GERARD HALL: MY REVIEW OF 2017

While the hours count down on 2017, we hear from Gerard Hall, founder and Editor of Scotland’s leading queer arts and culture magazine, Scene Alba, as he reviews his top LGBT highlights of the year.

“There have been so many top moments for us at Scene Alba this year, increasing our readership again and expanding the reach of the magazine into new areas, but a particular highlight was being in the position to sponsor a pride event for the first time. We chose Fife Pride as it was a new pride and they needed the help as a grassroots group – organising something for the community without taking lots of money from the community to do it.

We were very happy that this was a great success and we will be continuing our relationship with Fife Pride again when it returns in 2018. We will also be sponsoring Dundee Pride, as well as other events to be announced early in the new year.

Crowds enjoy the first ever Fife Pride in Kirkcaldy

Arts-wise, a highlight of 2017 was the staging of “Love Song to Lavender Menace”. It was wonderful to see this play develop from a group reading a couple of years ago, to a full stage production, which was not only performed at the Lyceum in Edinburgh, but also went to a national tour of Scotland. It told the story of our bookshop, starting in a nightclub and becoming successful enough to have its own premises. But with a growing acceptance of LGBT people in the wider community, there was less need for gay book shops and eventually the Lavender Menace closed its doors. These days, however, many bookshops still don’t have an LGBT section. We have internet ordering and downloadable books, of course, but some of us old people like the physical contact of leafing through a book before buying it!

The political acts of the year were things that, as a group of ‘pinko commie fags and old lefties’, we found to be less worthy of celebration and more just a matter of “about bloody time”! Australia finally came in to line with the rest of the modern world and voted for same-sex marriage. This followed what was essentially an enormous waste of money, conducting a postal ballot and a vicious, nasty campaign against equality, but at least in the end those brave campaigners got the right result.

Here in Scotland, whilst the UK Government just talked about it, the Scottish Parliament took action to wipe out retrospective convictions for pre-2001 discriminatory laws against same-sex sexual activities which are now legal. Also on the 7th of November the First Minister issued an apology to those convicted under these unfair laws, whilst announcing new legislation giving an automatic pardon to those affected.

One of the worst trends of 2017 was the rise of awards events that seem to exist only to make money for the organisers. They would nominate groups or organisations, then the nominees were subsequently informed that if they didn’t turn up on the night they couldn’t win the awards. Quite often tickets to attend were around £100 each. Hopefully in the new year people will see these award shows for what they are; commercial enterprises making money from our community for people who don’t particularly care about our community.

We hope your 2017 was a good year for you and that the coming year will be even better.

Happy New Year from all of us at Scene Alba Magazine.”

You can get the latest Scene Alba Magazine by clicking on this link or searching for ‘Scene Alba’ on Facebook.

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