After going to DC Black Pride two years ago, I made it a point to go again this year. While I immerse myself in the LGBT community in Baltimore (where I live), very rarely do I get a chance to be in spaces that are specifically Black and queer. One of the best things about Pride is not only do you get to congregate with folk like you, it is an opportunity to learn more about the unique struggles within our community.
On Thurs May 24, I went to the ‘Using Black Political Power to End HIV’ panel discussion. The event was led by Impulse Group – DC Chapter, a nonprofit org that focuses on sexual health, HIV awareness and prevention, and advocates for people living with HIV/AIDS. The panelists included Rev. Karon Sadler, Miss Lawrence, DC radio host Poet Taylor, members of Impulse Group, and political commentator/writer/professor Keith Boykin.
Keith Boykin has been someone I’ve looked up to for years. As a young black gay boy, he was one of the first black gay men that I saw and related to. Before I even started to educate myself on the LGBT community and the intersections of race, gender, and sexual orientation, Keith Boykin offered (and still does) a window into what it is to go through the world as a double minority. He was gracious and kind when I spoke with him and I even took a picture with him! The importance of advocating for yourself and your community was echoed throughout the panel especially in the political climate we’re in. We must show up in the polls, hold politicians accountable after the votes are in, and tune in to serious reporting on news stations if we as black queer folk want to see actual change in our lives.
The next night, Sat May 25, was my chance to get my life on the dancefloor with my fellow black queer folk. When I found out that Shangela, the true winner (IMHO) of Season 3’s Rupaul’s Drag Race All Stars, was performing at the DC gay nightclub Secrets, I had to go. I’ve been to Secrets dozens of times, but I have never seen so many people there before. The club was jam packed, full of black queer folk (mostly men) as they danced, vogued, and sang their hearts out to music that normally doesn’t get a lot of play at most gay clubs. Seeing my people be unabashedly black and queer was a sight to see! When Shangela finally performed, the crowd was entranced by her as she danced and lip-synced for her life to Beyoncé songs. As my friend Phillip and I left we felt a distinct sense of gratitude and joy. To have your existence validated and celebrated is something every human deserves. Happy Black Pride!
Dorian Holliday, Baltimore, MD