“I had the luxuries of both worlds”

Gary and his mother Lisa

I have been lucky enough to know Gary for nearly ten years; he was one of my son’s first ever football coaches, his enthusiasm and his positive attitude helped develop my son’s love of the beautiful game. Over the years we have kept in touch and after talking to Gary about mixed he agreed to come into the studio to be photographed with his mother Lisa for the project, after the shoot we were able to have a chat to Gary to find out more about his family and his experiences growing up in London in the 90’s….

“My mum and dad met in north London in an area called Holloway where they were living at that time and they had the same circle of friends. They were around 15 years old when they met. I think from that point they were together for about another 10 years before separating. My Dad’s a middle child in a Caribbean family from Grenada. His parents came over to England in a boat, as far as I know. He’s got 6 brothers and a sister; they were all born here …so I’ve got a big background on my Dads side! My mum, Lisa is a Londoner.  Her grandparents met in north London and the family has been in the same area for the past 60 years. Mum’s family all originate from North London…I went to school in Somers town, which is between Camden town and Kings cross. There were definitely gangs, which were often based on the colour of your skin. The school I went to was made up of mainly Asians and Whites, but there were also Blacks and a few Mixed Race kids too. I used to get beaten up loads by the Asian gangs, but the whites and blacks generally stood together beside me and held my corner.

When I went round my Mum’s side of the family, they just saw me as being me and when I went to my grandparents’ on my Dad’s side, they also just saw me as me. They didn’t judge me. They didn’t do nothing like that. So I grew up in a happy home, as they say. I remember when the tick boxes first came round; I didn’t know what to tick because they didn’t have too many boxes. They just had white, black and mixed. I always thought that’s not really what I am, so I didn’t know what to tick, which meant I left it blank. But as they got more boxes I started looking and asking, what am I? So now I tick usually Black Caribbean other or mixed Caribbean. I had different models, different things. One day I’m in the pub with my Mum’s side playing pool and darts and the next day I’m in the park with my Dad’s side having a barbecue. So I had the luxuries of both worlds…they brought me up to feel the same as them. Multiculturalism! – It does exist. No so much outside London, but definitely in London it exists. Further North you go you still have divides but in the south in London, it’s multicultural. You’ve got everyone. There’s multiculturalism in jobs. My team is half black half ginger. (laughs)”

Thanks to Gary and Lisa for coming in and taking part in mixed.