Coming out of the quiet in Hackney

On Sunday September 9th 2018, a bold, brave, yet overdue event will take place in Hackney.

Hackney has hosted a Caribbean-style carnival for the past 23 years – melding the Caribbean/Latin American carnival traditions of masquerade and steel bands with more modern sound-system culture. Hackney Carnival event is billed as a ‘celebration of Hackney’s thriving cultures and outstanding creativity’. In 2017, 23 resident/community groups contributed to the event . . . in 2018 we are working to add another namely, Hackney’s Black LGBTQI community.

Hackney QTIPOC (Queer/Trans/Intersex People of Colour) Community group was established in March of this year – organising in the face of the particular patterns of homophobia and racism that we confront, working to support each other by increasing our visibility in the communities of which we are part – LGBTQI and minority ethnic

Hackney Pride 365 have been incredibly supportive in finding a great space and securing some funding to enable there to be a space at Hackney Carnival that is curated by QTIPOC.

Local LGBT businesses have been also been really supportive e.g VFDalston will be leading engagement with local artists, and Hackney Showroom are helping to protect our budget by lending us some of their staging equipment.

The organisers of Hackney Carnival have also been very welcoming – Pax Nindi who is a leading light in UK and international Carnival Arts, has expressed interest in both finding ways of making this intervention a success, and sharing the learning with other carnivals who increasingly want to be more vocally inclusive of the LGBTQ people who have often been a bedrock of Carnival communities.

 

Network Rail – who own the site in Bohemia Place, right in the centre of Hackney – have been very accommodating; while they are preparing the arches for letting they have given us a green light to adorn the walls with art.

BlackOutUK, as part of our mission to support community-building/organising, have been working with Hackney QTIPOC Community, lending a hand where helpful. The group have entered into the Carnival spirit, using humour/satire to encourage engagement and visibility. The event will be named the ‘Faggamuffin Bloc Party’ and design is underway on a brand which embraces both carnival and LGBTQ traditions. We all recognise the potential importance of this intervention in terms of boosting the self-esteem of Black LGBTQ people in Hackney, and in providing all carnival-goers with a ‘teachable moment’ about the presence of LGBTQ people (in particular people of colour).

In this spirit, we’re aiming to create ‘art that speaks’ – so that amidst the dancing and frivolity there are opportunities for reflection and the groundwork for dialogue.

Renown photographer and archivist, Ajamu has been working with Hakeem Kazeem (one of the creators of Batty Mama) to create Fierce Productions where, ‘through a series of (10) ‘quick and dirty‘ interviews, we will be celebrating our QTIPOC kin folk, fellow travellers, wandering stars, kindred spirits, mischief makers and cultural nomads.’

 

These short videos are unapologetic, authentic statements about black queer lives in London – disarming in their warmth, humour and resolve. I hope to be able to generate the support (financial and in-kind) to display a set of 10 poster-size images from the films and use augmented reality via block-party-goers smartphones to take with them, the powerful words and insights from the films, in a form that suits them, to be digested at a time that suits them best.

I’ve presented this as an online article, in part because time is short to make this happen and I wanted to be able to reach out to a number of people at once. If you think you may be able to help us turn this idea into reality, do get in touch. In particular I could do with some help on the following:

  • Printing costs
  • Printing, design and mounting
  • Best augmented reality approach (Snapchat? Facebook Messenger?)

I’d be happy to consider sponsorship or in-kind support from ethical brands, tech/media organisations, arts organisations, or those with a local interest – any leads/suggestions gratefully received.

Drop me a line at robberkeley101@gmail.com – let’s talk.