Friends, LGBT, Mental Health, Transition, Volunteering

Show Me Some Pride

​This year I joined the committee for Trans Pride Brighton. It was a whirlwind. I joined with only a few months until the big day and there was a lot to still be done. Despite this I really enjoyed the experience and today I want to give my thoughts on the day. All of what I write here on this post and other future or past blog posts, unless otherwise explicitly stated, are on a personal level and not affiliated with the Trans Pride Committee or any other committee or group I belong to. I only speak for myself.

Original image credit to Sharon Kilgannon
Original image credit to Sharon Kilgannon

I was brought onto the committee to work on the writing side, something we don’t have a lot of people confident in doing. This includes writing wording for leaflets, social media, the lot. Unfortunately due to my own circumstances leading up to the event I wasn’t able to do as much as I had first hoped (something I am aiming to remedy for the coming year), however I put a lot of work into the social media and I think it went well!

A wonderful picture of what was the FTM Brighton committee at the time of Trans Pride.
A wonderful picture of what was the FTM Brighton committee at the time of Trans Pride.

With the social media I had two aims I really wanted to achieve. The first was making sure all of the acts on stage were spoken about before the event. This went without a hitch for the most part, though I feel this could have been done at least a week in advance instead of a day as I did this time around. In addition to this I live tweeted and facebooked throughout the day as much as I could.

I don’t know how many of you follow the Facebook or twitter for Trans Pride, but through the year it is a pretty sparse place to be. Since Trans Pride Brighton 2016 I haven’t done a lot on there, but things have periodically gone up through other people on the committee. This year I really want to work on improving the social media presence Trans Pride Brighton has all year around. Right now we don’t have a lot of likes or followers and I think this is a major downfall, as it is a fantastic way to get the word out to the rest of the world that we are here.

Social media is also a fantastic way to connect, and I think if we really push the networking through the years, we can have a bigger and better Trans Pride each time. Plus the more knowledge, the more donations, the better the event can be. At the moment Trans Pride is run entirely on donations and small amounts of grants. They are entirely volunteer led and have charitable status. When they say every little helps, with Trans Pride Brighton, they mean it.

Another key part of Trans Pride I really threw myself into this year was the accessibility. Both this year and last, I worked on stage as a BSL signer. I am not qualified, I don’t even officially hold my level one (yet), but my dream is to be a BSL Interpreter for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly focusing on mental health. This was an amazing experience both times around. Signing is really my passion so being able to perform in front of such a large audience is electric, espeically knowing what I am doing is hopefully helping at least one person watching.

A photo of me signing on stage! Taken by StellaPix it is good to finally have one!
A photo of me signing on stage! Taken by StellaPix it is good to finally have one!

Because of this involvement, I took on the role of Accessibility Liason, ensuring I was someone that people could go to during the day, and prior to the event, to find out information about accessibility. I was very keen to take on this role, and honestly a lot of work had been done prior to ensure that the accessibility was improved from prior years. This year, along with the interpreters, there was a hearing loop installed.

The hearing loop was a fantastic idea, however it didn’t get used a lot (or even at all? Not sure on that part for sure). I do have a few ideas as to why this may have been, it was a selection of poles all put in the ground with big yellow cables around it right at the front of the stage. It did stick out a fair bit. I am not sure how this part could be avoided, it did sort of look a bit like a closed in pen, and I think this may have put some people off who otherwise may have found it very helpful. It may also not have been used because the people who may have needed it didn’t want to use it, or didn’t know it was there or how to use it. There are many factors, possible reasons, that it would be impossible to know for certain. However it is something I definitely want to work on for coming Trans Pride events.

One thing I did realise was, although the park was slightly more wheelchair friendly than other events, we did mess up on a few points. Firstly, there was no stage wheelchair access. I hadn’t even realised this myself, from a point of privilage of not being in a chair, if you were someone who wanted to speak on stage but were in a chair, unless you could walk short periods up steps and down again, you would be unable to give a speech on stage. When I acknowledged this I realised straight away that this will need to be remidied. I am unsure how (ramps? Lifts?) but it is something I will definitely be looking into for the coming years/any future events.

