I refrained from venting my frustration about the well earned reputation of Pride events being focused solely on parties and casual sex and less on creating change in our community in the previous post, so I'm using this post to let it all out. Feel free to disagree with me but this is how I see it.
This post originally appeared on The Quinch.com on my weekly Friday column Darian Out Loud.
For years Atlanta has hosted one of the largest black gay pride celebrations in the country. Black gays and lesbians from all over plan sometimes a year in advance to attend and we converge into the city using every means of transportation available, while simultaneously making it extremely difficult for anyone who is not attending Pride to book a hotel room as most hotels are filled to capacity.
Yes. We come out in record numbers. For an entire week there are parties, social gatherings, workshops (although sparsely attended), and more parties.
Piedmont Park and Lenox Mall are unofficially designated as ground zero for public displays of same gender affection. In the air there is a sweet smell of courage and defiance that is rarely seen during any other time of the year, even causing those from outside of the community to take notice.
Collectively we mask any shame or unwillingness we may have experienced to be open and affirming of who we are in our everyday lives and take up the mantra of Pride.
In recent years black gay pride organizers have worked diligently to get attendees to focus more on community building, our health, and the political aspect of Pride in an attempt to mobilize us to stand firmly in our truth in order to create the kind of change necessary to live more authentic lives.
But we all know Pride just isn’t that deep for most folks. For many of us it’s an opportunity to escape the confines of small towns where we’re often a triple minority and travel to large metropolitan cities to party until our bodies are forced to shut down from either too much alcohol or from sleep deprivation.
But is this all we should be contributing and receiving from Pride?
If half of the people who showed up to Atlanta Black Gay Pride supported organizations like The National Black Justice Coalition, the only national organization dedicated to working on behalf of the black LGBT community or The Black Aids Institute, one of the leading AIDS services organizations dedicated to stopping the increase of new HIV infections in black gay and bisexual men and heterosexual black women, then the limited view we have of Pride would go far beyond labor day weekend.
Our sexuality may be stigmatized, but collectively we can choose to end the silence that has plagued us when our lives are marginalized or used as a scapegoat by those who wish to do us harm. An annual organized event is not needed to do what is vital and necessary for the well being of our community when we have the ability to do it daily.
So what have you done today to feel proud?
Playing in the background
Proud-by Heather Smalls