Moving LBT women of colour (Black and Asian lesbians) from the periphery of the scene to the fore, Black Angel gained a reputation for being a friendly, safe space and a truly diverse night for LBT women of colour and allies. Through their use of striking imagery of LBT women of colour and allies, Black Angel provided sorely needed representation and visibility, culminating in the world’s first calendar of (Black and Asian) LBT women of colour in 2004.
This October, Black Angel is bringing LBT women of colour and allies to the fore again with an exclusive club night at Contact, Manchester. 2023 will also see the release of a documentary about the history of Black Angel, accompanied by a powerful touring exhibition of archive images taken over 25 years of groundbreaking events.
Q&A WITH CLAUD CUNNINGHAM, BLACK ANGEL FOUNDER
For anyone who doesn’t know, what’s the history Black Angel?
Paula and I grew up in the 80s. Homophobia was a given and there were no positive images of LBT women of colour which was very isolating. I dreamt of socialising on Manchester’s gay scene greatly anticipating some sort of Utopia. Alas it was not to be. The scene was predominantly white and male-dominated. As a black lesbian I felt invisible. It did not cater for me.
Paula and I met, by chance, in the village one day. We spotted each other as queer women of colour were few and far between. We shared a common experience. We wanted to hear the music we wanted to dance to, see and meet people who looked like us and provide a space where Black & Asian women could feel safe and express themselves.
Black Angel was born.
If you could describe a Black Angel event in three words, what would they be?
Amazing, diverse, fantastic (words supplied by our incredible clubbers!)
Why was it so important to carve out a space for LBT+ Women of colour in 1997?
There was practically no representation for queer people of colour at this time, which was very isolating. It was important because we needed a place were we could be ourselves, have fun, feel safe and meet other people who looked like us. It was great to be out and not be in a minority
It’s been 25 years since the inception of Black Angel; what do you perceive as the defining moments of the iconic club night?
Premiering the world’s first calendar for LBT women in 2004!
Why should people come to Black Angel 25?
The atmosphere will be amazing. Warm, friendly and welcoming. Great music. Very diverse. All are welcome as long as they respect where they are. Also funds raised on the night will go towards funding our upcoming documentary; Black Angel: Feel Free to Be.
What music can audiences expect?
The best old-school RnB, Hip Hop and soul. The type of music that’s guaranteed to fill the dance floor evoking feelings of euphoria!
Why is Black Angel so important today?
Things have not moved on nearly as much as they need to. We’re still hearing about homophobia on Manchester’s gay scene, including the terrible incident that happened to members of House of Spice while socialising in Via Vossa, or the way QTIPoC people were treated at Salford Pride. We still need a safe space where was can express ourselves. We and our white allies need to vote with our wallets and not attend venues/events that are racist towards us!
Black Angel: 25 is at Contact Saturday 8th October. Tickets start from £10, and can be bought at www.contactmcr.com/shows/black-angel-25