Meet the Team | Melissa
Name: Melissa (she/her)
I am Co-Chair of Chichester Pride UK. The talk of a Chichester Pride came shortly after my coming out as trans in 2018.
Having a cuppa in Dawn's sitting room, our ideas moved quickly into motion and started assembling a little team. We were getting great feedback from venues and citizens of Chichester, which made it easier to find support and interest.
The buzz started and things certainly appeared to be going well until the year 2020 happened, the other dreaded “C” word.
Even though I learnt a little about the ‘Black Plague' as a child, a pandemic wasn’t really something I thought about ever having to face. Not only was the pandemic going to have an effect on all the hard work we had put into having Chichester’s first Pride, the impact on me personally and professionally was intense also.
I have always been a grafter, a trait I got from my mum. Working is a great way to not be inside your head. When I am not volunteering for Chichester Pride, I run my own little boutique hair salon. I have been hairdressing for 20 years, a career path that I did not intend to take growing up.
I have had a salon for 8 years now, when I opened first, I was commonly known as Mark. I spent the first 4 years working 6 days a week 11–12-hour days. Working at different events, I had a hair stall on the return of Portsmouth Pride, local street parties & fairs, collaboration photo shoots and bridal hair on location.
This was a fantastic distraction setting up a business, not having to think about me, or what was going on inside of me. Once the business had levelled, I started to grow a team of staff, things started to get worse in my head having this extra free time to be alone with myself, which inevitably has got me to where I am today, Melissa.
The “creative” that I am, I work well alone. I am a terrible manager and decided it wasn’t wise to employ any more staff. Once people left to venture onto their new path, I would work solely again, although I do have an amazing salon helper 2 days a week.
Since having my salon, it gave me a great platform to raise money for different charities including M.I.N.D Coastal, SANDS (Stillborn and neonatal), the First Responders and more. I don’t live by this motto, but try to embrace it as much as possible, “If you can, do!” It only seemed right that I get involved and do something to help the Pride tribe of Chichester, which is my closest city/town to where I live.
Enter Chichester Pride 2022. For me, the lack of representation and education of the Pride Community was so small, it is HUGE! It is fantastic how far the community has come over the past 5 decades for Pride worldwide, to celebrate the LGBT progression, now under the umbrella of Pride that has encouraged others to speak out of their own representation that hadn’t been recognised, leading to the now commonly known LGBTQIA+.
The Pride community is ever-growing, and what a wonderful world we are transitioning into. Alongside the celebrations side of Pride, there is much more that goes on behind the scenes, Pride is for life, not just for a day. I felt it important to make connections with the education systems in our area, and I have been working with a secondary school just outside of Chichester, Bourne Community College.
We are at the beginning stages of discussing important topics for the correct age groups and hope to create a template of education with this school so we can take education to other schools and colleges throughout West Sussex.
My plans are huge, but you have to start somewhere, I am excited to see where Chichester Pride will be in 5 years time.
I am so proud to be part of a movement that has already had a huge impact on lives worldwide and to now help evolve inclusivity and equality within my home area.
For more information about our team, click here.