A tribute to Lady Phyll

  • October 2020
  • 7 minutes

Phyllis Opoku-Gyimah (known as Lady Phyll) was born in Islington, London in 1974. Coming from a working-class background, Phyllis has spent her life campaigning for the rights of queer, trans and intersex people of colour (QTIPOC).

Some information about what Lady Phyll achieved

Lady Phyll spent much of her life addressing the intersection of racism and homophobia that the QTIPOC community is often subjected to. She also worked with the Public Commercial Services trade union for over a decade, advocating for workers’ rights within the union, and is a trustee of Stonewall.

Lady Phyll is a co-founder, trustee and executive director of UK Black Pride, Europe’s largest pride event for the QTIPOC community. She launched the event in 2005 as a small event for the Black Lesbians in UK network, in Southend-on-Sea, and has helped developed and grow the event.

The 2019 London event was attended by 8,000 people. Her work on growing UK Black Pride has won Lady Phyll widespread recognition, including the Black LGBT community award, being honoured in the Independent on Sunday Pink List in 2011, and being named on the World Pride Power List in 2012.

In 2016, Phyllis publicly turned down an MBE for her campaigning and activism work, which partly gave rise to the nickname Lady Phyll. The reason she gave for turning down the MBE was the toxic legacy of British colonialism, which has led to harmful laws across the world and the outlawing of homosexuality in various countries.

Why I find Lady Phyll inspirational

As a proud African lesbian, Lady Phyll embodies our theme of stewardship – she has taken it upon herself to build a safe space for the QTIPOC community to celebrate their identity and thrive at UK Black Pride. She tirelessly campaigns against racism, homophobia, sexism and discrimination. I became aware of her work on UK Black Pride and felt more people should be aware of her key messages regarding QTIPOC and the discrimination they have faced. 

 

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