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Looking at the recently released lineup for the 19th Annual DC Black Pride celebration, it’s obvious that the mood is all about reinvention, filtered through this year’s theme, ”Pure Love.”
”We know that there have been some disconnects in our community, and basically that’s just what the theme represents this year,” says Khalid Parker, president of DC Black Pride. He first got involved as a volunteer for the event in 2006. ”We’re trying to bring back the love from our community and the support from promoters.”
Parker says this year’s week of events — which officially kick off on Sunday, May 17, culminating with the signature Memorial Day Weekend festival, Monday, May 25 — are geared toward the younger African-American GLBT community.
”The younger generation is basically what we’re looking at,” he says. ”As a matter of fact, our beneficiaries this year are the Wanda Alston House and Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care.” Parker hopes this year’s events send a clear message to the younger GLBT black community about what DC Black Pride is all about.
”The strong message of the mission of DC Black Pride is ‘pride within,’ seen from people that you come in contact with. People need to know that you’re comfortable with who you are, that you love who you are. It’s just the basic message of pride.”
One addition to previous offerings is the ”Liberty Showcase,” currently scheduled for Sunday, May 24, to showcase grassroots talent in the African-American GLBT community.
”We’re embracing the ‘house scene,’ as well as the LGBT fraternities and sororities,” Parker says. ”That’s something that I don’t think has ever been done, because a lot of people don’t know about those social avenues.
”There’s also another social outlet through dance called ‘J-Set,’ that’s mostly popular in the South. It’s definitely something that’s very big in the gay community. Basically it’s like when the people do [choreographed] routines,” Parker says of the drum-major-inspired moves.
The Mr. and Miss DC Black Pride pageants will mark the start of DC Black Pride on Sunday, May 17, but Parker is especially excited about the DC Black Pride Styles Fashion Show, set for Friday, May 22.
”We’re trying to take it to a different level,” he says. ”We’re actually incorporating the message of safe sex, HIV and AIDS into the fashion show. You will see elements of that all around. Especially with the [HIV/AIDS infection-rate data] that just came out, I think that’s very imperative.”
Another thread running through the festivities is a greater reflection of what attendees have told organizers they want to see during the DC Black Pride celebration.
”They’re going to see more of their input in terms of the event this year,” says Parker. ”We definitely are listening to what the people are saying. It’s not that we haven’t in the past, but I’m just doing everything I can to bring that stuff to the forefront.”
This DC Black Pride host hotel is the Renaissance M Street Hotel, 1143 New Hampshire Ave. NW. For reservations, call 888-803-1298.