Black Pride marks a decade of dedication

Black Pride marks a decade of dedication

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Got Pride?

Well, the thousands of LGBT people of color and allies who are expected to flock to the city this week for Philadelphia Black Gay Pride certainly do.

The 10th annual festival will run from April 19-26 and will provide guests dozens of opportunities to explore their own LGBT pride and get a taste of the diversity and spirit of Philadelphia’s black LGBT community.

This year’s festival — themed “Got Pride” — will feature some returning events, such as the second annual Miss Philadelphia Black Gay Pride Pageant, as well as new entertainment, networking opportunities and the chance to become engaged in timely discussions about issues affecting the community.

Attendees can enjoy PBGP’s first-ever worship ceremony, 7 p.m. April 21 at Healing Stream United Church of Christ, 401 E. Indiana Ave., which will be led by numerous choirs, solo vocalists and dance- and mime-ministry groups.

PBGP president Chris Alston said the worship service, where guests can contribute a free-will offering, will be held in collaboration with Unity Fellowship Church of Philadelphia, Healing Stream Ministry, Empowering Ministries and the Metropolitan Community Church.

He said the organization had to rely more heavily on its community partners this year than ever before, as the city cut its funding for the festival in half.

“We have just had to be more creative in our planning,” Alston said. “At the end of the day, however, we are struggling to make PBGP happen this year and have had to push certain revenue-generating activities to help possibly raise some of the money needed for other important activities.”

Many of the events are still free of charge, and Alston said he expects participants to respond just as positively to this year’s PBGP as they have in the past.

“We have a great group of volunteers helping us and we have some great activities planned throughout the week, so we are hopeful that even with the cuts and changes, our visitors and participants will have a great time,” he said.

LGBT artists will take center stage at PBGP’s “One Night Stand” spoken-word competition, 7-9:30 p.m. April 22 at the Rum Bar, 2005 Walnut St., and the “Sing Out Strong” vocal competition, 8-11 p.m. April 23 at the Ethical Society Building, 1906 Rittenhouse Square.

The festival’s opening reception, which will bring together numerous city officials with PBGP organizers and guests, will take place from 6-8 p.m. April 24 in the Fairmont Ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4100 Presidential Blvd., the host hotel for the event. The reception will feature light refreshments and a performance by Brittiany Mason.

Also that night, guests can head to the Junior Ballroom at the hotel for the 10 p.m. “Keeping it Reel Film Festival,” which will include the screening of “Dreams Deferred: The Sakia Gunn Film Project,” a documentary about a gay teen murdered in New Jersey, as well as conversation with the film’s producer, Charles B. Brack.

Movie lovers and night owls can spend the rest of the night at “Movie Madness,” which will kick off at midnight and feature such films as “Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom,” “Stranger Inside” and “Dakan.”

On Saturday, participants have a host of activities to choose from right at the hotel, including myriad workshops on topics like the transgender journey, black men’s health, lesbian sexuality and financial planning, and all guests can receive free and confidential HIV tests from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Those looking for love can partake in PBGP’s “Spring into Love” speed-dating event from 5-8 p.m. in the Junior Ballroom, and those looking to meet up with old friends or make some new ones are encouraged to come out to the first-annual pool party from 6-9 p.m. at the hotel’s pool.

PBGP will honor its “Sheroes and Heroes” during its third-annual Legends Awards Ball from 6-10 that night. This year the group will recognize the efforts of local LGBT and HIV/AIDS activists Charlene Moore, Judith Peters, James Roberts, Chris Bartlett and Zane Booker; will induct Rose Williams into its Mother’s Circle; and will give its organizational award to Philly Pride Presents, a group Alston said “stands as an empowering symbol of pride for all our community.”

PBGP will also present Next Generation Leaders awards to local activists Soda Nobuhle, Leo Watts, Sheila Colson-Pope, J. Mason, Lee Monte and Brittiany Mason.

Individual tickets to the ball are $65.

Several other events will take place that night, including a women’s tackle football game at Benjamin Johnston Memorial Stadium, presentation of the play “Walk Like a Man” at the Arts Garage and a consecration service at Healing Stream Ministries UCC.

Beginning at noon the following day, PBGP will host its closing party at Shampoo, 417 N. Eighth St., where guests can enjoy beats by DJ Robbie Rob; performances by Bry’Nt, Sgt. Sass, Khalif, L.Y.F.E. and OTS; a comedy performance by Tammy Peay; the final round of the “Sing Out Strong” competition; and the presentation of this year’s Miss Philadelphia Black Gay Pride winner.

Alston said he hopes the festivities will demonstrate to visitors the dedication local LGBT people of color have to their community and city.

“We hope that our guests will leave Philadelphia with the feeling of pride [and] will have experienced the rich culture and diversity not only that Philadelphia has to offer, but the LGBT community of color has to offer, making them thirsty for a return visit during our 11th-year anniversary celebration.”

For more information and a complete list of PBGP 2009 events, visit

Jen Colletta can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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