The first LGBT event I ever went to was Summer 2014, a march in London. I didn’t really have any friends who I could go with, so I went along on my own – and yes, I enjoyed the day, but it was an event that seemed oddly without purpose or direction, somewhat sparsely attended, and I made only fleeting connections to other people.
Then, later that year, something started to change: I started to find a group of people, on Twitter, who I became friends with. Like, really friends – in a way that I didn’t even realise I was missing before. Then in June 2015, I met up with some of these people, face-to-face, for the first time.
Just a month later: my first Trans Pride Brighton. I went along, again travelling and staying alone, but at least this time I knew maybe three or four people, who I threatened to stick to like glue. And then I got there, and something remarkable happened: hundreds of trans and non-binary people, all gathered together, proudly declaring their existence, demanding their rights, colourfully, noisily, and peacefully. After spending years in shame, and unaware of the other people like me out there, this was simply a revelation. At the end of the weekend, when it was time to leave these people, my friends, and go home, I cried; and one of my friends hugged me. Another new thing.
If 2015 was a revelation; 2016 was simply bigger and better. We marched down to the seafront, and along the main road towards Hove, the road closed on one side. Thousands of us, this time. We were noisy, we waved flags, we chanted slogans, and the public waved at us, cheered us on, car horns loudly adding support. And afterwards, we chilled out in the park, in the sun, again surrounded by so many people, and again I was reminded of the wonderful diversity of the trans and non-binary spectrum.
It’s worth recognising, though, that some people really would like to come to this sort of event – for the friends, for the connections – but really struggle with big crowds. I hope those people do come, and find a way to enjoy the weekend in a way that works for them. The march, and the park afterwards, are a significant part of the day, but by no means the only way to enjoy it.
For me, then, Trans Pride represents friendship; connection; visibility; declaration; demonstration; diversity; inclusion. Being part of the march, being part of the community, being part of a group of real, genuine friends.
Cover image: detail of one by S Pakhrin, CC-BY-2.0. Capital Pride Parade 2017 (Washington DC).