INT: Well, shall we start? You just tell us who you are first of all, and just a bit about your background.
S: Hello, I’m Sabah, I was born in west London, grew up there, went to school there. I moved down to Brighton coming up to six years ago, to study at Sussex University. Did psychology, realised I didn’t want to do psychology. Studied a bit of counselling at college after that, ultimately I do want to be a counsellor and get a diploma in that. For the time being, I guess I do a lot of work with the community, I’ve recently just got a job with Allsorts, who are the LGBT youth project in Brighton and I work for a group called Mosaic who are BME black and mixed parent family group, another charity and I do all sorts of other activism, voluntary. I started volunteering for LGBT Switchboard and the helpline and do a lot of grass roots feminist activism stuff, so helping sort of run music nights and I help run Trans Pride.
INT: Trans Pride was last year, the first one. Tell us about how that developed and how pleased you were, or not, with the way it went.
S: I think it was after seeing what Brighton Pride had turned into, it must be like about two years ago and I think a lot of different LGBT people in the city were all a bit displeased and kind of realised that we, you know, the trans community needs their own thing. I think a lot has changed in Brighton and Hove in terms of – well, trans people do have a voice. I mean there are things like the Trans Alliance forming and people are changing their policies and implementing things to protect trans people’s identities, understanding things, people are calling out transphobia, and it’s a really powerful movement that’s happening.
INT: Do you think it is especially concentrated in Brighton? Do you think Brighton’s a very different sort of place for how it reacts and welcomes trans people?
S: I think, I think Brighton’s really small, I think it’s more noticeable in Brighton, because I feel in London there are pockets where people can hide and communities can hide, which is kind of nice in a way because you do feel safe, but it’s isolating. Well, I’m thinking about my own personal experiences of when I started to, well, realise who I really was and kind of step out of the lesbian scene and into another scene I hadn’t really figured out yet and that was really isolating in itself because it was so small, but I think in Brighton people understand that it needs to be more of a united effort I suppose.
INT: Do you think there’s a big overlap between gay, lesbian and trans people, or do they have different agendas?
S: I think, in a political way, there is and I think that’s emerged with the reclamation of a queer identity, which is really great. I think that’s really been a uniting factor. But in terms of just the gay scene and the trans scene, if there really is one, I think the gay scene is quite dominant and I think in the sense of what like Brighton Pride has turned into, it’s lost the political real power of it.
INT: It’s always struck me that with gay people they’re defining themselves by their sexuality, whereas with trans people it’s got more to do with identity, which is more nebulous isn’t it, in a way…
INT: … and it can mean gay, it can mean that not gay. I mean and even then you sort of start to… the boundaries change, don’t they? I think a lot of people don’t really understand that.
INT: Do you think people are sympathetic to trans people, do they understand what trans people… do we have a long way to go? [LAUGHTER] Sorry, I’m asking more questions than you’re giving answers.
S: No, I think that in terms of the gay scene identifying themselves by their sexuality, I think that’s reflective of mainstream society with labelling things, putting things into a box and, you know, trans itself is an umbrella term for so many different things. It’s a gender identity, it’s a political identity, it’s all sorts of things. I think that’s what people find really hard to understand. But yeah, I mean, most people do think it is just a sexuality, but I don’t know, maybe that that’s something they need to kind of break away from. I think with things like Trans Pride, it’s becoming more obvious that it’s different but the same kind of thing, yeah.
INT: In your own journey of discovering how to be who you want to be, can you tell us something about early experiences and significant experiences on that journey?
