Black, Queer and Vegan!

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Sounds like a mouthful, doesn’t it? Experiencing the world through these lenses is certainly a handful!

Being black, queer, and vegan colours the way I see the world. Pride month is a month dedicated to celebrating our struggles against discrimination alongside acknowledging some of our triumphs as a community.

Quick history lesson: June was chosen as a pride month to remember the Stonewall Riots that broke out in Greenwich Village, New York City, on 28 June 1969 after the police raided one of the city’s most popular gay clubs, prompting the regulars to fight back courageously through protesting.

A month where my sexuality is celebrated free from stigma and shame. A month where I can participate in virtual pride events while having pounded yam and egusi soup for lunch with palm wine to wash it down!

Growing up as a gay Nigerian, I was socialised to believe that there was nothing positive about who I was and was subsequently conditioned to live a pretentious life to fit into society. This special month is a month where queer people can celebrate their journey of self-acceptance and being free to continue evolving as individuals.

The pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement as well and other key social movements that occurred over the past year heightened the importance of acceptance, self-awareness, awakening a unique kind of social consciousness.

A social consciousness that reminded us of the value of life, irrespective of our identities and life choices.

Identity clash? Both vegans and queer folks are often misunderstood across the world. In fact, ignorance has led many to think that we are missing out on something better. Arguably, being queer may increase the likelihood of standing in solidarity with other significant issues like climate change.

A key difference though is that I made a choice to be vegan for health reasons and the preservation of our environment whereas being a gay man is an identity ingrained in my DNA.

Let’s talk business! Rainbow washing- a performative act of allyship where businesses fly the rainbow flag across their social media channels for pride month has now become a common practice. The question is- are they really practicing what they preach?

If you are a business owner, making sure that your team is diverse and inclusive goes a long way so try and use this month to get to know your queer staff members as you might even find their stories inspirational.

As a consumer, you can stand in solidarity with us in this special month by supporting black and/ or queer-owned businesses and donating money to charities that are on the frontline supporting the LGBT community in the UK.

Above everything else, be kind!

-Tochi

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