This weekend’s Baltimore Black Pride event finds the organization “in a growth year.” Current Executive Director Durryle Brooks says the planning committee is “redefining what Black Pride can and should be for in the next iteration.”
This year’s theme is “Healing & Celebrating Ourselves.” It kicks off Oct. 5 from 7:30-11:30 p.m., with a community opening networking session at the Downtown Radisson Hotel (101 W. Fayette St., Baltimore) with a DJ, food, vendors, resources on gender and name change and more. On Oct. 6, “Healing Black LGBTQ Trauma: Health, Agency & Love” will be held at 11 a.m. at the Jacques Journey Center (880 Park Ave., third floor). Brooks will give a presentation from his dissertation research on black queer love.
On Saturday at 7:30 p.m., a community gala will be held at the Radisson where local leaders will be recognized. And on Oct. 7 from 12-3 p.m., Sunday Family Funday will be held at the GLCCB (2530 N. Charles St.). Baltimore Black Pride is helmed by The Center for Black Equity Baltimore (cbebaltimore.org). Search for Baltimore Black Pride on Facebook for details and updates.
Brooks says it’s hard to say how long Baltimore Black Pride has been in existence since it started as an unofficial event “at least since the early ‘80s.”
“It has been told to me that the co-founders started it out of necessity,” Brooks says. “Out of the fact that so many of their brothers were dying from AIDS back in the early days of the epidemic. They created Black Pride to center, hold, honor, support and encourage one another through some of the most frightening days of the epidemic.”
Brooks, who attended “frequently during my formative years,” accepted the director position in January. A group of between five-16 plans each year’s event. Attendance is hard to estimate though Brooks says block parties can sometimes attract “thousands.”
“Black Pride is about recognizing and honoring our roots,” Brooks says. “It’s about recognizing how far we have come and how far we have to go.”
Brooks, a native of Baltimore, works by day as a research associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He’s planning a wedding with partner Blair. They live in Waverly in East Baltimore. Brooks enjoys karaoke in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out for over 20 years, but I’ve known since first grade! I think the hardest person I ever had to tell or that I felt it mattered to was my grandmother who raised me.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
What’s Baltimore’s best nightspot, past or present?
When I was coming of age, there was a club called Sportsmens. I loved it and had some very wonderful experiences during my formative years.
Describe your dream wedding.
Well since my wedding is May 11, 2019, I guess the one I’m planning. I think if I could have my way we would be married on the water, maybe a boat near a beach or a lake with about 40 family and friends.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Education for sure. I think education can be transformative if we understand what it really means to teach and educate in liberating ways.
What historical outcome would you change?
Christopher Columbus discovering the “new world.”
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
When Whitney Houston passed away. I was in Jamaica for work and I just remember the loss I felt was palpable for me and others in the bar that I was in.
On what do you insist?
Finding ways to love ourselves more and more every day.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I posted today that it’s my one-year anniversary of vegetarianism. It’s a struggle but I love it.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Chillllle, you made it! Now Do Good Work!”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I wouldn’t change a thing.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I hope that there is something there. Maybe it’s just the mystery of it all and that is enough.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Intersectionality is not an option. We must center the experiences of those most marginalized if we are to truly grapple with issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, bi-phobia, etc.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
For greater clarity about my purpose and my life. A deeper connection to myself.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That all LGBT folks have style.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I don’t really have anything that I covet. I would say I would love a Grammy or an Oscar because people say I can be overly dramatic.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Something along the lines of, “Don’t let that man’s good looks and charm fool you” or “You’re enough.”
Because it’s the greatest city in America!