Celebrating Black Gay Pride
FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
These days every month of the calendar is claimed for a celebration of group heritage and history. For some Americans, June means Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. The Los Angeles-based commentator Jasmyne Cannick gives us her take on how black gay and lesbian communities celebrate.
There's a lot of hoopla about June being National Gay Pride Month, including an article in the Miami Herald naming the top 10 gay pride festivals of the year. But noticeably absent from the coverage are the equally popular and highly attended black gay and lesbian pride celebrations of which only a handful take place in June.
America's home to over 25 black gay pride celebrations. These cultural gatherings are flocked to each year by thousands of black gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from all over the country. Some even have a cult following.
The three largest and highly attended festivals include: DC Black Pride, At the Beach Los Angeles Black Pride and Atlanta Black Pride. Ten thousand or more culturally diverse, socially active, event-and-brand loyal, frequent-traveling, beauty-and-health, fitness-and-fashion conscious registered voters that continue to be invisible to corporate sponsors. Doesn't green known the difference between black and white?
What's more, black gay and lesbians don't live in separate communities. We tend to live where blacks live: in Harlem, in South Central, in Oakland and in Atlanta.
And then there's this: black gays are more likely to watch a show on BET than Showtime's "Queer As Folk" or "The L Word." Why? Because we are black, and when was the last time you saw someone black on "Queer As Folk"?
So while most pride celebrations celebrate one's sexual preference, for black gays they celebrate much more. They are cultural celebrations that affirm and empower a community of invisible people in a climate of hostility from pastors, elected officials and sometimes our own family members.
When the black media ignores gay issues, they continue to further divide our community and do a disservice to African-Americans by not addressing the problem head-on. Hate crimes, HIV/AIDS and homophobia in the black church demand our attention right now. If the black media isn't ready to go that deep, the black gay prides are a great place to start because they are positive celebrations of black culture, my culture and others like me that are black and gay.
CHIDEYA: Jasmyne Cannick is a social and political commentator living in Los Angeles.
This is NPR News.