It’s been days since DC Black Pride‘s Pure Love Unity Festival wrapped up with a performance by Crystal Waters, but organizers of the annual event that ran from May 21 to 25 are wasting no time in planning next year’s celebration.
Daryl Wilson, presenter of the 2009 opening and closing parties, is hoping to meet with organizers next week to talk about planning something even bigger and better to commemorate the 20th anniversary of DC Black Pride in 2010.
When talking to Metro Weekly on Memorial Day, Wilson was still enthused about the 2009 DC Black Pride festival and Waters’ performance at the event, held at D.C.’s Love Nightclub.
”Her performance yesterday was just unbelievable,” he says. ”It was incredible. I felt like I was at a Janet Jackson concert.”
Khalid Parker, president of DC Black Pride, says he was ”amazed” by the 20-plus performers who took the stage at the festival before Waters on Sunday, as well.
”I thought everyone did an absolutely amazing job,” pointing to a wide variety of performers, from musical style to gender expression. ”The crowed really loved that. Everyone seemed to have been energized and having a good time.”
Parker says looking back over the Memorial Day weekend celebration, which included an interfaith service, a poetry slam and several parties, the Superfly Fashion Show in the New Hampshire Ballroom of the Renaissance M Street Hotel, the event’s host hotel, remains a highlight.
”We had some hiccups with the sound system, but we kept on going and the audience didn’t really [notice] because the show was so energetic,” he says.
It was also during the Superfly Fashion Show that a local lesbian couple exchanged vows in a commitment ceremony.
”Everyone absolutely loved it,” Parker says. ”They were in dresses that were made by one of the designers and a minister came out and performed the ceremony.”
DeAngelo Redman, a contestant from the fourth season of the MTV series Making the Band, sang for the couple after they exchanged vows.
Wilson describes the 2009 event as ”one of the best Prides in the last four years.”
While Parker and Wilson say the amount of money raised and the number of attendees is currently unavailable, they call the 2009 event a success, adding that in addition to the strong turnout at the festival, the fashion show and the Pure Love Unity Dance Party were at ”maximum capacity.”
”I’m still in complete amazement,” Parker says.
”It has been a very smooth process. We didn’t have any major hiccups or anything like that. We didn’t receive any complaints, everyone that I talked to just loved how everything was setup and how it as organized and how it was one of the best Prides they had been to in such a long time.”
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Parker says he is tired and can finally let go of some of the stress he’s been carrying since October. He was particularly worried when initial plans to hold the festival at the D.C. Armory generated some negative feedback.
”People just expressed that they didn’t want to be at the Armory,” he says. ”I was kind of worried when we changed it to Love, about the transportation. But we were providing a free shuttle service. I didn’t think people were going to get word about it, but they did.”
Despite the success, Parker says he’s disappointed that there were not many local performers at the events.
”I thought that it was disappointing that a lot of the entertainment came from other states. They came on their own dime, because they wanted to be a part of DC Black Pride. We did attempt to get D.C. entertainers, however, no one wanted to volunteer their services.”
In the end, Wilson says he’s hoping people who attended the DC Black Pride events walked away learning something new.
”Black Pride is not just about the parties and jumping up and down and meeting boys,” he says. ”It’s about awareness, letting the young generation know how to protect themselves, wear a condom, go to these free testing sites and get tested for HIV/AIDS and know your status. Don’t just go preparing to go out all night, and stay out all night and get drunk. Learn something about Pride while you’re here.”
For more about DC Black Pride, visit them online at www.dcblackpride.org.