Queers, Flegs and Glasgow City Council

Regular readers may have noticed a few themes starting to develop over at a Thousand Flowers Towers.  We may be diverse bunch but in the end it usually comes back to queers, flegs and Glasgow City Council, one way or another.

So imagine the sheer joy when last night, a story broke involving not one…not two…but ALL THREE of our specialist subjects.  The organisers of Pride Glasgow have written to the Council to officially ask them NOT to fly the rainbow flag on the day of Pride.  Their reason?  Because the Council haven’t given them any money. Not only that, they went on to describe any attempt at council fleg flying as having, “no real substance.”  Ouch.

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The image they tried to BAN!

So what even is Pride Glasgow and why should it be getting council dosh? 

Every year, Glasgow’s LGBT community take to the streets to march, sing, shout, dance and fall over.  We share struggles, stories and smuggled in booze in a space that’s safe and even occasionally fabulous.   Sometimes it’s political, sometimes it’s not but there is absolutely no doubt there is a need for Pride to exist.  We still live in a country where heterosexuality and gender norms are violently, sometimes fatally, enforced.  We can never afford to forget what we’re fought for and won, what others continue to fight for and what we still have left to do.

Our ability to do any or all of this seems now to be constantly impeeded by a few club promoters, booze punters, yo-yo giver awayers, marketing agencies and any other general bastards who happen to have slipped the organisers a few bob.  What any of this has to do with LGBT people, we don’t know.

Always keen to avoid accusations that they are just a bunch of greedy queens and miserable lesbians, Pride Glasgow made clear it wasn’t JUST about the money.  Expanding on the demands of the community they represent they said,

there is ways that the council can financially help the event including providing a discount on hire fees but despite giving it to other charities and festivals and events this year they have decided not to do do that this year with Pride.

So it’s not really about whether the council supports or doesn’t support LGBT people, it’s about whether they support Pride as a corporate entity or any of their other sponsors and whether they are prepared to treat them like charities.  So who are these people exactly? Pride Glasgow’s own website makes clear that fashioning themselves as a charity was part of their “business plan.”  And their sponsors?

Prime sponsor is gay nightclub, AXM. Their charitable work centres around the fact they sell booze to gays.  The headline act was initially announced as being sponspored by AXM’s rival booze seller and all round good guy, Stefan King.  He’s spared no expense and rumour has it, he’s managed to secure international megastar HEATHER SMALL to headline the event.  You know?  The one from M-People? Never mind. Anyway all mention of the fact she’s being paid for by the Polo Lounge seem to have disappeared after Heather was apparently contacted by angry punters and asked to drop out.

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Movin on up and movin on out and suchlike

It’s a total embarrassment that G1 has anything to do with Pride, what with the stuff they’ve been up to this year.  Mr. King is a reviled figure within Glasgow’s large LGBT/human community for many reasons and he’s not someone we would consider an ally. And he’s most certainly no charity!

You could argue though, that since the council has money to fund piss ups for sectarian organisations like the Orange Order, then maybe a few pennies for Pride isn’t too much to ask.  Even if its corporate bollocks, they are still our bollocks – the only ones we have. Even if it is tokenism, it’s still something.  They’ve got plenty of cash for a whole variety of other worthy and not so worthy causes.

But really, if the Council has a few grand to spare, why not spend it on services for those who really need them within our community?  Reaching out to those in our city who are in real danger as a result of their gender or sexuality? Helping those on the margins who need support? I like a pissup on Glasgow Green as much as the next poof but is it really our biggest priority?

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If you plan on bringing a rainbow flag, don’t forget your wallet!

I’m less than convinced “Glasgow Pride” has any “real substance” either when it comes to support for the LGBT community.  But I don’t think that should stop them flying a flag should they so choose.  I’m still sure we could manage to march, shout and fall over without massive corporate sponsorships and the assistance of Stefan King.  As hetero-privilege shakes in its shoes at the sight of Heather Small busting out a rousing rendition of “Search for the Hero”, many of us might well be asking…what the fuck happened to Pride?

By making it clear they care more about the cash than the community, the organisers are making a big mistake.  They are also making a big claim to represent LGBT people in Glasgow as well as to their ownership of the rainbow flag. They are asserting their right to tell our council what to do on our behalf. Telling someone else that they aren’t allowed to play in our treehouse; throwing our toys out of their pram.  To the outside world, this just looks like a bunch of spoilt homos spitting the dummy about fuck all.  Perhaps because basically, that’s what it is.

If a pissup on Glasgow Green is the most important thing to you, if that’s your “real substance”, then good luck and we hope you have fun.  But don’t expect tax breaks and favourable treatment at the expense of the LGBT community, nevermind everyone else.

So…

Glasgow City Council – Don’t be so mean and give the Pride organisers some money but more importantly fund sexual education and health services for those in our city who really need them.  And if all else fails – just flegbomb it.

Pride Glasgow – Please remember that you don’t speak for anyone else.  You don’t own the flag and you certainly don’t own LGBT rights.  You have no right to tell anyone not to show their support for anyone else in our community just because they aren’t lining your pockets.  We’ll be there on August 10th because we have a lot to fight for.  We think it’s time Pride belonged to all of us again. Maybe then we can make the case that it’s deserving of the support of the rest of society. It’s time Pride was something we could all be proud of.

And to everyone out there heading to Pride on August 10th – Fuck the pink pound snatchers, fuck the Council and (safely, consensually and responsibly) fuck each other.

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Council Leader Gordon Matheson could yet redeem himself…

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