Scottish LGBT*: Pride In The Mainstream

 The future political direction for Scotland’s LGBT community lies in mainstream, not fringe, politics

If you were fortunate enough to have been in Edinburgh last Saturday, it is entirely likely that you may have noticed something different about Auld Reekie, particularly in its bustling east end. The city had more colour, vibrancy and general campy charm than it usually does and it was impossible to miss some of the most interesting, and in some cases visually challenging, outfits which were on display for all to see.

Make no mistake, Pride Scotia, Scotland’s main celebration of all things LGBT had landed with a thud in Scotland’s capital city. The festivities themselves, according to all available reports, carried on throughout the night and even into Sunday in the good spirits which have come to characterise Scotland’s LGBT community, and incidences of disturbance were low.

The entire event seemed to have more in common with Mardi Gras than the Stonewall riots of 1969, which is undeniably a positive progression. However, with marriage equality fast becoming a reality and each successive generation harbouring far fewer of the prejudices towards LGBT people than did their predecessors, what is the future for the LGBT movement in Scotland, and Pride, as the traditionally more militant wing of gay rights, in particular?

One thing is for sure, the militancy of the old days must remain there. The LGBT movement in a future Scotland ought to be the guardian of their hard fought liberation, as well as the champion of integration. The militancy and aggression which won so many fights in the past will only serve to cause more internal and external division in future; something the relatively new movement can ill-afford. In the past the chant of ‘We’re here! We’re queer! Get used to it!’ was effective, but now the rest of Scottish society is approaching a point where they are used to it.

The goal for the future ought to be a continuation of the normalising of LGBT folks, which has always run alongside the more militant operation. The future ambassadors of the LGBT movement will ditch the strident rhetoric and impactful attire of their forebears and adopt a calmer, more effective strategy and a more businesslike approach to their politics.

LGBT_Flag_map_of_ScotlandThe Scottish LGBT movement also has to break-up one of its longest-held relationships; it’s affiliation with the political Left. As the entire Scottish political spectrum evolves to the point where the equality of LGBT individuals is a given, the marginalising of LGBT rights as a Leftist ideal will only serve to alienate the rest of the Scottish population, especially since successive generations are abandoning the collectivism and socialism of previous generations in favour of a more classically liberal ethos.

Such a political shift, or at least an abstention, is vital and makes sense, given the trend for LGBT individuals to depend less on the state, earn more on average than their straight peers, and settle down later in life with more savings and assets. A rights movement which does not understand the economic clout of its own demographic and clings on to an outdated political philosophy has no future. The issues for a future LGBT movement ought to include low taxation, tax relief for single people and the shrinking of the welfare state to allow the pink pound to punch further above its weight. To pretend the politics of the seventies is the same as today is ludicrous, and the movement has to abandon its Leftist tendencies to survive; it is fast becoming the time for such a ‘Dear John/Jane/J’ letter.

However, the future of the LGBT movement is not all sharp suits, accountancy and centrist political dialogue. There will still be a place in the grand scheme of things for organisations like Pride Scotia and the general idea of ‘gay pride’: it is just that it will not be a political one. Just as the political case ought to be taken up by the more moderate and politically savvy activists, the job of remembering the triumphs and commemorating the sacrifices of the past must fall to the pride movement.

As LGBT youngsters grow up in a world which is accepting them more and more, without reservation, the need to remind them not to take their freedoms for granted will become ever more important. Some may call this role insulting to the pride movement or self-congratulatory naval-gazing, but this is surely incorrect. The pride movement, much like Batman, should aim to make itself obsolete as anything other than a reminder of how far society has come, and it ought to be proud of this state of semi-retirement. It has earned it.

There may be some within the LGBT movement who are unhappy with this need to change, and will resist it. They will need to ask themselves: for whom they are really fighting?

Alan Grant


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