A member of our team called me aside this week and asked what the position of the Ubele leadership was in terms of the liberation of queer folk?
As I sat and listened and asked more and more questions, it became clear to me that the people that make up the Ubele team and who make the Ubele network are not aware of the history and antecedence of the organisation’s leadership. They do not know of the campaigns we involved ourselves in, or the personal journeys we have all been on that have taken us to where we are now.
As I listened to the challenge, I wanted to scream “Do you know me?” but the sadness of what I was hearing left me feeling weak. As I listened, I also heard something about the importance of the space that we currently occupy to our team. As this young worker approached me, with all of the trepidation of a young person questioning an elder, she reconfirmed to me that I was no longer just an “unemployed black youth from north Paddington” searching for comfort in an uncomfortable space. I had grown into leadership in a space that years ago, I was also searching for.
She reminded me that as a leader, we have responsibility to those who come new- to not assume that they know what I am or what I believe. Unless I tell them, they may assume all kinds of things about me and my work. Unless I tell them, they may not know that I support them. So there is a need to be explicit. To state time and time again the values and politics which I hope holds us as a team.
June was “’Pride month”. It happens once a year, but is very much a part of our everyday lives and history. In 2021 71 countries still regard it a criminal offence, and in 11 of them worldwide, it is punishable by the death penalty!
We take this opportunity to say to our staff, our friends, our supporters and others that Ubele stands with the LGBTQIA community. We recognise the impact of the intersections between Blackness and Queerness. That the experience of racist oppression coupled by heteronormative ideals is a fraught one. We encourage and support all LGBTQIA people- and in particular, Black LGBTQIA people, to see Ubele as a space where we can together plough the field of ignorance and oppression.
We call on the leaders of all Black-led organisations to take advantage of this time to be explicit to your friends and supporters. An explicit recognition can go a long way.
We stand with and support the call for us all to be as queer as we wanna be.