S: Yeah, it’s really strange because I know for an awful lot of trans people that the word transition is used and I know for me that was a… I don’t really get it, it kind of implies getting from Point A to Point B but I think we’re all transitioning, all of us in a way, it’s kind of just navigating ourselves through our own journeys, but I feel like I really already knew who I was going to be when I was really young. I think it was before you ever really understand the concept of age, I just remember being, maybe like 5 or something and watching a documentary in my parents’ room about someone who was going through – because back then they called it a sex change and sex reassignment – I think this person had a hormone injection of testosterone and they were doing these tests and talking about it, and for some reason I just… I completely understood it. I was like “Oh my God! Like you can have a sex change” and then I would just think “Oh well,” like “oh my body’s just going to change overnight, like this isn’t actually my body,” and I used to wait for, you know, things to develop and, you know, just and it was just so like yeah, it wasn’t troubling at the time, because I was so young, I kind of figured I’m still growing and then I kind of just held on to that. I know I used to like kick and scream a lot when my parents used to put me into girl’s clothes and things, because I have a twin sister, we’re not identical, but you know, when parents just have the kind of urge to dress their kids all the same, which didn’t really work because, as well as us not looking alike, I was much more overweight than her, so it looked like almost like a parody.
I guess I think I was almost obese as a child, I think it kind of covered up my body, so I never really… I didn’t never really saw my body as gendered, it was like there was just kind of all this fat on top of it, so it kind of took away the gendered factor. But then, when I started to hit puberty, I realised I was growing breasts and they weren’t just… it wasn’t just a fat chest kind of thing. And then I just felt really, really, really sad…
INT: Yeah, a sense of disappointment.
S: Yeah, totally. I guess it was almost like foolishness as well, because I always knew that I never liked, as a girl I never liked boys and that’s what you’re meant to do, I always would feel really strongly towards like my best friends who were girls and then I guess after the disappointment of my body, realising oh, I’m just, you know, a fat bookworm with not many friends in secondary school, I guess I like started to focus on what was kind of wrong with me, like a girl liking girls. So, that was a lot of my like journey in my teens.
INT: So, was it a very unhappy time? Or did you just withdraw to books and created your own world?
S: Yeah, I think… I did explore a lot, I wasn’t afraid of doing that. But it was the coming out and all the kind of what’s wrong with you, what will my parents say, or think, that was really scary and friends at school and that kind of thing. Yeah, I mean I was too invisible to get bullied kind of thing, and I was at the right level of smart not to get teased for it. So, a lot of it was just internal kind of, you know, hatred I suppose.
So, yeah, when I moved down to Brighton, it was like “Oh, yeah, like I can be gay” and I was the biggest gay they ever saw.
INT: So what age were you then?
S: That was 18 when I came here to study.
INT: And that was the big change, was it, up to that point you hadn’t really explained anything to family or friends?
S: Oh I had… yeah, no, I had come out by then. Yeah, it was really hard because coming from a south-Asian culture things, you know, you just don’t get people like me, you know, it’s quite straight-forward what your life should be if you’re a girl, and yeah, another way if you’re a boy. So…
INT: I read somewhere that you didn’t know anybody else in the south-Asian community that you identified with or that you knew of. Is that still the case?
S: No, now things are a lot more different. I think just so much has changed in this past year, you know, since then Trans Pride happened and I’m working with two great charities, and I’ve started a network called Queers, Trans and Intersex People of Colour, in Brighton, which has about I think 25 of us, which started off as 5. So yeah, I think things are really changing and a lot of it’s helped with the political kind of changes with empowerment of the queer identities and also within that kind of going across identities, and it’s just something really special.
INT: Do you think that this is the time now when trans people are sort of recognising who they are in a way that they couldn’t or denied before? There’s a sudden recognition that there is… you know, there are people who want to express themselves in a way they just almost found impossible to even, I don’t know, to believe that they could before. I don’t know, what do you feel about that?
S: I think it’s made people think a lot about gender, because I think the fact that someone can go from one gender to another, in very simple terms, I guess, it’s made people question a lot and the usual stereotypes of masculinity and femininity; everything’s shifting and I think it was something that was so hidden before, well, you were told to keep it hidden, people wanted to just erase trans people into just move from one to another, just do it as fast as you can, pretend it never happened and yeah, that kind of, the binary identities when…
INT: The breaking down.
S: Yeah, yeah. It is. I mean a lot of people are thinking about gender. I think people realise also it doesn’t mean you want to wear different clothes or go for a surgery or start hormonal treatment, it’s more personal and, you know, and that’s, yeah, it’s really lovely.
