Attending Pride as a non-binary photographer

Attending Pride as a non-binary photographer


This week’s photos are from Liverpool Pride 2022.

People waving various prides flags. The person closest to camera has a non-binary flag and a yellow tail.

Captain’s Log

For my 17th birthday I went to Forbidden Planet in Liverpool and I got a Star Trek: Voyager com-badge and from the model shop close by a Revell model kit of the USS Voyager to never build and leave in the loft for 20 years. ADHD, yeah! The com-badge I wore with pride. A symbol of my love of Star Trek and the ideology I believed in. I wanted to live in that diverse future where science led the way. It gave me hope of a better world. Unfortunately I wore this badge at school where, even by my “friends”, I was considered a bit of a joke for wearing it. The pride I felt was eventually replaced with shame. Easy to do when it feels like your entire world is laughing at you.

I learned that being myself was not something the world wanted me to be.

Fast forward to 2022 and I’m standing on the steps of St Georges Hall wearing a sparkly holographic print dress (a dress!) with rainbow themed tights, fishnet stockings and a bold purple beard. Pride of place on that outfit is my new science officer Starfleet com badge. I am at Liverpool Pride proudly proclaiming that I am non-binary and a Star Trek fan. For a few hours I am 100% myself and the world loves that. It’s been a long road, getting from there to here but my time is finally here.

This was not my first pride event. I went to the first one in 2010 and since then I’ve only missed one. Each year I talk to people, make some portraits and photograph the march through town. It’s a joy. While I’ve been going since 2010 I’ve been going as a photographer and an ally. This year I went as myself first. A non-binary person in a sparkly dress who also happened to take photos. This year, for the first time in 12 years, I felt like I fitted in and truly understood the importance of it. There’s knowing the path and walking the path. Previously I knew how important it was to have a Pride event but until I had experienced actual transphobia I don’t think I really fully understood the importance of having people accept you. Until you’ve had a gang of men film you because your existence is a joke to them or content for their humiliation based TikTok account you can’t fully understand how important Pride is.

Pride isn’t just important it’s vital. People filmed me at Pride as an act of celebration and I was accepted. People were happy to see me. I was happy to be me. Someone said it was good to see me happy. My depression and anxiety is so every day that the idea of being happy and normal is often eaten in seconds by my anxiety worrying about whether it’ll last, and then it’s gone. Can you imagine what you could do with your life if the world made you feel happy and normal? Can you imagine? On that afternoon I didn’t have to imagine. I was. No social anxiety. No worrying about cameras. No overthinking. No fear of how I looked. I was me.

People from National Museums Liverpool march with placards. One says "Fierce Masters House". Another says "All you need is love." Another says "Trans Power" with a photo of April Ashley on. The last says "Send Nudes" over a photo of a marble statue.

Being accepted for being an assigned male at birth person in clothes bought from the women’s section of Asos while sporting a purple beard, purple hair and makeup felt amazing. Something I did not expect was the love of Star Trek. Never in a “Beam me up Scotty lol” kind of way. In an actual “OMG You have a Star Trek badge!” kind of way. For some people the badge was the most shocking thing about me and they loved it. Fascinating.

This year it felt like there was more love for transgender people than every before. Trans flags were everywhere. Sports people were out asking to keep trans people in sports. National Museum’s Liverpool had trans flags and a placard with April Ashely on. The Liverpool trans community had the biggest trans flag in the country too. It had to be a couple of buses long. So much love at a time when it feels like the world is turning against the community. Not only love for trans people but for asexual, agender, pansexual, genderqueer, gender fluid, lesbian, bisexual, intersex and non-binary people.

It would still be nice to see more photographers who weren’t old white men documenting the event. The only time I had pause for thought was seeing all the men with cameras. I used to be a man with cameras. “Oh.” That bit of distrust that I felt about being photographed by strange men made me worry that I had inadvertently been doing the same all those years at Pride. For years now I’ve seen a contingent of men with big cameras photographing people at Pride. Established press? Flickr groups? Camera clubs? Other events I’ve worked don’t seem to attract these groups. I wonder who they are? I wonder where my photo ends up? Could I be overthinking things? Perhaps but that would be so unlike me to do so.

A happy person at pride wearing a pansexual flag.

It’s been 28 years since I was that kid in school being laughed at for believing in a better world. It’s a shame that even today people still laugh at me for being myself and believing in a better world. But, for a brief moment that better world existed. I saw it. I felt it. If only I could be me every day. I can’t. I have to fight my brain and stop it getting anxious and slipping into depression every few hours. I have to fight back the panic when men stare at me while I’m walking around outside in my clothes. It happened just last night. What it must be like to never have to think this way.

Will we ever reach the final frontier and explore it together as a race that accepts and celebrates differences? I’d like to hope so. For now I get to wear my Star Trek badge with actual pride.

Right up until the very end, life is to be worn gloriously. Because, until our last moment, the future’s what we make it.
– Captain Christopher Pike, USS Enterprise.

Photographing Pride

I recently talked about what it was like to attend and photograph Pride on my Twitch channel. Every Friday I do a show about photography in some fashion.

A person wearing black tape over their chest waves the progress pride flag around.

Transporter room

“With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.” — Jean-Luc Picard

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