This year’s Pride Month was unlike any the LGBTQ+ community has experienced before. With the world in lockdown, queer people were unable to celebrate with each other in physical space like we have done in recent years. However, what this moment did afford the Pride movement was an opportunity to reclaim its roots as a force for social change.
This year Pride Month coincided with a powerful resurgence in Black Lives Matter protests across the world following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white policeman, galvanising calls to dismantle white supremacy, eradicate systemic and structural racism, and remind everyone that it simply isn’t enough to not be racist, you have to be anti-racist. Black Trans Lives Matter protests in London and New York City reinforced that All Black Lives Matter, once again reminding the community that we would not enjoy the hard-won freedoms we enjoy today without the Black trans women at the forefront of the rebellion more than 50 years ago.
Each day throughout June, Anthems Pride celebrated and platformed diverse voices in our community who are making history today. These mini podcast episodes took the form of original manifestos, speeches, stories, poems and rallying cries spoken by exceptional individuals, keeping us connected as a community during this period of self isolation and social distancing.
It features contributions from the likes of UK Black Pride co-founder Lady Phyll, co-founder of Black Out UK and PrEPster Marc Thompson, trans model and activist Kenny Ethan Jones, writer and activist Jamie Windust, poet and performer Travis Alabanza and many more.
“We need community now, more than ever – words that bind us, not divide us,” said Anthems Pride executive producer, Hana Walker-Brown. “I saw how much of an impact Anthems Women and Anthems Home had on people, how much comfort and courage listeners were finding in the words of others and really wanted to bring that to Pride, especially as Pride celebration events have been cancelled.
“We have an exceptional selection of voices from exclusively LGBTQI+ communities contributing to this series, their words are raw, honest, inspiring, moving, motivating- there truly is something for everyone and it’s a real privilege to be able to bring them to our listeners and celebrate the words and experiences of some truly brilliant people. It was really important it was for us to represent all of these communities and I hope it inspires others to be proud of who they are.”
For this week’s Amplify digital cover feature we are spotlighting six individuals who contributed to the Anthems Pride series, asking them what Pride has meant to them during this unique period of time.
“What if 2020 isn’t cancelled? What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for?” – Leslie Dwight. Quarantine has given me the chance to finally start counselling sessions, and with that delve deeper into who I am and who I’m becoming – the unapologetic queer Black woman of your dreams.
This year has taught me that existing in a Black body is radical and punk AF. This year has taught me that we shouldn’t be aiming to change the system, rather to dismantle it, because it was never built for us in the first place. This year has taught me that I’ve always felt too much of one thing and not enough of another, but being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is the best community I could hope to be accepted into.
This year has taught me that solidarity used solely as a buzzword is detrimental, and requires action first and foremost. This year has taught me that not everyone has lived their lives knowing that racism still exists. This year has taught me that so many people were unaware that I have lived a life full of micro-aggressions, misogynoir and gaslighting due to the colour of my skin. This year has taught me that my queerness isn’t just about ‘love is love’, it’s political.
This year has taught me that the origins of a Gay Liberation Movement have been lost and need to be reinforced. This year has taught me that ACAB, in the same way all men are trash and all white people are racist – it’s systemic. This year has taught me that it’s not enough to not be transphobic, I need to be anti-transphobia. And finally, this year has taught us all that the fight has only just begun. – Char Ellesse
When I think about the UK, it’s hard to feel pride as a queer person – given that our mainstream media has become a toxic cesspit of transphobia, it’s difficult to pretend that a month of corporate sponsored rainbow celebrations means we’ve got loads to celebrate. I’m really worried about the increasingly divided state of things in the UK; the fact that it is trans people who feel the brunt of this hate is distressing.
