This weekend has been a busy one.
It all started back on Friday when I was in Brighton working on a project. We were interviewing and photographing young LGBTQ+ people as well as handing out flyers in town. It’s an amazing project to be involved in and I’m getting to do some pretty cool things because of it – one of them being attending the Pride festival, but we’ll get onto that.
The trains are up the wall at the moment and I would of had to have left really early in the morning to ensure that I made it back to town in time on Saturday, but luckily one of my friends proved themselves to be a true hero and offered me a place to stay for a few nights. The only problem was that I didn’t have any of my stuff with me, so I had to get the train home on Friday anyway and then get a lift back to Brighton. When I eventually got there, we spent the night painting our nails and watching Netflix.
On Saturday, I was up bright and early. We was meeting the rest of our group in town, but first it was face painting time. With some very colourful flags on our faces, we headed out into the sunshine and boy was it sunny.
Town was buzzing and there were rainbows everywhere. We photographed some of the parade from by the sea front before overtaking it as we headed in-land. It was amazing to see all of the people celebrating themselves and all of the support. There were all kinds of organisations marching and partying on floats. I was impressed with some people’s roller skating skills, and you could see the amount of effort that had gone into some of the outfits.
I was a little concerned with some of the businesses that were involved, but that’s a post for another time.
After a spot of lunch, it was time to head to Preston Park where the festival was being held. With our wristbands on, we joined the crowds heading in the same direction. People were already in the party mood as we walked down the streets the parade had been. If it could be climbed on, it was occupied. If it was in the least bit alcoholic, it was being drunk. It’s at this point that I want to give a shout out to all the security, emergency services, street cleaners and volunteers that were working hard while everyone else was celebrating.
At first, the festival was quite a lot to take in. Everywhere you looked there were crowds of people. There were all kinds of sights and smells to overwhelm the senses, and we didn’t quite know where to start. After walking round for a while, we decided to take a break in the trans tent and listen to some poetry and songs. People told their stories and it was intense. They’re not my stories to tell, but they were very emotional and thought-provoking. People are people regardless of how they identify, and everyone needs love.
We headed over towards the stage and listened to some music. Everyone was singing and dancing along, and I even joined in a little when I knew the words. There were lots of people, so I couldn’t really see who was performing, but that didn’t really matter since it was still an enjoyable atmosphere.
Although celebration was very much the theme, there were moments of sadness, morning and reflection for the events in Orlando. They were moments of pain, but not of fear as the whole crowd shouted “end all hate” and we were reminded that regardless of our differences, we need to stand together.
We left quite early but the party continues without us. Luckily, leaving earlier meant that I didn’t have to use a portaloo and could actually afford some food. I came to realise that festivals just aren’t really my thing, but it had still been an incredible day nonetheless.
We headed home and watched Legally Blonde before finally collapsing into bed for the night.
On Sunday morning, I packed up and headed to the station – knackered, a bit sweaty and very ready to go home. I’d had an amazing time, but all the sun was getting to me and I was exhausted. Thankfully, there was a train ready and waiting for me and did my best to stay awake for the ride.
It was an emotional rollercoaster for me, but I’m grateful I had the opportunity to have experience. There was so much happiness and positivity that I could see why it was called Pride. Thank you to everyone who made my experience so wonderful and I can’t wait to see what happens next year.