This past Sunday record numbers of people came out to celebrate UK Black Pride. Last year the event was so popular organisers had to seek out larger locations, and the move to Hackney’s Haggerston Park proved successful as crowds of people lined up all day to get in. The event featured musical acts, stunning drag performances, and stalls from so many different organisations. It was a massive, loving celebration of LGBT+ people of colour.
Yet, there have been some people who have asked why the event was necessary at all. That Pride in London should encompass people from all walks of life, and that a separate Pride for BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) people was either counterintuitive or redundant.
It is a similar line of argument we heard from those in the LGBT+ community when the brown and black stripes were added to the Pride flag – that it is unnecessary, especially in a post-civil rights world.
It is also the same argument we hear year after year from some straight people wondering why we need a parade and celebration when most LGBT+ rights have been won.
No matter how many rights we have won, how many struggles we have fought, we are still the minority and we are still living in a world designed for someone else. This is true of all LGBT+ people and this is especially true for LGBT+ people of colour.
One in five LGBT+ people have experienced a hate crime in the last 12 months because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The number of LGBT+ people who experienced such an incident has risen by 78 percent in the past year. Four in five LGBT+ people won’t report a hate crime at all. Over a third of all LGBT+ people are still too afraid to walk down the street holding their partner’s hand.
The event featured musical acts, stunning drag performances, and stalls from so many different organisations. It was a massive, loving celebration of LGBT+ people of colour.
LGBT+ people of colour’s experience of these statistics only multiplies. While a recent study from Stonewall found 51 percent of LGBT+ people of colour suffered from racism and discrimination from within the LGBT+ community.
In the workplace,Trade Union Congress (TUC) found queer people of colour suffered disproportionate amounts of sexual harassment and sexual violence.
This is known as intersectionality. Intersectionality refers to people who are part of multiple minorities. For instance, you could be black and gay and deal with both homophobia and racism, often at the same time. You could also experience racism from the LGBT+ community, then homophobia from the black community.
“One can think about a four-way junction (or, as the Americans call it, an Another angry woman. “Another road is not being white. Another road is not being able-bodied. The last road is not being cis. Now, if you stand in the middle of any one of these roads, you’re going to be dodging traffic. But if you stand right in the middle of the junction, you have cars coming at you from four ways, and you’re going to have to do… more dodging than you would have if you were just in one road.”). One road is not being male,” writes the blog site
“UK Black Pride is an organisation which is set up, very much like the other Prides in the country, around the world, but it happens to centre around queer people of colour – so African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American, Pacific, Indigenous people,” explains LadyPhyll Opoku-Gyimah, advocate and organiser of UK Black Pride.
“It's an opportunity to not just celebrate being queer and being LGBTQIA+, but also to look at the challenges we face on a daily basis while campaigning against homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and intersexphobia, as well as the structural systemic racism that exists in society, in our workplaces, in our schools, our hospitals and so forth.”
“It’s a family, that’s the main thing,” she continues. “It is a family of people who are able to create pride by us and for us. We work collectively to help people understand some of the issues that we face. When we're doing it together, it feels slightly easier. We stand side by side with one another; when one of us is going through something, it means that problem is halved.
“When you're fighting that battle alone, when you're having to brave it out and put your head above the parapet, it's often scary and you have to make the choice to either go ahead full throttle or stay silent. Staying silent is what some people do; they are challenged in so many ways that it affects their mental health and wellbeing. So what I tried to do with UK Black Pride is to build a family, a tribe. It means that nobody feels that they are left out, nobody feels alone.”
"It was an overwhelming success. A wonderful gathering of over 10,000 people to centre and celebrate QTIPOC," said Chloe Davies, the Strategic Officer of UK Black Pride and Head of Partnerships at myGwork.
"My favourite moment, there were so many but I think the most emotional was looking out into the crowd and seeing all the faces of those who came to celebrate the day with us it was very powerful. Whilst QTIPOC people do not see themselves in abundance in the wider Pride movements there will always be a need for UK Black Pride."
Speaking about the goals of the event, Davies added: "UK Black Pride was born out of a frustration of not seeing ourselves amongst the wider Pride movements in 2005, the first event welcomed 462 people and last weekend we welcomed over 10,000. I’m actively bringing change for my community, what better goal is that!"
You shouldn’t need these advocates to have to tell you why a Black Pride is necessary. If you really want to see why it is so vital, all you have to do is go to the event. You will see thousands of people standing together, no longer a minority. You will see them celebrating love and acceptance and being proud of who they are. UK Black Pride is important, as all Prides are still so important, and its existence should not have to be justified beyond the smiles on people’s faces who attend.