🏳️🌈 Pride is a protest 🏳️🌈 A festival that celebrates love 🏳️🌈 A safe space for the LGBT+ community to celebrate 🏳️🌈 It’s also tens of thousands of individual stories that each and every LGBT+ person has about how they came to be there 🏳️🌈
Amidst all the flamboyance and noise there are deeply personal and tender journeys. Sometimes this gets lost amidst the celebration. It may not be visible if you’re standing in the crowd looking on. But believe me it’s there.
I’m often asked if we still need Pride because ‘gay people already have marriage and everything else’. I could write an essay on why we do but let me give you just one example. I came into Brighton by train on Friday evening and as I walked through town towards Hove I couldn’t help but notice how many same-sex couples were holding hands, their love and affection there for all to see.
Bear in mind that three quarters of gay people actively fear holding hands in public, here in Brighton and Hove too. Pride weekend changes that, our city becomes a space where people feel more comfortable to do the simple acts that others take for granted. If you’re straight, next time you hold hands with your partner just imagine if rather than feeling comfort, security and love it produced fear instead. Hard to imagine isn’t it?
Ages ago I was on the board of Pride so I can say this with some experience: this weekend’s Pride was the best ever. The trains ran better, the crowds were managed brilliantly, and Kylie Minogue was just amazing (soooo much better than Britney!).
After last year’s Pride I met many times with Pride’s brilliant CEO and his small but brilliant team. Many of you had contacted me with issues and they worked so hard to tackle them this year. This year reusable (also recyclable) plastic cups were used for the first time. They couldn’t use a deposit scheme this time but congratulations on a major step forward and I can attest to seeing loads of revellers queuing for refills rather than asking for new cups.
Last year residents in a cul-de-sac nearby contacted me about people leaving the park and spilling into their close. After the park closed last night I walked there myself and checked: police had barricaded the entrance and not a single partygoer had strayed in. And in terms of general litter I can assure you that massive steps forward were taken. Litter collection wasn’t left until after the party, the park was awash with collectors right through the day.
I left the park during the day and walked back along the route into town, and I passed dozens of Pride street cleaners making sure the parade route was cleaned.
My fancy watch – and achy feet – tell me I walked 24.78 kilometres yesterday. I wanted to enjoy the day but also make sure I saw as much as possible with my own eyes so I can be an advocate for Pride and also make sure residents have a voice and that our city is respected and always seen at its best.
With 250,000 people coming to our city to be part of Pride you can always find what you’re looking for. The drunk or well behaved. The noisy or respectful. The brilliant dancing…or me! But never forget that we have created something remarkable in our Pride. Neighbouring towns have small community Prides which we can go to if that’s what we prefer, but in our big celebration we have something that is noticed right around the world and is the envy of most great cities.
Thank you to everyone who approached me yesterday, I had so many lovely conversations. Thank you most of all to the organisers, volunteers, our rail operators for making huge progress, police, fire, ambulance and health workers for keeping people safe and healthy. Our Pride takes so much effort by so many people, and every one of them is a hero to me.
I had an amazing day packed with fun, protest, and moving insight. Thank you Brighton and Hove for opening up our community and making it happen, Peter