Thursday, January 20

Lady Phyll: ‘When Gloria Gaynor played, she danced like she would never do it again’ | Life and Style


TO 11 I learned the color of my skin would determine the way I was treated. A friend from school and I were in Enfield Town, when a woman pulling a plaid cart told us that the BNP and the National Front were marching, and that I should hide inside a store because they didn’t like my “type “. At that moment I realized that I would have a different experience in the world than my blonde and blue-eyed friend.

The “lady” in my name It’s not a title, it started as a nickname to clarify that I’m not a guy named Phil.

I became politically active in school, although I didn’t know it. I’d be kicked out of the classroom for asking questions: Why were we only taught about the Battle of Hastings and the wives of Henry VIII? I wanted to know about slavery; the history of Africans and Asians. My requests were rejected. Instead, I sat in the library and taught myself, reading books on Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, and Malcom X.

I discovered I was almost six months pregnant. At 19, I collapsed in a store after a trip to Jamaica. At the hospital they took me to, a smiling nurse opened the cubicle curtain and congratulated me. For an hour I couldn’t stop crying. Today my daughter is my backbone, but then I didn’t want to have children. And I knew that something in my life was not right, I was still looking for a part of me that was missing.

We do not talk about sexuality at home, in my language there is not a word that translates as lesbian, gay or bisexual. That’s why, despite always knowing that I liked girls, I couldn’t articulate what that meant. At age 20 I returned to the library. It was then that I found Audre Lorde: she gave me the words to describe my identity. Since then I never stopped talking.

He passed in a lesbian place for the first time I felt an indescribable sense of freedom. The Hemel Hempstead Bar itself was a dive, but the women held hands, turned and kissed. When they played I Am What I Am by Gloria Gaynor, I danced like I would never do it again.

Refusing my MBE It came with a lot of abuse, but the Empire has a toxic legacy. Being a co-founder of an organization called UK Black Pride, I couldn’t accept something that rose above the people I set out to serve. And it is a well known fact that one queen will not bow to another.

We shouldn’t be debating the lives of trans people. It is absurd that we keep talking about toilets, when people are dying because of the way society treats them. If your feminism is defeated by other people’s pain and pain, but you claim to understand oppression, then something is seriously wrong.

On a good night I sleep five hours, a bad one can be less than three. Sleep apnea and a hint of insomnia don’t help, but mostly it’s my brain that refuses to stop working. I talk a lot about self-care, but I struggle to practice what I preach.

Today i refuse to answer the question: “Why does the UK need a Black Pride?” I’ve wasted too many years justifying.

To survive, I have developed a protective layer. For 20 years I have endured death threats, hate messages, and witnessed the consequences that black lives do not matter. I have hardened myself in order to compartmentalize my emotions. I’m a big softie under everything.

ukblackpride.org.uk/donate


www.theguardian.com

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