The co-founder of UK Black Pride said she was “blown away” with the community solidarity shown after more than 15,000 people joined the annual event on Sunday.
Europe’s largest pride celebration for LGBTQI+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American and Middle Eastern-descent took place in a new venue this year, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, as the number of attendees continued to rise.
Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, who is known as Lady Phyll, is one of the event’s co-founders and is executive director of UK Black Pride.
Lady Phyll, who identifies as a lesbian, remembers much smaller numbers when the event was set up in 2005 in Southend-on-Sea.
“Our theme is power, and it’s about the collective power that we have within us for our communities, not a hierarchal power but a collective one for a movement which supports black and brown queer people 365 days of the year,” she told PA.
“Every time I see this it shows even more the importance of why we need a black pride that our communities need to occupy places they haven’t historically occupied.
“They have to take pride of place and understand that pride is political. It’s a protest, it’s a movement and seeing this, I’m just blown away and overwhelmed. I try not to cry but I know that I’ll break down later on.”
The nine hour event saw around 50 performers on the main stage including Emeli Sande who revealed earlier this year that she felt like a “huge weight has been lifted” after she said on social media that she was in love with a woman.
Sande said it had taken her many years “to find the strength to be myself”.
It was 21-year-old Vinay Jobanputra’s first time at UK Black Pride and he was performing as part of Nazar, a group which incorporates different cultural dances.
Vinay told PA: “I’ve come to UK Black Pride today for the first time, I’ve always wanted to come. I’ve come because I feel like it’s important to find people who look like you, who have lived through similar experiences to you.
“It makes a difference from the usual Pride you have in London which is mainly just a sea of white people, you don’t feel represented at all, you don’t feel like there’s anyone there that can really relate to you.”
Vinay identifies as queer and gender non-conforming and believes it is important to be represented as someone from the South Asian community.
“We’re showing other South Asian kids, other people like me that queer South Asians exist, queer brown people exist, we’re here to party, we’re here to celebrate ourselves.
“I’m so excited to be here today. It’s such a great experience and we are so lucky that there are things like this that exist now and you have to think about the people who live in those countries where you don’t get festivals and think of them today. Think about why we’re here, we are here to be visible.”
Andre Bogues, 27, a communications officer for Black Pride UK, came out when he was in his late teens.
“For me, UK Black Pride is about giving the community a really lovely safe space to be themselves at their full capacity to be with their chosen family, to really embrace everything that makes them, them.”
The last UK Black Pride in-person event saw more than 10,000 people convene in Haggerston Park in Hackney, after rising numbers meant it could not longer meet at Vauxhall Park in Lambeth.