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The co-founder of UK Black Pride has said the special event represents the “bravery, security and love” shown by black and brown LGBTQ+ people.
UK Black Pride – which is celebrating its 18th year – is Europe’s largest pride celebration for LGBTQIA+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American and Middle Eastern-descent – and thousands of revellers descended on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford on Saturday.
Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, also known as Lady Phyll – one of the event’s co-founders and executive director of UK Black Pride, said this year’s event theme is based around “legacy”, to remember those in the past and to inspire the next generation.
She told the PA news agency: “This is just a special day.
“It is our 18th celebration and I think everyone who has walked through this park understand what legacy means to us, understands what support, bravery, security, love, happiness and joy means to us.
“That’s what UK Black Pride is about.”
While Lady Phyll, who identifies as lesbian, is considered to be at the “helm” of UK Black Pride, she says she will “always acknowledge” the legacy of people who have come before her to advocate for black and brown queer individuals of the future.
The executive director explained: “There have been so many people that have helped create this movement.
“The theme is legacy, we remember those that were there before us, those that are here now and the next generation to come. That’s what legacy means to us.
“Whether I’m at the helm, I don’t mind doing that and being there, but I will always acknowledge the community that helped put on this wonderful event that has brought us to 18 years.”
UK Black Pride, which started in 2005 in Southend-on-Sea and moved to its current location in Stratford last year, has introduced a queer family zone to create a family-friendly safe space for the first time this year.
Organisers have said the event grows bigger each year, with this year having more than 100 stall holders exploring the conversation around intersexuality, and over 20 food stalls in its food village.
She hopes that businesses and organisations can get behind the UK Black Pride movement to ensure the event, which is funded by donations, remains running every year and to help organisations create its own legacy.
She explained: “I think support is about ‘what does that look like?’ and if it’s about systems of oppression, we need better policies.
“We can help educate your organisations about how to understand black and brown queer a lot better. That way, an organisation can leave a legacy for the next generation.”
Zack Polanski, deputy leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, also attended the event to show his support for UK Black Pride.
He told PA: “As a gay Jewish man, I’m here to advocate for my communities, but also to support everyone else’s communities, to allyship.
“What I really love is despite it getting bigger and bigger, it’s still retains that community feel. That idea that everyone here belongs, that even if you don’t know anyone, people are still friendly.”
Chloe Davies, head of finance at UK Black Pride, spoke of the “joy” that UK Black Pride brings to the community.
She told PA: “To the black community, Black Pride means everything to us. Black Pride to us means a brave and safe space.
“It means solidarity, joy, fun, dancing, happiness and finding new friends.”
She spoke of the discrimination that many black and brown LGBTQIA members experience on a daily basis and hopes that UK Black Pride can combat these issues.
She explained: “I think there are wider issues that are affecting the black community in general.
“When we look to our black LGBTQIA siblings, we know that in the LGBTQ+ community there is still so much discrimination… that needs to be done and UK Black Pride is a place to help address some of those issues.”
The finance co-ordinator also said it should be remembered that UK Black Pride is not limited to the annual event, but an organisation that can help black and brown LGBTQ+ individuals all year round.
She said: “UK Black Pride is not just today. It is 365 days of the year, all year round.
“We are here for our community wherever you are at. Please come and find us, we are waiting for you.