I was exceptionally lucky to attend the first Icon Awards (http://icon-awards.co.uk) in Glasgow on Friday. A glittery, fabulous, dressy up event celebrating local and international LGBTI community heroes. I should really thank Lisa at Keglevich for inviting me too (http://www.keglevich.co.uk). God bless her little cotton socks.
My first ever time attending such an event and it entirely surpassed my expectations. The entertainment was superb and it was joyful to see a community out in force. Marginalised is not in this group’s vocabulary.
From the get go, it was an event that managed to surprise me. Something of a rarity. First order of business was a beautiful gay wedding. Yes, a wedding, not a civil partnership. It was lovely to be an unexpectedly invited guest as two beautiful boys re-tied the knot, with full equality this time. Scotland is not doing too badly catching up to the notion that we deserve no less. Although there’s still plenty of work to be done.
In addition to some well deserved awards to local allies and champions, there was the chance to rub shoulders with some LGBTI royalty, Conchita Wurst, Rupaul (via video message) and Michelle Visage.
Michelle Visage was in Glasgow to accept an award. I have absolutely no doubt she deserved one. Her acceptance speech acknowledged her own experience of being on the outside, her finding a safe place within the LGBTI community and the importance of speaking out to protect those without a voice. But her final words were of particular interest to me.
She quite correctly pointed out that as long as we need events like this and are still having to fight for equal rights, for any group, then the job isn’t over. And there is still a distance to travel. It just didn’t feel quite so far on Friday.
I didn’t even allow my enjoyment to be sullied by the one person who didn’t find a ticketed fundraising event worthy enough for their narrow band of LGBTI politics. For Christ’s Sake, it benefitted a charity battling the impact of HIV. What more do you require? Despite small servings of individual chips from that person, I am always going to continue to support any event that celebrates the community. I genuinely believe there’s room for every ally. You can’t police people’s opinions though but you can feel epically sorry for their inability to see it’s a collective effort. The idea that “My event is better than your event” put forward to me is facile and divisive. That kind of parochial thinking makes it easier for the mainstream to dismiss our efforts. So, thanks to that person for making the road seem much longer again. But hey, it was a beautiful 24 hours. I choose to avoid that sort of negativity in life. It is a journey, I just prefer travelling on the sunny side of that road.