Hundreds set for gay pride march

A gay pride march in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow
A gay pride march in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow
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More than 400 people have signed up to take part in the first ever gay pride march to be staged in West Lothian.

An open-top car draped in the rainbow flag will lead a procession of drag acts, circus performers and supporters through Livingston.

Even before organisers have launched their official promotional campaign, more than 400 people have already signed up and this number is expected to grow significantly as word spreads.

The event on July 31 has been described as a “celebration of life” but also aims to raise awareness of serious issues faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community on a daily basis.

Suicide is the leading cause of death among gay and lesbian youth nationally and it has been estimated that 1500 take their own lives every year.

The march will start at 12pm at the Howden Park Centre and will stop outside the West Lothian Civic Centre to be met by Graham Hope, chief executive of West Lothian Council.

It has been organised by Kirsty Colquhoun and Jane Drysdale of the council’s community youth services which works closely with an LGBT youth group known as the Glitter Cannons which provides a safe space for young 
people.

Jane, a community education worker, said: “Usually we hire a bus and take the young people to pride events in Edinburgh and Glasgow and then I thought ‘Why don’t we have our own pride march?’. Hopefully it will become an annual event which will get bigger and bigger.

“This is the first time a pride march has taken place in West Lothian, and therefore it is a ground-breaking and historic event.

“The event is to help break down barriers and help the wider community see that the LGBT people are just the same as everyone else.”

She also stressed that the march was not just for the LGBT community but was intended to be “inclusive”, with families and supporters all welcome.

Among those marching will be 16 young people from the Glitter Cannons, who meet at Boghall community wing in Bathgate on Thursday evenings.

John Khan, 23, of Blackburn, a member of the Cannons, said it “meant a lot to be involved” in the march.

“I think it’s great that we have this opportunity to make history and put West Lothian on the map,” he added.

Carrie Taylor, 40, of Bathgate, said Kirsty and Jane had given considerable support to her 15-year-old transgender son Xander who set up his own LBGT drop-in centre at Bathgate Academy.

“I’m proud to be able to give that support back to them by taking part in the march,” she said.

The event will also be attended by representatives from LGBT Youth Scotland and Stonewall Scotland and various agencies.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com