STORNOWAY is putting in the final preparations for its first ever LGBT event taking place this weekend.
Hebridean Pride takes place in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis on Saturday 6 October.
It kicks off on the same day as Proud Ness, the first LGBT event to take place in Inverness in 15 years.
Founded by Stornoway resident, Steve Ferguson, many of the event organisers have praised support they have received from local organisations including NHS Western Isles, Stonewall, the Equality Network and An Lanntair.
However, not all locals have been in support of the event.
Speaking about Hebridean Pride, the Rev. Graeme Craig, Minister of Stornoway Free Church said in September: “Whatever form sexual immorality may take, it is nothing to be proud about.
“This event is sad and shameful. It will point people, particularly the young, in a wrong direction when it comes to identity, relationships and sexual fulfilment. It is worrying that those who struggle with these things will be given the wrong advice.
“The sooner society returns to recognising basic biology and promoting faithful, monogamous, heterosexual marriage, the more content people will be. Following our Maker’s instructions is always the wise thing to do.”
The Isle of Lewis, amongst many of the Western Isles, is known for its deeply rooted Christianity.
However many locals are still very much behind the event including Stornoway resident Susanne Erbida. She said: “It should be a celebration of acceptance and tolerance, a happy, peaceful and positive event. Everyone is welcome to our march, young and old.
“We want to show that it is ok to be different, that LGBT+ people do not have to be afraid to go public with their sexuality. That there is nothing wrong with being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and anything in between.”
The Hebridean Pride Facebook page has 360 likes, with many messages of support from local residents and well wishers from as far as the Netherlands.
The event will begin with a march starting outside arts building, An Lanntair, with shop windows decorated in honour of the occasion.
There will be stalls on mental health and sexual health, crafts and baking including giant colourful Pride donuts, as well as a performance from drag queen, The Duchess.
All proceeds from the event will go to Penumbra mental health charity.
Maree Todd, SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands said: “I am absolutely delighted to see this big step forward happen.
“I am also delighted to see the Highland Capital joining many other cities in Scotland with the first ever Pride march in Inverness happening on the same day as your event.
“Due to our very geography, topography and sparse population, here in the Highlands and Islands, it is easy to feel isolated – so hopefully this will provide a much needed space to bring people together to experience unity and strength.
“To me, these events in both Stornoway and Inverness are about freedom of expression, being proud of your identity, and telling everyone ‘You are Welcome’ here in the Highlands and Islands.”
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