INT: It’s amazing the number of people who think that it’s all about how you look and they’re obsessed with the surgery part of it as well, aren’t they?
S: [LAUGHS] Yeah.
INT: That seems to be the thing that a lot of people can grasp, who know not very much about it, don’t know anybody really sort of personally. As soon as it becomes someone they know, “Ah, yes, well…” then it becomes more complex.
S: When I came out to my mum and my dad about me wanting to be a boy, by that point I was already living as – friends called me “he” and I was living as a man. I don’t know, it’s weird, I had to almost kind of play up to the usual stereotypical trans person, changing name, you know, going through all the photographic ID stuff and then going to see a GP, hormones, surgery and all that, and then probably getting a GRC and getting married, but, whether it happens or not they don’t really care about, I think it’s more that made them understand it. My dad, he’s really old and he’s quite traditional in that way, he just doesn’t know much about gender and the medical kind of advancements, so and he understood it in the sense that “Oh, right, like you’re not just a gay woman, you’re just a man trapped in a woman’s body”, so I think that’s why he’s okay with it, and also, having a son in an Asian culture is seen as really, really, you know, like so great, it’s a real blessing. So, that also helped. [LAUGHTER]
INT: So if it had been the other way round it might have been more difficult.
S: Yeah, there’s a real taboo around effeminate men, and I think it kind of develops from… I don’t know, it’s almost perverse. There’s a documentary called Pakistan’s Hidden Third Gender, or something and it’s about a community called Hijras, who are trans women, but they’ve been ostracised from the rest of the of the community and all the work they get is either as sex workers or dancing and entertainers at weddings but even then they’re expected to perform sex acts and stuff like that. But it’s somehow okay because it’s a man dressed up as a woman, in their eyes, so yeah, it’s really complicated and quite dark. Yeah, it makes me kind of uneasy.
INT: Actually I’ve got a quote from, can I just – it might be taking it out of context a bit, “Trans history is very dark and it isn’t as a progressive as gay history”. You said that in a BBC interview, do you remember that and what did you mean by that?
S: I was talking more about what the media sees. So I think, in the media people talk about someone who’s gay and they can talk about that in a respectful way and understand that gay rights have still something to fight for, but I think people don’t really still understand trans history and how we’ve always been there, and respecting our journeys and our experiences and our fight is one that we’re really still are fighting for and sometimes it’s a battle that we lose.
INT: Do you think trans people are in the sort of position that say gay people were in the sixties in looking for recognition and acceptance?
S: Yeah, I think it is about that and I think it’s also about visibility as well. Like I know my parents were kind of okay about me being gay because you can hide your sexuality; it’s something that’s not written on your forehead and, you know, I guess, I haven’t been home that much since I’ve started to look different, even when I was living as a girl and I just wore men’s clothes anyway. It’s kind of like, “Oh I can see your lesbian side, put it away!” kind of thing. And then it makes me think of the kind of visibility within the trans community, like I know for for most trans men they have that kind of privilege of invisibility and yeah… I forgot the question. I went off on one.
INT: I’ve also got another quote “I’ve become more comfortable with myself and I don’t have to go through another medical appointment to be more male. I’m trans and I like that”. Do you think that, as a trans person, you accept that you aren’t going to be exactly the same as somebody who is born into the gender and in a way you can either use that in a positive way, to do something that adds to this sum total of life or… I mean how do you feel about that blending in thing and just trying to be as though as nothing has ever happened? I mean I think that we’re in a way privileged to have got a different perspective and if we kind find a way of using it positively, then it can not exactly be a blessing, but it can be something that can add to the total of life.
INT: I want you to say that now. [LAUGHTER] I’ve made a speech, sorry.
