Philip Normal has been elected Mayor of Lambeth.
Bedfordshire-born Normal has represented Lambeth’s Oval ward since the May 2018 local government elections, and is also an artist with a popular shop in Brixton Village Market, selling clothing inspired by pop culture like Drag Race and the Spice Girls.
He was sworn in during the council’s Annual General Meeting via webcam while sitting in his living room on Wednesday (22 April) evening, due to restrictions put in place during the coronavirus pandemic.
Normal is believed to be the UK’s first openly HIV-positive mayor, and he’s hoping to use his platform to educate people and tackle stigma surrounding HIV.
“I was diagnosed HIV positive in 2005. I’ve been on medication for 10 years and thanks to the incredible work the NHS does in the field of sexual health, like many others with the condition, I can live a long and healthy life,” said Philip.
“That said it isn’t something any of us should feel pride in as it highlights the shame and stigma that has been associated with HIV for far too long. Being open about your status is an individual choice and nobody should feel obliged to reveal their status.
“But I hope that by choosing to do so I can show that there is no limit to what people living with HIV can achieve and that we have to smash the stigma around HIV once and for all.”
A longtime campaigner for LGBTQ rights, Normal has pledged to spend his 12 months as mayor work alongside the Albert Kennedy Trust, who help young LGBTQ people experiencing homelessness or hostile environments at home.
“I’d always planned to move to London, especially as being a young gay person did cause issues in my family, it wasn’t simple or easy. When I first moved here it was my first time living in south London and as soon as I moved to Lambeth at Oval I felt like I could really put down roots here because it’s such a wonderful community,” he said.
“I think that’s an important message because a quarter of homeless young homeless people identify as LGBT, and 77 per cent of Albert Kennedy Trust clients said that them coming out to their family is the reason with they have issues at home or have been made homeless.
“It’s a critical issue and very relevant to Lambeth as it’s the borough with the largest gay population in the country. We have a huge issue with homelessness so the AKT is incredibly important and active in the borough, and I’m delighted to be supporting them in this new way.”
Lambeth Council couldn’t get their mayoral chains to Normal, so he made his own complete with a hot pink crest emblazoned with the borough’s shield – it will be auctioned off to raise money for AKT once lockdown ends.