Why I'm Celebrating Black Pride
One writer explores the need for a Pride that celebrates the relationship between sexuality, gender and heritage.
Why there is a need for a “black pride” is a question which often gets posed. Well – why not? We should all have the right to celebrate all that makes us who we are.
UK Black Pride is a platform where Black and POC (People of Colour) from the LGBTQ+ community can feel seen, supported, visible and empowered - something that is so important when we continue to hear reports of racism and discrimination towards people of colour from various communities including our own. It’s about taking pride in being part of the LGBTQ+ community and simultaneously celebrating our heritage. It’s bringing parts of our identities which we separated for so long back together.
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Our theme this year, #ShadesoftheDiaspora, speaks to our ongoing mission to unite Black LGBTQ+ people in Britain, whose global roots range from Africa to Asia, the Caribbean to the Middle East, and the United States to Latin America. It speaks to the growing number of our diasporic community who show up to UK Black Pride each year.
It speaks to the shades of our experiences. It speaks to the complex and interwoven experiences of our asylum-seeking and refugee family. It speaks to the unique hurdles of our gay Black brothers, the infuriating oppression of queer Black women around the world, and the relentless attacks on our trans siblings. It speaks to the experiences of our Intersex community, whose voices are finally rising in a beautiful chorus. It speaks to experiences that can’t be named, those who suffer in silence, those who cannot come out.
It acknowledges that all our experiences are not the same, but that we will fight together for a future rooted in freedom and equality.
Below are a few personal stories to explain just why celebrating Black Pride is so important for us within the LGBTQ+ community.
I went to my first pride in 2016 and I was so entranced by all the colour, glitter and half-naked people, that I didn’t notice the inequalities staring me in the face. However, next year the magic seemed to fade away and I left Pride feeling deflated – throughout the parade, I felt like I stood out like a sore thumb and it wasn’t because of my bright pink hair at the time! It felt like I was black body wading through a sea of whiteness, people who at the click of their fingers expected me to “perform” my blackness for them. Whenever I saw anyone black, we instinctively gave one another that nod to reassure each other that we are here, we are present and we matter, even though it felt like we didn’t.
The following day, I went to my first UK Black Pride with one of my straight best friends; as, at that point, I had yet to find my LGBTQ+ Black and POC community of friends. As I walked through the security, my chest immediately relaxed, I let out a sigh of relief as I heard bashment music blaring in the background, saw a sea of beautiful black and brown faces staring back at me, and it felt like I was home. My waist instinctively started to whine up itself to the music and on that day I understood the true meaning of community and what it felt like to be represented.
We live in a society that is constantly trying to silence, minimise or erase our voices and experiences, which is what created the need for UK Black Pride. UK Black Pride is a place where our voices and existence is not only heard but celebrated. UK Black Pride is power, it is a community and it is home. This is why UK Black Pride is not only important but necessary.
I went to my first pride alone when I was 17 before I had ever come out to anyone. It was the first time I'd ever seen so many people, even straight people, together celebrating LGBTQ+ rights. To see so much acceptance for gay people in my own town, something I had never experienced before, did wonders for my confidence and self-acceptance. This motivated me to later come out.
Now I've been out a few years now, I've seen how pride isn't just about base-level acceptance, it's an event which helps LGBTQ+ people thrive in society, and educates us about the social and political issues facing our entire community. I've been given information about sexual health and PrEP, the LGBTQ+ liberation movement, and even my own town's LGBTQ+ history; information I wouldn't likely get anywhere else.
I decided to get involved in UK Black Pride because I felt that the presence of South Asians (and other ethnic minorities) at most pride were incredibly limited. This is while we have a variety of niche experience and issues which the wider LGBTQ+ community do not have.
At past LGBTQ+ events I've been to, I felt like race issues were heavily side-lined. Discussions about homophobia in ethnic minority communities, or racism in the LGBTQ+ community were rarely had, despite the issues affecting many people’s lives strongly. The fact that UKBP is here to bring issues like these to the front of the discussion is amazing and has likely changed many people's lives.
UK Black Pride takes place on 8th July at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, London: join us as we come together to dance, sing, laugh, cry and protest. We’ll remember those we’ve lost, celebrate those who are still here, and inspire those who are yet to come.