A LET­TER FROM PHYLL.

Gay Times Magazine - - NEWS - Lady Phyll Co-founder of UK Black Pride

It of­ten feels like a ter­ri­fy­ing time to be Black. Don’t get me wrong: we, as a com­mu­nity — in its breath­tak­ing breadth, depth and di­ver­sity — have come far, but overt racism is on the rise. I tell you this as a Black woman, as an ac­tivist and as the co-founder of UK Black Pride: I tell you this as some­one bat­tling on the front lines.

But with the rise of racism comes the rise of beau­ti­ful, sonorous Black voices. With the rise of racism comes a very loud clap back from a com­mu­nity well-weath­ered, well-pre­pared and well-armed. And we come em­bold­ened and ready to demon­strate, as we al­ways do, that our lives mat­ter and that no amount of bul­ly­ing, racism, sex­ism or misog­yny will hold us back from claim­ing our right­ful place as equals.

What of­ten gets lost on the bat­tle­field of daily life, and in the mine­field of an achingly white me­dia land­scape, is the at­ten­dant joy of and in our Black lives. A large part of the push for sub­stan­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion is to make clear, and show more truly, that our Black lives are not only about struƒle and sur­vival. We struƒle and fight for our joy — an un­re­served and unapolo­getic joy that springs from our abil­ity to live as we are. It’s a joy worth fight­ing for and it’s this joy that links all of our struƒles to­gether. From gay mar­riage to the long over­due jus­tice and pro­tec­tion of our Black trans sib­lings, we share in our as­sid­u­ous pur­suit of joy. It’s a joy we all de­serve and one we’ll fight tooth and nail for.

Black His­tory Month is an im­por­tant time for Black peo­ple in Bri­tain. We stand on the shoul­ders of giants, those who never backed down, who’ve fought tire­lessly and who’ve paved the way for us to live openly and freely. A month ded­i­cated to cen­tring and cel­e­brat­ing such Black ex­cel­lence is a wel­come respite from the era­sure we ex­pe­ri­ence from so­ci­ety at large. And even though we’re work­ing to­wards a so­ci­ety that doesn’t re­quire a spe­cial month to be set aside in or­der for non-Black peo­ple to cel­e­brate our place in this coun­try’s ever-evolv­ing nar­ra­tive, I wel­come the in­creased vis­i­bil­ity and rep­re­sen­ta­tion that Black His­tory Month af­fords.

The work of vis­i­bil­ity and rep­re­sen­ta­tion should bet­ter align in our minds our unique but con­nected struƒles. The most re­cent furore around XXL’s dis­crim­i­na­tory door pol­icy is a great ex­am­ple of the ways in which our com­mu­nity is frac­tured and how we con­tinue to op­press the very peo­ple who fight the hard­est and shout the loud­est for the lib­er­a­tion of all of us. Femme queens should wear their heels and dance wher­ever they like. Their ex­clu­sion, their re­duc­tion to un­de­sir­able, in a space that es­pouses a toxic mas­culin­ity, is di­rectly con­nected to the misog­yny and sex­ism di­rected at Black women like me. Our hy­per­sex­u­alised Black brothers, our mur­dered Black trans sib­lings and our os­tracised Black femme queens all suf­fer at the in­ter­sec­tion of over­lap­ping op­pres­sions.

And so to see Mun­roe Bergdorf, Lady Leshurr and Karamo Brown cel­e­brated on the cover and on the pages of Gay Times makes my heart sing. Here, we have the chance to tell our sto­ries, to talk about our lives not only in op­po­si­tion to dis­crim­i­na­tion, but as full sen­tient hu­man be­ings who love, laugh, cry and ache; who work for a bet­ter present and fu­ture for oth­ers; and who be­lieve in the good and great of the hu­man spirit. To see femme queens, trans women and in­tel­lec­tual Black men cel­e­brated in Gay Times, in the most sub­stan­tive and im­pres­sive Black His­tory Month is­sue in the mag­a­zine’s 34-year his­tory, means that across the world, queer Black folx will see, front and cen­tre, them­selves, their po­ten­tial and their ex­pe­ri­ences.

Fi­nally, UK Black Pride’s im­por­tant part­ner­ship with Gay Times is long over­due, but there is a time for ev­ery­thing. I’m en­cour­aged by the work and the pas­sion of the team at Gay Times, who con­tinue to show us what true ally­ship looks like. Over the past year, the team has gone from strength-to-strength, in­clud­ing an in­creas­ingly di­verse ar­ray of the queer com­mu­nity and plat­form­ing voices and sto­ries never seen in the pages of the mag­a­zine. The team at Gay Times con­tinue to use their prox­im­ity to the queer Black com­mu­nity to ad­vo­cate for us, to agi­tate for change and – as true al­lies should – to hand over their plat­form to us to tell our own sto­ries.

This will go down as one of the most his­tor­i­cal is­sues of Gay Times ever. Well, be­sides the is­sue with me on the cover, of course.

In love and unity,

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