As the Pride season approaches each year I always take time out to focus on the struggle many people went through and even today go through just to live their lives the way they choose. Pride may well be more family oriented these days but it still carries an underlying message to me which is just as powerful as Remembrance Sunday is to the nation – less we forget!
You don’t have to be gay to be subjected to abuse and misunderstanding but for some to focus their prejudice or ignorance on a single person or group of people in some way makes them feel superior or better, sadly this still occurs today, but thankfully not as much – such is progress for us all. It is at this point I remember the words of a single yet immensely inspirational man who changed not only a nation but the world:
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”
So what of Brighton Pride in 2017… As always the city looks forward to to the event which year on year appears to grow in popularity. For us, it is a hectic time as we have guests at our B&B and quite a lot of clients requiring the most extravagant of boots and shoes as well as fantastic over the top makeovers. Time always appears to move faster during the hours leading up to the start of pride, I put it down to the eager anticipation like a child on Christmas morning.
The parade sets off almost outside our door on the sea front at 11 am on Saturday and works its way through the city centre to Preston Park where the main stage and all the celebrations take place.
This year we were joined by a guest from Norway (Silvia) and it was so interesting to compare notes on similar events. She was amazed by how our local police force, fire fighters and political parties were proudly marching in the parade and interacted so freely with the crowds. I’m sure at least I hope this is not just common in Brighton but across the whole of the country. To me, it is a great visual representation that “authority” whilst it may not be totally transparent in its views have come a considerably long way over the last fifty years.
In general, the parade was colourful, expressive and inclusive. The sunshine was warm on our backs and the streets were VERY crowded with the air full of a mixture of gay anthems most of which remind me of my youth, which is always welcome. It appeared to have a lot more floats this year and many had made a fantastic effort with costumes and bands. Each year I always keep an eye out for a group of people who represent the countries where being Gay is still a criminal offence, sadly it is not declining as much as we would all hope. Thankfully that was my only sad note about the proceedings as I outlined earlier – less we forget.
This year we decided not to follow the Parade to its conclusion but to call into a local bar for a welcome glass or two of bubbles and plan our strategy for the evening.
For those who are not familiar with the general set up in Brighton during Pride, the whole of Kemptown (literally) is cordoned off with street barriers and people checking for entry bracelets to the area (after midday). Our plan was to book a table at our Favourite Italian in St James street and then go to the clubs. We had to get to the restaurant at 10 pm, let’s just say the street was a solid mass of extremely happy folk and we had to walk in our heels a lot further than we bargained for, thus, of course, making us fashionably late. As always we had a nice meal in a great atmosphere, leaving watered and feed to perfection.
Now with little exception, all the bars and clubs in Kemptown are free to enter with the exception of Pride weekend when you have to pay to enter the establishments. The funds are all donated to local charity so we have no problems with that and think it a good idea in principle. Luckily for us being regular visitors to Legends we managed to avoid the extremely long waiting line and managed to get in right away.
As with all the bars and clubs, it was wall to wall people, the noise was off the scale and it took a little while to adjust to all the sights and sounds. But within what appears seconds you are talking to a new friend about your day, thoughts and how the hell do you walk in those heels! I think if you could bottle the friendliness of these times and export it around the globe the world would be a much happier place.
Obtaining a drink was interesting. I must admit if you were on a date and your partner brought you back a plastic mug full of champagne…. seriously bubbles in a plastic bucket now that’s class! Apparently, no glass bottles were allowed. I’m not sure if that’s the reason the drinks were consumed so quickly or not but it worked for us. The venue was extremely packed both upstairs in the main bar area and downstairs on the dance floor. If like me you’re a person watcher this was heaven.
As with every occasion, your having fun farther time moves along very quickly. Even in the early hours of the morning, the streets were full of people in various states of disrepair all appearing to have a happy time. Having spoken to several people who did attend the Pride in the Park event it appears this year’s pride was a resounding success.
Recalling the previous evening with some of our guests was interesting. Some had to walk home from Kemptown which is no mean feat due to the long queues at the taxi ranks at 4 in the morning! Silvia was witness to an unsavoury event where several people were arrested. Once again she was amazed at the speed of events and how well the Police handles the whole situation, a timely reminder that not all is well in the garden of Eden as we say.
Whilst Sunday is traditionally a day of rest it is not during Pride weekend as the “St James Street Party” takes place. It is a real bun fight, yet it does have its own charm in the form of a huge Street party that you can simply get lost in, meet some charming and very interesting folk and ease your way into Monday morning if that’s possible. From the young who wish to just party to the older generation who celebrate or mark the passing of friends who helped make these occasions what they are today you see them all around you reminding you that we have one life and to make the very most of it when ever you can.
In Closing it does not matter if like me you have attended many a Pride or it is your very first one at some point take a second out to remember exactly why you’re there and all those people before you who made it possible.