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Exclusive: UK drag queens explain why having a problem with black and brown Pride stripes is a problem

"For the people out there wondering, the white stripe IS the Pride flag."

By Will Stroude

Manchester Pride’s decision to include black and brown stripes on the Pride flag in their 2019 artwork caused plenty of controversy when it was announced last month, despite being designed to make LGBT people of colour feel better repesented in a community where racism and prejudice sadly remain rife.

Event organisers stood by the move following a wave of online criticism, and now two UK drag queens have got together with National Student Pride to address the public reaction to the inclusive flag design.

In a new video, British queens Sum-Ting-Wong and Tia Kofi explain how many of the comments comments exposed a level of intolerance in the gay community that for them forms part of their daily experience on the scene.

“The amount of people who’ve been angry since the black and brown stripe were added to the Pride flag, [it’s] literally the easiest way to see open racism,” Sum-Ting-Wong says.

“They say ‘I understand your point, but I think it’s gross and shouldn’t be added. Basically to our faces saying ‘I don’t think brown people should be in the LGBT scene’.”

Tia continues: “Their intention is obviously ‘But it represents all of us, if we’re going to have a brown and black stripe then where’s the white stripe’.”

Sum-Ting-Wong replies: “I hate that so much. For the people out there wondering, the white stripe IS the Pride flag.”

“Asking where the white stripe is is kind of the same as people saying ‘But why don’t we have a STRAIGHT Pride’,” explains Tia.

“You don’t have a straight Pride because you’re the majority.”

The pair go on to discuss the offensive gay night poster created by Manchester drag queen Peggy Wessex following Manchester Pride’s flag announcement, which depicted a unicorn vomiting the black and brown Pride stripes.

“It’s one thing not to agree with changing the flag – which is still super-annoying – but it’s another thing to specifically take those things that are representing people of colour and represent it as if it disgusts you,” Tia explains.

“Because changing a flag is not a big deal. If it’s that big a deal to you then you are ridiculous.”

“And also if it’s that big a deal to you, you need to add black and brown stripes to your Pride dresses,” says Sum-Ting-Wong.

“And probably black and brown friends to your friendship group,” adds Tia.

The video comes ahead of National Student Pride in London this month, where Attitude Editor-in-Chief will be co-hosting a discussion panel about racism on the gay scene.

The ‘Pride Not Prejudice’ discussion will feature activist and model Munroe Bergdorf, the BBC’s first LGBT Correspondent Ben Hunte, Brexit whistleblower Shamir Sanni and UK Black Pride representative Moud Gouba.

National Student Pride’s Luca Mitchell, who directed the video, says: “National Student Pride is all about inspiring young people by engaging them in conversation regarding important topical issues facing our community.

“And this video seeks to crack open the door to a wider discussion that will take place on the 23rd of February for our Pride not Prejudice panel in collaboration with Attitude Magazine.”

He adds: “Effectively, we want to educate not only our audience but the whole community, on how to challenge racism.

“We must not be complicit in an issue that affects our queer brothers, sisters, and siblings.”

National Student Pride 2019 takes place 22-24 February. Attitude and National Student Pride’s ‘Pride Not Prejudice’ panel will take place during the free daytime festival on Saturday 23 February at London’s University of Westminster Marylebone campus.