A Personal Declaration From A Very Cheeky Girl

Hey everyone. Saturday was the day when the rainbow graced George Square for the annual celebration that is Glasgow LGBT Pride. This is always an important day in my social calender, as it gives me the chance along with others to re-claim the streets of Glasgow & walk through the streets of our city as full & equal citizens

There are some people including a small but vocal minority within the LGBT community who ask why the need for a pride march? Surely we have equality now? My answer to this question is there will always be a need for a pride march if for no other reason than is the chance for a diverse community to come together & celebrate who we are. I also inform them that if they really believe in equality then they have to join us on occasions like this to make sure its achieved. Because believe me when I say that though we may have come a long way in achieving a better society we still have a bit to travel before we reach the goal of real inclusion for LGBT people in our country.

So with the purpose & passion I always have on days like this, I selected my outfit as soon as I got up & by some miracle managed to squeeze in to a gold size 14 Karen Millen dress I hadn’t worn for over two years. With matching bag & shoes complimented by the standard black tights I was if I say so myself seriously hot to trot. Well a girl has to look the part on important occasions & trust me I definitely did even if I was wearing so much gold I could have been sponsored by Ramsdens.

Having woken up slightly later than intended I didn’t make it to Kelvingrove park for the start of the march joining instead as it reached the city centre. The atmosphere was of unity with a strong sense of carnival in the air. As we reached George Square we dispersed in an orderly fashion & began what pride is really about mixing, mingling, networking,& partying.

Almost as soon I arrived I was in a hurry to sign two declarations which I think are necessary if we are ever to achieve real equality & liberation in this country. They are equal marriage & independence for Scotland. Forget this better together nonsense say yes Scotland & yes to a Scotland fit for the purpose which by definition means equality for all our citizens.

The theme of equality was developed in the speeches from the main speakers. Tim Hopkins from the Equality Network, James Dornan SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart. Drew Smith Labour List MSP for Glasgow & Patrick Harvie Leader of the Scottish Green Party. All spoke with passion & commitment about what LGBT equality meant to them though I have to say that the contributions from James & Patrick were particularly impressive. With Patrick reminding us that the rights we enjoy today were not always those of previous generations & were not gained without years of struggle &campaigning & that though a party & chance to celebrate our identity pride is also a demonstration & we must always remember that .

Today the focus of the event was in support of the equal marriage campaign & it was good to finally meet Tom French a man who has relentlessly campaigned on this issue & who also has the good sense to follow me on Twitter. Tom’s good work on this & other equality issues has gained him much respect from all sides of the political spectrum & that respect has been very well earned.

As always there were a varied selection of stalls at the event including both campaigns for the Independence Referendum Yes Scotland & Better Together. Other stalls included The Labour Party this is the first time I’ve ever seen them at the event. The Usdaw & Unison Trade Unions. Gay Men’s Health Strathclyde Fire & Rescue Service The Equality Network. LGBT Youth & The Scottish Transgender Ailliance. So as you can see there was plenty of opportunity for me to network & trust me I took full opportunity to do so.

One of my first stops on the networking trail was the better together campaign. Not being aware of who I was or my opinions on the constitutional question the poor souls didn’t know my game plan which was to engage them in debate thus distracting them from engaging with members of the voting public . Those representing them were nice enough people if slightly naïve in their politics Well they seem to believe that they’ll win the referendum by around 70% to 30% where they get these figures from I don’t know but when I reminded them that there was no opinion poll had ever given such a lead they seemed genuinely shocked to face such a challenge. I also reminded them that by adding the don’t know’s into the No vote it smacked of the kind of arrogance which may just get them a skelping in two years time.

After this I just mingled amongst the crowd & before too long I had met both Michael James & Maria Tighe both valued & long standing friends. A quick visit to the Unison stall meant the chance of the catch up with Unison LGBT activist David Calderwood another member of our community I have known for a number of years. After chatting to David I ventured the short distance to the Yes Scotland camp to see Gail Lythgoe & Stewart MacDonald working their hearts out in the name of freedom & believe me they were busy as I am pleased to report the Yes Scotland campaign was attracting plenty of interest.

