UK Black Pride: why coronavirus won’t put a stop to the celebrations

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UK Black Pride co-founder Phyll Opoku-Gyimah talks to Stylist about how vital it is to continue the Pride celebrations in lockdown.

How can we celebrate Pride month without breaking lockdown rules? June is usually known for its colourful street parties and parades to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in the UK. For obvious reasons, the usual ways of celebrating are out of the question this year. However, coronavirus isn’t going to halt Pride; it just means people need to get a bit more inventive (which could very well mean celebrations are even more fun…). 

UK Black Pride co-founder Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, also known as Lady Phyll, has had to work out alternative ways to continue the celebrations. This includes taking the organisation’s usual London event to a virtual platform for people to get involved with remotely. According to Opoku-Gyimah, there is a growing solidarity and allyship emerging through the pandemic. 

Covid-19 has disproportionately hit black and brown lives and we’ve seen yet another horrendous, brutal death of a black person, George Floyd,” she tells Stylist over the phone, explaining the importance of making sure we are combating loneliness and isolation, while also protecting people’s mental health, among the black LGBTQ+ community at this time.  

“We’re not reaching out, we’re not getting the hugs and the kisses, or networking in the ways we usually do,” Opoku-Gyimah continues. “We need to ask what we can do to look at wellbeing and self care.

“But we’re [also] celebrating a point where we are finding new ways to connect and showing solidarity when we see hardship around Covid-19 and how LGBTQ+ people are being impacted. We’re seeing so many people supporting black organisations that are doing the groundwork (and have always been doing it!). 

“We’re seeing people highlight the inequalities: we have to reach out for those at the forefront of those inequalities and support them in different ways. Whether that’s through donations or being an active ally. 

“Some of my white comrades are doing some great things. But not to be thanked for doing anything – it’s to make sure they continue to do it in a way that’s not performative or tokenistic.”

She adds: “Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison said none of us are free until we’re all free. Solidarity is the foundation that Pride is built upon.”

How to celebrate UK Black Pride during Covid-19

Opoku-Gyimah tells us what’s coming up:

“UK Black Pride will be holding two significant virtual events. One is Pride Inside, which is alongside Amnesty International, Para Pride and Stonewall. We’ve put on a series of workshops, panel discussions, entertainment and the theme is all around “home” and combating the loneliness of isolation. 

“Our second event will be in August, which will celebrate 15 years of UK Black Pride – looking back at the history, how far we’ve come, what we still have to do, who we engage with and how we continue to build on what we have already.”

Lady Phyll has also recorded an episode about solidarity as part of the Anthem’s Pride podcast series. A new episode, featuring a guest speaker, will be released everyday throughout June. You can listen to the full series here. 

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Images: Getty

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…