Why Black Pride matters

By Florence Eshalomi

I grew up in Brixton, a multicultural heart of London. I was very much aware, from a young age, of the vibrancy of the different people and communities all living and working together in our small part of south London.

As a British Nigerian, I was also aware of the widely held misconceptions within some parts of the BME community that African and Caribbean people are not gay.

The sad reality is that there are many LGBT people from a BME background who live in fear. They’re afraid to come out to family and friends due to the ignorance of a small minority who hold outdated, prejudiced views.

The recent killings at an LGBT club in Orlando were an attack on the LGBT community. It was moving to see so many people standing in solidarity with the victims.

This attack also brings home an uncomfortable truth. LGBT people are still being killed in some parts of the world on a regular basis because of who they are, and who they love.

Here in London, there’s been a steady rise in the number of recorded homophobic hate crimes. It increased 16% between May 2015 and April 2016 compared to the previous 12 months.

This may be the result of more people having the courage to come forward and report these crimes. However, this increase reinforces the message that a lot more needs to be done to fight and address hate crime.

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As a Roman Catholic, I know that the co-existence of faith, LGBT and race can raise different issues. However, the LGBT BME groups come from a range of different religious, cultural and economic backgrounds.

In a diverse city like London, I believe it is important for people from all faiths to embrace and celebrate the growing LGBT community, as faith is also important to many of them.

UK Black Pride is the only LGBT community Pride event designed, run and led by a diverse group of Black LGBT people. The theme for the event this year is ‘Transforming our Community’. This will help to give visibility to the discrimination and violence LGBT people still face.

UK Black Pride is also an opportunity for us to celebrate black LGBT culture, arts and music.

I’ll be speaking at the event about all the issues facing the BME LGBT community today. I’ll also be lending my support to the fantastic team of volunteers who work hard to help change the mind-set of those with prejudiced views.

UK Black Pride takes place on Sunday 26 June at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, London. To attend this free festival of music and art, just come along between 12noon – 9pm.

Florence Eshalomi AM is a member of the London Assembly since May 2016 as a representative of the Lambeth and Southwark constituency. As a Brixton Hill councillor for 10 years and a former member of Lambeth Council’s Cabinet, Florence is well attuned to advocating the needs of local people. During her time as Cabinet member for Culture, Sport and the Olympics, Florence was responsible for the delivery of the hugely popular Lambeth Country Show and chaired the Libraries Commission. As a former Chair of Lambeth’s housing scrutiny committee, Deputy Cabinet member for communities and young people, and special representative for tackling youth violence, Florence has a strong record of tackling the big issues that matter to South Londoners. She tweets @FloEshalomi

 

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