Me, Myself and I: Chris Jepson

Scene photographer and Brighton Pride Communications and Media Liaison, Chris, has been to more gay parties than you’ve had hot dinners – no, seriously – and counts his mum as the most special person in his life (aww!).

Where are you from originally?

I grew up in Newquay in Cornwall, the surf capital of the world, and I have to say my childhood was pretty much idyllic. We never really went on a family holiday but we lived a 10 minute walk from some of Europe’s best beaches.

And where do you live now?

I’ve actually just moved to Bow. I’m single, open to offers, and live with my goldfish Alfie – named after Alfie Moon – who I’ve had since Christmas 2005.

What do you love about London and why? 

I’ve been here 32 years and love almost everything about London. The fast pace, the culture, the diverse neighbourhoods where one day’s stroll is never the same as the next, the food and, of course, we have the best nightlife in the world.

What was the first gay venue you visited?

I first came to London for an interview at uni and went straight to the London Lesbian and Gay Centre on Cowcross Street in Farringdon. Back then the age of consent was 21 so everything felt more dangerous and exciting for a 17 year old from the West Country! Bronski Beat’s Small Town Boy was my anthem and I remember going to Adrella’s Sunday School at The RVT, Tuesdays with Regina at the Black Cap, the First Out Coffee Shop and the Coleherne in Earls Court.

Favourite club/bar/venue in London and why?

It depends what I am in the mood for and where I am. Thirty-two years on and The RVT is still one of my faves and the diversity of their entertainment is staggering. I love the cosy community feel of Her Upstairs and I’m just 20 minutes from The Duchess at the George and Dragon. Then of course there’s G-A-Y at Heaven. Where else can you see Lady Gaga naked, all the RuPaul queens, every major pop act on the circuit and 2,000 LGBTQ+ lovely people?

What is your role at Brighton Pride? 

That’s actually not easy to answer. Technically I lead on media and communications, which means I design everything that leaves the Pride office, from ads, banners and wristbands to magazines, social media graphics and T-shirts, as well as write press releases and liaise with the media. But we are a small team and all help each other out, so I get involved in almost all aspects of the ever expanding number of Pride events – the Community Parade, Dog Show, Village Party, Pleasure Gardens, Pride Festival and this year’s new LoveBN1Fest on Sunday 5 August. Having worked on the LGBT scene for more than 25 years I am used to dealing with high maintenance individuals. No names.

What is about Brighton Pride that makes it so special? 

Obviously the location helps – a stunning seafront Community Parade that leads directly to a 55,000 capacity Pride Festival in the park – but it’s the people that make Pride. Brighton has one of the most diverse and welcoming communities I know. Everyone comes out on to the streets for the Parade and everyone is smiling, happy and waving rainbow flags.

What was the last theatre show you saw, where, and what did you think of it? 

Brighton Pride is a bit full on this year so I’ve not been to the theatre in ages. I did go to the Make A Difference Trust’s MAD Drag Night at the Café de Paris last week which was AMAZING and I am going to see Alan Bennett’s Allelujah! at the Bridge Theatre in three weeks.

What is your guilty pleasure and why?

Good coffee. I can quite happily go the whole day without food as long as I get a good latte every two or three hours.

Biggest extravagance?

Technology and travel. I love a new camera or bit of kit and I love to travel at the drop of a hat with almost no plans.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

I’m paraphrasing, but my mum once said to me ‘you can do and be whatever you want’, which has given me the confidence so that now I only work with and for people I like and admire, and only take jobs that will interest and engage me.

Best gift you’ve ever received and why?

Again, confidence and unconditional love from my mum. She is the most special person in my life.

What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?

There have been many. I am a very visual person and I love the pomp and paraphernalia of religion, so the time I was the photographer for Westminster Cathedral was amazing. Last month I was in Jerusalem – again, religion! And I did a great shoot with a Belgian princess a couple of years ago and had her climbing on furniture in the ambassador’s residence just as he walked in. Then of course there are the too-many-to-list pop stars, concerts and dressing rooms. I really should write a book.

If you could go back in time which year would you choose and why?

I’m a people photographer so any era that is a visual spectacle. Ancient Egypt or Rome, Elizabethan or Victorian England, pre-revolution France… It’s a long list.

What’s the best party you’ve ever been to and what made it so good?

I go to many great parties for work but a good party for me is made by the people. Tel Aviv Pride last month with my Parisian friends, Sydney Mardi Gras with my friend Greg or International Mr Leather in Chicago with my friend Chris are all good memories.

Who is your LGBT+ hero and why?

It has to be Peter Tatchell. His selfless and continued human rights campaigning and activism for the past five decades is nothing short of inspirational.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

Before I found photography I did a degree and PhD in Chemistry and did drug research for pharmaceutical companies. If I’d known how much I love meeting and working with people then I wish I’d taken it up earlier. 



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