Trade unionist and founder of UK Black Pride
First UK Black Pride
‘Our aim is to foster, present and celebrate Black LGBT culture.’
Phyllis Opoku-Gyimah also known as ‘Lady Phyll’ is a co-founder, trustee and executive director of UK Black Pride. She is a lesbian woman of Ghanaian heritage.
Opoku-Gyimah is a dedicated trade unionist. She worked for many years at the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Trade Union. She had several jobs at PCS including Head of Political Campaigns and Equality. She has been a member of the LGBT and Race Relations Committees of the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
Opoku-Gyimah is also an equalities campaigner. She particularly focuses on intersectionality. The word intersectionality describes the interaction of different identities and discrimination. She says society does not recognise intersecting identities. She wants people to be aware of the injustices facing the Black LGBT+ community. They face both racism and homophobia. She says intersecting and overlapping oppressions result in great inequalities.
After coming out, Opoku-Gyimah joined an organisation called Black Lesbians in the UK. However, the group was mostly online and she wanted to get them together in the real world. They organised a trip to Southend-on-Sea, in Essex. It was an important experience for her. She realised how much a Black Pride event was needed in the UK. Trade Unions supported the idea from the start.
UK Black Pride was set up to promote unity and co-operation among all Black people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American descent who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans. It provides the space and support for black LGBT+ people and their friends and families, to come together. It celebrates their achievements and encourages the wider LGBT+ community to be more inclusive.
Opoku-Gyimah says the racism, and sexism the LGBT+ community faces is very real and that people of colour are not visible enough at Pride events and in the LGBT+ media. The UK Black Pride event is led by Black LGBT+ volunteers and is now one of the most diverse prides in Europe. It is part of the International Federation of Black Prides. It also organises networking and social events through the year.
In 2019 the Kaleidoscope Trust appointed Opoku-Gyimah as their Executive Director. The Trust is a UK charity supporting the human rights of LGBT+ people around the world. It supports LGBT+ people in countries where they are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Opoku-Gyimah is on the Board for Justice for Gay Africans. She was also a trustee of Stonewall until 2019, when Stonewall and UK Black Pride started to work more closely. She has won many awards including the European Diversity Awards Campaigner of the Year in 2017.
Opoku-Gyimah speaks at many public events. She continues to argue for a politics of inclusiveness – an inclusiveness that recognises the diversity of LGBT+ communities, and an inclusiveness that allows Black LGBT+ people to speak for themselves.