My night at the nOSCARS

Earlier this month I was both honoured and surprised to be nominated for the LGBTQI Award at the nOSCARS. If I’m honest, I didn’t know what the nOSCARS were. I later found out the nOSCARS is the annual red carpet event celebrating the people, programmes and media making a positive difference to sexual health outcomes in Black Asian Minority Ethnic communities — and is the only event of its kind in the UK. My nomination was a pleasant reminder that you never know who is watching.

I heard the stories of incredible nominees, outstanding winners and had my mind blown at the sheer selflessness of the people that surrounded me. Women who, for decades had educated UK BAME youth on sexual health, men who had created micro-services enabling young, gay men of colour to face their demons, trans people who made themselves vulnerable in order to help others, people who had dedicated themselves to truly serving a community — many were allies, many were victims but they were all fighters.

I met Swati Mandela! She gave the most powerful and inspiring humanitarian empowerment speech and spoke about the realities of being part of a famous dynasty that lived with HIV and AIDS within the immediate family. I listened to a choir for people living with HIV, named Joyful Noise, it was made up of gay men, bi men, lesbians, HIV+, sex workers, activists, allies all smiling as they sang ‘I’m Every Woman’. I was overwhelmed by the sheer happiness and energy that filled the room. Whilst joyous, the evening was a sobering reality: there is a significant gap in the sexual health outcomes of BAME communities compared to the general population.

Chappy is dedicated to creating a safe place for people to date, connect and meet like-minded people. It's this safe, transparent and accountable environment that helps the community make better decisions. Decisions that could ultimately have an impact on their current and future mental and sexual health. By convening community leaders, independent surveying organisations, focus groups and Chappy community members to discuss issues affecting BAME LGBTQI people, Chappy will continue to learn how to best serve everyone within the community.

I was inspired by the stories I heard, and along with the support of Chappy, we're now thinking of additional ways to be a force for good within the community and that should always include our BAME family.

Lerone Clarke-Oliver — Head of PR UK