The 19th annual Philly Black Pride Celebration takes place April 25-29, kicking off with a march and rally from the Aloft Hotel and ending at City Hall.
“We just wanted to do a little more around community,” said Le Thomas, PBP president. “Although we have out-of-towners who come to the celebration, we want to make sure that we have a few things specific to the community that they can partake in and feel like this is theirs.”
One such community-oriented event is a day of service, for which The Colours Organization and Resources for Human Development will open their projects and activities to Pride participants.
The Black Pride Celebration takes place in different cities around the country, but it all started in Philadelphia in 1999.
“It’s exciting and nerve-wracking in a sense because we set the tone of what the celebration would look like,” Thomas said, adding that Philadelphia was the first city to host Black Pride.
Some 15 local social-justice and health organizations have made this year’s celebration possible through sponsorship, including PHL Diversity, Philadelphia FIGHT, the Center for Black Equity and The Colours Organization, which initially sparked the creation of PBP.
Other events will take place throughout the city. Earle Fowlkes, president of the Center for Black Equity, a multinational coalition of Black Pride organizers, will lead a roundtable conversation on bias and stereotypes at Penn’s LGBT Center. The William Way LGBT Community Center will host the List Ball, an evening of performances, competitions and prizes.
Events such as the roundtable discussion are particularly important to facilitate face-to-face dialogue within the LGBT community, said Fowlkes, so he plans to address the dissonance arising between different generations of the LGBT community.
“It seems like the older people want to maintain certain titles and biases, and it’s hurting our community,” Fowlkes said. “For each generation and each group of people, as they become empowered, words keep being invented. Younger people are less hung up on stereotypes and descriptive adjectives.”
The addition of black and brown stripes to the rainbow flag in Philadelphia also caused some controversy in the gay community last year.
“Some people say, ‘A rainbow is supposed to represent everybody, so why do we need black and brown?’” he added.
PBP presents an opportunity to “to tell our stories,” Fowlkes said. “It’s one thing to be in total ignorance about what a transgender man’s issues are if you don’t know the person, but when you hear them, you’re responsible. You can’t just close your ears.”