UK Black Pride to return with three-day weekend of ‘love and rage’

UK Black Pride postponed coronavirus

UK Black Pride is set to return this year with a three-day weekend of “love and rage”.

What started as a minibus trip to Southend-on-Sea in 2005 has blossomed into Europe’s biggest celebration for LGBT+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American and Middle Eastern descent.

But after the coronavirus pandemic turned the world on its head last year, UK Black Pride went digital, with some 30,000 Pride-goers tuning in.

For 2021, UK Black Pride, now in its 16th year, will buck the trend of some organisers cautiously announcing in-person events for 2021 by once again going online.

In a blog post on the UK Black Pride website, executive director and co-founder Phyll Opoku-Gyimah confirmed that the event will run from Friday 2 July to Sunday 4 July.

“To honour what has been a tremendously difficult year for so many in our communities, UK Black Pride’s 2021 theme is ‘Love and Rage’,” she wrote.

“We’ve seen firsthand over the past year our communities’ persistent commitment to each other; the ways we show up, in big and small ways, is nothing short of inspiring.

“We continue to show what it means to love, to love hard and to love against the odds.”

Opoku-Gyimah admitted that, for so many, the return of UK Black Pride was much-needed, “but we can’t yet say with confidence that we could put on a physical celebration and keep our communities safe,” she wrote.

“The safety of our communities is our responsibility – and one we take very seriously – and so we have taken the decision to err on the side of utmost caution.”

The days-long event will be filmed and streamed live from an unannounced east London venue.

UK Black Pride announces 2021 theme as ‘we have a lot to be mad about’

No matter what form UK Black Pride returned with this year, it’s an event that will no doubt carry an even greater sense of defiance and urgency in light of the numerous accounts of racism against Pride in London.

Former volunteers, directors, performers and scrutiny board advisers lambasted Pride in London’s former bosses for, they said, “ignoring” Black and queer communities of colour.

Even mayor of London Sadiq Khan dubbed the event a “mess” and called for it to be “reset and refreshed” – calls amplified by Stonewall alongside top bisexual rights groups.

Pride in London’s co-chairs, as well as other directors, eventually bowed to criticism and left their voluntary posts in March.

In the wake of Pride in London, as well as the months-long Black Lives Matter protests that seized London’s snaking streets last summer, Opoku-Gyimah reflected: “We are also raging, disappointed and tired.

People gathering at the UK Black Pride in Haggerston Park in London, 2019. (Quintina Valero/Getty Images)

“Our communities continue to be overlooked and undervalued, tokenised and discarded.

“From constant gaslighting to this country’s steadfast refusal to address and redress structural and institutional racism, we have a lot to be mad about.

“Our anger is righteous. Our love is righteous.

“Our 2021 theme claps back against the many ways we are told who we are allowed to be, and how to grieve, love and rage.

“We will not be quiet, we will not be meek. We will be heard, and we will be loud.

“UK Black Pride is the space where each of you can show up as all of who you are, with your rage and disappointment, with your unyielding love and capacity for joy.

“We can’t wait to celebrate and rage with you. Let us show what is possible when we show up in our fury, committed to loving each other and changing the world.”