After this brief stop I was back on my travels again & I bumped into to that well known character & occasional writer for Scots Gay Gary Otton. After another deeply philosophical chat it was time to move on. As I went on my way it wasn’t too long before I saw my friend mentor & chair of Tollcross Writers the one & only Derek Read. We had a brief chat before parting to go on our separate journeys to wherever they decided to take us.

Such was the traumatic effect of seeing both Gary & Derek within the space of five minutes that I decided to take shelter in the nearest stall which I could give me refuge, well either that or diplomatic immunity. So i ended up chatting to the Labour Party. The things I’ll do to escape the rain. This was the first time I had seen Labour in an official capacity at any Pride since attending my first one in 2008. It was also the first time I hadn’t seen the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats, maybe they know the coalition has Condemned them in Scotland, but then again maybe it was just the fact they had been out partying the night before & forgot to turn up. Well I know there are pre Pride parties on the night before the march so these things can & sometimes do actually happen.

Despite declaring my political differences to the majority of their party on what I believe to be the best future constitutional settlement for Scotland I was given a warm welcome by the Labour members on the stall & Judith Lewis & Shona were in my opinion the real deal representing their party with dignity & a real belief in what they stand for. As we chatted we searched for areas of common ground which we have more of than some commentators may like to think. Being nowhere near as scary as I sometimes like to pretend, I said that I would like to see to see the parties work together more often on areas where they do have common ground. This was welcomed by people who treated me with genuine respect & gave me good craic & good memories to take home.

However the day was still early & I had much to do before & many tasks to perform before leaving the rainbow road for the journey back to Baillieston. Amongst the most important tasks of the day was to pay of a visit to see my friends at the Gallery of Modern Art. Well I had made a promise to Stacey to visit the cafe & let her see me in my outfit, & I am if nothing else a woman of my word & firm believer that promises made are promises kept. Anyway I got brilliant compliments from Stacey her sister Clare, Joanne, & also Jackie from the reception team. So my five minute visit was well worth the effort.

By the time I returned the entertainment had well & truly started & the first of many acts had taken to the stage under the watchful but supportive eye of compare Scott Agnew & his glamorous assistant for Sherri Trifle. However I had no time for partying, well not yet anyway, it was time for me to get on with what was as far as I’m concerned the most important business of the day namely working at the Scottish Transgender Ailliance stall & getting as many people as possible to sign the equal marriage petition. Yup for the next couple of hours I was if you’ll pardon the expression a working girl & a very busy girl at that

As I took my place at the stall I was immediately made to feel part of the team by the other volunteers Tom Robert & Sarah & got to work straight away on getting people over to sign the petition. It has to be said that Sarah & I formed duo so lethal we were positively devastating & believe me when girls get to work we really get to work.

One of the first people to come over to sign up was a good friend of mine without whose encouragement & support I may never have become the confident self assured woman I am today. I refer to the wonderful Anne Marie Kelly. A reliable & consistent friend since my earliest days on the scene. Ann Marie has been there since those dark days in Dixon Street when I often needed to find extra strength to walk in the door, supporting me every step of the way till the day dawned when I finally became myself. Bearing this in the mind, I think I can say I do tend to soften my heart when Anne Marie comes calling.

Next up was another well kent face. This one not from the community but a keen supporter of it Susan Milligan. When I saw her coming over for a chat I couldn’t resist a light hearted appeal to get her to sign up. As I saw her approach the stall I asked if she would like to the sign petition so if there is anyone out there daft enough to marry either me or Derek that they would have her permission to do so. Needless to say, she signed in a heartbeat & walked away smiling.

It wasn’t long however, before another friend graced us with his presence as one of Scotland & Britain’s best performance poets Chris Young came over for a chat. Proof if any were that poets are better together though I’m not sure we could say the same about politicians. Unfortunately we didn’t get much time to chat as the stall was very busy & I was on a mission to get as many signature statements as possible.

