UK Black Pride 2012
It is just over a week until the seventh annual UK Black Pride kicks off in central London. On Saturday 18th August the capital will host the biggest celebration of African, Asian, Caribbean and Arab Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in Europe. The inclusive event is a space devoid of cultural stereotypes and challenges both homophobia and racism.
The reasons behind a separate occasion from London Pride 2012, held at the beginning of July, are manifold. Black LGBT people face unique pressures, including the marginalization, sometimes outright denial, of their contribution to communities, and the difficulty of the subsequent experienced isolation.
Lambeth Councillor and Director of UK Black Pride, Pav Akhtar, describes a separate event as necessary because of the “chronic under-representation” of BME people in ‘mainstream’ Black or LGBT community activities. He explains the consequences of the
double-edged bigotry of racism and homophobia which leads to Black LGBT people being presented with an impossible choice of embracing one aspect of our identity over another at different intervals and in parallel realities.
So while next Saturday will be a celebration, Black Pride holds an important political significance. OBV’s Director, Simon Woolley, has spoken at Black Pride in the past and this year continues the political content with speakers from Stonewall, Black LGBT community groups, Parliament, trade unions, and with young people too.
In fact Stonewall, the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity that campaigns for equality, is this year’s main sponsor. In collaboration with the Runnymede Trust, the leading think tank for race equality, Stonewall is publishing new research to coincide with UK Black Pride. The report will demonstrate the increased difficulties BME people who are gay face when accessing public services in the UK. Rob Berkeley, Trustee of Stonewall and Director of the Runnymede Trust, explains that:
It is crucial that Black LGBT people organise so that the particular issues that they face can be articulated and addressed. We have learnt from bitter experience that without being organised, issues facing Black people can be marginalised within struggles for equality. UK Black Pride is a fantastic example of people coming together to celebrate but also to build solidarity.
Solidarity is surely needed, in a safe space for people irrespective of nationality, and regardless of ethnicity, sexuality or gender. And UK Black Pride, run by volunteers and with special rates on tickets for students, asylum seekers, refugees and those who are disabled or unemployed, promises to be a truly inclusive day of celebration.
All too frequently, coverage of Black LGBT issues in the media tends to focus on the struggles of homophobia far away, ignoring the challenges of discrimination in the UK. But extreme homophobia has resulted in many individuals, in fear of their lives, to seek sanctuary in the UK.
Importantly, there are new and emerging voices to counteract the problems of low visibility and bigotry. Writer and spoken word poet, Dean Atta, powerfully draws together race and sexuality in his reflections on identity in his work ‘Young, Black and Gay’.
More on the OBV website from Dean Atta soon…
UK Black Pride will be a day for celebration and solidarity and here at OBV, we wish everyone a Happy Black Pride!
Philippa De Lacy