The answer is that we don’t have “two Prides.” Georgia has at least eight Prides this year, including Atlanta Pride, Black Gay Pride, Augusta Pride, East Side Pride, Marietta Pride, Savannah Pride, South Georgia Pride and Chattahoochee Valley Pride.
But we never hear anyone ask about the need for the other Prides in addition to Atlanta Pride, just Black Gay Pride. And that’s worth talking about.
Many people who live in Augusta, Marietta, Savannah, Valdosta and Columbus come every year to Atlanta Pride, which is much larger than their festivals. So why do they need their own Prides?
The reason, of course, is that although they enjoy being part of the larger group, they also want the opportunity to address issues and provide empowerment specific to where they live.
It’s the same for Black Gay Pride.
We don’t just live in geographic communities; we also live in other kinds of communities. Often, despite all of our goals of inclusivity and integration, those communities are at least somewhat defined by race.
And that’s okay. Integration doesn’t have to mean assimilation, where we have to give up the unique aspects of our culture. Equality doesn’t mean everyone has to be the same and like the same things.
To be certain, African Americans and people of every race are welcome at the Atlanta Pride festival in October, and the organization is doing a better job each year of drawing a diverse crowd.
Likewise, white people and people of every race are welcome at Black Gay Pride.
It’s similar to straight allies who attend Gay Pride festivals: the event may not be focused on them, but their support is still appreciated.
But Black Gay Pride gives black attendees the opportunity to celebrate being gay with people who “look like” them — to see their culture reflected in the faces of those around them.
Think back to the first big gay event you attended. Remember how good it felt, to finally be in the majority?
That’s what it feels like to be black at Black Gay Pride. Why would you want to deny anyone that joy?
When ignorance becomes something worse
The idea that Black Gay Pride somehow represents “segregation” is also a myth that needs deconstructing.
That starts with acknowledging the extreme irony inherent in white people complaining about segregation, when — while other races are certainly capable of it — white people have been the perpetrators, not victims, of most of the segregation in this country’s history.
If you are white and question the need for an event you see as not explicitly including you, that’s something you need to think about.
And if you are white and feel the need to make comments questioning the need for Black Gay Pride on articles covering the tragic shooting death of one of the event’s organizers, that’s something you really need to think about.
Durand Robinson, co-owner of black gay nightclub Traxx and an organizer of Black Gay Pride events, was gunned down Aug. 25. As news of the killing spread across Facebook and gay websites, so did comments that ignored the tragedy and focused only on the event he helped organize.
“So he was the one who was promoting segregation by organizing a separate ‘black’ gay pride in Atlanta. Good riddance!” one commenter wrote on the Advocate.com.
“This is the 21st century, and we don’t need someone still trying to shackle us to the mid-20th century! Pride is for everyone!!! Why is there even a need for a separate gay black pride???”
A commenter on the cheeky gay site Queerty.com was more succinct: “Black Gay Pride? ‘Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,’ I guess.”
Luckily, other users of these two national gay websites countered these willfully ignorant comments, with most arguing that Black Gay Pride is needed because there is still racism in the gay community.
While we definitely need Black Gay Pride because there is still racism in the larger gay community, I think we should still celebrate Black Gay Pride even if racism is completely eradicated — just like I hope Gay Pride festivals in general continue long after we win full equality.
Why? Because we will still be bound by our shared history, shared culture, and shared community.
That will always be worth celebrating.
Laura Douglas-Brown regrets that she won’t be able to join in many of the Black Gay Pride festivities, as she has to attend a gathering of people from around the country who happen to share the same grandparents or great-grandparents — in other words, her massive annual family reunion. Please visit www.thegavoice.com for daily updates on Black Gay Pride events, and have a wonderful time at your “family” reunion, too.