Proud at Pride: Stories from the south's LGBTQ+ community

People from the south have been opening up about their experiences of being part of the LGBTQ+ community.

As part of ITV Meridian's coverage of this year's Brighton Pride celebrations, which returned last weekend for the first time since the pandemic, a number of people have shared their stories about 'coming out', their struggles, and advice to their younger selves.

The picture is mixed, with some of those interviewed having always experienced support at work and home, while others we have spoken to have been candidly honest about the abuse they've faced.

As part of the series, 'Proud at Pride', emergency workers have spoken to us about their pride at representing their organisations, but also the daily struggles that come with being part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Jules King joined East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service in the 1990's. She admitted she was resentful that people thought they knew she was gay, but only admitted she was when she changed roles.

She went on to be awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal in 2020.

Watch Julie King's story

Chair of Hastings Pride, Natasha Scott revealed that when she first visited her GP to start her transition, they tried to convince her she wasn't transgender and told her to go and 'get on with her life'.

Natasha, who was crowned the first ever Miss Transgender Brighton, has admitted that she even had a breakdown when she decided to make a change and tell her family.

Watch Natasha Scott's story

Steph Meech has worked as a paramedic for South East Coast Ambulance Service for more than twenty years.

As 'Steve', she decided to transition to Steph, eventually telling her family and then her employer.

She exclusively told ITV Meridian, when she first decided to tell her workplace about her transition, she was frightened she may lose her role.

In a shocking revelation, Steph has also admitted she can face abuse when responding to patients in an emergency.

Watch Steph Meech's story

Somchai Phukkhlai was famously married to the 'Oldest Gay in the Village’, George Montague.

Mr Montague - a local hero and gay rights campaigner passed away in March aged 98.

He was a famous fixture of Brighton Pride who joined the parade year after year on his rainbow mobility scooter.

Mr Montage tirelessly fought to receive an apology from the government for a conviction for gross indecency in the 1970s.

His husband Somchai has spoken to ITV Meridian about how George would have reacted to a special tribute at Brighton Pride, but also his own experience of being part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Watch Somchai Phukkhlai's story

Christine Maddocks worked as a police officer for thirty years, before retiring in 2008.

She was diagnosed with dementia in 2016 at the age of 60.

She discusses feeling ‘double stigmatised’ for being part of the LGBTQ+ community and living with dementia.

She has told ITV Meridian about being asked if she were gay and the discrimination she faced working for the police.

Watch Christine Maddocks' story

The Managing Director of Brighton Pride has been speaking to ITV Meridian about the history of Pride, and his love for Brighton.

Paul Kemp arrived in Brighton as a teenager aged just 17 years old after being brought up in Crawley, and hadn't yet come out as gay.

He spoke to us about becoming 'part of the community' describing the city as a special place.

He talks about the evolution of the event and his hopes for the future.

Watch Paul Kemp's story

Detective Constable Lou Baileff works for Sussex Police in Horsham.

Despite being hugely supported by her family and friends when she made the decision to 'come out' she has revealed that she is the target of abuse whilst out responding to callouts.

She discusses her experience as a 16-year-old coming to terms with her sexuality, and what advice she would give others and her younger self.

Watch Lou Baileff's story

Brighton based singer/songwriter Paul Diello performed on the QueerTown stage at Brighton Pride.

He revealed to ITV Meridian that he didn't feel the need to 'come out' as his family were already aware of his sexuality.

He discusses feeling like he was trans growing up and the loneliness at growing up not knowing other people like him.

Watch Paul Diello's story

Richard West works for Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust. He admitted he was worried about coming out as a teenager, but had an extremely positive experience.

He tells ITV Meridian about the 'expectations' of getting married and having children' and discovering that he wasn't allowed to adopt because of his sexuality, and how he felt he would 'disappoint people.'

Watch Richard West's story

Gary and Joe represent Disability Pride Brighton.

The couple talk about everyone in the LGBTQ+ community wanting love and acceptance and equality and to be allowed to be themselves.

They share the message that 'Love wins.'

Watch Gary and Joe's story

For advice and support visit the following websites:



LGBT Foundation



Gendered Intelligence

The Beaumont Society