Lady Phyll charts the history of UK Black Pride

The writer, activist, and co-founder of UK Black Pride tells Dazed about the origins of the event, her favourite memories, and how you can get involved

This year, UK Black Pride – an event, movement, and safe haven for LGBTQ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American and Middle Eastern descent – marked its 15th birthday, having grown from a relatively small act of resistance against discrimination, into Europe’s largest celebration for the people it represents.

In this new video the writer, activist, and co-founder of UK Black Pride Lady Phyll remembers where it all started: a gathering of Black lesbians she attended in Southend in 2004 – a time that saw a surge in hostile propaganda and a troubling rise in support for groups such as the BNP – where the group recognised a need to “come together, to see ourselves”.

Lady Phyll also pinpoints an event she attended in 2005, as the moment she vocally raised the need for a Black Pride in the UK, during a meeting with members of mainstream LGBT+ communities. “I never would have imagined that people who understand marginalisation, discrimination, oppression, to a greater or lesser degree, would turn around and tell me to ‘go back to where I came from’,” she recalls. 

“Being told no, being laughed at, being jeered at, really was that starting point of us saying, you know, ‘Two fingers to it!’”

The rest, as they say, is history. “We’ve gone on from strength to strength,” Lady Phyll adds. Of her favourite memories since UK Black Pride began, she says: “It’s just seeing the crowds and seeing the people that own and claim UK Black Pride, because it’s theirs. It doesn’t belong to one person. It belongs to our many different multiple communities.”

It goes without saying that it also comes with its own difficulties, however; this is a fact that’s been made especially clear by the broader Black Lives Matter movement’s ongoing struggle against racial injustice and inequality, in the UK, the US, and across the world this year.  

“Having space for us just to simply be should never be seen as a threat,” says Lady Phyll, adding that all it takes to get involved in the effort to break down these barriers is to: “do your reading, do your homework, do your research. Stand beside Black people, when we’re out protesting, find a way of being their shield. Listen... And then lastly, you can put your money where your mouth is.”

“This cannot be a one time moment – because it’s not a moment. It’s a whole movement.”

Watch the full video with Lady Phyll – the first part of Dazed’s “The Story of…” series spotlighting different facets of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the different organisations within it, across Black History Month – above.