We joined the Pride Edinburgh celebrations

We joined the Pride Edinburgh celebrations

All photos by Thomas Anderson @ThomasIAnderson

Pride Edinburgh took place in Scotlands capital city on Saturday 16th June 2018, and we were there to join the celebrations. This year marks the 23rd annual Pride celebration in Edinburgh and the theme was ‘True Colours’. It was our first time at the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) celebration and we had an awesome day.

The night before…

We started our Pride celebrations early and joined Pride Edinburgh 2018-2020 headline sponsor Manchester Airport at the official Pride Edinburgh VIP launch. Hosted at the G&V Royal Mile hotel in the heart of the city centre, the drinks reception was attended by awesome people from across Edinburgh’s diverse LGBT+ community, inclusion allies and representatives from charities, businesses and political parties – including Somewhere (the UK’s LGBT+ culture and enterprise hub), Barclays, Stonewall Scotland and Sky.

Welcomed with a nice cold glass of prosecco (always a hit with us), the informal feeling event was a great opportunity to learn more about Manchester Airport’s authentic support of diverse communities around the UK, and in particular LGBT+ Pride events. They’re sponsoring an impressive seven Pride events this year, including Pride Glasgow, Liverpool Pride and Northern Pride in Newcastle. We sadly missed out on winning the £250 flight voucher in the prize draw – always next time. Thank you to Patrick, Seb and the rest of the airport team for the warm welcome and enjoyable night!

“The informal feeling event was a great opportunity to learn more about Manchester Airport’s authentic support of diverse communities around the UK, and in particular LGBT+ Pride events.”

Photo : Manchester Airport, rainbow cake, a balloon-icorn and lots of Pride

The Pride Breakfast…

We knew it was going to be a long day, with lots of walking, so it was sensible that we filled our bellies and built up our energy reserves before getting started. Our friends at charity LGBT Health & Wellbeing host an annual Pride Breakfast and we thought we’d join them for some delicious food and to find out more about their important work.

Wow. When we entered the community focussed Serenity Cafe close to the march starting point our eyes widened with the colourful decorations, so many happy and smiling faces, uplifting music playing and mountains of delicious food and rainbow cake. It’s never too early for rainbow cake.

“Our eyes widened with the colourful decorations, so many happy and smiling faces, uplifting music playing and mountains of delicious food and rainbow cake.”

Jules and the small team of volunteers should be really proud of the inclusive event they hosted. The atmosphere was warm and the diversity of those attending was like something we hadn’t seen at other similar sized Edinburgh LGBT+ events. There were people of all ages and from walks of life and we met some really interesting people. There was an awesome buzz in the venue and the entertainment and poetry really topped off a great morning. It was clear that the work the charity does is a real lifeline to many people and they provide invaluable support to many. I can’t wait to find out more.

A special thank you to Tracy at One Red Elephant for our very special Inclusive Networks logo balloon sculpture. She entertained attendees with her balloon skills and was up for any challenge. Her marvellous balloon-icorn (a Unicorn made of balloons, get it!) put a smile on everyones face. Amazing!

Filled up with a bacon roll and a slice of scrumptious rainbow cake we were ready to join the march.

Photo : Proud to be…, Kezia Dugdale MSP, Some People Are…and lots more Pride

Marching with Pride…

Starting at the home of the Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, the march was a colourful collection of local and national businesses, charities and community groups and local Universities, all being loud and very proud on the streets of Edinburgh.

Different to other big city pride events, the feel of the Pride Edinburgh march is more grass roots and political. It really did feel like a march, with thousands of people walking with banners and signs with strong messages adorning them. It was fantastic and empowering to see and the march didn’t feel corporate – something that always causes debate. It wasn’t the big glossy parade with vibrant floats and pumping music that you see at Pride in London and Manchester Pride – which we love too.

“The march was a colourful collection of local and national businesses, charities and community groups being loud and proud on the streets of Edinburgh.”

As the march made its way up the famous Royal Mile, there was a break at Mercat Cross for speeches from members of Scotland’s political parties and LGBT+ organisations. These included Joanna Cherry MP (SNP), Kezia Dugdale MSP (Scottish Labour Party), Jamie Greene MSP (Scottish Conservative Party), Patrick Harvie MSP (Scottish Green Party), Christine Jardine MP (Liberal Democrats) and Tim Hopkins (Director at Equality Network).

