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MNEK and Munroe Bergdorf Talk Black Queer Culture on INFORMAL Podcast

The podcast is INFORMAL, run by Beats by Dr. Dre. A popular podcast series, it brings together leading UK artists and influential names to discuss trending topics important to Black British communities. Hosted by Dotty, Apple Music’s Lead Cultural Curator and UK Black Music and Apple Music Host, the program aims to represent the authentic voices of the UK and beyond in culture.

The thought-provoking conversations not only reflect wider discussions and issues taking place in the world today, but are also personal to the individuals and their experiences. Recorded on 31st March 2021 via video conferencing, Dotty speaks to model and activist Munroe Bergdorf and recording artist MNEK about being role models in the Black queer community and the impact of Black queer culture.

MNEK - chapter z

Image courtesy of: Beats

This is an episode that you don’t want to miss. The trio discuss the importance of acting as role models for fellow queer black people in the UK, especially for young people that might not understand their own identities before they see it represented externally by others they look up to. 

Dotty, a figure who has made waves at Apple Music since she joined in 2020, was particularly stirring with her words, “I sometimes think we have a duty to live loudly so that future generations get to be quiet, they get to just exist and they can just be trans quietly, or they can be gay quietly, or queer quietly, because we were loud enough about it when change needed to come. But I think visibility plays an important part in that because, I didn’t have many people that I could look to when I was a young, black, gay teenage girl.”

One can’t help but think that this is the kind of content that we were all crying out for as queer people when we were younger. Knowing that there are young LGBTQ+ people out there now that will be able to find themselves that bit easier after having seen/heard this takes it beyond just entertainment, it’s ground-breaking.

I just try to be as authentic as possible, and remind people that a role model is not a perfect human being.

Munroe Bergdorf

Bergdorf, a trans woman who has been fighting for trans rights since the days that Piers Morgan daily soiled the seats of Good Morning Britain, offers much wisdom. She says, “I can’t speak for you two, but I had to work through so much shame with regards to my sexuality, with regards to my gender identity and my race because I consistently told those things weren’t beautiful, that those things weren’t as valid, that they weren’t acceptable, that they’re not something I should be proud of, and it’s only during my early to mid 20s that I started to figure out, actually, all of this is a projection from other people and there’s nothing wrong with me. But it’s only really now that people are starting to say that in the mainstream.”

MNEK has great rapport with Bergdorf on the show, speaking about the white washing of queer culture as a “very Caucasian mindset.” He elaborates and says, “The conversations I’ve had with certain people who look like me but maybe don’t live like me about homosexuality have lacked nuance, and have lacked real understanding.”