S: I saw something on a Facebook trans group, the other day, and someone wrote “Oh, if you could have been born in the gender you are now, would you?” And there were loads of different responses and it was really interesting to see that, but I would never want that at all. I think that’s the reason why I don’t really like to identify as male or call myself a man, because I’m not ever going to be one and in terms of what society sees and I don’t really want to either. And a lot of my female lived experience, I mean I didn’t really think much of it, but like it was when I started to come out to my friends and yeah, it was then when I got really into feminism which was really strange, because it was like I didn’t really realise what I was leaving behind until I started to pass as male and all that. So, if it wasn’t for my transition I probably wouldn’t be the feminist I was today, which is something that I really, really enjoy so much, and I think you’re right about seeing almost both sides and understanding the social struggles and all this inequality and discrimination, and really understanding it from a different point of view. It’s not something that’s accepted by cisgendered people who are happy with the gender they were born in, but you know, I think it’s really special.
INT: Could you explain more about the feminism part of things, you know, what that really adds to, what it is that you feel now more strongly about?
S: I guess it was kind of a maturity thing as well. I mean I didn’t really take myself too seriously when I was in Brighton as a lesbian. You know, when you’re at university, it’s like why would you take anything seriously; there are great lesbian nights every week and all these societies and events and stuff. So, kind of got lost in all that and yeah, I kind of lost myself for a bit; I wasn’t really doing too well at Uni, I took a year out, and I still can’t believe that I literally spent one year just going out and, you know, making loads of friends and meeting loads of girls and drinking too much. And by the time I got hold of myself again, I met someone who was really, really important to me and she was one of the NUS officers, so you know, she was an activist at heart, and I don’t know even how I came out to her because it was something that we just spoke about. It was like she just gave me the space to explore all that and we used to talk about things and then suddenly it was like, oh, that’s feminism, and then see things from a different perspective and get involved in politics. I was really just automatically bored of when I hear politics being spoken about but I think it was just about finding the right angle to kind of explore it with.
Yeah, and so I was with her when I transitioned and I guess, yeah, I became myself and I was with her for two years and then I think, you know, it wasn’t working out, I just had to kind of continue on my journey.
INT: Student activism in, you know, many years ago, was more political. Do you think today that activism and radicalism is taking different sorts of forms? I’m thinking of, say, environmental issues or the sexual politics issues and, you know, not directly sort of thinking of power and parliament and that sort of thing.
S: I think that even with, yeah, like environmental issues and like kind of women’s issues, there’s still so many stereotypes that need to be broken down. I think talking about things like gender is hopefully going to break that down, but it’s just about trying to find a way for the people who don’t care to start caring [LAUGHS] Yeah. Well, I guess LG politics in student universities in Brighton are kind of lost. I think people feel like they’ve won it, or they’ve won the LG fight already, which is really sad. But I mean saying that there are some strong feminist groups in Brighton, a lot of them are students which is really great to see and they’re the feminist groups who are open to all genders, which is even better, because that wasn’t always the case.
INT: Is there more of an understanding of trans issues and interest in that among the student body?
S: I know at Sussex Uni, I’m good friends with the people who work in the Students Union and there are really strong campaigns around but I feel like a lot of the resistance does come from the gay community. The LGBT societies aren’t as political as they could be because they are like the gay society. But I know there are people trying to change that but again it’s just about trying to make people who identify as gay understand and listen and, you know, kind of say like “This is your struggle too, we’re in this together”. Yeah, I think the biggest thing is if you ask anyone about trans issues on student campuses, it will be gender-neutral toilets. I just think it’s so simple just to have male/female toilets and then another toilet, but I think that people who aren’t familiar with trans issues don’t really understand that it’s so simple and overcomplicate things and then get into their minds all these things that trans people are and I think it is just a fear of the unknown or what’s going to happen next. I don’t know, it’s really funny some of the things people say, but I think when it happens no one will really notice. [LAUGHS]
INT: So, as far as you’re next step is concerned, where are you going to put your energies now?
S: Now, Trans Pride. I think it can be even more inclusive, I think it can reach out even further than it did last year and within that I really want to get the BME communities and more people of colour involved. I think that there’s some kind of stereotypes around that that need to be broken. I mean even around the notion that you can’t be black and gay and stuff like that. It’s really hard to talk about race, especially when you’re talking about transphobia and homophobia and bi-phobia as well; I think people kind of forget that we don’t live in a post-racial society and that it does exist and it’s not like blatant racism, like “Oh, you, this and that…” whatever, it’s not just name calling; it’s really subtle things, like just stuff that does kind of enforce stereotypes and others yourself. My friends who are people of colour, their friends have said to them “Oh I just sometimes forget that you’re not white” [LAUGHS] which is, it’s like it’s funny but it’s really invalidating and stuff like that will really make you feel like you’re losing something, and which was something I felt when I came to Brighton, because there just wasn’t anyone brown and gay.
