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In 2024, finding safe spaces within the LGBTQIA+ community has never been more important. Without these places, finding and connecting with others with shared experiences can be difficult. UK Black Pride’s We Will Be Heard survey found that only 25 per cent of Black and POC respondents felt that their local LGBTQIA+ space is welcoming. 

To address this, NYX Professional Makeup continues its Proudly Pro-You initiative, in partnership with Stonewall and UK Black Pride, to support Black and POC LGBTQIA+ community builders across the UK. The initiative reflects NYX Professional Makeup’s ongoing commitment to drive change, support, represent and celebrate LGBTQIA+ people of colour. 

In 2024, 7 community organisations – Black Angel, Navii Media, VFD, Out and Proud African LGBTI, The Gay Ground, Melanin Skate Gals & Pals and Dancing Queer Engineering and Art – have received funding from NYX Professional Makeup through their partnership with Stonewall and UK Black Pride, to amplify the community organisations’ on-the-ground work, helping their unique communities to connect and thrive wherever they are. The funding of the Community Action Fund by NYX Professional Makeup, facilitated by Stonewall & UK Black Pride, is working to help increase the visibility and ability of these community organisations, enabling them to grow and improve access to spaces and places for their local communities.

Additionally, in platforming these organisations and their efforts, the initiative aims to inspire other Black and POC LGBTQIA+ individuals to start their own organisations in their communities so that everyone will have a space where they feel safe and welcome. 

Meet the 7 of the Community Action Fund funding recipients as we ask them questions about the aims of their organisations, queer joy, and why it’s so important to increase the visibility of Black and POC LGBTQIA+ communities. 

Black Angel

Black Angel – Claud Cunningham (she/her)

What work does your organisation do and why has this space been set up? 

We find that the voices of Black and Asian lesbians are rarely heard and our stories are important. We go out of our way to ensure it’s a safe space. Anyone who attends can feel comfortable and express themselves. It’s important to have that safe space.

Black Angel was set up in 1999 by myself and Paula Gannon-Lewis. Back then, it was promoted as a night aimed at lesbian and bisexual women and allies, but we would have trans men and women come too. 

It was completely diverse and open to all as long as you respected what the night was about. Black Angel was the first night of its kind in Manchester and people would travel from all over the country to come to it because there was nothing else like it. It was all about joy for queer people of colour and it was our safe space where we could be represented, express ourselves, feel respected and could hear the music that we wanted to hear. 

Navii Media – Dami Fawehinmi (he/she/they)

Why is it important to recognise the efforts of everyone involved within these organisations when building spaces for all queer individuals?

A lot of people forget queer history and where we’ve come from, whether that’s enabling and allowing Black people to speak up and have a space at the forefront. A lot of white-owned queer organisations tend to leave us behind and that’s where I was getting frustrated and thought that I needed to do something.

For me, it’s about being able to remind people that their voice matters and that I’m going to leave a legacy behind for us all to exist unapologetically. Being Black and queer and living in Newcastle, there are a few of us but not that many, so for me, queer joy is about turning up because young Black and queer people deserve to know that I exist. 

VFD – Lyall Hakaraia (they/them)

How has the Community Action Fund funding by NYX Professional Makeup, facilitated by Stonewall and UK Black Pride, unlocked creativity within the communities you have worked with?

The funding from NYX Professional Makeup, in partnership with Stonewall and UK Black Pride has allowed us to do more diverse programming. We work with queer artists who have nowhere else to go and need safe spaces to make artwork in and to feel that there will be no microaggressions. We’re a venue that strongly believes in intersectionality and we’ve been able to help people who are usually overlooked in London, such as street sex workers and people with access needs and disabilities. It’s vital that we’re able to have funding to provide spaces for these communities. 

Out & Proud African LGBTI (OPAL) – Amanda Kamanda (she/her)

Why do we need to increase the visibility of organisations/communities in more localised areas?  

Out and Proud is a space for African LGBTQ people to feel welcome and safe in the UK. It was set up to allow people specifically from the African continent who identify as Black or people of colour to come together as a community in seeking refuge and support. The funding has enabled us to provide various services, for example, psychosocial support and we have been able to attend the UK Black Pride. [There we have] been able to showcase some of the work we have been doing. This includes banners and signing petitions to continue pushing for change in our countries. And we have continued to showcase our own cultures because as African people, we also would love to share our cultures with the rest of the world.

The Gay Ground – Moet Jaffer-White (she/her) 

What specific work does your organisation or community do and why has this space been set up? 

The Gay Ground is a safe space in the West Midlands – a place that lacks representation for LGBTQIA+ people. The organisation brings something different to the city, a different vibe. The funding from NYX Professional Makeup, through their partnership with Stonewall and UK Black Pride has helped me to research LGBTQIA+ dating in the community so that I can provide consistent and unique events in the West Midlands. 

Melanin Skate Gals & Pals – Marie-Emelinda Mayassi (she/her) 

Have there been any notable stories that highlight the impact of creative interventions to systemic issues? 

The world is so hard for queer people and having dedicated spaces where we can really be ourselves and meet people like us is important, which is why we are seeing the rise of queer organisations. You can see why people are much more in tune with their queerness. We’re able to get together and enjoy our queerness which is a privilege. The fact that an organisation like mine is able to thrive and exist shows that a lot of people are turning to grassroots communities to serve their needs. We’re in a time where people are looking for more than just their basic needs, they have human needs that are more focused on community and being able to build a sustainable livelihood through that. 

Dancing Queer Engineering and Art – Shrouk El-Attar (she/they) 

How does queer joy motivate your work?

I’m an engineer and a belly dancer and I wanted to create a course for people like me so that they can feel included and reflected in engineering. I wanted to decolonise the engineering space so I made the course: ‘Make Your Own Belly Dancing Robot’. 

This project is all about queer joy. I’ve started the first group of students with queer refugees who are local to the Bristol community and it’s so nice to be in a class full of people like us. This is not something that I’ve ever seen in the engineering community full stop, so I think it’s the start of something big.

Find out more about the Proudly Pro-You initiative and what NYX Professional Makeup, Stonewall and UK Black Pride are doing to uplift Black and POC LGBTQIA+ organisations and communities here