Features / Kiki

‘Bristol has really embraced Kiki’

By lowie trevena, Thursday Jun 13, 2019

Having started as a one-night party for Queer, Transgender and Intersex People of Colour (QTIPoC), Kiki has grown into a city-wide community, providing a safe and inclusive place for Bristol’s LGBTQ+ black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community.

Started in 2017 by Sharifa Whitney James, Edson Burton and Linda Devo, Kiki is a place “to meet, greet, eat, discuss, and set the dance floor on fire”. It’s a place for Bristol’s BAME queer community to dance, socialise, eat, drink and connect.

Speaking with co-founder Sharifa Whitney James, she tells of the long-standing need Bristol had for a community where BAME queer people could see themselves represented.

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“I moved here for college when I was 18 or 19, from a village in the west country. It was full of white, middle class people so Bristol was a whole new world.

“But I found that my friends were still all white, I felt like BAME people didn’t ‘get’ me, I felt more comfortable in white circles.”

Peta Shillingford, Sharifa Whitney James and Edson Burton

Sharifa says that much of the UK’s queer spaces were white, and ‘pink-pop’ – often known as ‘pink capitalism’, this is the marketing of LGBTQ+ culture to gay, cisgender, Western, white, upper-middle class communities.

“I hated the Bristol queer scene when I moved,” she says. “There were so many micro-aggressions, when I was out clubbing I would see four or five BAME queer people on a good night.

“I used to go to Birmingham instead because it was the only place where I’d see lots of black, queer people.”

This began to change in 2017, when Sarah-Louise Minter, development and project manager at LGBT Bristol, introduced the founders of Kiki to each other. Kiki held their first night in October 2017. Since then they have held a variety of events including film nights, workshops and socials, while remaining completely self-funded.

“Bristol has really embraced Kiki,” says Sharifa. “We normally have 30 to 70 people come. There’s a real need for it in the city.”

Some of Kiki’s members

Sharifa and the Kiki team have seen a shift in the city’s BAME queer scene and hope that even more allies will support the organisation and spread th word about their work.

“To think that now there’s options for QTIPoC in the city when we previously had to go to London, Birmingham or Brighton to feel like we had a space is just bloody lovely,” says Sharifa.

Photos from Kiki Bristol’s Facebook page.

Find out more at www.facebook.com/KikiSocials

Read more: Team Kiki brings a bold night for the BAME LGBT+ community

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