Pride event drops ban and will now allow drag queens

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A Pride event in Scotland has overturned a ban on drag performers – and now says drag will be welcomed at the event.

Free Pride Glasgow – which was set up as an “anti-commercialist” alternative to the main Pride Glasgow event – made the controversial decision to ban drag performances ahead of the event next month, claiming that despite drag being a uniquely celebrated part of most Prides, drag performers were “offensive” to trans people.

After attracting criticism from prominent drag queens – and RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Michelle Visage – the organisers issued a second statement, saying that it would allow drag performers – but only if they are also transgender.

However, amid further criticism, Free Pride Glasgow organisers have decided to drop the policy altogether – though they continueto insist a policy saying that drag performers aren’t welcome doesn’t constitute a ‘ban’.

A statement today said: “There was never a ban on drag queens and kings attending Free Pride.

“There was a decision to not book any drag acts, which has been overturned. Free Pride now welcomes drag performers of all genders and gender identities.

“Free Pride is inherently challenging; we have known that from the start. As a small organisation, we disagree with the highly commercialised and depoliticised nature of mainstream Pride. Our aim continues to be to create a safe, accessible space for the most marginalised LGBTQIA people.

It continues: “The original decision was made because many trans members of Free Pride have had negative experiences with drag acts veering towards racism, misogyny and transphobia; the lack of contact with the drag community contributed.

“We made a mistake, and we apologise.

“Drag is an art form, a form of expression and performance, a community with a rich history.

“The most useful comments and advice that we have been sent from around the world have been from trans people of colour and working class trans people who support drag and have let us know that, without it, they might not have had access to trans/queer culture at all. We are extremely grateful to those individuals who have contacted us to explain this.

“Drag, like all forms of art and performance, can entertain us and challenge us. But it also has the capacity to perpetuate oppression such as misogyny, transphobia and racism. Free Pride is a safe and accessible space for all of us to join and celebrate.”