Queer artists performing in this year’s Fringe have shared their experiences of hostility and discrimination when taking to the stage.
LGBTQ performers have said the festival has been liberating experience for them – but some have faced backlash over their shows.
Sab Samuel performs as Aida H Dee every day at Assembly Roxy in ‘Drag Queen Story Hour.’
It’s been consistently targeted by protesters who say drag culture is inappropriate for children.
“What I’m doing isn’t controversial in any way whatsoever,” Sab told STV News. “I’m just being the person I wish that I had when I was five years old.
“It’s not just a way to ensure people stop bulling people who are LGBTQI+, it’s an icon, it’s a role model for kids, I didn’t have a role mode growing up.
“The Fringe has probably been the loneliest but the most fabulously liberating and exciting time I’ve ever had in my life.”
American-born Laser Webber’s Fringe debut musical, ‘A Shark Ate my Pen!s’ at the Gilded Balloon has received rave reviews and tells their own story of transitioning whilst taking us through the history of trans men.
“When I was a kid, I didn’t see trans people, and I think if I had seen them sooner, I wouldn’t have lived a life of depression the way I did,” they said.
“My goal at Edinburgh Fringe or anywhere is to show trans people are here, we’re living really happy lives and it is OK to live your truth.
“I have the advantage that I am a trans man and its harder to be a trans women, I’m much less visible. A lot of the haters exist on the internet and wouldn’t say it to my face.”
“But I have met so many incredibly queer and kind people. Edinburgh is beautiful.”
Also making a storm at this year’s Fringe is ‘Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story,’ on at Pleasance Dome.
The sell-out show “is a very silly, fun, joyful, queer celebration of Princess Diana,” Linus Karp, who plays Diana, told STV News.
“It highlights all the amazing things she did in her life, being a fashion icon and becoming part of the monarchy from a young age. But also the work she did around AIDS and HIV and changing people’s minds around the illness at the time.
“I wanted to create something very queer for a queer audience, people are happy to support queer art and there’s a hunger for it which his wonderful.”
When asked if he and his on and off stage-partner and fellow actor Joseph have faced any barriers putting on the show, he replied, “We’ve had some comments online, and people saying its distasteful. I do wonder if they would say the same thing about the Crown.
“We’re not the only fictional re-telling of Diana’s story. We have seen more around queer performers being targeted, and it’s sad to see in a place that should be so inclusive.”
Another newcomer to this year’s Fringe is Brook Tate and his musical, ‘Birthmarked,’ on at Assembly George Street. It’s all about him being excommunicated as a Jehovah’s Witness due to his sexuality.
“As a queer performer, it’s taken me a while to find confidence in my every day life because of my upbringing,” he said.
“The reception I’ve had from the queer community has been so so encouraging, it take a bit of courage to stand on stage and talk about queerness.
“Queer joy is such a powerful thing, its often queer fear. We’re scared of ourselves and how we’ll be received in society.”
“It feels like a show that’s colourful: I turn into a tap dancing zebra, spoiler! But we’re doing something important here, especially for young queer people you don’t have to be scared.”
“There’s no much joy to be had when you find your community.”