So, yeah, I just forgot to think about that, and when I started to look more into feminism and more into my own gender and even basic things like I was looking at photos of, you know, before and after photos just to see like “Oh, does it work” and “What am I going to look like” and I did that and I just… it was just always something missing and I realise everyone I’m looking at is white; how am I going to know how this affects me and just stuff like that and it made me really think. I need to find that support and it was also around the time I was getting ready to tell my mum and my dad about it as well, and you know, kind of coming out back home.
So, yeah I think a lot of kind of work needs to be done about that; I think that is also visibility.
INT: And do you think that you’ll be devoting time to do that…
INT: … sort of work? I mean how do you see that… how do you practically see that developing?
S: I know that a lot of queer people of colour in Brighton don’t really feel safe, about being out full stop, as a lot of queer and trans people do, but also about being vocal about their identities – our identities – our backgrounds, because I think people have just stopped talking about it, like the work I’m doing at Allsorts now; my role is doing community development work, but I’m focusing on BME young people. So essentially it is everything I love doing. So, yeah, I’ve just started and I’m trying to build a safe space for the BME young people but also making everyone understand why that safe space is necessary.
INT: And within the safe space, what do you want to do with that? I mean with the people who come, that you’re dealing with.
S: I want them to talk about what it’s like to be LGBT and BME instead of just being able to talk about one thing at a time or choosing one over the other, like one week “Oh I’m going to be really south-Asian this week, and you know, put some henna on my hands, the next week I’ll go to Revenge or something”. So I think, you know, talking about both things especially within south-Asian culture, the gender roles are quite defined so it’s really important to me personally that we do talk about that, both things together. Talking about gender and culture is just not talked about and I do want to raise the visibility of it, of BME-LGBT people as well, hopefully running campaigns, like photography campaigns, because I know Allsorts have had some campaigns published and put up in Jubilee Library and things like that, just sharing people’s experiences and making them feel important.
INT: I mean do you think this whole issue is going to be an important part of your life and career? Or do you think you’ll, you know, go into some medical sort of job and it will diminish in time?
S: I never really thought I’d be in activism, like when I was studying. I thought I was just going to go into like, yeah, a medical thing and do clinical psychology or something. But yeah, I think picking up these counselling skills and listening, you know, having the skills to really listen to people and give people that space and then also being able to empower groups, I think it’s something I want to keep doing. These things are so important to my identity that I don’t think I could really shut them away. I think one of the gender doctors I saw, asked me, because I’m under 25 they do kind of double-check, especially with young people because people can change their minds and we’re just so volatile, and he asked “Oh yeah, so what’s your status? Are you out, like, to your friends?” I said “Oh yeah, I’m out to everyone, that’s fine,” and he was kind of like “Oh what about later?” and I went “Well, what about later? Like, what do I settle down and disappear into, you know, the binary role,” I don’t know. But, yeah…
INT: Suburban sobriety.
S: [LAUGHS] Yeah, yeah, totally. And yeah, I don’t think I would ever shut it away, I mean it’s not something I have to tell everyone but I’m not going to keep it away. I know in the same way I will always keep fighting for this and I don’t think Pride should ever stop being a protest and as long as I’m proud then I’m still protesting.
INT: Do you think there are enough transgender role models and is that important anyway?
S: I think it’s really important. I think there aren’t enough in the UK, and that really does make a difference. It’s like, you know, when you look up celebrities and Hollywood that it’s like they’re not even real people. But I mean Laverne Cox, I think she’s really paving the way for a lot of trans actresses and actors and she’s really speaking out about it. And I mean even the act of having a trans person cast to be a trans character was really important. I think there are so many important people here in Brighton and London as well, I think people don’t give themselves enough credit, you know, it’s role models are really stars, I think they’re just kind of people who start things.
