Zena Al Maskari

Let’s Talk About LGBT+ Black Pride

I left Lady Phyll’s presentation with a wider and deeper understanding of the diversity within human society and the urgent need to address the fact that it is time that this diversity became universally accepted. February is National LGBT+ Month, a dedication to celebrating diversity and equality within society.

 

She delivered a truly inspiring talk, prompting me to examine social concepts I had never really considered before. One of them powerfully stood out to me: “in an ideal world we would not need ‘pride’.”

 

Let me introduce you to Phyll Opoku-Gyimah (A.K.A Lady Phyll): she is the co-founder of UK Black Pride, an advocate of social equality and justice, and, as she puts it, on a mission to combat racism and homophobia. When she walks into the room, you can tell she is a person in charge of herself, one who has come a long way and is ready to keep going further.

 

Sadly, we live in a world where discrimination and inequality are still present, within the LGBT+ community as well as wider society. “Why can’t you intergratae and unite pride?” is a question Lady Phyll says she is often asked. Even within the LGBT+ community, people of colour are still side-lined and weakened. It is a sad reality that racism does exist within the gay community, and that people are subjected to mistreatment as a result of this.

 

Yet Black Pride is not an exclusive group: it is accepting of followers and supporters of all backgrounds to work towards the common goal of acceptance. Lady Phyll reiterates that the only reason Black Pride exists as an organisation is because homophobia AND racism are present in the first place. She underlines that “it is important not to tell people to stay out of our struggles.”

 

“There’s still such a long way to go in terms of people understanding we are here to be seen, heard,” Lady Phyll maintains throughout her campaign. A notable point she raised is that it should not be about ‘tolerating’ a group of people, but accepting completely and entirely into the one community. We are all human, and should not be labelled and defined to be peripherised and subjugated.

 

“Even if I’m speaking to 3 or five hundred people, it’s about being heard. I will do what it takes to be heard.” We all have a voice, and each and every one of use has the right to use it to be heard. Lady Phyll emphasises the importance of being heard throughout her talk, and I fully agree that it is one of the most important tools to achieve universal acceptance within society.

 

Lady Phyll also addresses issues of homophobia within African states, and that she helps asylum seekers in the UK. In many of these countries it is illegal to be homosexual. Lady Phyll illustrates how being gay or queer carries a penalty in countries like Ghana. She cannot return to Ghana, because she will be subjected to disrespect and humiliation from her fellow people.

 

We are still learning and growing as a community, and we can only continue to do so through unity. People need to come together to achieve universal social justice, to amplify one voice.

 

“I can go on about how terrible things are, but it’s about what we’re going to do,” Lady Phyll emphasises. At the end of the day it is about action and participation; every single one of us has a contributing role within this society, to help each other and to strive for equality and acceptance. We all have a duty to work towards making this world a better place.

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