Changing Attitude Sussex marched with other faith groups on Saturday through the centre of Brighton on Saturday. Our section was led by a Metropolitan Community Church banner, followed by Unitarians, Quakers and a Jewish group with Changing Attitude and LGCM following. We were, as in Manchester last year and Leeds and London this year, greeted enthusiastically.
Several of us wore clerical shirts but the presence of dog collars seemed less of a surprise to the Brighton Pride crowd than in Manchester or Leeds – perhaps Brighton has long been used to exotic costumes, making priests unremarkable!
I’m discovering how different Pride celebrations and parades are in different parts of England. Leeds is still comparatively small but the market place and party area is open for all and a lot or personal contact and conversation is possible. The Manchester party is ticket only and more exclusive. Brighton parade is a total contrast. Something like 150,000 people enjoy a huge range of market stalls, food outlets, disco tents and fairground rides at Preston Park. The sound level makes conversation almost impossible but the atmosphere is electric.
At 4pm the church of St John the Evangelist, five minute’s walk from Preston Park, the church’s ‘back garden’, held a service to welcome, listen, affirm and value. The church had felt uncomfortable in the past with the way protestors at previous Prides had given a negative impression of Christian attitudes. The service was meditative and healing.