As a newly out person in Brighton, what does Pride mean to you?
It means a lot. I’m recently out, but also it’s now I’m a comfortable with it. I was out when I was maybe 16 or 17. I was aware I was bisexual, but I wasn’t proud and it didn’t work out for me. It felt actually quite scary, and I reverted to being straight for a really long time, until I had my first girlfriend last year. And last year I had COVID, so this is my first year feeling proud at Pride. And it just feels quite a big deal because I think I owe it to myself after growing up being so internally homophobic to myself, and just rejecting my entire identity, rejecting myself. I didn’t want to live my life that way. Now I’m so outrageously camp and queer all the time because I was afraid to express myself that way the whole of my life. So I’m excited to experience that feeling with other people and really feel the passion amongst everyone.
What bit of Pride would you feel part of? Would you feel comfortable being seen by the crowds, with the tourists coming to look at ‘the gays’? Do you want to be there being celebrated by outsiders?
It’s difficult because I’m not very queer presenting. People wouldn’t be able to tell I’m queer just by looking at me which is something I’ve struggled with in terms of finding someone to date. I’m very aware you have to fit into the stereotype to be seen. So like you can tell gay men are gay if they look gay, or butch lesbians, for example, but there’s so many other gay people who don’t fit into the stereotypes and I’m one of them. And I feel it’s difficult for me to feel seen in that sense.
I do want to take part in Pride, but I don’t think I would be able to because I don’t think people would see me. So it’s quite conflicting. But probably just being amongst the atmosphere and so many other proud people will be more than enough for me.
Physically the parade is down the middle of the street with the onlookers on the side. You don’t have to be gay to be in Pride. How do you feel about that?
I don’t like when people use it as a drunken street party, an excuse to get drunk during the day and wear glitter. OK, it’s nice, but you have to understand that queer people suffer a lot. It’s very, very new that we’ve been accepted, and can find communities with each other and go to gay bars and comfortably be safe, but even in Brighton… my friend who’s a trans woman got attacked and beaten to the ground by a bouncer of a queer bar. So even in Brighton you don’t feel safe all the time.
We really historically had to fight for acceptance by society and fight to find communities and everything and it’s just… probably straight people don’t see any struggles at all, you probably wouldn’t see those issues. But I see them all the time. But, of course, alliance is a huge contributing factor to being accepted and proud, and for those genuine people who come to cheer for us and support us, I love that!
You live Brighton, you’ve grown up in Brighton but there are plenty of very homophobic places. What does Pride say to the world?
I think it’s supposed to show solidarity and it’s supposed to show a celebration for being comfortable in who you are. That’s basically what it comes down to. Because most queer people fight with themselves for so long internally. You hide who you are for so long because you’re scared of what other people will think and you’re scared of being rejected by friends, family, society, everything. You fight with yourself for who you are.
Pride just comes down to being a celebration of people accepting themselves, of being comfortable with who you are and proud of who you are and each other. I’m proud, genuinely I’m proud. And I know that my queer friends, they’re proud and it makes a huge difference. Being in an environment that encourages feeling that sense of pride. Because your whole life you just you haven’t felt that at all. And it makes a difference knowing people care about you being OK with yourself.
But it’s also a blurred line because the city has made it a money making experience. You pay for tickets. The streets are closed off, the clubs are closed off, the parks are closed off, and it’s ticketed and the performers at the festival are straight. They’re queer icons. They’re loved by the queer community, but they’re straight people. Why wouldn’t you have queer performers?
Maybe but isn’t it about solidarity?
It is about solidarity, of course. But it’s Pride. It’s Gay Pride. Britney Spears performed.Britney’s not gay. She’s a cis straight woman. It’s Pride! Get Elton John, or anyone else who’s queer. So that’s the thing that makes me think it’s just about the money and the tickets and the people coming down.
For your first Pride, does that matter?
Yes, it does. I just want it to feel authentic and genuine. I don’t want it to feel like a commercialised business venture. I know people come to Pride and they don’t care about gay rights. They don’t care. I’ve been with people previous years who don’t care about gay rights, straight people who’ve never spoken about gay rights and they go just want to go and get drunk because everyone’s out on the streets and it’s fun. So you don’t know if it’s genuine these days. You don’t. I’m going because I am proud and I want to see other proud people. But it’s bittersweet because you know other people are coming down and they don’t give a fuck.
An extended version of this interview with Loulou Novick is available on the new Whistler podcast