Philadelphia Black Pride will return next week, with opportunities for the black LGBT community and allies to network and celebrate.
Black Pride President Le Thomas said the organization’s board is smaller this year, which resulted in fewer community partnerships. However, Thomas said he believes the event will still be successful.
“I wanted to keep things focused on what we thought was important and not to spread the board too thin,” Thomas said. “I wanted to keep things streamlined and focused so it’s a little smaller but it’s still impactful.”
One returning event is the April 23 Strength Alliance’s Connecting Communities BBQ, which the organization held for the first time in 2015 but not last year. The Strength Alliance, a human-services nonprofit, will connect the LGBT community to health resources from more than 30 providers. Mutha Knows, from the Power 99 FM radio show “The Rise-N-Grind Morning Show,” will serve as the celebrity host.
Another event Thomas noted was a “Lunch and Learn,” which will be held at noon April 28 at the African American Museum, 701 Arch St. The event includes a panel discussion and guest speakers discussing local health and wellness issues. City Director of LGBT Affairs Amber Hikes will be one of the speakers.
Thomas said the purpose of the “Lunch and Learn” is to “change the narrative in a more progressive way.”
“I want the conversation to focus on progression, what people have been doing in their respective areas and how they can get people to help or join in,” Thomas said.
Encouraging people to “join in” is part of Black Pride’s theme: A Movement.
“It’s about people responding to a lack of change and getting involved,” Thomas said. “That’s how it works. We all stood on the shoulders of our ancestors and some people have been standing on our shoulders but it has to move forward. They can help in some way, shape or form.”
Philadelphia Black Pride has been the subject of criticism on social media with the hashtag #PhillyBlackPrideBeLike; users claim the event excludes trans people and lesbians. Thomas noted the organization is entirely volunteer-based and he encouraged people to get involved by checking out the website.
“It is OK because everyone is entitled to their opinion,” Thomas said about the criticism. “What I would say to people who have those opinions about it is, ‘Get on board. Join the board.’ We welcome all people to join the board and participate and help increase the narrative.”
The next application period for board and committee members is Sept. 1-Oct. 1. Interested members can fill out the form at www.phillyblackpride.org/jointheteam.
“You can’t sit on the sidelines and criticize if you are not doing something actively to help change what the perception is,” Thomas added, also noting some misconceptions about Black Pride’s programming.
“Sometimes, people mistake the partying or the lack of concern about where we are as people,” Thomas said. “But in dancing, there’s joy and resistance. You have to allow people to have that moment. Once that passes, they will be more than willing to jump in, lend a hand and help.”
Thomas said this year’s programming will connect to Black Pride’s mission.
“Black Pride is all about celebrating yourself in the movement, what we have accomplished and what we still have to accomplish.”
Visit www.phillyblackpride.org for a full schedule.