It's 3am Sunday morning at my flat in the centre of Brighton. I really should be out there enjoying the festivities of Brighton Pride. This year I'm not though. Ebenezer Scrooge, self confessed party pooper and cynic here has made a controversial move to boycott the weekend.
From outside my bedroom window, in the street below me, an angry row is erupting between a young couple, followed by the smashing of a bottle. A few minutes later it's preceded by the raucous football chants of a group of lads. A brief moment of silence as sleep beckons....interrupted abruptly by the gush of someone releasing a torrent of piss against the building wall two stories down. Next a 'Phonejacker' style phone call from an inebriated woman, echoes from down the street - "oi Dave can you get us some Mandy??".
I poke my meerkat head outside the front door to my flat: the coast is clear and I take the opportunity to put the rubbish out - in the communal bin where it belongs! I tiptoe carefully over the sea of discarded cans and takeaway containers that line the steps down from my flat. Pride is still in full swing and I'd be lying if I didn't feel a slight pang of FOMO.
Sadly I feel the important message behind Pride has become woefully lost along the way. It's been swept away by a sea of rainbow flags, washed out into the littered gutters of Brighton: shrouded behind the sparkly sprinkles of glitter (most of which will probably end up in our oceans for thousands of years to come).
From my vantage point on the second floor all I see is a swathe of sheep, cattle marched along the Pride conveyor belt, to spend their money in local venues (mostly corporate chains). Some genius in the corporate marketing department adds a rainbow filter to the company profile picture to show 'solidarity'. So where do all the profits go may I ask? To local LGBTQ+ mental health services? Extra policing to keep us all safe? I think not: our pink pounds are clinking away, lining a multitude of greedy fat cat pockets.
Progress is only made through integration: attitudes and viewpoints evolve through discussion and education. So where can people go to hang out and mix? All the public gardens along the Pride route are conveniently closed for renovation. Well you could always pay a hefty fee to get 'f*cked' up and enjoy Preston Park or the St James St party (where there's nowhere for anyone to sit and chat). The party continued into the early hours on Brighton Beach: the last remnants of which has thankfully been removed on Monday morning courtesy the tireless work of the volunteer clean up teams.
If I have one regret from boycotting this years Pride, it is one of not standing in solidarity with my predecessors; the bravery and strength of whom has allowed my generation the freedom it takes for granted every day. It's easy in the midst of the carnival spirit to forget about the huge epidemic of homophobic and transphobic violence the UK. Instead I am showing my solidarity in a different way from the safety and comfort of behind my keyboard and screen - I am no less solid in my solidarity!
I hope somewhere in between the lines of my rant the message is clear:
Please take your Pride rubbish with you when you leave.