Florence Eshalomi AM

Why Black Pride matters

17 June 2016

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 They’re afraid to come out to family and friends due to the ignorance of a small minority who hold outdated, prejudiced views.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.

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.

Black Pride 2016 takes place at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens on 26 June.