Black LGBTQ+ icons everyone should know
Being black and gay in the UK isn’t black and white – sometimes LGBTQ+ people are left out of the conversation when talking about blackness.
So to celebrate UK Black Pride this month, here are some amazing people you should really know about.
Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, the co-founder of UK Black Pride, is all about black queer joy and advocating for everywhere to be free, safe and equal.
UK Black Pride is one of the world’s largest celebration for LGBTQ+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American and Middle-Eastern descent. They hold an annual celebration, which will be returning on August 19 alongside other activities and campaigns, including #StopRainbowRacism, throughout the year.
Opoku-Gyimah was also recently appointed to Sky’s Independent Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, which will support the business as it continues to broaden its focus across wider intersections of D&I including LGBTQ+ inclusion and social mobility.
Jason Okundaye believes lifting black British gay history out of obscurity is an urgent task. It’s why he launched Black and Gay, Back in the Day with Marc Thompson, a digital community archive honouring and remembering black queer life in Britain, as it was.
He also wrote his debut book Revolutionary Acts: Stories of Love, Brotherhood, and Resilience from Black Gay Britain, which serves as a living document of black British gay men’s desires, dreams, frustrations and resilience. It’s scheduled for publication in March next year.
In 2015, Liv Little founded gal-dem, a magazine platforming stories about female and non-binary people of colour, all whilst being a politics and social student at the University of Bristol. Though it closed down this year, its cultural impact in the media cannot be denied.
Since then, Little has published her first novel Rosewater, about discovering love where it has always been and makes a solid contribution to black queer history.
Edward Enninful is the outgoing European editorial director of Vogue and the first black editor-in-chief of British Vogue, who started leading the magazine in August 2017. During his time as editor-in-chief of the publication, he has helped shape a new vision for fashion media — not just in the UK, but globally — where he has placed a “diversity of perspective” at its core and continues to champion young people.
He also wrote a memoir, A Visible Man, where he details his story about going from a working-class outsider to the heights of the fashion industry, and how he’s always championed inclusion and representation in the worlds of design and photography.
Tanya Compas, a youth worker and content creator founded Exist Loudly in 2020, which is a creative non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting black LGBTQ+ youth from London.
Using mediums such as digital storytelling and creative intervention, the organisation curates experiences that build community, autonomy and confidence, encouraging youth to exist loudly.
It’s one of the reasons why the charity launched Queer Black Christmas in 2019, to help tackle homelessness amongst black LGBTQ+ young people.
Rose Frimpong and Nana Duncan
With over 150 episodes, Two Twos Podcast, hosted by two black lesbians, Rose Frimpong and Nana Duncan, has proved to be a necessary platform for black LGBTQ+ people in the UK.
After meeting through an ex-girlfriend five years ago, the duo noticed that there was a lack of representation and decided to start a YouTube channel.
It has since grown into the podcast it is today, where they have frank and hilarious conversations about everything from sex and relationships to lazy stereotypes, which of course is made easy because of their close friendship.
Born and raised in south east London, the playwright, dancer, and British actor Rikki Beadle-Blair prides himself in being a creative instigator.
He has written and directed 40 plays along with several feature films, shorts and TV series – including Channel 4’s Metrosexuality – and has won several awards.
This summer, Beadle-Blair was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Warwick for his outstanding contributions and achievements to the arts and LGBTQ+ activism.
Host and DJ, Remi Burgz, recently took over BBC 1Xtra’s popular drivetime show following the departure of Reece Parkinson, and brings out the fun side of guests who are musicians, actors and everything in between.
She’s a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, and encourages other black women in the industry to be themselves and get comfortable in their own skin.
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