The Board of UK Black Pride extends a big thank you to all sponsors, supporters, entertainers and volunteers who were involved in delivering an impressive seventh annual festival at the Ministry of Sound in London on Saturday 18 August.
We are confident that all 1,500 LGBT friends and guests who joined in the day’s activities will agree that the event was a real success: from the outdoor barbeque and Cajun cuisine to the Caribbean rum punch and music from all corners of the world.
While the sun shone bright outside, the temperatures soared inside where the music played loudly from four stages that were packed full of uplifting performances from Black LGBT friendly artists and entertainers including singers, dancers, drag artists and comedians. The sense of Pride and belonging was exuded from every corner of the indoor space and courtyard where activists and guests mingled among the food stands and community information stalls.
The political voice – a hallmark of what Pride should be about – also underpinned every element of activity associated with UK Black Pride 2012 before, during and after the event itself. From supporting Stonewall’s research into the experiences of Black lesbian and gay people in accessing public services, to speaking at the TUC LGBT Conference on the need to decriminalise homosexuality across the Commonwealth, to working with community groups and providing free tickets for LGBT asylum seeker and refugee members to ensure their full participation in this event, the politics of Pride was loud, proud and present.
All the unpaid volunteers who have worked year-round to help organise UK Black Pride, with essential support and confidence from the rest of our community, ensured that UK Black Pride was not only a social occasion to celebrate within a safe space – necessary as this is – but also a family occasion that delivered a community event that was able to document and emphasise the continuing needs and aspirations of Black LGBT people, including the struggle for LGBT and racial equality and justice in schools, in workplaces and wider society, at home and abroad.
These aspirations were reflected in the guest speakers from LGB and T supporting community groups (Stonewall and the Runneymede Trust); the trade unions (PCS); politics (The Labour Party) and faith communities (Safra Project for LB&T Muslim women) who each contributed to the message that Black LGBT people need a strong civil society and statutory bodies to protect against cuts and any rolling back of the social agenda.
The event was also attended by representatives from the National Union of Students; the Naz Project London; Love Music Hate Homophobia, and Justice for Gay Africans among countless other groups who set up community stalls packed full of information about campaigns and calls to action that are an integral feature of Black and LGBT peoples’ daily lives. From the trade unions to welfare and sports groups, from statutory bodies like the police and health authorities, to adoption, housing, community arts, and anti-cuts campaigns, there was something for everyone.
One 20-year-old guest at the event described her experience of UK Black Pride as: “So powerful. Until a year ago I could not have imagined that I, as a Pakistani heritage lesbian woman, would ever have the confidence to come out and be myself alongside so many others just like me. At the event I never once felt the need to justify my race, faith, sexuality or any aspect of what makes me who I am. That’s a powerful message to young women like me. I identify more strongly with a community and I feel ready to deal with anything because I know that I’m not alone!”
Even the news – delivered one day before the event – that UK Black Pride had missed out on the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award for volunteering, the privilege of being nominated and the major plaudits won from the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, the Minister for Equalities, and Mayor of London, made up for this as it was clear that the event is making an impact on policymakers, as well as on the mainstream Black and LGBT community through media activity that included Diva; Gaydar, Gaystar news, Pink News, QX, Boyz, g3, Out in the City, The Voice and Time Out as well as a phenomenal presence on social media where the UK Black Pride hashtag and Facebook page received thousands of messages.
The need to address all incidents of racist and homophobic hate crime was also taken seriously and stringent health and safety checks, a robust risk assessment, helped to ensure that every eventuality was planned for and the safety and success of the event was assured. During this process, we also got support from Lambeth and Southwark Council, local Black and LGBT organisations including the LGBT Forum in Southwark, and the Metropolitan Police. UK Black Pride is proud to maintain a record of delivering the safest celebration of the lives, experiences and contributions of African, Asian, Caribbean and Arab LGBT people in Britain.
Throughout the event our guests also showed the best of our diverse communities and inspired people to stand up and challenge bigotry, to tackle fear and uncertainty as well as social and economic pain inflicted by cuts in the provision of vital public and voluntary sector services.
We thank everyone for your support at UK Black Pride 2012 and look forward to continuing the partnership in the months and year ahead.
Beverley, Bisi, Lila, Pav, Phyll
UK Black Pride Board