What does pride and community mean today? A perspective from Reeta Loi - TEDxLondon

What does pride and community mean today? A perspective from Reeta Loi

Our Guest Co-Curator for Pride, Reeta Loi gives her perspective as an activist, music artist and founder on what Pride and community means today.

The word Pride in the context of LGBTQIA+ liberation is originated in the acronym ‘Promote Respect, Inclusion and Dignity for Everyone’. The name then became associated with a more radical politics rooted in protest and organising by the group ‘Personal Rights in Defense and Education’ in the ’60s. This in turn led to a wider movement of a number of radical gay political organisations including the Gay Liberation Front.

Activists and organisers were working together for their safety and rights before the Black Cat Tavern raids and Stonewall Inn clashes led to an uprising that we have been celebrating ever since.

Here in the Global North where we have seen increasing rights (for homosexuals at least), whilst watching much of the world still fight for change of legislation that criminalises us for our right to love and be loved, we have also seen capitalism, co-opting and colonisation turn Pride into a moment that sits at grand odds to what it actually stands for. So what even is Pride today?

Photo credit: Leonard Fink.

What is Pride today?

Pride is not a parade, it is a continued, concerted, relentless, active movement of daily organising, strategising and fighting for our rights. Most of this work is invisible, unrewarded (although not unrewarding) and conducted by those on the fringes of society and usually highly vulnerable themselves. Most of us that do this work will never become the beneficiaries of the work we do, but that has never been why we do it. We do it from compassion for humanity and our drive for justice and our overwhelming hope. We do it because we believe in every one of us. This ‘us’ is community.

Without community there is no Pride. 

Without alliances of our communities, there is no peace.

Gay rights protest & Gay Liberation Front. Photo credit: CC by 2.0.

What role does the community need to play now?

The last year has allowed for a return to self and a return to community for many of us. As activists and as humans at this time, I believe we have three jobs to do: 

  • Heal the self as a daily and life-long commitment
  • Create healthy and safe connections and community
  • Link arms in a compassionate alliance with other communities

I would go so far as to say that if you do not consider yourself an activist by the very merit of having been born at this time, it might be time to sit with this.

Our return to community is the focus of this year’s TEDxLondon Pride and I want to share with you some of the spaces that provide community for us today for you to connect with, or to share with those you think may benefit from knowing about them. Each provides a sense of home, community and connection that I’ve experienced personally in my work with them.

Photo credit: Samchills CC by 2.0.

Our communities

AKT

akt (formerly The Albert Kennedy Trust) supports LGBTQ+ young people aged 16-25 in the UK who are facing or experiencing homelessness or living in a hostile environment. They help young people stay safe in a crisis, find emergency accommodation, access specialist support and develop skills and achieve life goals. Founded in 1989, they now have offices in Bristol, London, Manchester and Newcastle, and support LGBTQ+ young people across the whole of the UK.

Support provided by akt includes: access to advice from their housing specialists; one-to-one support through their digital mentoring programme; access to an emergency support pack or tenancy starter pack; accommodation with an akt host; a place to stay in akt’s Purple Door safe house; a safe place to stay with one of their many housing providers; and access to life skills training, events and peer support networks. 

I spoke with some people that have used akt’s services and you can read the interviews here. For more information head to akt’s site.

Naz Project

NAZ is the sexual health charity dedicated to addressing inequalities to help people of colour experience better sexual health. 

As we enter the summer of love, we know that STI rates will go up and our safety has to be paramount at this time, especially those of us who are PoC, as we have the highest rates of STI infection already.

NAZ provide counselling and wellbeing, HIV care and support, community programmes as well as policy and advocacy. For many people, receiving a positive HIV diagnosis can be life changing. The NAZ HIV Care and Support Service is dedicated to enable people to accept their diagnosis and live life to its fullest. Their role is to help newly diagnosed people understand and manage their condition with confidence. For people ageing with HIV their service commitment is to support people live a long and healthy life within their community.

For more information go here.

Aashna

The word “Aashna” is an Indian word meaning ‘devoted to love.’ Pretish Raja-Helm and Shammi Kohli set up Aashna in recognising the struggle diverse groups face in finding therapy that meets their needs, as well as the challenge practitioners from diverse backgrounds face in trying to reach and support their communities.  

As second-generation British Asians, they are very much aware of the need to nurture and facilitate inclusion within the therapeutic field. Their aim is for Aashna to reflect the rich cultural and global society in which we live, a unique therapeutic space, offering individuals from often marginalised, oppressed and stigmatised backgrounds the opportunity to come together, nurture their voices and support each other to facilitate change.

Aashna’s ethos is “embracing difference and diversity in all its forms”

Their vision is to build a community that supports the counselling and psychotherapy field in proactively understanding and recognising the needs of diverse groups and working with intersectionality.

Find out more here.

Gendered Intelligence

Gendered Intelligence (GI) is a trans-led charity working across the UK. Their mission is to increase understandings of gender diversity, for a world where people are no longer constrained by narrow perceptions and expectations of gender, and where diverse gender expressions are visible and valued.

They work with the trans community and those who impact on trans lives; This means they specialise in supporting young trans people aged 8-25 and their families, with their extensive youth and community services. They provide training and consultancy in both professional and educational settings to create a more inclusive, welcoming and supportive environment for everyone. They also run events and offer volunteer roles providing opportunities for personal and professional skills development. And they campaign for trans rights, across the UK and beyond. 

More on GI here.

For more community organisations head to gaysians.org. Reach out and tell them Reeta sent you.

We would like to thank Reeta for providing this insightful perspective on Pride and community today, as well as sharing this list of spaces for LGBTQIA+ people. Reeta is one of our Guest Co-Curator this Pride and you can see more of her and other amazing speakers at The Long Queer Conversation on Wednesday 30 June at 6.30-8pm BST. Sign up here


About Reeta Loi

Reeta Loi (she/they) is a Music Artist, Writer and Community Builder. Reeta is the Forbes 100 Woman Founder & CEO of Gaysians, the growing alliance of 24 organisations supporting the Asian LGBTQ+ community. As Contributing Editor at Gay Times Reeta has catapulted the topics of racial unity, queer history and mythology, representation in drag and women in music into uncharted territory. As a VICE Documentary Reporter Reeta uncovered a gay marriage scam in India. Reeta’s work continues to break down barriers and she speaks on the themes of healing, purpose, home, diaspora, love & sex to the worlds most influential minds.