Trans Youth Worker, Speaker, Writer, Activist
“The first time I went to UK Black Pride I was nervous. I was brought up thinking that to be queer you had to be white and I never spoke about the colour of my skin in the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer) spaces I lived in. I was brought up thinking the only way my Pakistani identity would be accepted in the LGBTQ community would be if I made jokes and insulted it, instead of others insulting it first. Being a person of colour and queer means I’m walking on edges, I’m walking on the borders of distinct communities of brown spaces and queer spaces, and when I cross them I’m either threatened or I’m threatening. A target or a terror, I’m an object either way. At UK Black Pride, these two communities come together, naturally, lovingly, and for the first time for me, these parts of my identity came together, publicly, visibly. Yes, I was nervous.
It was 29th June 2013. That year, Black Pride ran parallel with London Pride. I think that was the only reason I went to Black Pride that year. Not that I actually went to any London Pride events; London Pride is not a pride that has ever represented me. It’s an event dominated by white gay cis men, and is not exempt from the same systems of oppression I navigate daily – racism, transphobia, Islamophobia. It echoes the same experiences I have of being a target or a terror, but in the spirit of pride, I’m often just a token.
My day started boldly. I put on a striking leopard print shirt and eased my hair into a wonderful quiff, painted on black eyeliner with a kajal stick and got an iced caramel soya latte to go. As I approached the centre of Soho, arches of rainbow balloons appeared, followed by laughter, a merry hubbub – shameless and fearless, proud and loud. The air was hot, electric, and I made my way to Golden Square, the proud host of Black Pride.
There I was, in a space that was so close to my heart. A safe space. It was me, a wonderful web of culture, race, gender and sexuality only I thought I spun. It was me. And within this web, my friends, my brothers, my sisters, my siblings. My family. I walked around Golden Square once, twice, slowed my pace, thrice. I felt the force of the delicate strands of this wonderful web guiding me, protecting me, feeling like home.
I work in the third sector, delivering trans support to young people and provide consultancy services for inclusion of BAME, faith and LGBTQ communities to charities. I navigate LGBTQ charities and LGBTQ groups all over the UK. I’m in LGBTQ spaces that are for trans people, queer people, young people. But it’s still rare to find spaces that are for LGBTQ people of colour to celebrate, be seen, be heard and be safe. I think Black Pride shows that this is possible and that this is necessary – it is not just for the people of colour who are LGBTQ; it is for the whole LGBTQ community because we are a part of the LGBTQ community. And if your pride does not include and celebrate people of colour, then your pride is not for the community at all. Black Pride is important because it has us, LGBTQ people of colour, at the heart. It says that pride can come from being every part of your identity at once, and not from having to choose one over the other by building bridges and opening the borders of the edges I’m walking on. I walk without nerves, I walk without fear, I walk with pride. This is why I need Black Pride.”
Listen to Sabah talk about why he thinks there is a need for Pride: http://www.londonlive.co.uk/programmes/london-live-debates/2a93733
Facebook: Sabah Choudrey