Speaking of the stage, what amazing acts! Trans Pride Brighton requires that in order to be an act on stage, you must have at least one member of your group belong to one strain of the trans umbrella. This could be trans women, non-binary people, agender people, anything. As long as it isn’t a completely cisgender line-up. Well, the acts we had this year were just brilliant. From Screaming Toenail, to Nona Wyld’s poetry and more, I couldn’t speak higher of the performers and speakers we had on stage. On top of all of the others, I personally am so proud of Tyler, because he gave his first speech to a live audience, and a massive one at that, where he spoke about being non-binary, autistic, disabled, and all of the intersections and how the community has helped him on his journey.

Photo of Tyler speaking on stage by Christiana L. Bentley
Photo of Tyler speaking on stage by Christiana L. Bentley

A major thing Trans Pride Brighton has struggled with in past years is inclusion of Trans People of Colour. There was a major issue a few years ago that was in the spotlight, and as a result, the organisers have been trying to fix problematic behaviour and be more inclusive as an organisation and a public event. This year we had TPOC caucus, facilitated by the lovely CJ, which from what I understand went well, and we had speakers of all backgrounds on stage. There is still a lot of work to be done though. The event still isn’t perfect, and this is something that needs to be worked towards for all events Trans Pride Brighton runs.

Something that was brought up a lot through both the run up to and on the day was the inclusion of the Police. They are not an easy topic to deal with. Personally I have mixed feelings, a part of me wishes they would not be involved at all in any Pride events. A part of me completely agrees that avoiding them is the way to go. I have my own reasons for only being okay with certain police, and I know the police do pose a threat to some of the most targeted members of the Trans community. This includes sex workers, people of colour, even the homeless.

However a part of me also believes it is important to have them there in place of possible violence (where at present there is no other option I know of). I have friends involved in the police force, and people involved I would say I personally am comfortable with. But I know this is not the case for everyone and I totally respect this. The police are something I felt the need to discuss here but quite honestly I have not yet met my own consensus of where I lie on the topic, I am very torn with the issue, especially as someone who is percieved as male and therefore benefits from both white privilage and male privilage.

After the main park event at Trans Pride we had other things going on (and prior to this, such as the film night), one that I went to was the gig on Saturday night!

This was my first experience of a live gig. It was wonderful! So loud, and I wish I could have seen the performers mouths to actually know what was being said/sung, but it was really enjoyable. I got to spend time with some fantastic people, having been in work mode all day, it was nice to actually relax a little and have a drink. I sadly didn’t get to see all three performers – the final I found too difficult to listen to after the first two being so loud – so I spent a lot of my time outside of the venue. It was lovely to talk to people, being able to actually see them and relax, and not feel like I was being pulled in a million directions at once was great!

Two of the members of Pentacorn from the evening gig, two good friends of mine Maeve and Jo. Photo credit to Kat Ward.
Two of the members of Pentacorn from the evening gig, two good friends of mine Maeve and Jo. Photo credit to Kat Ward.

After finally getting some sleep Saturday night, there was one event left! The picnic! This got off to a touchy start, having been advratised as a barbeque in a few places, lots of people turned up expecting cooked food to an absence of it. The Marlborough, where we held it, were wonderful as always though. They had a few sign boards and let us write on one to explain the situation (and avoid the constant questions at the bar about where the BBQ was), they had limited roast dinners still avaliable at the pub as they do every Sunday, and they were welcoming to everyone as per usual. I couldn’t speak higher of the staff there, especially those working on the day, they dealt with a lot of people, a lot more than usual, and took it in their stride.

Following on from Trans Pride 2016, there are a few things I would like to improve on, as I have mentioned here in this post. In particular, the accessibility as a whole. I hope Trans Pride continues to grow, and we continue to be able to have the capacity to run such a large and ever increasing event. If you are in Brighton and feel you have skills that may help the committee, keep an eye on our social media and get in touch. The committee is currently going through working out roles for each person, and seeing what may be missing, so who knows? You may be the one that is needed.

Some of us from the committee, for some reason I am standing like a superhero! Credit unknown.
Some of us from the committee, for some reason I am standing like a superhero! Credit unknown.

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