Isaac Blake

 
Isaac Blake was born in 1979 and lives in Cardiff, UK. Isaac is a proud Gay Romani Gypsy and has worked as a professional dancer and choreographer. He is currently Executive Director of the Romani Cultural & Arts Company.
 
As Executive Director of the Romani Cultural & Arts Company (RCAC), Isaac has developed arts and performance programmes on Gypsy and Traveller caravan sites with young children and adults, worked in schools and colleges, and promoted arts as a medium for empowerment and advocacy throughout Wales with Gypsy, Roma and Travellers. His leadership and management of the RCAC have seen the organization grow from a small voluntary group to a major third sector (NGO) agency that leads the Romani and Traveller field in Wales and is one of the major players in Romani and Traveller advocacy and empowerment in the UK. 
 
Isaac always knew that he was gay. His older brother is a tarot reader, and when Isaac was in his teenage years, his brother told him that he can see a lot of men in his future. Isaac got embarrassed and told him to stop. Now Isaac can see that this was a defense mechanism to protect himself. In his 20s Isaac got a three-year scholarship to do contemporary dance at Trinity Laban University, and he moved to London, leaving his Gypsy and Traveller caravan site behind. Having the opportunity to be in a big diverse city made him feel comfortable enough to come out. When he came back from London, he found the strength to tell his family that he was gay. His mother did not initially deal with it well and told him that she would not tell anyone from their community and that she would still try to pair him with girls. His brother knew that he had always been gay and so he accepted it. Isaac’s brother was happy that Isaac could live the life he wanted.
 

Isaac kept his Romani Gypsy life and gay life separate. For example, when he was in town with his Roma friends, he made sure that they would not pass by any gay bars or areas where he knew he might bump into somebody who knew that he was gay. He did this because of fear of discrimination. 
 
In 2019 Isaac’s colleague Christine Lee suggested that they should do an LGBTQI Gypsy, Roma and Traveller conference - http://www.romaniarts.co.uk/lgbtiq-gypsy-roma-traveller-conference/ in Cardiff, UK. For this Isaac and other participating colleagues had to provide a speaker’s biography. This is when Isaac formally changed his online profile to acknowledge that he was Gay; changing his status from ‘proud Romani Gypsy’ to ‘proud Gay Romani Gypsy’. Isaac called this his “digital coming out”. The people closest to Isaac knew that he had always been gay, but some people from the community were surprised and checked that his brother knew. It will never be 100% easy with the community, but it is easier than it used to be
 
Link to Romani Cultural & Arts Company: http://www.romaniarts.co.uk 

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller LGBTQ+ Spoken History Archive: http://www.romaniarts.co.uk/gypsy-roma-and-traveller-lgbtq-spoken-history-archive/
Download: Gypsy, Roma & Traveller LGBTQ+ Spoken History Archive Book http://www.romaniarts.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/RCAC-GRT-LBGTQ-BOOK-download-copy-final.pdf