Last week was a bit mad.
I got a last minute opportunity to attend a writing workshop in Sussex that would lead to a reading in the Literature Tent at Brighton’s Pride. Too good to pass up, even if it meant driving up for a long weekend, driving back down to get Beloved Aspie through some minor surgery, then driving back up in holiday traffic to attend the event. That’s a seven hour round trip that became nine second time round.
It’s been six years since I lived in Brighton, and I’d completely forgotten how wonderfully crazy Pride makes the city. I came in on the train, from staying just outside, and the first thing I registered was the wide ranging age group, all in a party mood, some wildly dressed with feathers that touched the roof of the carriage. There were teen girls, middle aged women with groups of friends, old men, young men, and a bunch of teen lads who probably shouldn’t have had the beers they were drinking. But when one of them staggered in the aisle as the train jolted, his apology couldn’t have been more polite or sincere.
At Brighton Station we were met with police and barriers, and an old Buddhist friend who was in charge of operations to keep people travelling safely.
From then on it was smiles, and laughter and music and a general carnival feel as I made my way to Preston Park and the stages and events there.
The Literature Tent was delightfully busy with a whole range of work being read and shared. As members of the workshop, we got to read an individual piece first, then together offered a collaborative letter to Russia. It was just such fun to stand there with such diverse people and have a moment of truly believing in equality.
Feel free to call me naïve – but in a world where I feel I am constantly battling for recognition for people with autism to be treated equally - I am so impressed with individuals who take huge steps to be themselves and respected for it. And don’t forget, things are very different in other parts of the country: all of the UK is not cosmopolitan and attitudes fluctuate widely.
I will definitely be returning to Pride next year, in style! My face hurt from smiling so much and my heart was a whole lot lighter and more hopeful for being there.
And I got a t-shirt for Pride in Derry, N Ireland in a couple of weeks: ‘I can’t even think straight.’ True on so many levels.