Thousands of people flooded the Granite City at the weekend to mark an “emotional and historic” day for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the north-east.
Decked in rainbow flags, participants in the first ever Grampian Pride marched with their heads held high down Union Street before taking to the beach boulevard for a massive party, where people from all walks of life were encouraged to be themselves.
Swathes of onlookers, both straight and LGBT alike, lined the Granite Mile to see the colourful floats and show their support in the glorious sunshine.
With samba drumming bands, flamboyant drag queens and more, the parade from Albyn Place to the Castlegate was a riot of colour, music and celebration.
And once the parade was finished, the procession moved down to a specially erected Grampian Pride village at the beach for a whole evening of entertainment, headlined by Banff singer-songwriter Sandi Thom and featuring a keynote speech from Annie Wallace, the first transgender person to play a regular transgender character in British soap history on Hollyoaks.
Justine Smithies, one of the organisers of the event, said she couldn’t believe all 5,000 of the free tickets for the pride village had been booked up by Thursday.
She said: “We have always wanted to hold a pride event in Aberdeen, like Glasgow and Edinburgh, but when we were first planning this we had no idea the amount of support we would get from people in the city and across the rest of the north-east.
“Originally, we had only asked the city council to help us with a 3,000 ticket pride village, but when we were told it would have a capacity of 5,000 and we would have a parade as well, we thought there would be no way we could get that many people.
“But we were absolutely overwhelmed by the turnout on Saturday. When I was standing at the front of parade and looked back up Union Street I couldn’t even see the end of the rainbows behind me – there were just thousands and thousands of people there to support pride.
“Sadly, there are still people today who would have a go at two LGBT people holding hands in the street, but we have just made so much progress in the last ten years and Grampian Pride really showed that.
“It was a really emotional, historic day for LGBT people in Aberdeen.”
Politicians turn out to celebrate Grampian Pride
As well as people of all kinds of sexualities and lifestyles, Grampian Pride also brought supporters of LGBT people and issues from all the colours of the political rainbow to the streets of Aberdeen this weekend.
Politicians from the left and the right all banded together under the same cause and waved the LGBT flag in the Union Street parade and down at the beach boulevard for the Grampian Pride Village party.
Following the parade Kevin Stewart, SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, said: “30 years ago when I was about the age of the Young Scots for Independence folk I paraded with at Grampian Pride today, I was too afraid to come out in Aberdeen.
“There is still work to be done but things have changed dramatically in Aberdeen and Scotland.
“I think it’s been an amazing day for Aberdeen.
“The city has long needed a pride march like this and I was really enthused by the turnout and the reaction of the crowds.”
Douglas Lumsden, the Tory co-leader of Aberdeen City Council said: “It’s been a really great day for Aberdeen – we had great weather and huge crowds, I think it’s been an absolutely fantastic event.”
And north-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said: “It’s fantastic to see the number of people out and enjoying the sunshine.
“Once again, we’ve used Union Street to show what he city is all about.
“So many people turned out to show their support and there was so much self-expression and colour. It was just a fantastic day out for all concerned.”