Pride is all year round! 🌈
Hello all, it's Melissa Hamilton here, Co-Chair of Chichester Pride.
Pride will be forever needed worldwide. After more than 50 years of the UK community marching, campaigning, and being active in gaining equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community, we would be foolish to stop now.
Having equal rights isn’t a given, history shows us this. Unfortunately, there is a word and movement which is terrifying, regression.
We only need to look at the abortion crisis in America, 2022 the right for a woman to make a decision on her own body has been taken away. Some of these women will fall into the Pride Community also. How in 2022 are women’s rights still regressing?
How do we go about staying equal? Visibility. Each city, town, village, school, and even your household can hold a Pride. It isn’t about creating an army, but it shows strength in numbers, minority or not, we are here!
We contribute to the running of our country with taxes, we pay into the economy, and we feel like every other human being, so we are owed equal rights. If we rest on our laurels, this could be taken away by an extreme right-wing politician in future. We have seen it happen, the evidence is there, and it is scary to think it could happen.
Pride in the UK must continue, not only for our rights but to be found and know you’re not alone. Yes, we have laws in place to protect us, but the law doesn’t change opinions or strong religious views. A lot of our community will grow up in toxic masculine surroundings, with unforgiving parents who put faith before their child or live in a small village where they may feel they are the only one like them around.
Pride is that beacon of hope, a safe space to wrap your arms around the one you love and kiss without a worry there may be some phobic person who can’t help themselves draw attention to it.
Some towns and cities do not have LGBTQI++ bars or safe spaces for like-minded people to meet, Chichester falls into this category. There was once a pub in the Hornet called The Bush but closed in the early 2000s.
For over 2 decades Chichester has fallen short of support networks for the Pride Community. A severe lack of visibility has for sure slowed down my personal growth as a human as well as a lack of information and education.
Chichester having its FIRST PRIDE this year, 2022 is the year of change and development for Chichester. Although the impact has been on a small scale visually, the impact on the individuals who were able to attend has been enormous.
Some attendees never thought they would see the day Chichester would have a Pride and felt so proud they could come and see how many other people they could relate to, and this is just the beginning, Chichester Pride will grow.
Chichester Pride will reach out to all, not just the community, but also educate those who maybe are guarded and don’t understand the community. Pride is for EVERYONE, EVERYDAY!
Being on the committee for Chichester’s first Pride has come with a lot of emotion. It took 3 years to make this happen, which comes with frustration, excitement, doubt, pride, long hours, and accomplishment, to name only a few.
When a committee was first put together it was unchartered territory, and so many mistakes were made, on this broken record that seemed impossible to get off and move forward.
I will be honest I had a fair few chats with my co-chair Dawn about leaving and admitting defeat. I am not a person who uses the slow lane in life, and I like to see results fairly instantly, and at times it did seem like “What is the point?”.
I had also not long come out as trans (not identifying with the gender I was born with). I had a lot going on personally that I had to overcome, such as being brave enough to walk down the street on my own as Melissa, learn my new style, and makeup, deal with my own business whilst coming out and having a structure change there, which meant working more hours.
Learning to be happy as me, which is hard enough for anyone.
Just as I was getting a good balance with personal life, business, and Pride, “Hello 2020! Come to put me back in the closet have ya?” Covid-19 and lockdown. We were due to have our first mini-Pride this year, another frustration.
Emerging from lockdowns we secured an epic team on the committee, and the experience got a lot better. Everyone had their own area, and an added little more as it was the first year. Although we didn’t know what we were doing, we knew what was expected of us, and we were committed!
Saturday 28th May 2022, it finally happened. A strong team put together a strong event that will forever be the best day of my life. I was on a 2-week high afterwards, I have nothing to compare it to. Every inch of that day was worth those previous 3 years, and I don’t want it to stop.
Ok so maybe I won’t be in the same position on the committee forever, Pride must evolve. For now, I am not going anywhere, I am excited to see what 2023 will bring. Regardless of what is happening at the event, I love seeing everyone having a great time being free to be themselves, and knowing we will have a larger capacity for 2023 gets me excited!
I will always be active in outreach & education for Chichester and the surrounding areas, and I am already working with a sub-committee to make this happen. Being on the Chichester Pride committee has shown me things take time, this may be the case for my next project also, but with tenacity and the right team, it can happen.
If you’re reading this and thinking I don’t want to stop, I want to learn more! Then please do!
Life is all about learning, maybe the information may not fit right now, but in the future, you will have the informed knowledge to lend to others who may need this. There is more to the community than the letters LGBTQI++
Google, use it. Social media, use it. The internet can be used for what its intentions were first for, knowledge. Start with a Pride Icon on Google, find their social media then follow them. Scroll through their feed and see what they are up to, they will have lots of work they contribute to life, then follow their hashtags and links.
Learn about other human beings, become inspired, find belonging, and have your views opened.
Here are a few ICONS to get you started:
Jerri Ann Henry
Jonathan Van Ness
(David Bowie came out as bisexual, and then again as heterosexual, showing that orientation can also be fluid. Was a fun fact I loved learning.)
Written by Melissa Hamilton (Co-Chair).
Photos taken by Kirsty Jayne Russell
Don't forget to save the date for Chichester Pride 2023: 27.05.2023
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