INT: Yes, I mean famous scientists or, you know politicians, or just news broadcasters, I don’t know. But I guess there is a problem in that I mean you don’t really want to sort of, I suppose it’s the same when, you know, gay people were being outed, unwillingly, you don’t really want that to become an issue than everybody then tags on to gets boring about, you know, that defines the person. There is so much more to it. But I think for a while it has to be clear that there are trans-gendered people about doing important things, and maybe eventually that’s going to become so much the norm it’s boring to say it.
S: [LAUGHS] Yeah, I think. When it becomes safe to be trans and out and trans then I think that will change, but it’s still really dangerous, and I think also when trans role models aren’t just for trans people then that should happen, but I think it is just kind of the way that, you know, I’ll only know about the famous trans people in London because I’m trans. [LAUGHS] So I think it’s about making people understand these people are role models for everyone.
INT: Is it going to be a long, slow journey, a long slow progress for trans people’s profile to be raised enough to be almost not worth saying. Do you think we’ve got a long journey to take and a struggle?
S: I think struggle, and I think that there will always be areas and communities where that struggle is more difficult because, for example, if in non-white cultures and stuff like that I think it’s more about getting people to understand the real hierarchy of the world of our western world and making them understand that there’s a problem with that before other things kind of become a non-issue, although I do quite like talking about being trans, so I wouldn’t mind if that was rubbed in people’s faces. [LAUGHS]
INT: Yeah, good. I think you did say that you’re, you know, and I understand that feeling, that you have found an identity and a purpose in life, now, which maybe wasn’t easily defined before, because a lot of people seem to be very clear about who or what they are from the very start and they don’t even have a problem questioning it, do you think that’s true?
S: Yeah, it’s different for everyone I think, a lot of big events and life changes will make you question things or even see things from another way, another perspective. I mean…
INT: What other things would you like to mention? We’ve possibly glossed one or two things that you might have wanted to have gone into in more depth. We’ve talked about your personal life and what you’re going to be doing next. Attitudes. Activism. Do you think trans people have a difficulty in forming easy relationships with the rest of the world? It is stressful and isolating for many people, being trans, and there is sort of, you know, there are a lot of pressures. Do you have any observations on that?
S: Pressures of being trans in this world?
INT: Yeah, and just trying to, I don’t know, get jobs, be accepted, you know. Do you think it’s sort of we’re a bit pushed sometimes into our own groups and know each other a lot and we don’t connect enough with the outside world? Or is that breaking down now?
S: I’d like to think it’s breaking down but I mean I think for some trans people there’s a pressure to again just to become invisible and erase those identities and to be happy as well, be completely happy as soon as you’ve completed your transition and that’s not the case because it doesn’t just stop there. And like you said, in terms of employment as well, that struggle will continue and it’s hard to navigate that and I think it’s just hard for people to see you as you want them to see you and break that down. Yeah, and I think there’s a lot of pressure on trans people but I think a lot of that comes from misunderstanding.
INT: Okay, good. Is there anything you’d like to just add, anything that you think that if this is being done for an exhibition and they want to listen to any sort of thoughts you’ve got, that we haven’t really covered?
S: I think I really want people to, when they hear the word “diversity” especially in Brighton, to not just think about gender and only people who are transgender but to understand that it means people who are from all genders and all cultures and backgrounds and, you know, all classes and abilities and disabilities and really, really think about that word “diversity”. I think it’s one of my kind of pet peeves when people say that “Oh, Brighton’s so diverse” I’m thinking “Oh is it really, and what do you think about when you say diverse? Do you think about everything about, you know, Brighton Pride I hate, probably yeah”. So yeah, I think I really just want to bring diversity through everything I do and make people understand what that really means.
INT: Are you going to stay in Brighton? Do you feel that this is your place to put down roots?
