Brunswick’s Jon Miller, founder of the Open For Business coalition, talks about global LGBT+ rights with Phyll Opoku-Gyimah—a.k.a. “Lady Phyll”—UK Black Pride founder and Kaleidoscope Trust Executive Director.
As part of a celebration of gay pride Month in June 2021, Brunswick organized an online event featuring Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, widely known as Lady Phyll, human rights activist and founder of UK Black Pride and Executive Director of Kaleidoscope Trust, a UK-based charity working to uphold the human rights of the LGBT+ people across the Commonwealth. Brunswick’s Jon Miller, a founder of the Open For Business coalition, served as host.
As a Black woman, lesbian and mother, Lady Phyll brings an awareness of the multiple challenges LGBT+ people face. She is on the global Pride Power List and GQ calls her “a crucial voice in British intersectional equality.” She talks about her experiences, the fight for equality and the role business can play.
People sometimes ask, “do we still need Pride?” or “aren’t we overdoing it now?” Why do you think Pride matters now?
We are not living in some ideal world, where we all have the rights that we deserve. So Pride is much more than just a celebration. It really is about looking back to the roots of how it started—the Stonewall Riots, police brutality, lack of safe housing and shelter for our trans and gender-nonconforming and nonbinary siblings. It is about the systemic violence that was there, that was on our bodies.
Prides very much tell that story, especially as a Black or POC-Queer person. We want to have pride of place, to take pride in who we are, and that means that it’s still very important to have a space that we can be unapologetically ourselves.
In addition to the UK, there are Black Prides in cities in the US and Europe. Why do we need a Pride for Black or POC-Queer people?
You know, Jon, I’ve got to the stage where I’ve stopped answering the question about, “Do we really need a Black Pride?” The question I want to be asked is, “What would happen if there wasn’t a Black Pride?”
The mainstream LGBT+ activities are not always as inclusive of our differences as we would like them to be. When we think of the word “intersectionality”—which is not a synonym for diversity—it really is about having a clear lens to how and where we see ourselves, especially because of all of these many facets, the oppressions that one has felt from the racism, the sexism, the misogyny, the issues of Islamophobia, faith, religion, belief, class: There’s so much, so many types of experiences. Prides and other movements allow us to see ourselves—you can’t be what you can’t see.
UK Black Pride was really born out of a frustration, a need and a desire to really come together and have that celebration, but also to look at our shared commonalities: how we connect and collaborate with one another. And how we also feel extremely empowered when we turn up the volume on society, making it absolutely impossible for the volume to be turned down on us.
That is what Pride is about—togetherness and solidarity, love, hope and aspirations.