Well, I went to Brighton Trans Pride yesterday afternoon, at the New Steine, which is a small park in the heart of Kemp Town, near the sea front, with railings all round and a gate. So it was safe and secure. I arrived at 1.30pm and left at 3.30pm. But I didn't get home till late: other people followed me, and some of us had an evening meal in town.
As you can see, it was a hot, sunny day that justified not only sunglasses but a sun hat! I could only stand two hours of the heat before a retreat to a cool pub and a long cold pint of iced Coke became imperative. Some people took part in the opening march through the town in the morning, and stayed till it all ended, and they must have been burned to a cinder.
It was a very friendly event, not unlike a regular village fête, as there were tents for all the local support organisations, plus tents offering refreshments and things to nibble. The Clare Project was running a raffle. But there were no stalls selling second-hand clothes and books, nor bric-a-brac, nor fudge and honey and jam. Nor were there old gentlemen tottering around in panama hats, nor quaint old ladies with parasols. The emphasis was on young Brighton, with plenty of tattooed arms and legs and backs in evidence, as well as a fair sprinkling of rainbow-themed outfits. And there was a stage - from which a cacophony of noise that some might term 'music' was erupting as I arrived. But fortunately the acoustics in the New Steine were not very good, the sound fading to bearable levels only thirty yards from the stage. (More on the consequences of that sound-fade further down)
There was a wide mix of people. So far as I could tell, the greater part of those present were transgendered in some way, but there were plenty of non-trans people too, such as gay men and lesbian women who had come to show solidarity. With a great many individuals you had to make your best guess, based on little clues, as to where on the trans spectrum they might be. If you could be bothered, that is: it really didn't matter. We were all given a numbered purple wristband as we arrived. I wasn't sure what purpose it served, as there was no entrance charge. I suppose it did demonstrate that you had attended! Here's mine:
And here are some pictures to conjure up the atmosphere, in the sequence that they were shot - so the scene gradually becomes more crowded:
There was a little group who had spread out a huge print of Chelsea Manning:
What does queer+ mean? Pass.
It was a great occasion for meeting friends, some of whom one might not have seen for a while. I was delighted that Jenny (from Oxford - the author of the Large Blooming Flower blog) had driven down for the day with a friend. I hadn't seen her for nearly two years.
One friend, Alice, was actually performing on the stage. At around 3.00pm the music stopped for a while, and the poets had their chance, one after another. Alice was fifth in line, I think. I thought she was the best. She certainly put the most passion into what she was saying, a short poem about holding her freshly-delivered child, still slippery from the womb, being very powerful. Here she is, in action:
But you had to get quite close up to hear the words clearly. Speech, even amplified speech, doesn't travel well in the open air, and I felt that what might sound amazing in an intimate auditorium lost a lot of its impact in a park. In my judgement, then, poetry is not suitable for an open-air event like this, because it can't be heard properly. Nevertheless, there was a big audience:
And I'll happily admit that Alice has a lot of bottle to go near a stage, and face a sea of people, no matter how much they radiate goodwill. I wouldn't do it!