This blog has been selected from the My Moon Landing weekend training, Be the Ally, and is part of a five-issue blog series sharing a small snippet of learnings from different training sessions. This training featured talks from change leaders about advocacy and how our community can take action to foster a supportive and inclusive atmosphere for Black women, LGBTQ+ and non-binary people in society.
Lady Phyll, a Black woman of Ghanaian heritage is an internationally renowned advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and is consistently doing deep intersectional work. Our conversation naturally touched upon the work of Audre Lorde, Black social movements, individual and collective leadership and succession-planning.
Our conversation starts with Lady Phyll taking us back to the early noughties and the inception of UK Black Pride (UKBP). She fondly reflects on the event she ran for the Black Lesbians in UK network, in Southend-on-Sea. She described the feeling of community, of 'occupying our own space' and sharing so much fun, rest and ease together. The feelings she experienced sparked a thought, she asked herself, ‘how wonderful would it be if this was a regular occurrence, on a larger scale’. The political climate at the time involved a strong presence of the far-right, islamophobia and rising hate crime so she and the collective felt they must do something. She painfully remembers being met with racism and strong resistance from the wider Pride community when she brought forth the idea for a Black-focused pride event.
She describes unity as a response to the rejection they received and then came UK Black Pride. What started off as a humble £477.27 in the account and 200 people in 2004 has become 10,000 people and counting since 2019.
This growth caused her to reflect on her own journey and she left us with two main takeaways:
There is wisdom in your own leadership journey that cannot be bought or bypassed.
Here she described learning the meaning of authenticity. She thought out loud about the different spaces that ask us to bring our authentic self to the table; work, friendship, family, and how all of them will receive her authentic self. She went further to show how each situation will call for an expression of her authentic self e.g. her professional self - strategist, advisor, decision-maker; her true self with friendships - rawness, gentleness and so on. And she rounded off this point by talking about the importance of knowing one’s boundaries and recognising the expectations of different situations is a real superpower.
Sometimes movement building can lead to organisation building.
Lady Phyll reflects on the UK Black Pride journey that spans 17 years. In those years, she has learnt a lot about good strategy, mission, vision and can now apply those learnings to the growth of the organisation. She seemed to honour the space in between 2004 and 2021, and talked about witnessing the swell of love and passion that has existed in UKBP’s volunteers, the immense talent walking through the doors, its varying operational demands and how this is calling for a new level of leadership from her - mainly thoughts around succession planning, employment, funding and collaboration.
She closed our conversation reflecting on the 'nourishing' time we had together, learning together, and encouraged everyone listening to regularly revisit the importance of boundaries and situational expectations.
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