No. 12: Tia on Starting BBZ London for Creative Queer Women of Color

NO. 12: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE BBZ LONDON?

TIA (@tiasimoncampbell) ANSWERS.

LOCATION: LONDON

When I went to University, I think I was the only Black person in my courses. I really struggled to have the confidence to show my work. I felt like it wasn’t valued because nobody understood it. I didn’t have anybody to view it and be able to view it from my perspective, and that really inhibited my ability to really progress in the real world within photography. I just wish I had somebody or a platform to share my work, and build me up so I had the confidence to leave University and pursue a career I wanted.

I just think it’s a fantastic way to build people up confidence and make yourself feel valuable, and what you’re doing is relevant and important to people. I think the important elements are that you feel safe and comfortable, but you’re not staying in your comfort zone in terms of the work that you’re doing. [Also], that you are connecting with other creatives so your network is getting bigger. We also try to make it inclusive for everyone but women of color are the priority and everyone knows it. That is the important part of it. 

Tia

I’ve always been in very White spaces. I had a really hard year last year and I’ve got quite a lot of White friends — a lot of male friends — and when I was going through that shit patch, just trying to relate to people, it was more like an emotional realization that I did not relate to the people who were around me and that was one of the major incentives for me to be like I need to surround myself with other women of color because they just get it.

In terms of work and stuff, I’m somebody that’s unfazed moving through a working environment regardless of who I am around, but I’m also a closed book. Emotionally going through that shit year and realizing “Fuck, I don’t have anybody around me to talk to that I feel comfortable talking to.” That was a massive slap in the face. It’s making me so happy that I’m doing this now and making friends. It’s so hard making friends as an adult. It’s so weird. What do I do? Do I go up to you and say, “I want to be your friend.” [laughter]

Tia

It’s really nice when people come to me and they’re like “Oh my gosh, I met this person there and now we’re working on a project together.” I think that’s been the most satisfying part of it when people can go away and say “I made a friend.”

People are not very open in London and everything being online makes it even harder to communicate with people. I realized how important it is to communicate with people. It’s even nice being out here today. I needed to see nature. I needed to be around it. Change is everything. I feel so much happier for getting out of my house.

I had a conversation with my friend Olivia the other day, who is somebody I know, but not “know, know” her. The other day we just finished an event – she’s a DJ – but she was like “Tia, I don’t know you, but I like your energy. I don’t know anything about you. Tell me something, so I can actually feel you.”

Tia

I talk about being open, but I’m so closed. I find it so hard to open up and it was so nice to hear someone say “I know you’re a nice person. I want to know more.” I think I’m on a mission at the moment to try to accept and give off positive energy because it’s been so long. It’s a reason I have not been making friends and that’s because I’ve been so closed. So I think right now I’m on an open mission. It was really nice being able to connect with her.

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