I have been going to Brighton Pride since I was about 4 years old. That's right, 4. My Mum used to take me down to Preston Park for a walk around as my Nan lived on Havelock Road, which is just round the corner. I have very early, vague memories, mainly of smiling faces, loud music and lots of laughter. My most recent memories are similar, very vague, but for slightly different reasons of course, not so much being a small child, more the levels of alcohol in my blood stream. Still though, smiling faces, loud music and lots and lots of laughter.
For many people, Pride is a reason to wake up, cover yourself in glitter, throw on something transparent and start drinking vodka, neat at 9am. Which is fine, great even. But for many people, Pride means an awful lot more and I am one of those people, so I am going to share with you what Pride means to me.
My first memory of realising that girls could like girls and boys could like boys was when I was about 8 years old. I was walking up Rose Hill, opposite the Level with my Dad and we were discussing the future, as you do when you are young. 'When will I get married?', 'When will I have babies?'. You know the conversation, the one that is hilarious to adults and truly the most confusing thing for young girls, who are determined to have 13 children and get married to Mr. Right ASAP in some cases, and in other cases, want to become a zoologist and run away to Canada. Most children just don't know what they want, and neither did I, as I was about to prove to my future self.
"What will I do when I'm older?", I asked my Dad, holding his hand, looking up at him with a scrunched up nose.
"Well, you will probably get a job and have a boyfriend..........or girlfriend", he answered, breezily. My Dad is one of those people who, to the naked eye, looks like a burly scaffolder who drinks Fosters and smokes rollies. Which he is, but under that exterior, he can be the kindest, most supportive person on this planet. This conversation has stuck with me throughout my whole life and it is one I will take to the grave, so Cheers Dad!
"YUCK"! I detested. "A BOYfriend, Dad, I will have a BOYfriend!" and I rolled my eyes and walked a bit faster. I ignored the comment and have no idea why I have remembered that, but it must have gone in for an important reason. Not simply for this blog I don't think.
My next experience was of being at my Nan's house on Havelock Road, sitting with her, watching music videos on TV. Christina Aguilera's song, Beautiful, came on. If you guys have seen that video, it has two guys kissing in it. Well, my Nan wasn't the biggest fan of this video. I won't embarrass her by saying exactly what she said, but you may be able to make it up in your head, and the video was turned over.
Needless to say, she was disgusted. At school, being Gay or Bi was considered a 'phase' by most. Lots of my friends went through the 'phase' and we all had weird, short, meaningless relationships with each other, while trying to figure out whether we actually liked the other person or not. I was unlucky enough to fall for two different people at school, neither of which reciprocated the feeling, but the experience showed me that maybe my Dad had something and maybe I would be opting for the latter option in the long term.
A few years later and I have been Married, yes, Married to a woman. We got married in the first year that it was actually legal in the UK. We are now separated. It has always baffled me how gay marriage was illegal at one point, even up until a few years ago. That's like saying 'You can't love this person'. No one has the right to say that. Least of all, the government. I just don't understand it. Although, I get told a lot, that it is mainly because I have been fortunate enough to live in Brighton since I was born. This may or may not be true. Brightonians, I think, on the whole, tend to be a lot more open minded about most things and we are known for it. I now live in Polegate with my beautiful partner, who has two children from a previous marriage and couldn't be happier.
Some people, unfortunately, a lot of people do not feel the same as me on this subject and act upon this feeling. Now, I understand that people have different opinions and beliefs. That is an amazing, wonderful thing, as it means that we aren't all walking around, eating the same thing, wearing the same thing and all fancying the same people. That would be boring. But when it comes to individuals causing physical harm and even murdering those who are fortunate enough to have found someone they love, but happen to be the same sex, I mean that's just not human in my eyes. But this happens, and trust me, when I found this out, I was much more disgusted than that day on Rose Hill with my Dad.
Written by Carly Piper for Brighton Silver.