebrate the present and future, RGU Student Swetha Akshita looks back on her very first Grampian Pride experience in 2019.
Pride Month is celebrated every year in June. To mark the start of this month, Four Pillars LGBT+ charity organises the Grampian Parade, in partnership with various organisations across Grampian.
I have been an LGBT+ ally for many years now. To me, being an ally means supporting LGBT+ people and their equality. It means that I understand that they face discrimination on a daily basis. The world does not treat them fairly for making the most basic choices such as the people they love, how they dress, and ultimately for who they are. Being an ally also means that I acknowledge my position of privilege as a heterosexual woman and use it to advocate for LGBT+ rights. Over many years, I have tried to stay informed and educate myself.
Opportunity to go to Grampian Pride 2019
Despite being an ally, I did not have an opportunity to participate in a Pride parade until 2019. My flatmate who was a member of the LGBT+ community had been raving about Grampian Pride ever since we moved in together.
Incidentally, RGU was going to participate in the parade for the very first time that year. They were also going to have their own float. The University was inviting staff and students to join them on the float and my flatmate and I signed up immediately. We were also asked for song recommendations to play on the float and I put in some of my favourite RuPaul tracks!
I was also so excited to dress up for the event. I wanted my outfit to have an Indian twist in addition to the rainbow colours. I decided to wear a black crop top and paired it with a bright red Patiala (baggy pants) with traditional prints on them. I tied a rainbow coloured flag around my neck and wore some Indian style earring called Jhumkis.
Day of the parade
On the day of the parade, we were asked to assemble at the start of Union Street (Albyn Place) before 10:30am. My friend and I reached the location a half-hour early since we were going to be on the float. The RGU team had put together a wonderfully decorated float and they had so many Pride accessories to put on. They had face painting available, and gave out Pride-themed graduation hats to all students, which I thought was such a creative idea! I have the hat till today as a souvenir from the event.
Everyone was uniquely dressed in rainbow colours. One student even managed to do rainbow coloured eye makeup – I have tried to replicate it many times since then, but have never gotten it right!
The vibe in Aberdeen’s city centre was amazing on the day, and I think it’s safe to say RGU was having the most fun on their float! Both staff and students spent the afternoon grooving to the Pride Playlist we put together, and we all sang along with RGU’s very own Drag Queen Dean who was handing out degrees is FABULOUSNESS and FIERCENESS!
Marching down Union Street
This was the best part of Grampian Pride 2019. : As the float went down Union Street, there were so many people marching along with us. It felt like the whole city had come together to cheer us on and wave at us from the pavement in support.
As we reached the end of Union Street, we all took a group picture. My friends and I then decided to go to some of the stalls set up by Grampian Pride near the beach. Overall, it was a day that I will remember and cherish forever.
While Grampian Pride can be all colours and fun, it is important to remember the purpose of an event like this. Pride Month commemorates the Stonewall riots, which began in the early hours of June 28, 1969, after police raided the Stonewall Inn bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighbourhood (Britannica 2020). Not only is it about coming together in love and friendship, but also remembering the lives lost to bigotry and discrimination.
This year’s Grampian Pride is a virtual event. Get involved in Grampian Pride this year by decorating your home, dressing up, and taking part in activities on 29th May 2021. For information, visit https://www.grampianpride.org/
Happy Pride everyone!