These five amazing activists just joined the team! 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️

When we heard the news that Birmingham Pride was welcoming five new women to their team, we couldn’t wait to get to know them all! So say hello to Saima, Eva, Char, Naomi and Soriah. Spoiler alert: they are all awesome and they’re here to make Birmingham Pride more incredible, and inclusive, than ever before.

Saima Razzaq

Head of Diversity and Inclusion

Saima was the first Queer Muslim woman to lead a Pride Parade in the UK. She is an ex-BBC producer who also runs her not-for-profit floating hotel, Boatel Birmingham, with which she hopes to diversify the city’s waterways.

Tell us about your new role

I’m so proud of Birmingham for leading by example and effectively becoming the first Pride in the UK to bring on a full suite of paid staff to directly address Diversity and Inclusion. It’s an honour to have been appointed into this team. I’m most excited about enhancing our offering with an equal measure of sober and non-ticketed spaces so everyone in our community feels welcome and represented at Pride.

Fave Pride memory

My favourite Pride memory has to be from 2019 when thousands came and marched, and thousands more lined the streets as a direct response to anti-LGBTQI protests outside schools in our city.

Ultimate Pride anthem 

Not sure if it’s an anthem yet… it’s a Bollywood song called Muje Rang De – the South Asians reading this will know what I’m talking about.

The meaning of Pride

Pride will always remain a protest for me until our existence and love is legal the world over.

Most looking forward to at Birmingham Pride 2021

I’m really excited about seeing Boney M on Saturday at the Main Stage and I really hope they play Rivers Of Bablyon and Rasputin!

Follow Saima @McSaima

Eva Echo

Head of Communications & Engagement

Eva is an activist, blogger and speaker, focusing on trans issues and equality. As well as being an ambassador for the London Transgender Clinic and part of Gendered Intelligence’s GIANTS program, she also sits on the Crown Prosecution Service’s hate crime panel.

Tell us about your new role

My first ever Pride was at Birmingham, so it’s an honour to now be a part of its committee. Birmingham Pride is much more than an annual weekend. It does great work all year round, supporting community projects/schemes and people need to hear about it. I’m looking forward to growing this work, involving the community as well as putting more back into it. I’m a firm believer that long-lasting change should always be rooted there. As a trans person, I also want to create more opportunities for gender diverse people in our city. With trans people currently going through the equivalent of Section 28, I want to use my new position to give a voice and a space to those that need it.

Fave Pride memory

Before I came out as transgender, I used to be a musician and the band I was in at the time played at Birmingham Pride. It was an amazing experience. Though I hadn’t come out then, I still felt drawn to the LGBTQ+ community. Music has always been a huge part of my life too, so being on stage Pride felt right. I was at home.

Ultimate Pride anthem

For me, it has to be Katy Perry’s Firework. It’s an absolute banger (no pun intended). It’s empowering and uplifting… you can’t help but feel good when listening to it, which is what I feel knowing I’m part of the LGBTQ+ community. Plus, it’s Katy Perry!!!

The meaning of Pride

Pride is being part of something much bigger than I am. It’s an ever-expanding family. One that gives me the strength and understands me, because we are all connected by our experiences and struggles. It gives me the confidence to be my own kind of beautiful and to challenge a world that’s so focused on the binary. Pride is both a celebration and a protest, and there’s a space for everyone at the table no matter who they are.

Most looking forward to at Birmingham Pride 2021

After almost 18 months of a global pandemic, where we’ve been isolating and having to rely on an internet connection, I’m just looking forward to being in the same safe space as everyone, celebrating our achievements and remembering those that fought so hard to give us what we have today. Whilst Pride events online have been a great way of staying connected, nothing can replace the energy and atmosphere of a physical one.

Follow Eva on Instagram @evaech0 and Twitter @evaech0

Char Bailey 

Head of Wellbeing & Education

An online influencer and mental health advocate, Char uses her platform to provide audiences with workshops on mindfulness, life coaching and sports performance empowerment, alongside working with UK Black Pride on education and inclusion.

Tell us about your new role

It’s all about our community, isn’t it? Thats why I love it. Two things that I’m extremely passionate about are mental health and youth engagement and development. I have spent the last 10 years immersed in the community. Finding my own chosen family and experiencing my own challenges. This role allows me to collate everything I’ve learned and use it to give back. Already having great relationships and spaces in the qmmunity will really aid my plight to bring people together, share authentically and begin the healing and learning process so many of our siblings need. There is so much to be inspired by and so much to do. I’ve never felt more ready to get to work.

