I had the pleasure of chairing the Pride in Print event this past #pride weekend in Edinburgh. The Lighthouse was electric with the energy of a kind audience and generous panel of writers, editors, programmers and publishers. It gave me opportunity to pause and reflect on LGBTQ+ writing and celebrate those doing the work in our community. Here are my opening remarks of this great event.
I am eternally grateful to Mairi and the whole Lighthouse team that work so hard and create such inclusive and inviting events.
It’s an honour to welcome you all to the “Pride in Print Soiree” which is hosted by Lighthouse in partnership with Lavender Menace and its founders Sigrid Nielsen and Bob Orr. This event is about demystifying the publishing landscape for LGBTQ writers but most importantly it is about celebrating those who are doing the work to create spaces and opportunities for the many queer writers that make up the fabric of Scotland’s creative scene.
Our panel is a diverse bunch who represent the journey that is LGBTQ writing. And, while our writing is of equal measure to those not in the community, as queer writers, we make use of our lives and experiences to paint a very specific picture and tell a very particular story.
Our panellists have a breadth of experience: from creating and writing our queer existences onto the page, to fostering and nurturing queer voices and perspectives, to helping queer writers enter the scary but exciting, world of publishing, to finally ensuring a diverse representation of queer writers make up panels and performance slots. Our panel has a long history of doing the work. And, we should celebrate how they help to validate queer voices and put them on the map, on the shelf, and on the page.
As you will know, this is the 50th anniversary of The Stonewall Riots. This momentous event helped set in motion a movement where queer people fought for civil rights and helped make public the glorious spectrum of LGBTQ identities. And while, our community has come a long way in 50 years, there is still much work to be done both in Scotland and around the world. On this Pride Sunday, I want to honour those who kick-started the movement 50 years ago. And for those that need a reminder, please remember that they were not a homogenous group, but rather a colourful burst of radical and angry queers that helped us get to where we are now. And, I hope that you will agree, that the work we face will still require a colourful, diverse, radical and angry bunch of queers to get us to where we need to go as a community.
We celebrate as one community but our lived experiences are diverse and it is that diversity that makes us brilliant, intelligent, productive, bold, tenacious and stronger group. So, I celebrate all of you and welcome you to this wonderful event.
The Pride in Print panel included:
- Sigrid Nielsen (Lavender Menace) and Simon Taylor from An LGBT Writing Group (with no name): which has been going for 30 years,
- Nathaniel Kunitsky: Editor & Director of Knight Errant Press which is based in Scotland and is known for ‘publishing queer, fierce, honest and relevant stories’
- Annie Rutherford: Translator, journal editor, & festival programmer for StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival.
- Iain Morrison: Poet (I’m A Pretty Circler, Vagabond, 2018), Iain is a performer, and enterprise manager at the Fruitmarket Gallery here in Edinburgh.