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Black Pride: LGBTIs of color are left out of Pride Month

Black Pride: LGBTIs of color are left out of Pride Month

An LGBTI Black Pride pool party in Orlando, Florida.

While we all rev up for Pride Month in June, the fault lines of race and class in our largely white community are exposed.

We have come along way as LGBTIs since the first Pride march in the US in 1969. We tend to use this month to laud our advances. These include hate crime laws, legalization of same-sex marriage, and making homophobia a national concern.

We have gone from a disenfranchised group on the fringe of American society to a community many embrace.

But not all members of our community have crossed the finish line. All are not equal. And Pride events can be public displays of those disparities.

The birth of Asian, Latino and Black Pride

LGBTIs of color did not experience cultural acceptance from larger Prides. Most Prides are predominantly white events, leaving people of color excluded and invisible.

So, after decades of pride events where many LGBTIs of color tried to be included and weren’t, our communities founded Black, Asian and Latino Prides.

If you’ve never been to one, you’ve missed Sunday gospel brunches, Saturday night poetry slams and Friday evening fashion shows. We hold bid whist tournaments and house parties. And so often there’s the smell of soul food and Caribbean cuisine, and beautiful African art and clothing on show.

In other words, Black Pride has become distinct from dominant queer culture.

Different priorities

LGBTI people of African descent have used these events to set out their own agenda. Again, this has often been distinct from the ‘mainstream’ Prides.

We have focused on HIV and AIDS, unemployment, housing, gang violence, and LGBTi youth homelessness.

Again, this June large numbers of LGBTQ people of color will be absent from Pride.

Boston Black Pride 2017 took place in February, commemorating Black History Month and National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness. It offered hip-hop yoga, a Mix and Mingle Drag Paint Party, to name a few.

Sadly, a health issue like HIV shows the growing distance between the white LGBTI community and LGBTI communities of color. Once AIDS was a top priority for the entire LGBTI community. Now the HIV crisis predominantly affects communities of color.

Poor, young black and Hispanic men who have sex with men are disproportionately likely to contract HIV.

LGBTIs of color fighting HIV

But what news outlets fail to report is how much LGBTIs of color have done to stem the spread of HIV. They’ve helped not only themselves but all gay and bi men.

For example, the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition (HBGC) kicked off their event in Boston in 2015 with an expo – ‘Our Health Matters, Too!’

Health booths, workshops, exhibits and screenings filled the expo. They discussed sex positivity, prostate health, trans health, domestic violence, LGBTI depression and more.

People tested for sex infections, vision, hypertension, and HIV. And the community came out.

What’s changed since the first Pride?

The 1960s were a revolutionary decade. LGBTIs felt the urgency for change. But our community has moved from ‘Why we can’t wait!’ to ‘Where do we go from here?’

The answer, in my opinion, is that we must network and build coalitions beyond our immediate communities. We need intersectional social justice activism to foster healthy and wholesome communities.

Prides are a chance for us to connect political activism with celebratory acts of song and dance in our fight for justice.

But the events remain fraught with divisions. They should highlight the multicultural aspect of joy and celebration. That’s what symbolizes our uniqueness as individuals and affirms our varied expressions of LGBTI life in America.

Because as long as LGBTI communities of color continue to be absent each June, Pride Month is an event to not be proud of.