He has only just left his role as the Students Union’s Vice-President of Welfare and Campaigns where he has run campaigns to tackle the BME attainment gap and to improve women’s safety on campuses. As former President of the LGBT+ society at Brighton University, Parker is still very involved in LGBT+ matters. We had a little chat with him about his motivation, his projects and this year’s Pride.
You have been and still are pretty engaged in student matters at Brighton University. What drives you to do so?
“I have always been engaged with society and being a President you realise that you got power to make a change. I started hearing about how people in halls were getting sexually assaulted and I was surprised that university wasn’t doing anything against it or at least creating more reporting methods for it. One of my main campaigns going into the role was “I Heart Consent” where we tried to teach people about consensual sex.”
In your former positions, you have been particularly involved with the university’s LGBT+ society. What LGBT-related projects did you run?
“For example, we had LGBT+ history month with three events per week where we would present a fact file about an LGBT+ person like Marsha P. Johnson or other historical figures. That was pretty good. We wanted to show how diverse our community is and that it is not only about gay people because that is what happens a lot in the media. They usually only showcase the gay rather than lesbians, bisexuals or transgender people.”
Brighton Pride is just around the corner. How are you involved in this year’s celebrations?
“I organised the university’s marching entry. The LGBT+ society is organising it but we have extended our hand to the university itself saying we would like the staff to march with us. So far, we’ve got around 60-70 people to join us in the march. We’ve got all our signs and costumes ready and the Vice-Chancellor will be marching with us which is brilliant. She is the first queer woman to be in this position, so it is really great to have her on our sides.”
Apart from your involvement linked to your functions at university, what does Pride mean for you personally?
“For me, Pride is kind of celebrating who you are, but also the people that came before you. I think there is an issue at Pride at the moment with people thinking it was nothing but a party. I mean, it is, of course, a party but it is nice to remember why we have that party. It was only recently that same-sex marriage got introduced and gay sex even was illegal not so long ago. I think we take all that for granted sometimes and forget that we are in a far more privileged state now. Pride is a really good opportunity to recognise that and to remember where we had been.”
What are you especially looking forward to when it comes to Pride?
“Marching. I did Trans Pride and also was at Reclaim the Night which is the feminist march through town. I love marching because you are kind of just there being yourself but then you got thousands of people cheering you on because they are happy. It’s just such a completely different vibe because the town comes really alive, which is nice. I am not gonna deny that alcohol and party also is a big part but the march is definitely my favourite part of the celebration.”