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#StillProud: Making the Virtual, Real

With all Pride events cancelled this year due to the pandemic, Keith Farnish (Youth Worker in the Scottish Borders) came up with a virtual activity to get young people thinking about why we celebrate Pride. He narrated a virtual Pride event and encouraged young people to join in allowing them to experience what a Pride might feel like and to be part of a community online. Read on and find out what encouraged Keith to come up with the idea and what it looked like.

This blog post is part of our #StillProud campaign during pride season 2020. Take part here!

"I’ll be perfectly honest, Saturday 13th June 2020 was not a good day for me.

Flash back to 22nd June, 2019, my first Edinburgh Pride as a youth worker – the excitement, the clothes, the flags, the noise, the mutual support, the sheer exuberance as thousands of people of all ages, sexualities and genders marched through the streets of Edinburgh. Well, you get the idea.

And then on Saturday 13th June 2020, there was no Pride.

We all knew about this well in advance; the event was cancelled in March, as were all LGBT Youth Scotland face-to-face youth groups, Trans Pride in Paisley, the comicon we had started organising for the Involved group, as well as something very special I had planned for April. The thing is, I’m the kind of youth worker who thrives on these events, takes great joy from making the possible a reality. It’s been hard for everyone not being able to talk face to face, be in the same room or street or even town, despite the Herculean effort involved in moving youth groups to digital platforms and everyone doing their very best.

It affected me and I know it affected lots of other people.

Flash forward to Wednesday 17th June, 2020, my first Edinburgh Pride on Discord. People had dressed up! They really had – they were posting photos of themselves on the group chat as I took the Involved group through a time-dilated teleportation of everything I could possibly stuff into what I hoped would be a fair substitute for us not being able to experience the real thing. I assembled videos – I created a collage of YouTube clips, which you can see here.

I had also found photos and made up a sort-of script, although most of that came from my hyperactive head as we negotiated the train from Galashiels, the meet-up at Waverley then the Royal Mile as a hoard of young people, bedazzled in rainbows, made their way to the meeting point at the Scottish Parliament. All along the way the Involved group added their own narration, pictures from previous prides, requests to go for bubble tea but-they-would-be-back-shortly, a stellar lineup of acts on the main stage at Potterrow, which incidentally had developed a Rowling-proof trans pride element courtesy of Emma Watson et al. We were all there, together.

By the end of it I was certainly tearful. I think a few people appreciated the chance to experience, for the first time, what a Pride might feel like. One comment really made my evening:

“Today was very fun.”

Today. Not the last hour and a bit, but Today.

This is why we do what we do."

Try our Pride Savings Calculator and take part in our #StillProud campaign here.

Read more about our the development of our Discord server here.

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