Multiculture, Our People

Not safe to be me

– The impromptu march that took our anger to the PM’s doorstep –

On 29th June 2022, the streets of central London were flooded with colour as an impromptu march made its way to Downing Street.

 

Photos by Angela Christofilou

Felix F Fern

 

The #NotSafeToBeMe protest was called to demand that the UK government recognise the systematic mistreatment of all marginalised communities. Trans Activism UK

Earlier in 2021, the government announced that the UK was to host a global event, inviting countries worldwide to discuss the UK’s work on LGBTQ+ rights. However, the “Safe To Be Me” conference fell apart when Boris Johnson’s decision to scrap the conversion therapy ban was leaked. He made a partial u-turn, but trans and non-binary folks were denied the same legal protection.

Over 175 organisations withdrew their support and the conference was cancelled. QueerAF

Photos by Angela Christofilou.

As we headed to make our anger about this known, we did not expect that the Metropolitan police would suddenly develop an allergic reaction to PA systems.

A combination of the new Public Order Bill and the Met not yet understanding the boundaries of the law meant Parliament Square, a space once designed for the human right to protest, seems to now be nothing but a statue-lined tourist attraction.

Thanks to a charming volunteer and the PA ban having a short reach, we got a free police escort and a miniature pride march to Downing Street.

The police’s fumble meant that now we were now on the PM’s doorstep in full force.

In trying to censor us, they just made us louder.

Photos by Angela Christofilou.

Despite a penchant for pastel clothing, I am a fairly low-key person. I spent months doing administrative work for this event to happen. Hours at a laptop with spreadsheets.

But for a moment the daily reminders of how hard it is to live in this world when you’re different just faded away.

I cried at Chris Jae Vanjie’s moving speech about their personal battle with an eating disorder.

I shook with empathy at the power resonating through Florence Schechter of The Vagina Museum’s speech as a queer Jewish cis woman.

I cheered and felt seen as Dr Amy Kavanagh described the similarities between how both trans and disabled bodies are objectified.

Photos by Angela Christofilou.

Speeches from The English Collective of Prostitutes, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, Spectra, Hidayah, Bi Survivors Network, Trans Actual and more echoed up Downing Street.  Trans Activism UK’s lineup of speakers

They spoke of racial injustice and oft-overlooked groups like bisexuals and asexuals. They spoke of queer joy and the magic that is unbridled pride. There were personal stories of awful pain, and there were surprise laughs and so many smiles.

Inspired by Black Lives Matter, there has been an upswing in the popularity of activism. It isn’t just ‘radicals’ anymore.

It’s people like us, nerds who value accessibility and spreadsheets. Whilst the government continues to fail us, we will keep protesting.

Photos by Angela Christofilou.

In just a few hours we covered so many intersections, and that’s what will truly bring us closer to equality.

We have to learn to stand up and fight not just because “we might be next” – but because our friends are already unde.

(Article from QueerAF. For LGBTQI+ news, sign up to their free weekly newsletter.)

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