A new national Awards event launched today, aiming to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Scotland.
But some are already critical of the Awards, with concerns about steep pricing and the representation of smaller communities being raised.
‘The Proud Scotland Awards‘ will be held on 1st June in what is described as a ‘glitzy ceremony’ at Glasgow’s Hilton Hotel. The event is a partnership between the LGBT Co-operative (organisers of Mardi Gla – Glasgow’s Pride) and Beautiful Events & Productions.
The Awards will feature 20 categories with nominations open to the public and tickets on sale now, starting at £80 each. A mixture of public votes and a panel of ‘esteemed’ judges will decide on the final nominees in each category, with finalists also receiving 2 free tickets to the event.
Peter Ferguson, Proud Scotland Awards Director, said:
“As well as producing a memorable evening to celebrate the winners, we understand the importance of creating a meaningful event and we’re excited to be working with the LGBT Co-op to bring this initiative to Scotland.”
The LGBT Co-operative was recently registered as a Limited Company and will operate as a co-operative society, with the group determined to organise their own Pride event in Glasgow. Money raised from ticket sales at the Awards will go to the LGBT Co-operative.
Award categories include the Sports Person Award, Entertainer Award, Celebrity Ally Award and Journalist Award. There are also a number of business awards, including Wedding Company Award, Arts & Media Award, Travel Company Award and Retailer Award.
There will also be a special Hall of Fame Award, decided by the judging panel, for an individual with ‘distinguished achievements’.
However, the reaction from some has been less than favourable, indicating there is still a hangover (or perhaps awards apathy) following the demise of the Icon Awards in 2018 and recent warnings about profiteering by commercial events companies.
Deejay Bullock, Chair of Four Pillars, an LGBT charity based in the North East of Scotland, told us:
“While I do think its really important that the efforts of groups and individuals working hard to improve life for LGBT people in Scotland are recognised, I feel disappointed that again we see an event which seems to be focussed on making money from our community instead.”
“This type of event has failed once and I’m frankly gobsmacked that someone thinks it will work again in the same city just a few months later. Where are the inclusive ticket pricing options for the unemployed or low-paid? And why are events that claim to be recognising efforts for the whole of the Scottish LGBT community only ever held in Glasgow?”
“Funding for LGBT work in Scotland is extremely limited and we completely understand the need for new organisations to fundraise, but the approach to this Awards night seems wrong for us and not something that Four Pillars wish to be involved in or associated with.”
One LGBT activist based in Glasgow, Joe McGurk, also shared his feelings on the announcement and whether the efforts of the community should be focussed elsewhere at the moment:
“Following the sheer lack of organisation and transparency over last year’s Glasgow Pride and the farce that was the Icon Awards, the last thing needed right now is another grossly overpriced Scottish LGBT awards ceremony that doesn’t actually advance LGBT issues – this ceremony just isn’t needed.”
“Right now, instead of self-congratulation, we should be trying to tackle the many anti-LGBT issues the community faces, such as the scary headline writers who want us to be afraid of trans people, surely that’s where our focus should be.”
There was also frustration at events being held again in Glasgow and how accessible they would be for people in more rural locations. Phill Dexter of Oban Pride added:
“The Proud Scotland Awards sound like an amazing opportunity to celebrate the efforts of people all over Scotland, from north to south, but as a member of a small LGBT community and Pride organiser, it would be impossible for any of us to attend an event like this. The ticket prices are too high, then with travel and accommodation it would cost each of us around £200 to attend – way beyond what we could afford as a group.”
“The fact the event is supposed to celebrate and honour people involved in LGBT work all over Scotland, yet all the money raised stays with a Glasgow-based organisation, is awful in my opinion. I’d want assurances on how the distribution of funds would work because if the event is truly about honouring people from all over Scotland, then the money raised should also be shared by organisations all across Scotland too.”
In response, LGBT Co-op’s Executive Director, Euan McLeod said:
“The LGBT Co-operative is Scotland-wide and are [sic] the governing body of the Proud Awards. All proceeds returned to the Board will be used to fund our core activities in the year ahead.”
“Our ticket prices are at a price point of the main community gathering that takes place each year and we are ensuring that nominees and their guest receive free tickets to ensure they can attend and that costs are not a barrier to those that deserve recognition.”
Asked specifically whether the LGBT community can have confidence in a new organisation without a track record to deliver a quality event, McLeod responded:
“The desire for something new has been marked. We are fortunate that the calibre of our Board is exceptionally high and people who might not traditionally give their time to ensure good governance of a Board have come forward with a real desire to stand up for communities.”
“Members of our communities and businesses that support us have a right to be recognised. People are reassured that LGBT Co-operative, rather than a profit-making company, will be delivering Scotland’s annual LGBT Awards.”
In a press release for the Awards, Will Labate, Chair of the LGBT Co-operative said:
“There are really important reasons that Scotland must have an annual awards ceremony that both recognises members of our community, who do so much to help others, and also businesses that give something special to their LGBT customers.”
“Scotland is becoming more and more diverse, which is amazing, but there is still so much more to do and this night will help to strengthen our work as the LGBT Co-op.”
So what’s your view on the Proud Scotland Awards?
Is it time for a new event to celebrate the achievements of individuals, groups and businesses across the LGBT sector?
Or should we be focussed on other priorities as a community right now?