Free Pride Glasgow bans drag acts to avoid offence

Drag queen Nancy Clench on the annual Pride Glasgow parade last July. Picture: Hemedia
Drag queen Nancy Clench on the annual Pride Glasgow parade last July. Picture: Hemedia
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A GAY pride march has banned drag queens because they could cause offence to the transgender community.

Free Pride Glasgow, a rival to the main Pride Glasgow event, said drag acts could make those who were questioning their gender feel uncomfortable.

Ladies of Pride join in the fun at Pride Glasgow. Picture: Hemedia

Ladies of Pride join in the fun at Pride Glasgow. Picture: Hemedia

But the move has been condemned by Nathan Sparling, an SNP parliamentary assistant who also works as a drag queen under the name Nancy Clench.

Free Pride, which advertises itself as an anti-commercial alternative to Pride Glasgow, will hold a march in the city next month.

Drag queens have long been a part of Gay Pride celebrations across the world.

But a statement from Free Pride said: “After much discussion, the trans and non-binary caucus decided not to have drag acts perform at the event.

“This does not mean that people of any gender can’t wear what they want to the event.

“The decision was taken by transgender individuals who were uncomfortable with having drag performances at the event.

“It was felt that it would make some of those who were transgender or questioning their gender uncomfortable.”

Free Pride said some drag performances hinge on the social view of gender and making it into a joke.

The group added: “It was therefore decided that having no drag acts perform would be the best option as it would mean no-one would feel pressured to out themselves.”

Mr Sparling said yesterday: “Their statement effectively bans drag queens from the Free Pride celebrations.

“Given that Martha P Johnson, a self-identified drag queen, threw the first brick at the Stonewall Riots, I think it’s poor form to think that drag queens shouldn’t play a vital role in any Pride.

“Drag Queens never go out to intimidate or upset our trans friends; we don’t mock them – we love and respect them – and Free Pride’s decision has simply drawn barriers in our community.”

International acts, including US-based drag queen Lady Bunny, also condemned the plans.

She wrote on Facebook: “Suddenly drag might be too offensive for a gay pride event.

“I’m a drag queen for 30 years and don’t even know what non- binary is supposed to mean.

“Drag queens are the first ones they call when performers are needed at an Aids benefit or fundraiser for gay marriage.”

Pride Glasgow told Pink News: “We can understand the actions behind Free Pride over the banning of drag performers but believe this action to be wrong and going against what an inclusive event should be about.”

Both Pride Glasgow and Free Pride Glasgow will take place on 22 August.

A report published this week by the Equality Network found that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Scots still suffer widespread inequality.

More than 90 per cent say that more needs to be done to tackle prejudice.