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Photographer Bex Wade writes about seeing one of the community’s key role models perform at Madrid Pride.
After spending time being immersed in the warmth and community of the Gypsy sexual dissidents, it seemed only fitting that my last night should be spent with them watching their heroine, Noelia Heredia, perform at the closing party for Madrid Pride. La Negri, as she is affectionately known, had been fondly mentioned by many Gypsies we’d interviewed, so I was especially excited to see her in action.
Hailed as a pioneer within the Gypsy community as both a musician and for her activism, she has given a strong and supportive voice to those who are LGBT and Gypsy. La Negri has performed at many Pride festivals and in 2016 was presented with an Equality Award from The Adriano Antinoo Association for her fight for equal rights. A flamenco singer and self-taught cajon player, La Negri has performed globally, but as she told me later over a family dinner, concerts such as Madrid Pride in the heart of her own community mean so much to her. She explained, ‘In the future, equality is needed for Gypsy people. I imagine a future where you have freedom to choose who you are.’
As La Negri ended her captivating performance she held aloft both rainbow and Romani flags, beaming as she listened to the cheers of the crowd shouting her name alongside cries of, ‘Thank you,’ and ‘We are seen.’ Her fans in Plaza del Rey erupted, it was clear in that moment just how important role models are to communities who seek visibility, and the part music and notoriety can play in connecting marginalized peoples.