Organisations and community groups taking part in the march included Royal Mail, Edinburgh Zoo, Sainsbury’s, Equality Network, Stonewall Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, Lloyd’s Banking Group (Bank of Scotland), Unison, TSB, Nando’s, Scouts, Scottish Trans Alliance, Royal Bank of Scotland, Argos, Out for Independance, LGBT Health & Wellbeing, Financial Conduct Authority, Scottish Government, Bear Scots and many more. Fantastic support for their LGBT+ employees, members and customers.

Photo : Hugged by a mormon, Love is Love, attention sailor, community fair and a whole lotta Pride

The big ‘True Colours’ event…

The rain didn’t dampen our spirits and as the march ended we made our way to say hello to the organisations who were exhibiting as part of the Community Fair at Edinburgh University Students’ Association complex at Potterrow and Teviot Row.

This is always a highlight for us and it’s a signal of the organisations authentically engaging with the LGBT+ community and a fantastic opportunity to chat to members of staff network groups and discover more about their work and future plans. We were really impressed with the wide range of businesses, charities and community groups exhibiting and sharing their work with attendees.

Some standouts for us included media giant Sky who had an awesome pap board and the best giveaways of the day (thanks for the bubbles, tote bag and face-paints), Stonewall Scotland whose message boards included ‘I will stand up for what I believe in’ and restaurant chain Wagamama who had a special spinning wheel where you had a chance of winning some awesome prizes – we had a lucky day and won a main meal.

Other exhibitors included Pride Proms, British Transport Police, Care Inspectorate, Royal Navy, The WOW Network, Aberlour, LEAP Sports, Barnardo’s Scotland and Terrence Higgins Trust.

We didn’t hang around for the main stage entertainment as we were meeting up with friends, but from the comments on social media and feedback from friends it sounds like the acts went down well. Performers included girl group Stooshe, up-and-coming singer Kelli-Leigh and X-Factor favourites Lloyd Daniels and James Hughes.

“We were really impressed with the wide range of businesses, charities and community groups exhibiting and sharing their work with attendees.”

We love the nightlife…

After a little stop off at Inclusive Networks HQ to drop off our bag filled with Pride goodies, it was time for us to hit the Pink Triangle and support Edinburgh’s LGBT+ scene bars and inclusive venues. Our stop-offs included scene favourites Habana and CC Blooms who both made a fantastic effort decorating their venues with rainbow decorations and Pride flags. We didn’t stay out too late and after a quick visit to Cosmo next door for some much needed food we were ready for our beds. A great day filled with thousands of rainbows!

Well done to the Pride Edinburgh committee for all their hard work making the event happen. We’re looking forward to Pride Edinburgh 2019 already!

Corporate love for Pride

In the run up to Pride Edinburgh the city became awash with Pride flags and local and national businesses showing their visible support for the event, and inclusion and equality. From Topman and Topshop ‘priding up’ their Princes Street store window and giving away rainbow sweets with every purchase on the day of Pride Edinburgh, to local bar and restaurant Brewhemia Edinburgh donating 40p from every special Pride Coffee sold to the Equality Network and stores including Argos, Primark, Wagamama, Urban Outfitters, H&M and Starbucks decorating their store windows, Costa introducing an awesome rainbow cup and Royal Bank of Scotland introducing a new ‘GayTM’, there was a lot of pride in the city. It was fantastic to see and you couldn’t help but smile when passing a rainbow. Great work sharing the positive messages of acceptance, inclusion, diversity and equality everyone! #PrideIsGreatForBusiness

About The Author

Thomas Anderson

Founder and MD of Inclusive Networks. Thomas was Chair of the award winning LGBT network for The Co-operative Group, ‘Respect’ (2011-14). Thomas named the network and designed and managed all of the branding, communications and engagement until he stepped down from the role of Chair in March 2014. He also created the branding, name, was Editor of the quarterly magazine and developed the launch of the UK’s first Inter-Retail LGBT network ‘CheckOUT’. He contributed to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 5 Year review. In recognition of his work in the diversity field he was shortlisted for ‘Diversity Champion of the Year’ at the 2013 European Diversity Awards, shortlisted for ‘Role Model of the Year’ at the 2012 Lesbian & Gay Foundation Homo Heroes Awards and shortlisted for the ‘Positive Action’ award at the 2013 Asian Fire Service Association Fair & Diverse Awards. He also won the 2012 ‘Pride of The Co-operative’ award. He was a judge for Scotland's biggest diversity awards, The Icon Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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