We have some voices from Pride Edinburgh and accounts of the day:
The first person to scream at us was carrying a sign about getting corporations out of Pride. This is something she and I could have chatted about because we would be in agreement. Instead there were three instances in which she started shouting ‘terfs out’ to which we replied ‘women in’. A handful of people joined her. But this is what I thought was interesting. We were surrounded by different groups from financial services cos and law firms like Burness Paull, Ageon, Kames Capital and Black Rock. I didn’t see her shout at them once.
There was a moment when one young woman gave us the finger and started shouting ‘Fuck Terfs’ when we were standing directly in front of the Parliament and waiting to join the march. She got quite a number of people to join in. Some people made a point of taking photos of us. I don’t know why. Two police officers got near this woman just to be ready if something escalated. It didn’t and the chanting died down. Several blocks into the march in a different mix of people, the same woman came over & shouted that we were making people feel uncomfortable. I didn’t see any other group – either protesters on sidelines or participants in the march – targeted and shouted at. We heard the following: ‘transwomen are women’ ‘fuck terfs’ ‘terfs out’ ‘no terfs on our turf’ a lone ‘you’re an embarrassment to homosexuality’ and a lone ‘I’m a lesbian and you don’t speak for me’. We also had someone make a point of playing a cowbell as loud as possible and within the personal space of some in our group just to annoy us.
As we were waiting to march, we waited for the anti-capitalist ‘terfs out’ person and the group that joined in the ‘fuck terfs’ chant to pass before joining in the march. We purposely followed the ‘Scouts Pride’ group because they were respectful and calm.
One person in our group did make a point to speak to a police officer prior to the march – not sure what she said to him, but she came back to us and said ‘you can never be too careful’.
We pulled out of the march near St Giles Cathedral because some of us had to leave and they were concerned that the remainder wouldn’t feel safe in a smaller number. Rather than continue, the remainder of us — sevenish people– held our banner at the sidelines of the march. As the march wound down, we started to walk against the flow of traffic towards North Bridge. We managed to catch the Lothian Bus which had been the speaking platform for the speeches earlier–this was clearly an official Pride bus. We held up our two fabric banners: ‘Lesbian Equality’ and ‘Lesbian, not Queer’. A couple of people on this official bus gave us the middle finger.
As a migrant and lesbian who was born in a totalitarian state it was really shocking to come to the Scottish pride, where we carried a banner “Lesbian visibility”, and be shouted at, by a group of mostly male white teenagers with the transgender flags, that we need to be “fucked”, “ashamed” and “get the fuck out”.
I am not sure what this pride is supposed to represent, but what I experienced was very simple and uncovered misogyny – and a specific misogyny towards homosexual women who dare to define and defend their sexuality without men telling us what it should be – clearly sanctioned by the pride organisers.
It was, of course, entirely pathetic, considering the fact that most of those kids have never seen what an actual political protest look like & what it means when your rights are taken away. On the other hand, it was sad, because to witness a crowd of unhinged entitled young people throwing insults, blocking, throwing cans and drinks at you because you carry a lesbian banner – all of which was part my experience of this “pride” – is sad. If this is what Scotland calls “progressive” then I think leaders in Scotland need to seriously check their priorities. Perhaps a trip to Sudan or Russia, where women & homosexuals are really fighting for their rights, could help clarify what “freedom” & “democracy” is & is not.
What I saw at the pride today was an exhibitionism of totalitarian patriarchal male fetish covered in “transgender” flags that seizes every opportunity to dismiss and attack women’s boundaries.
Felt quite surreal to be surrounded by a crowd of young people shouting “Fuck TERFs” at us. We were singing Bella Ciao. Quite appropriate. A gay man in a rugby uniform shoved at a run through our line (from behind our backs) and pushed me and another woman aside. At that point I realised how vulnerable we were.
For me there as an ally, I was struck by the near hysteria of those opposing the lesbian visibility contingent. And the lack of any real women’s self-organised presence other than us. All the young women were clustered around men.
A woman came up to us near the end, when we were standing near St Giles Cathedral. I’m not sure where she was from (I think I detected a Scandinavian accent). She wanted to know why people didn’t like us and were shouting at us. So we explained. You could see by the look on her face that she thought it was completely bonkers. She went away with further reading!
A woman was hanging out of a window on the first floor of the canongate, waving and clapping and smiling – at *us*, not just the whole parade.
Young woman and partner – who came up to tell us that she totally agreed but her job would be in peril if she was with us.
Back in the 80s, going to Pride (in London) was risky. You travelled on the tube with badges in your pocket until you got close to the meeting point – in those days it wasn’t safe to be visibly lesbian in very many places. We knew that during the march we’d be barracked & shouted at by people who didn’t want us on the London streets, but it was worth it to feel the solidarity of friends and comrades around us and to know we were carving out a space for ourselves and the women who would follow us.
More recently (and I mean the last two decades!) Pride has felt increasingly corporate, very male, very institutionalised, and to be honest I’ve questioned why I’m still there.
Today felt like a trip down memory lane. I kept my placards hidden as I walked to our meeting place – hidden not from members of the public, but from potentially hostile marchers who are only prepared to tolerate the presence of ‘compliant’ lesbians. Sure enough, we were barracked, shouted at & at times surrounded by people who didn’t want us on the streets of Edinburgh – the “no TERFs on our turf” placards and the shouts of “TERFs out” were strikingly similar to the shouts of “lesbian perverts off our streets” which we used to face. And today we faced them in exactly the same way – we held our ground, we sang when they shouted at us, we marched close together in solidarity, and we carved out a tiny but very important space for lesbians in a hostile world. Go sisters!
I joined my lesbian sisters today as a bisexual woman and an ally, to fill a space left by lesbian women too terrified and traumatised to march themselves.
It was clear from the start we would face hostility. I noticed one particular speaker on the open top bus at the start who gave the vibe of some kind of faith-healing-preacher – clearly intent on whipping the crowd up into a fever pitch. It was bizarre to witness the cult like behaviour first hand.
A group predictably blocked us – thanks for proving the point of the need for
#lesbianvisibility. One young man (the same who let off stink bombs in the Edinburgh university talk last month) backed up by some buddies aggressively grabbed one of our signs but was prevented from whatever he intended to do next by police.
I witnessed a young teenager on a leash. There were at least two men in fetish gear (leather/pup shit), all of which is a-okay at Pride. Lesbian visibility? Not so much.
Two of them banged bells and blew whistles close by us and into the faces and ears of some women – one of whom wears a hearing aid, several of whom are autistic etc. Staff from
#hsbc behind us seemed horrified by this display of aggression.
These people knew how to tiptoe around the line just enough to not be removed or arrested, but had police not been there I am 100% convinced we would all have been beaten up – the crowd would have watched. As a small woman, I have never once in my life gone out of my way to find, follow and scream in the face of people I’m “terrified” of, who I believe will cause me to literally die on the spot. I didn’t see fear in any eyes – only hatred and a burning desire to pin their hurt on someone they could take an easy swing at – lesbians/women. An easy target in a parade focused on the needs and wants of men.
It was wonderful. As they say, Pride is a protest: we demonstrated a great alternative to the corporate mainstream, and there were some very positive reactions from onlookers – and *lots* of subtle, careful waves and thank yous!
Another personal account: https://twitter.com/Jackieme2009/status/1142508165243817985