A Whole Lot of Pride

By Carly Piper

I have been going to Brighton Pride since I was 4 years old. That’s right, 4. My Mum used to take me down to Preston Park for a walk as my Nan lived just around the corner. I have vague memories of smiling faces, loud music and lots of laughter. My most recent memories are similarly vague, but for slightly different reasons of course (perhaps due to the levels of alcohol in my blood stream). Still though, the smiling faces, loud music and laughter remain.

For many people, Pride is a reason to cover yourself in glitter, throw on something transparent and start drinking neat vodka at 9am. Which is fine, great even. But for many people, Pride means an awful lot more, and I am one of those people. Now, 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 8 years old. I was walking up Rose Hill 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 conversations, the ones that are hilarious to adults and truly confusing for young girls. Some girls are determined to have 13 children and get married to Mr. Right ASAP, and in other cases, they want to become zoologists 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 roll-ups (which he is). but beneath the exterior, he can be the kindest and most supportive person on the planet. This conversation 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.

My next memory was of being at my Nan’s house watching music videos on TV. Christina Aguilera’s song, ‘Beautiful’ came on. If you’ve seen it, it features two men kissing. Well, my Nan wasn’t the biggest fan of this video. I won’t embarrass her by repeating 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 revealed to me that maybe my Dad was on to something.

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 I think this way because I have been fortunate enough to live in Brighton since I was born. This may or may not be true. Brightonians on the whole tend to be a lot more open minded about most things, we’re known for it! I now live in Polegate with my beautiful partner who has two children from a previous marriage and I couldn’t be happier.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t feel the same as me on this subject. 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, that’s just not human in my eyes. But this happens, and when I found this out, I was much more disgusted than that day on Rose Hill with my Dad.

So when I go to Pride on the first weekend of August, yes, I drink vodka at 9am, but I also remember that not everyone is as lucky as I am. Throughout the years, there have been a lot of people who have been judged and ridiculed because of their sexuality. I remember that a ridiculous amount of people, even now, maybe even someone reading this, hide who they really are because they are scared. So I go to Pride to show that I am proud. Proud to be who I am, and that I know so many amazing people who are proud of who they are, and even prouder to shout it from the rooftops, dressed in chiffon, covered in glitter on the first weekend of August every year.

Oh, and if you were wondering, my Nan was in the front row at my wedding and asks after my girlfriend on a daily basis. People surprise you. Be proud.

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Note

This post was originally published on Carly’s website: http://www.carlypiperwriter.co.uk/a-whole-lot-of-pride – please follow the link to read more from this writer.

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About the Author

My name is Carly. I am a born and bred Brighton girl heading towards the ‘big 3-0’. I now live in Polegate with my girlfriend and her two children where I write, create and learn. I write directly from the heart so that my views are heard correctly by my audience. What you read is what I think. Big believer in jam before cream on scones.

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My Post-Election Fears Haven’t Changed: A (White) American Lesbian’s Reaction to Trump’s Win

By Camille Brown

I have had such a hard time in the last few days between my own personal fears and the reactions of people I know. My non-white friends are terrified. My friends who are immigrants (documented or not) are terrified. I have white straight friends my age saying ‘it will all be okay’ and older white straight friends comparing this to the Bush and Regan presidencies. I have relatives who know that my cousin and I are queer and yet who voted for Donald Trump.

As a queer, feminine-presenting woman and survivor of sexual violence and sexual abuse, I’m terrified too. A rapist is our new president whose rhetoric makes me fear for my personal, everyday safety more than usual. Every time I go out in public, whether they leer, or make kissy sounds inches from my face — where I can actually feel their spit, or verbally catcall me, men violate me with their eyes and often with their words. They want to grab my pussy. My only comfort is that, at least most of the time for me so far, there is one thing or another keeping them from actually doing just that. Now, my country has elected a President who politically, figuratively, and QUITE FUCKING LITERALLY wants to grab women by the pussy. I had hope in common sense yet this popular vote biopsy of our nation has shown me just where that common sense lies. That small ‘one thing or another’ which sometimes protects me and everyone else who isn’t a cis-man is utterly gone with him in charge.

On top of all these fears for myself, I fear for my partner who, although she kicks ass at Muay Thai, is 5’2″ and 118 lbs. As a butch lesbian she is quite visibly gay and often walks home from school in our college town on the edge of multiple conservative farming communities. Trump doesn’t think people who look like her should feel safe in bathrooms. He doesn’t think people who look like her deserve to be seen as women. He thinks women who look like me — regardless of sexual orientation or consent — exist for the gratification of men. He and his followers think I am a thing to grab. His running mate, who is actually a successful politician, thinks people like us can be electrocuted until we stop being queer. I’m not going to be calm.

I’ve been out and proud for a year last Saturday and I thought I was coming out into a much safer world than generations before me. But really, I’m out in a country that can very well take away our security in owning a home someday, our right to be married, our right to adopt a child, our rights to personal safety.

I can’t talk or write about this without being moved to tears. I’ve broken down in all my college classes since Tuesday night. If I feel this way I can’t imagine how people of colour, people who aren’t cisgendered, people who are undocumented immigrants, people who rely on Obamacare, people who rely on Planned Parenthood, and the countless others who are threatened by Trump’s rhetoric, must feel.