The Commonwealth Games have now concluded, and the media are now reflecting on Scotland’s success in hosting an event characterised by friendliness, diversity and tolerance.
There can be no greater symbol of this than Pride House, which has been instrumental in celebrating diversity while highlighting the need for challenging prejudice and discrimination throughout the Commonwealth during the previous two weeks. Over 6,000 people visited Pride House during the Games, including First Minister Alex Salmond, various politicians and activists, athletes and many people visiting Glasgow for the first time.
It has been heart-warming to see the way in which Pride House has been praised by people both within and outside the LGBT community. However, its value cannot be determined simply by the sum of the number of visitors, or even the high profile nature of some of them. There can be no doubt that Pride House’s presence is symbolic of changing social attitudes, and that it has done much in the last 11 days to advance the cause of equality throughout the Commonwealth.
I will remember Pride House for many years to come for other, no less important reasons; indeed, I imagine that it will be impossible for me to reflect upon these games in the future without thinking about Pride House. Why is that? In short, because of the tremendous welcome they provided to anyone passing through their doors. What also stands out, in my mind, was the family-friendly atmosphere that was deliberately created and around which everything else was centred. If these Games are to be recalled in the future as “The Friendly Games”, then Pride House deserves credit for making a huge contribution to that friendliness.
The emphasis on the family was particularly welcome, not least because I have a young child. We felt that, unlike some other groups that claim to be “family-friendly”, we were able to fully be ourselves, welcomed for who we are. This might seem something that we should take for granted, but the reality is that it is unusual for us to be made so comfortable.
On a week in which Stonewall’s new Chief Executive, Ruth Hunt, stressed the importance of teaching pre-school children about equality, it was heartening to see Pride House taking a lead on this. It would be impossible for any of the many children visiting Pride House not to experience equality in action or to appreciate that differences are to be celebrated.
We were at Pride House many times during the week, but the Family Zone event, run in conjunction with Rainbow Families, stood out to me. This was essentially a fun morning for children, with various sporting activities, games, singing and storytime. It managed also to be so much more; in bringing LGBTI families together it allowed many parents to chat, share experiences and generally socialise. We were allowed to feel connected and understood as LGBTI parents. As one dad, Sam, told us, it’s “nice to have somewhere to go and have a break, be part of a group, talk to like-minded people and let the kids have fun.” So, thank you Pride House for making us feel so welcome, accepted, and included.
And this is why the legacy of Pride House must be built on. Given its success, hopefully similar initiatives will follow at forthcoming sporting events such as the Olympics, Euro 2016, and indeed the next Commonwealth Games in four years’ time.