Soon it was time for the headline act the gorgeous Joe McElderry. However hot he is & trust me that boy is hot I do have a policy on dating which is the one Jane MacDonald revealed on loose women a wee while ago. This is that I would never date a man I could have given birth to & unfortunately Joe & another yesterday acts. Lloyd Daniels both come into that category. Honestly there are times when life really is a bitch.

It was during this period when Sarah decided that she & I should take a break & leave the stall in the capable hands of Tom & Rob. Well we figured we deserved one since we both think Joe is a hottie & this was closest we were ever going to get to seeing our man in action. However it may been time for our a break it was also time for god’s as he decided to take a comfort break & temporarily at least rain on our party. I think he must have remembered it was fair Saturday, well no Glasgow fair weekend passes without a shower.

It has to be said though, this shower was pretty vicious. Maybe he doesn’t realise that the song we like is called its raining men not its raining on men or even worse its soaking men. I also hope someone has informed him that the line in the national anthem of the United Kingdom which says long to reign over us has a different spelling to the word used to describe rainfall & having a pee in the middle of a festival is taking the piss.

As I ran for cover I was glad to seek the shelter of the stall & carry on working for the cause. Eventually I was rejoined by a suitably soaked Sarah &the deadliest double act of Pride 2012 was back in business doing what we do smiling sweetly & by whatever mischievous means at our disposal attracting people to our stall & getting them to sign the declaration in support of our equality.

As some of the crowd began to drift away, we cleared the stall at around 5 o’clock. Before packing Sarah & I posed for a photo to make sure that we had a memory of a great afternoon & a deadly double act who worked hard for a cause we both believe in.

After the work was over I could get on with the more social side of Pride & I enjoyed the performance of the brilliant Barbara Bryceland but it has to be said my highlight of the day was without doubt the Cheeky Girls. Well they may the reason why Romania will never win Eurovision but they are high camp comedy its brilliant best. I don’t know what it is about these two, but they do have a certain likability factor & once you’ve seen them live you tend to like them more.

With the day almost over I chatted to a couple of police on patrol at the event. They said they had an excellent time & that everyone had been in good spirits& seemed to enjoying themselves. This they said made it good event to police & they hoped the carnival atmosphere would last for the rest of the night.

As the entertainment ended a crowd of us including my friend Pamela & I headed for Bar Milk. Like every other venue it was full to bursting. Earlier on in the day I had complained to Holly Campbell that I hadn’t seen Laura McLachlan however I had barely reached the bar before that situation was put to rights & I met the girl who is in my opinion like a daughter to me &no matter what else happened my Pride would have a happy ending.

Working on a budget is never easy & I knew that regrettably I wouldn’t get to see Alexandra Burke so with all my memories made I called time on Pride 2012 just before 10 o’clock going the Trongate branch of McDonald’s for a couple of cheeseburgers. Whilst waiting to be served I had a brief chat with Naomi she who is, was, & ever shall be my favourite member of staff. She joined the ever growing list of people who complimented my choice of outfit. This was vindication if any were needed that I had indeed got it right. So it was a proud & happy girl who got the bus back to Baillieston.

As its only once a year I decided to get a taxi for the last mile or so & with the ever reliable Colin on the switchboard. I didn’t have to wait too long before my cab arrived to take me home. On meeting my driver well he hasn’t long started with the company, I informed him I had been at George Square for the Pride celebrations. He said he had been in town earlier & it looked like a really great atmosphere & he was sure he would know some people in attendance as he a number of Gay & Lesbian friends. As he said this I asked him if he had ever met a transsexual women before. He replied that he had not & that I was the first but that everyone has the right to be themselves & express their identity in whatever they must in order to be happy. It really was the perfect end to a brilliant day & as I made myself a coffee I reflected on a day when I had taken pride in myself & in all that I am. Well if I had to sum up Pride 2012 from my own perspective I would say it was a personal declaration from a very cheeky girl.

Love&Best Wishes
Gayle X

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