Each year there are multiple challenges in delivering a complex event like Pride and it is for this reason that we work closely with partner agencies all year round on the planning for it.
WE endeavour to be a learning and problem solving organisation, picking up and improving on past issues. One example being, Pride worked closely with Govia Thameslink Railway and other partners to facilitate a managed queueing system at Brighton station to get people away from the City safely at the end of the day. A big improvement over last year.
Although Pride does not stage any events on the beach, this year as a first, Brighton & Hove Pride sponsored the inaugural Big Pride Beach Clean, delivered by Oceans8 Brighton, which saw the beach transformed to a safe and clean space on Sunday morning.
It was sad to see some news reports apportioning blame on the LGBT+ communities and Pride for both rubbish and gas canisters on the beach. Locals will know that this is, unfortunately, a common occurrence on a busy hot summer weekend and although exacerbated by the extra party goers that use the beach over Pride, many come to Brighton not to attend any of the official Pride events but instead head to the beach.
Pride will as always continue to engage with the businesses on the seafront to share the responsibility of the clean up after a bumper weekend for their businesses. As well as cleansing and clearing all of the Pride event sites, this year we also contracted and paid for road sweeping machines to follow the Pride Community Parade through the city, cleaned London Road and jet washed the streets of the Pride Village Party on Sunday August 5.
When I first took over Pride in 2013, the previous organisation had gone bankrupt, had not raised any funds for our local LGBT+ groups for many years and there was no provision for deaf or people with disability requirements. I passionately felt that Pride needed to become accessible for people with disabilities.
On a personal level my father was a disability champion and as a young boy I regularly went along on trips from Crawley to Fairfield Hall in Croydon where he volunteered, driving for the disabled and riding for the disabled. This meant, from a young age I picked up an awareness of the challenges and discrimination that people with disabilities faced.
Therefore, one of my first priorities was to work with the LGBT Community Safety Forum (LGBT CSF) to ensure that access provision was an integral element of Pride in Preston Park. This included wheelchair recharging points, accessible toilets across the park, dedicated changing facilities and a high dependency unit.
BSL interpreters were introduced in the cabaret tent and on a platform in front of the main stage, and the signed performances were relayed across the park on big screens. Over the years, due to the excellent work done by the LGBT CSF, Pride has received some amazing feedback. However, after Pride 2018 and due to other commitments the LGBT CSF stepped back to focus on Disability Pride and so this year we appointed new access providers.
I don’t believe in making excuses, there are things that didn’t work this year and I make a heartfelt apology to anyone who didn’t receive the quality of access provision we would have hoped for. Our aim is to deliver an outstanding access service and to attain the Attitude Is Everything Gold Standard, and the work starts now on ensuring that improvements are made.
Pride needs commercial partners and sponsors to help us deliver the event as well as contributing to the significant fundraising effort; and striking that balance is always going to be a challenge.
This year, charity and community groups made up two thirds of the Brighton & Hove Pride LGBT+ Community Parade with one third from the commercial sector. There does need to be a debate around the commercialisation of Pride nationally, with regard to how some big brands are capitalising on and benefiting from national branded campaigns without contributing to the organisations and groups that work hard to deliver Prides across the country; but we must also acknowledge the support of genuine partners and allies of the LGBT+ communities who are committed to diversity and inclusion within their organisations.
This year’s campaign #WeStandTogether, was a call to action to all in the LGBT+ communities and their allies to unite and stand together against all types of discrimination and to defend the advances in equality and inclusion over the last five decades, since Stonewall.
This year the head of the Pride parade was made up of an number of organisations and individuals that included The Brighton Rainbow Fund, Trans Pride Brighton, Sparkle the National Transgender Charity, Rainbows Across Borders, The Peter Tatchell Foundation and others who joined us to march together through the streets of Brighton on Saturday, August 3.
Pride still has many challenges ahead with domestic uncertainty and the rise in homophobic, transphobic and racial hate crime. It’s important to me to keep campaigning at the forefront of Pride and I’m proud to have asked local drag artist legend Lola Lasagne (Stephen Richards) to speak on the main stage before our campaign video.
Lola delivered an inspirational and moving speech that was a personal highlight of my weekend. Thank you Stephen.
Finally I’d like to thank the thousands of people who attended Brighton Pride, we respected each other, celebrated and campaigned together in this great City. It is by no means perfect but it’s the place I call home and I’ll embrace the life affirming joy that we celebrated together.
Paul Kemp, Director Brighton & Hove Pride