Interview with Chardine Taylor-Stone

The British LGBT Awards took place on Friday 12 May in central London. Whilst most of the categories go to celebrities and corporates, we were closely watching the Outstanding Contribution to LGBT+ Life as there were a number of grass roots women in the Top 10 shortlist.

We caught up with Chardine Taylor-Stone who took this coveted prize at the glitzy awards ceremony.

Q. Explain a bit about what you do and why you do it?

I'm a writer, cultural producer and community organiser. This means most of my activism is usually done through a creative lens. It's about creating inclusive spaces and challenging those that aren't. Most of my work focuses on Black women, so yearly I organise Black girls picnic which has become a bit of a movement worldwide with black women creating 'self-care' spaces across Europe and even in Australia. I also started Stop Rainbow Racism which kickstarted a conversation on racist acts performing at LGBTQ venues. I play drums in Black Feminist punk band Big Joanie and I also do a lot of stuff around music subcultures and women in them. That's just a small amount, so I could be called a "jackie of all trades". Someone described me as one of the leading Queer feminists in the UK, which was nice. Would look good on a t-shirt. LOL! Q. What challenges do you come up against? With Stop Rainbow Racism some of the challenges of getting venues to commit to the code of conduct is difficult as there is still.

Chardine Taylor-StoneQ. What challenges do you come up against?

With Stop Rainbow Racism some of the challenges of getting venues to commit to the code of conduct is difficult. One of the most common comebacks is that thy are supporting "artistic freedom". When Queers perform racist stereotypes it is called "artistic freedom" but when straight people perform Queer stereotypes the community is quick to point out homophobia. This hypocrisy just shows how we have failed to understand, that first, black LGBTQS exist, and second, being a marginalised group does not give white LGBTSQS free rein to disrespect other people and cultures. If anything we should be doing better. This opens up a whole conversation on LGBTQ assimilation into white heteronormative society and whether we want to change the values of the system or just sit there cosy whilst other groups are penalised. I think White LGBTQS need to remember that as soon as they come for people of colour they will always be next on the list, history shows us this time and time again. Where there is racism there is always homophobia.

Q. What was your personal highlight in 2016

Speaking at UK Black Pride! Playing at Afropunk and the first Black Girls Picnic. I'm sure there is something else as well!

Q. What one message would you give to other LBQ women looking to support a cause?

When getting involved in activism or a cause think realistic how much time you can give. It is okay to say No if you feel overwhelmed. It can be draining so taking time to do things that remind you that there are positive things in the world are important.

Q. If you could sit next to anyone in the awards from the shortlist, who and why?

I was already sitting next to the person I wanted to, my partner. I'm very lucky to have a supportive partner and family who are incredibly accepting of everyone. Sometimes informed by racist stereotypes people make assumptions about the entire Black community being homophobic, homophobia is a problem in all communities and there are plenty of White people I know who have been cut off or have problematic relations with their family. Besides that probably Russell T Davies in the chance that I might be able to be an extra on Doctor Who! I think I would make an excellent alien!

Q. What does winning a prestigious awards mean to you?

It's amazing as well as bemusing! In my mind i'm just doing what I think needs to be done and although I am busy, my day to day life is still pretty normal! I guess I hope someone like me winning a British LGBT Award makes other POC LGBTS feel that their voices and work are recognised and to keep going. I also feel as someone who is vocal about racism and sexism on the scene to win this award is a sign that the community is trying to move forward on these issues. We still have a long way to go but at least we are starting. 

Watch Chardine's acceptance speech here:

Find out more about Chardine's causes

Black Girls Picnic:

Stop Rainbow Racism:

Big Joanie: