Brighton Pride reminded me of the power of visibility

by Meghan Peach
August 2022

Brighton Pride march 2022

Brighton Pride takes place in the city I spent so much time in growing up in yet I’d never been to Pride there before. Before I turned 24, I hadn’t thought much about going to Pride. But after volunteering with Just Like Us and coming out to my family and friends, I was becoming more confident and sure of myself. It was time to take the next step in my journey and attend a Pride parade.

After London Pride with my childhood best friend and non-stop smiling all day, I was hooked. Next stop was Brighton Pride!

As well as volunteering with Just Like Us, I’m also involved with Girlguiding. They were asking for volunteers to march in Brighton Pride. I didn’t hesitate to sign up – this was my moment to give back and celebrate.

London was inspiring but I spent my childhood going to Brighton, so it was the perfect place for the next stage in my Pride journey.

The attacks on Pride show why they’re so needed

But before heading to Brighton Pride, I had a trip to Oslo planned first. I visited Norway not long after the shooting had taken place in the lead up to Oslo Pride. The day after the awful events, people marched in protest and solitary.

The flags, signs, and tributes were still hung in the streets of Oslo when I visited. Being there reminded me that Pride is still such an important act of protest. It’s not about me as an individual, or my personal Pride story but about our whole LGBT+ community as a collective. 

Pride is about celebrating ourselves whilst protesting everything that has been, and is still, lost and taken. It was an eye-opening experience and I want to express my deepest condolences to Oslo and to those who lost their lives, and to those who are still fighting for the freedom to be themselves in their own communities and countries.

With Brighton Pride just around the corner, I really felt a strong sense of community and need for marching proudly back at home. 

Brighton Pride 2022 and my trip to Norway
Brighton Pride 2022 and my trip to Norway

Brighton Pride was a day of Pride, anger, joy and sadness

The day of Brighton Pride came. As I walked the streets of Brighton, following the shore line towards Pride, the city was waking up in celebration. 

There was no time for nerves, because as soon as I found my group, I was signed in and handed a t-shirt. Everyone was celebrating. Drum lines practised their routines as parade participants applied face paint. Behind us, giant inflatables danced in the sky and the parade erupted into cheers when we started moving.

Standing towards the front of my group, I was once again overcome with emotions: pride, anger, joy, sadness. 

We were heading towards the city when I was asked to hold one side of the banner. I barely said yes before accepting it – a large colourful sign stating: I am proud

We moved further along the seafront, shouting and music crescendoing. Suddenly spectators surrounded us – all dancing, cheering, and waving. I held the banner high and tight, marching forward with my head held high.

As we moved through the streets, people recognised and waved at us, especially families with children. I wondered what would have happened if I’d seen Brighton Pride when I was a little girl. Seeing people of all ages, shapes and sizes watching and participating might have been the visibility that I needed to not feel so alone. 

Brighton Pride reminded me of the power of visibility

In today’s political and media climate, education and representation that is accessible and down-to-earth can make all the difference to someone who is struggling or feels isolated. I was reminded just how important visibility is – whether that is through attending a Pride parade, listening to a Just Like Us school talk, or seeing ourselves reflected on TV.

Seeing the young people reminded me also of the importance of representation. I’ve never felt more supported, represented and sure of myself whilst volunteering with Just Like Us.

Being a Just Like Us ambassador has not only educated and connected me with wider LGBT+ issues, but also inspired a new kind of confidence in myself. I know it would not have taken so long for me to attend a Pride parade had I heard a Just Like Us school talk when I was a teenager.

To anyone who is nervous about attending their first Pride, it is an amazing and pertinent event. You will be welcome and won’t regret attending. Just remember to have fun, be proud and compassionate, and walk with your head held high.

Volunteer with Just Like Us

If you’re LGBT+ and 18 to 25, you can volunteer on our Ambassador Programme.