EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR KALEIDOSCOPE
LADY PHYLL IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE KALEIDOSCOPE TRUST AND THE CO-FOUNDER OF BLACK PRIDE
What is your background both personally and professionally?
I’m a queer Black African warrior woman, socialist, mother and activist. My life is dedicated to the liberation and visibility of LGBTQ communities and I do this work through UK Black Pride and the Kaleidoscope Trust, and through writing, public speaking and advising nascent movements for LGBTQ liberation around the world.
You are the Executive Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust. What is the Kaleidoscope Trust and what does it do?
Kaleidoscope Trust is a UK-based charity working to uphold the human rights of LGBTQ people across the Commonwealth. We believe the UK has a big role to play in addressing and redressing the colonial-era laws that enable the continued discrimination, persecution and violence directed at LGBTQ people.
Our position within the global ecosystem for change is unique: we are trusted by governments around the world to deliver funding and programmes to those who need it most, and we’re trusted by grassroots organisations to raise their voices in spaces they are often not invited into.
You co-founded UK Black Pride over 16 years ago. What is Black Pride’s “mission statement” and why do we need a Black Pride?
At our core, we create safe and brave spaces for the celebration of our diverse identities. We are Europe’s largest Pride celebration for LGBTQ people of colour, and we host an annual event in London during Pride month, with smaller events throughout the year led by community partners. UK Black Pride has grown tremendously since 2005: our first event was just over 400 people and in 2019 (our last in-person event), over 10,000 people joined us at Haggerston Park in East London.
The continued growth of UK Black Pride is a demonstration of its necessity. The issues we face as LGBTQ people of colour in the UK and around the world are not going away and it’s clear that our collective power is the key to ensuring liberation for us all.
How prevalent do you consider racism to be in the LGBTQ community, and what actions can we take to eradicate it?
For the first time, UK Black Pride launched a community-wide survey, We Will Be Heard, to better understand what life is like in the UK for LGBTQ people of colour, and the findings from that survey show that LGBTQ people of colour face racism from within and outside of the LGBTQ communities.
Regarding its eradication, I’m reminded of Toni Morrison: “It seemed to me the problem of racism ought to be addressed first by those who know its ins and outs from the privileged seat of its origin.”
On a personal, and on a professional level, what achievements are you proudest of?
The birth of my daughter forever changed how I view and interact with the world, and a large part of my compulsion to be of service to others and help shape a better world, comes from the impact she’d had on my life.
Professionally, I feel proud to be called into liberation work and am always so honoured when people seek me out for guidance, advice and consultation (with the appropriate cheque, of course!).
Describe Lady Phyll in three words.
Fierce Black woman.