But I have hope. Protests are ensuing the world over, and the West is having a collective reckoning with the legacy of white supremacy – that this has coincided with Pride is a powerful confluence. Because Pride has always been a protest, one led by black queer and trans people – the same most vulnerable people of our society, who are being killed at a disproportionate rate. This Pride, we are reminded that the liberation sought by LGBTQIA+ people cannot be separated from the structures of racism which communities are seeking emancipation from. I am reminded more than ever that queer people, who have faced demonisation for centuries, have always responded with resilience – and it is a resilience we must harness to fight all social ills. Pride, for me, is a weapon against oppression in all its forms. – Amrou Al-Kadhi
I wasn’t in the Pride spirit at the beginning of this month, given the devastating global pandemic and the injustices done to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. With physical Pride events cancelled, less corporations were interested in investing in the LGBTQ+ community, less platforms were focused on amplifying our voices, but in a strange way, the latter felt like a good thing if they were focusing on Black issues. Only, I soon remembered how vital it is to honour #BlackLivesMatter and Pride Month simultaneously. One matter shouldn’t drown out the other, the movements overlap and are part of the same struggle for equal rights.
Racism is an LGBTQ+ issue, just like Pride is also a Black issue. I feel like Pride is going back to its roots this year – or at least, it should be. It’s not a celebration of what has been achieved by a conscious effort to highlight and combat what hasn’t. We need to use this time to address and stomp out the racism that exists within the LGBTQ+ community. We need the community to become a more actively inclusive place that with an understanding of racism and anti-blackness. It needs to be a time where white queer people educate themselves and stand up for the black community. We need to do more to stop black trans women being murdered, and appreciate just how much black culture and black people have contributed to queer culture. – Yasmin Benoit
This would have been my tenth year attending Pride in London and like many at this time of year, I would’ve been thinking about who I’d be going with, what parties to hit up, and what outfit to slay in! 2020 has been a reckoning and a wake-up call for so many of us, which fortunately includes the LGBTQIA+ community realising that although we have come so far, Pride is not just a party for everyone.
If Pride is an opportunity for our community to take up space, live out loud and celebrate our existence, it is on all of us to ensure that all parts of the community are represented and feel seen.
After attending the Black Trans Lives Matter protest, I couldn’t believe this was the first Pride I had marched at, nor could I believe that it was the first one that I had attended which had a political cause. There was no Rainbow Capitalism or inauthentic brand marketing in sight, just a real, rallying cry focusing on a part of the community which really needs our strength, support and compassion.
Following this year’s Pride, my hope is that we restore some of the politics that has been lost in recent years. I want us to use the day to highlight issues that need the spotlight all year round, so that someday Pride is a party for everyone. – Lee Gray
I wouldn’t be who I am today without Pride, I marched for the first time 20 years ago and it was a moment I will never forget. It felt like the fiesta of my dreams. I truly felt like I came alive that day, I felt like I had found my people, my tribe! I remember looking out at the parade and feeling so much energy, love and well, Pride actually!
Its so crucial for our community to be visible to all. I’m grateful that we can showcase our right to march to other parts of the World, where it’s illegal to even exist as a LGBTQ+ person. That’s why I carry Pride in my veins and continue to be as loud and proud as possible for all those that can’t!
Pride 2020 is very different to previous years, but the resilience of our community prevails and I think we’ve found new ways, through social media, to show up and show out. Just because we have not physically marched through the streets doesn’t mean we haven’t come together. I have watched and listened to the community rally to make sure we don’t lose momentum, I have seen new levels of creativity in pushing forward Pride in new ways, and why? Because we have to! We aren’t going to just disappear because of a pandemic, we have come way too far to stop now and we have so much further to go! This is just the beginning. – Glyn Fussell
Pride is still happening and not going anywhere. This year we’ll see thousands of micro Prides and bigger online events. Instead of big public gatherings lockdown gifts us the chance to have intimate local celebrations, but with the same festival energy.
It will be a time for friends, family, colleagues to come together, wear the colours of the Pride flags, and fly the flag in their local communities. For those people who were looking forward to stepping out into their first Pride this year, the community has pulled together to produce some fantastic online events, and we’re not going away – 2021 is not too far away. 2020 has seen renewed attacks on trans rights, but the LGBTQIA+ community is standing up and vocally supporting every individual and their right to be who they are, to love who they love, and live a life authentic to them. It has been great to see more of the progressive and inclusive Pride flag. We will keep fighting with sass and celebrating in style! – David Atherton