Fave Pride memory

I have two. The first one is when I first stumbled across Birmingham Pride in 2003. I was 13 at the time and was fascinated by the parade, so stopped and watched. It was magical. I stood alone enamoured by the colours and sounds and queerness. I’m not sure how much time passed, but I was quickly brought back to reality after hearing a bellowing cheerful voice, “Do you wanna lolly, bab?” I looked up (all the way up) and saw the infamous drag queen who always wore stilts, swinging a Chupa Chup in my face.  To anyone else I suppose it didn’t look like much, but that connection, although I was slightly scared at the time, made me come alive and was the beginning of being accepted. My second is simply standing on the stage in 2019 with the UK Black Pride chosen family. Lady Phyll had her fist in the air and 15,000 people chanted, “Solidarity”. I realised in that moment how far I’d come from the 13 year-old reluctantly accepting a lolly from a queen.

Ultimate Pride anthem

Pride (A Deeper Love) by Aretha Franklin.

The meaning of Pride

I’ve answered this so many times in many different ways, but today I’m quoting a friend. “Exhale and smile. We’re still fighting for our rights, but you’re safe here with us.” I’m not sure what it means, but thats how it feels.

Most looking forward to at Birmingham Pride 2021

Cannot wait to see Andrea Di Giovanni. Literally listened to their album through an awful break up and it gave me life. Also have to mention Eve. She’s my mum’s fave and it’ll be the first time I’ve taken my mom to Pride.

Follow Char on Instagram @char_bailey_ and Twitter @char_bailey_

Naomi Rowe

Head of Access

Naomi (she/they) is a practising music therapist, vocalist and social activist. She believes she is the only Bi, Jewish, Disabled and left-handed intersectional music therapist working today, at least in the Midlands. They’re Chair of Brum Bi Group, one of the most active regional Bi groups in Britain. 

Tell us about your new role

I first approached Birmingham Pride to help with access and inclusion in 2019, after running an alternative free Pride celebration for two years. I’ve been working with the current organisers for a few months and have written a new access policy and guide for Brum Pride. I’ve also put forward ideas such as a wristband for disabled Pride-goers (visible and invisible), an accessible Parade route and a Changing Places toilet within the festival – and they said yes!

I’m excited because I can facilitate opening up Pride to a whole group of people who’ve not been able to access Pride before, or felt excluded from the events. The disabled/chronically ill queer community are a large and important part of the wider LGBTQ+ movement, so helping Birmingham Pride reflect that and look more like the Birmingham I know is beyond exciting, it’s a privilege.

Fave Pride memory

The first time I marched with Brum Bi Group in a Pride parade was incredibly special. We were welcomed so warmly by the crowds and seeing the young people with their pan and bi flags in hand, some of whom were crying when we walked past, is a memory I’ll always hold dear. I was also lucky enough to be part of the first Bi Pride Float for Pride in London in 2018. I’ll never forget that day, and we made history!

Ultimate Pride anthem

I’m a music fanatic and I’ve done at least three Pride themed playlists so that’s a hard ask. The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance is pretty dramatic and has some great memories attached.

The meaning of Pride

Pride is a fight for visibility and a chance to reflect on how far we’ve come. Pride means being with my community and chosen family, showing the world that we won’t be ashamed of who we are, that being queer really is something to be proud of, and that the love we have for each other is beyond valid.

Most looking forward to at Birmingham Pride 2021

Usually it’s the parade, but this year I’m hosting a bi space on Friday (the community day) and then my LGBT+ choir (Rainbow Voices) is opening the main stage on Saturday. Maybe I’m looking forward to my Sunday lie-in the most…?

Follow Naomi @NRoweMT

Soriah Lewin

Programmer for the Future Stage

A resident DJ across The Nightingale Club and Village Inn for the last five years. Soriah also runs Wile Out, an event focusing on celebrating music of Black origin and providing another safe space for POC members of the community to hear the music they love.

Tell us about your new role

As of 2022 I will be taking over the programming for the Future Stage. It’s an exciting venture for me because it will allow me to contribute and add more diversity and representation of our community through DJs and artists, and provide more variety for the QTIPOC community at Pride.

Fave Pride memory

My favourite Pride memory is easily doing my first ever DJ set on the main stage and looking out into the crowd to see my mom cheering me on right at the front. One the proudest moments of my life.

Ultimate pride anthem

Now that is definitely a tough question for me. I feel like I have a new anthem every year! But a song that definitely sticks in my head as a Pride anthem is 100% Deborah Cox – Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here (Hex Hector Remix).

The meaning of Pride

Pride has always been the ultimate celebration of being your authentic self and doing it unapologetically, but since I started DJing at Pride its meaning changed for me. It is now a chance to give back to the community I grew up in and the community that never ever turned its back on me. 

Most looking forward to at Birmingham Pride 2021

I am definitely most looking forward to my debut set in the Dance Arena on Pride Saturday!

Follow Soriah @Just_Soriah

Birmingham Pride takes place over the weekend of 25 and 26 September 2021. For more info and tickets visit: birminghampride.com.

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