LGBT History Month – Lady Phyll

Posted on February, 2024

Today in our profile series celebrating the contribution of LGBT people to society we’d like to introduce you to the powerhouse that is Phyll Opoku-Gyimah

Lady Phyll With Permission

Born in London in 1974, ‘Lady Phyll’ is a human rights defender, activist for LGBTQ people, a self described Black lesbian feminist, and cofounder and (as of January 1st 2024) CEO of UK Black Pride.

With extensive campaigning history across race, sexuality, gender and the trades unions movement, she is considered by some to be one of the UK’s best known lesbian activists. For many, she is perhaps best known for being part of the team behind the now almost twenty year old UK Black Pride.

The origin story of UK Black Pride starts with a day trip to Southend on Sea in 2005. A group of Black lesbians planned to hire a mini bus, to go out together, to celebrate themselves and simply be together. In her own words,

‘We deserve to be surrounded by people who love us, who understand us and who want to see us win. We deserve moments in which we can breathe, relax, let our hair down, where we don’t have to worry about explaining our existence to others. We deserve to find joy publicly, loudly and with abandon.’

The mini bus wasn’t big enough.

It wasn’t long before three buses were needed and, the rest as they say, is history. The day created space for fruitful conversations to flow and the seed was sown. 2024 will see the 19th UK Black Pride, and it is now Europe’s largest celebration for LGBTQ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American descent.

With her characteristic commitment to recognising, honouring and valuing others, Lady Phyll is clear that UK Black Pride is not about her, or solely created by her.

Unapologetically forthright, and with a global view, Lady Phyll’s influence extends far beyond the borders of the UK. Her advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights and social justice has been felt globally, inspiring similar movements and fostering a sense of solidarity among marginalised communities. Her approach serves as a model for creating spaces where individuals can come together, uplift one another, and collectively strive for a more inclusive and equitable world.

Lady Phyll has received a number of awards and accolades – she was included in the Independent on Sunday Pink List 2011, and the World Pride Power List in 2012. She won the the 2012 Black LGBT Community Award, and more recently, was included in the 2020 ‘100 Great Black Britons’ list.