SHETLAND’S first-ever Pride event saw a massive turnout over the weekend, with a parade and Pride Village during the day, and a sold-out evening show.

More than 700 people joined the parade, marching through the streets before spending the afternoon at a park filled with local crafters and exhibitors in a family-friendly Pride Village, with attendees of all ages enjoying the day.

Emma Roddick, SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands, and Scotland’s youngest MSP, was among them. She said: “It’s quite something to see. There is an amazing atmosphere here. It feels like a festival. Everyone looks happy and I’m so glad to be a part of it. This will mean a lot to so many.”

Shetland is the UK’s most northerly Pride, and was featured on Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch on Friday.

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Three drag queens from Glasgow took part: Ru Jazzle, Skinny Minnie, and Lily Minogue, alongside a burlesque dancer, Roxy Stardust.

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Lily Minogue said: “We didn’t expect it to be as big as it is, and it’s so heart-warming to have such an excellent turnout across all ages. We’ve been really welcomed.”

Ru Jazzle added: “Whenever I said I was coming to perform at Shetland Pride, people were surprised it was even happening. But I think it proves how amazing and important a Pride event is. Across Lerwick, there are rainbows everywhere. I think everyone, no matter their identity, is enjoying it and being who they are.”

The parade kicked off in Shetland’s capital, featuring a Viking longboat and members of former Jarl squads from Up Helly Aa and a flyover from a Coastguard helicopter.

Kerrie Meyer, founder of Shetland Pride, first had the idea to host an event after her wife Diane passed away in late 2020. She solidified the plans in May 2021 to create a Pride event celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and equality.

Meyer was “completely blown away and humbled” by the number of people who attended. She said: “It’s amazing for such a small island to have this massive turnout. I never envisaged this in my life.”

Alistair Carmichael, LibDem

MP for Orkney and Shetland, attended and delivered a speech to the community. He said: “For Shetland this is a great exercise in LGBTQ+ visibility so anyone of any age, but especially young people, who are questioning their own sexuality or gender know they’re

part of a community where they will be supported and valued for what they are.”

HE also highlighted the current topical issue of conversion therapy, adding: “The other strand of Pride that really matters is solidarity. The question of a conversion therapy ban is right at the front of my thoughts. Any move to exclude transgender people renders the entire exercise of having a ban virtually meaningless.

“The importance of Pride is that it’s an opportunity for all people in the LGBTQ+ community to stand shoulder to shoulder with their allies and say we will not be divided.”

Marjolein Robertson, a Shetland comedian, featured on the BBC’s The Social and with a show running during Edinburgh Fringe, dressed up and said: “Shetland’s an amazing place for putting on community events and celebrations. Pride is such a beacon for folk in Shetland who might be feeling left out. It’s so lovely to see people here of all ages to support the LGBTQ+ community.”

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Harry Whitham, a Shetlander and owner of costume designer Fancy Boy London, was invited to exhibit his work in Shetland during July to coincide with Pride. He has designed dresses and outfits for renowned drag queens such as Ru Paul Drag Race UK star Cheryl Hole.

He said: “It’s been amazing to bring my work back to Shetland and have it so well received.

“I hope young people growing up feel more confident to explore their gender and self-expression, while being accepted. Shetland is so good at community events and it’s amazing to see the queer community represented.”

The event finished with an evening party featuring performances from the drag queens, Roxy Stardust and local bands.