'It’s time to call a halt to Pride,' The Argus columnist Andy Winter writes.

Last Saturday, notwithstanding the rain and wind, tens of thousands of people turned out for the annual Brighton Pride. I have been on Pride marches for many years. I used to joke that I always stood out from the crowd of exotically dressed (and undressed) revellers by going, uniquely, as a boring middle-aged man. I was told that I carried off this persona as if I lived it every day.

But I didn’t go on the march this year. I just watched some of the parade as it passed through London Road. It wasn’t the wind and rain that deterred me. I would not have gone even if it had been glorious weather. This may be an unpopular view but I have deep concerns about what Pride has become. The level of alcohol and drug use is depressing, resulting in personal crises for some. I know traders in London Road who dread the day, shutting up shop because trade is non-existent, because of the aggro they experience and the open dealing of drugs.

Residents in neighbouring streets, too, do not look forward to the day, seeing their front gardens turned to public toilets and worse. When I was at BHT Sussex, we would arrange security for our residential alcohol and drug recovery services which is on the route, such was the appalling behaviour of some revellers.

In normal years – when not impacted by rain and rail problems – the amount of plastic waste that Pride generates shames this environmentally conscious city, and the amount of broken glass provides an ongoing hazard for dogs. This year it was much better, partly due to the provision of bins and portaloos. Yet we have lost access to Preston Park for ten days, including the Secret Garden and The Rockery.

I think Pride has had its day and it’s time to call a halt to it. It has become an excuse for alcohol and drug bingeing, of corporate posturing and political expediency.

Businesses spare no expense to assert their support for LGBT issues. Perhaps they could rather reduce their prices or support food banks during this cost-of-living crisis.

Politicians feel obliged to attend. So do leaders of the police, fire and ambulance services. Attendance at Pride has become a shallow, tokenistic gesture for many.

It wasn’t always the event that it is today. In the 1980s I went on one of the earliest Brighton Pride marches, from Hove Town Hall to Preston Park. There were only about 200 of us marching that day. It was more of a political demonstration.

I was one of just six Brighton borough councillors willing to take part.

The reception on the streets was sometimes hostile, with threats of violence and beer cans being thrown at us.

At Preston Park, there were few stalls and little celebration beyond a few truly political speeches. I have a photograph I took in the park at the end of one Pride march. There were just two stalls, one selling a publication called Daring Hearts which recorded the lesbian and gay history of Brighton and Hove from the 1950s and 60s.

Following one march, there were some outrageous homophobic statements by a Conservative Brighton councillor quoted in The Sun. In response, my Labour council colleague Jean Calder proposed, and I seconded, the first-ever pro lesbian and gay motion debated by the council.

A few days later, Jean and I were subject to “loony leftie” slurs in The Sun, a rather disturbing experience to be on the receiving end of an attack in the most widely read newspaper in the country.

Those days are happily gone. But there are now deep divisions within the LGBT communities. It can no longer be called a single community, if ever it was. There were times when lesbians were excluded from gay bars and clubs because they were women. Today Pride is far from a welcoming environment for those who question the behaviour and attitudes of some trans rights activists who aim anything but so-called “trans-love” at lesbians, feminists and others who argue for and defend women-only spaces.

Originally Pride had a focus on same-sex attraction and relationships which were being vilified and needed to be defended.

Once again, same-sex relationships are under attack by people who subscribe to gender ideology and who say that sex-based rights are no longer important or relevant.

There are other events, such as Trans Pride, that allow the promotion and celebration of trans rights. I am not calling for an end to Trans Pride, but to Pride itself which has become toxic.

Let’s not pretend that Pride remains one big happy family.