I spent most of today in Brighton attending their Trans Pride festival. They have billed it as the first ever such event in the UK, though I understand that Manchester regards the long-running Sparkle event as a Pride in all but name. Whatever the situation with bragging rights, however, this was an enormous achievement. As you can see from the photo (thank you, Sharon Offield-Munnings), there was a great crowd, and the sun stayed out for much of the day.
The event started last night with some films, which I did not attend as I had restaurant reviewing to do. I gather that around 100 people attended, and that blew people’s minds. Sarah Savage (one of the stars of My Transsexual Summer), who was on the organizing committee for the Pride, said that when they started out they figured that if they got 50 people attending the main day then they would be happy. Fox just tweeted that the footfall at the event today was 1531. Given that it is a free event, attendance-counting is difficult. That number will have double-counted some people who came in, left to get food, and came back again. Even so, attendance surpassed everyone’s wildest dreams.
While many of the attendees were fairly obviously trans, others were not so. The event took place in Kemptown, Brighton’s gay quarter, and a number of gay and lesbian couples could be seen checking out the stalls. Of course some of those might be trans-identified. A few younger trans folk had come with their parents. A special shout out is due to Tara and her friend who had come all the way from Newcastle to support the event. I even spotted what looked suspiciously like a small hen night party who had presumably come in because there was somewhere to relax with good music.
The stalls, somewhat sadly but inevitably, were mainly from organizations that dealt with providing support, domestic abuse, AIDS prevention and so on. I was very impressed with the Just like You campaign which is trying to do something about the horrendous death toll amongst trans women in Latin America. Please take a look at their website and sign the petition.
The opening ceremonies were well supported by local politicians, including, much to my astonishment, a rousing speech in favour of trans rights by a Conservative councilor. Labour and the Green Party were also represented, but not the LibDems. Perhaps they don’t have any councilors in Brighton.
Throughout the day various trans artists performed on the main stage. I was impressed with Wild, a folk singer, and Hel Gurney, a performance poet. Roz, sadly, wasn’t there, but CN Lester and Bethany Black were. Unfortunately, because I had to get back home for an SFSFC board meeting, I missed their sets. I did get to hang out with CN, which was great, and Beth tweeted that someone reported her act to the police, which probably made her very happy.
The one glaring absence from the event was high profile trans activists/celebrities. Sarah and Fox were then, of course, as was Karen Gale, though I didn’t see her. But neither Press for Change nor Trans Media Watch had a presence at the event. I know that there is a limit to how much travel people can do, but I would have thought that this was an event worth supporting.
Next year, then. Because I am sure that there will be a next year. This one, after all, was very successful, and the people of Brighton clearly backed it. Next year will be bigger. Next year will be better. And following on from this I hope to see Trans Pride events in other cities around the country. Brighton has proved that it can be done, and if we do want a Pride that highlights our own issues then we have to organize it ourselves. No one else is going to do it for us.