June 4, 2014 | by Lateefah Williams
Distinct cultural Pride celebrations still needed
Black Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Black Pride Picnic at Fort Dupont Park. (Washington Blade file photo by Damien Salas)

As we embark on Pride season, it is a good time to reflect on the advances that we have made toward equality, and the work that remains. Over the last few weeks we have celebrated Black Pride, Latino Pride, Trans Pride and Youth Pride. Each celebration displayed the pride and unique cultural attributes of these distinct communities. While Capital Pride is much more diverse than it was when it first began, it is still important for those of us who are part of underrepresented or marginalized groups within the LGBT community to have our own celebrations, in addition to Capital Pride.

Progress against discrimination does not mean that our work is complete or that celebrations for different groups within the LGBT community are not necessary. To the contrary, oftentimes progress is the result of the visibility of events like the various Pride celebrations. They help minority communities to feel connection and freely embrace all aspects of our identities. They also allow people outside of our communities to learn more about different cultures, which results in all parties understanding one another better.

David Perez, president of the Latino GLBT History Project, which organizes D.C.’s Latino Pride, says that Latino Pride provides an opportunity to “celebrate Latino identity, culture, history and heritage.”

This year Latino Pride consisted of four events: the World Coronation, a panel discussion on family acceptance of LGBT youth, a bilingual Spanish and English interfaith service and a dance party. A historical exhibit and cultural performances were also a part of these four events.

“It celebrates the full diversity of the Latino and Latina LGBT community,” Perez said. “The importance of Latino Pride is to ensure we have Latino leaders highlighted during Pride and to have bilingual spaces to celebrate our culture. It’s a really exciting time. There were more than 35 community partners. It was a beautiful collaboration.”

Earl Fowlkes, the president and CEO of the Center For Black Equity, (formerly the International Federation of Black Pride), says that “Black Pride is important because it’s still relevant to our community. It’s the way that many black LGBTQ people celebrate their first Pride. For many people, this is their first large scale LGBTQ event.”

“I grew up in Philly and lived in New York. Every ethnic group had their own parade to showcase pride in their ethnicity. With Black Pride, we are creating our own safe space for our community,” Fowlkes said.  He added that we still should participate in Capital Pride, but Black Pride gives us the opportunity to highlight the uniqueness of our culture.

Fowlkes also noted that many aspects of Black Pride, such as the music and the interfaith services, are different from Capital Pride.

“Twenty-four years later, people still want it, people still go to it and some people still need it. Capital Pride is intimidating to some with 200,000 people at the Pennsylvania Avenue festival.”

This year’s Black Pride featured a poetry slam, a film festival, workshops, an awards ceremony and a cultural arts and health expo. For the first time, all of the events were free and there was free food and drinks at the expo. “It was very community oriented,” Fowlkes said.

As we celebrate Capital Pride this week, we should continue working to embrace all members of the LGBT community. We should rejoice that we live in a city where minority groups can celebrate our cultures at distinct Pride events and also participate in Capital Pride.

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