S: Definitely. I know a few friends who identify as queer and as people of colour and they’ve just got fed up with the lack of diversity and the lack of understanding and they’re like, “Oh I’m going to go to London because it’s bigger and, you know, the communities are bigger”, but in the same way they’re still just as isolating. It’s just you can just get lost for a bit longer, but I know that when I started really figuring out myself and doing stuff like trans activism and feminism here, and I knew it’s something I want to see grow and I want to really stand by it. Yeah, I really want to stay in Brighton.
INT: And as far as Trans Pride is concerned, that’s going to grow isn’t it? You were there at the beginning; you’re a founder of it. What do you see as its development, its future? Do you have big ambitions for it?
S: Yeah, I’m dreaming big already, like we all dream big at the start really, but as big as we dreamt, we didn’t expect it to be what it was last year, it really blew us all away; the support and the atmosphere, it was amazing and so special, yeah, it really, really felt like it was our Pride. But yeah, I think if we had visions of taking over Queens Park or something, where it’s got these kind of beautiful landscapes and it’s a really nice, friendly place, a really social place and just to have different stages and to represent different parts of the community, like art tents and bring in more art and creativity, I think because that’s quite an isolating community as it is and creativity’s important to a lot of trans people as an outlet and there’s some brilliant performers and artists out there that just aren’t recognised. And yeah, having a family area, I think again people forget about trans people with families and whether they have trans kids or they’re trans parents and stuff like that and it’s really important to again reach across to all those different groups, probably have kind of a culture tent, I don’t know, it’s not really nice to call it an ethnic tent, but you know what I mean; just to really celebrate all parts of our Trans Pride that would be just so good.
INT: Do you think there are a lot of people who are just not part of any group or haven’t sort of the ability to express or to show themselves properly? And is there a lot to be done there?
S: Yeah. My main concern is about safety and that’s such a big problem still and I think that I’m hoping that we can continue to make Pride a safe space. That’s the most important thing. And I really hope that kind of level of visibility will somehow combat that and make people realise that “Oh well, trans people exist and well, I guess they’re pretty cool, it’s a great party”, or something.
INT: Did you, on the first one, have any instances of negativity or aggression at all?
S: You know what, there was nothing. There was one incident and it was near the end when Bethany Black was on and it was at the end of the day, you know, I think some people who had been drinking in the day came in just to see what was going on and I think they were just getting Bethany on stage and just shouting and it wasn’t transphobic it was just, you know, the typical drunken Kemptowners. So, but the security staff were so great, we just were like “Can you get rid of them, they’re ruining this” and that was our biggest concern, which was quite nice to do it in a place that was already a little park with, you know, the gates and stuff, but yeah, I didn’t feel unsafe at any point. I think it felt so empowering to be surrounded by all these people who aren’t even from the trans community who were just walking past, who just came to join in and… ah, it was so great, yeah.
INT: Yeah, because there were quite a few people who were quite curious as to know more.
S: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was really good, and we had a few of the members of the Sussex community police there, but I don’t think people even realised they were there, like it wasn’t something we needed to look out for. I think that was resonated throughout, I think it was just more like this empowerment and that just took over those feelings.
INT: Let’s hope the weather this year doesn’t…
INT: … break down in the middle like it did last time.
S: Yeah definitely. Oh God!
INT: Is there a plan for doing anything if it rains?
S: I think we’re really, really going to encourage everyone to bring a gazebo, because, you know, it will be so great to just have a giant tent but then it would look really strange, but yeah, I don’t know, something, I’m not sure, we’re still working on that. Maybe a few prayers and, I don’t know, some sacrifices, no I don’t mean that. [LAUGHTER]
INT: Maybe a few people going to the local pubs, that’s probably…
S: Yeah, yeah. This year we’ll definitely have a march, which I think is going to really just give a great big push to the whole meaning of it.
INT: Is that from the Steine up St James’s Street?
S: Yeah, I mean it’ll only be short, but I think just having that kind of feeling of a Pride march would really, really change it and most of us feel like these are our streets, too, and because especially the Kemptown area, it’s really dominated by gay men. So I think it’ll be really, really nice and a lot of people are looking forward to it.
INT: Good. Great. Well, thank you, unless you feel there’s something else, then shall we stop?
S: Yeah, sure.