Welcome Paff and thank you so much for talking with us here at Vortexa. Please could we start with you sharing a bit about your journey and how that led to the work that you do?
My background is in digital marketing, and I was a couple years into my career when 2020 happened. Luckily for me, I didn’t lose my job, but lockdown was the spark for me to join TikTok, where I accidentally went viral. That year I grew an audience of over 90K people on TikTok, reconnecting to queerness & Blackness while telling my story and coming out as gay and gender non-conforming along the way. This process helped to uncover my ‘why’ – storytelling as a vehicle for representation for other queer POC. Finally, I was seen – and in that act of being visible, I in turn helped others like me feel seen.
As my career progressed, I stepped into a position of running a digital marketing agency in Scotland. However I was still pulled to this ‘why’ which prompted me to found Take Up Space, a community of BIPOC & LGBTQIA+, powered by web3. Together with my wife Hannah Peacock, we built a space for folks to learn, connect, be inspired & above all – take up more space as their authentic selves. We brought diverse leaders from across the globe to speak, provide workshops & mentor our community on subjects like leadership, healing and web3. In June 2022 I wrapped up my agency career to pursue this work full-time. We now have an active discord community of almost 700 change-makers!
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. When we reflect on how far we’ve come during BHM 2022, what are you most positive about?
While 2020 was traumatic to say the least for the Black diaspora, movements like #BLM certainly brought much-needed topics to the light. I’ve seen some advancement in Diversity Equity & Inclusion from a corporate perspective and an overall consciousness shift towards amplifying Black voices and the importance of understanding intersectionality.
Building on your reflections, what are you most hopeful about looking forward to?
I’m most positive about the future of work, specifically the opportunities remote working, tech and web3 has for Black people to create generational wealth. On a separate note, with every new Black superhero, queer romance or example of autistic representation in media, I get excited about the impacts that will have on young Black, queer & neurodivergent kids across the globe. Because you can’t be who you can’t see.
Finally, Paff could we ask you to share some insights on how we could all create and support more change in the future as individuals?
I’ll direct my answer to allies: know when to step up, and when to step back. When you see or hear something problematic, a microaggression or something worse – step up. Use your privilege to call out the behaviour and stand in the way of harm for underrepresented people. When the time calls for centering Black voices, opportunities for sponsorship, mentorship or amplification, it’s time to step back and make space.