Ash Allibhai

Fashion Director/Trend Consultant

Pride helped me to feel a part of a community

I was about 20 when I attended my first Pride in Birmingham. I went to uni there, and what I loved about it was that the city is very culturally diverse: there are Indians, Afro-Caribbean people, so it had a carnival vibe. For once I didn’t feel out of place and if felt as if everyone was very accepting of people’s colours and sexuality. That said I didn’t really see colour then; I felt the main thing about me that was different was my sexuality. The colour was part and parcel of being dual heritage.

Being dual heritage felt hard when I was younger but now I love it

I suppose looking back I felt I didn’t really fit in with either the Indian or the African students, I was in a lane on my own apart from my best friend Jazz. Otherwise everything was segregated but it’s a shame I didn’t embrace my sexuality a bit earlier than 19. I knew I was gay from 16 and I wish I’d been bolder then rather than meeting other people’s expectations. Growing up in Northampton, I never knowingly met a gay person so it wasn’t until I went to Birmingham that I did. Now of course, Northampton can’t move for gay people and of course, it was the place that inspired the movie Kinky Boots. If only I’d known!

I don’t tone myself down for white people today

These days I feel so fortunate about my African and Indian heritage, that I have an eclectic mix that I can draw from. When I was younger, I thought I needed to be liked and fit in to a white idea of what is acceptable in society; it was a toned down version of myself.

Judge me for what I bring to the table

Today I couldn’t care less what people may think of me. I want people to judge me as my character as a person, judge me for my knowledge and experiences: “yes I happen to be a gay person of colour. And what?” And especially in the fashion industry even thought there are of course tons of gay people in the industry, in the fashion media, apart from Vogue’s Edward Enninful Vogue US’s Andre Leon Talley there are very few people of colour in positions of power.

UKBP accepts you, whoever you are

Even though we’re making strides regarding the acceptance of sexuality, it’s important to celebrate all of who we are, coming from a different racial mix. It’s very difficult being a person of colour and being gay. In certain communities it’s not possible to be accepted so it’s important to have a place where even if you’re not being accepted in your own community you’re accepted for being gay. When I went to Brighton Pride I felt really out of place among all the white muscle Marys, being gay and of mixed heritage it felt difficult to really feel at home but at UKBP the message is clear: “we don’t give a fuck who you are, just come along and feel good about yourself.”


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