The focus of DC Black Pride is all about bringing the community together, and that’s especially true of this year’s celebration.
“It was our intention to make sure we get as much representation from the entire community as possible, so we all can show up and experience Black Pride and our truth under the umbrella of this theme that ‘Black Pride is for all of us,'” says co-organizer Kenya Hutton. “Everything is supposed to be blended, we have no events that are specifically for people based on their gender. It’s all available to everyone.”
In keeping with that theme, DC Black Pride’s opening “CommUNITY Reception” will, for the first time, include organizations that historically have not been affiliated with the annual celebration.
“We reached out to organizations all over the D.C. metro area and invited them to come together as co-hosts for the reception,” says Hutton. “It follows along with our theme, which is ‘Our Truth in Harmony,’ speaking to the fact that even though we are all walking in our individual truths, we can all come together under one umbrella for a unified opening reception.”
On Saturday, DC Black Pride will hold various workshops at its host hotel, the Renaissance Washington DC Downtown, focusing on issues of importance to the black community, often from an intersectional perspective. For example, “Building the Tribe” seeks to promote intergenerational dialogue between LGBTQ older adults and younger generations in order to build trust that can serve as the basis for successful working relationships.
“All of our workshops came from the community,” says Hutton. “A lot of our workshops are about bringing people from all over to the table to have a conversation, which might allow folks to better understand each other, regardless of what letter you fall under within the LGBTQ community.”
The focus of individual workshops varies depending on taste and interest. ONYX University, led by Onyx Mid-Atlantic, the leather/fetish fraternity for men of color, will serve as a question-and-answer session to help shed light on and dispel myths about the leather, fetish, or BDSM lifestyle. The workshop will also provide some space for demonstrations of various kinds of fetish play. Another workshop, “Black, LGBTQ, and Christian,” will explore the stigma within religious communities towards people with LGBTQ identities and what it means to be a person who lives at the intersection of being black, Christian, and LGBTQ.
A third workshop, “Ask the Doc,” will engage health providers with expertise in men’s, women’s and transgender health care to answer people’s questions. As part of the workshop, DC Black Pride will set up a private texting application that will allow people to ask questions about health concerns anonymously.
Still other workshops include tips for resume writing and interviewing, a workshop on government consulting led by the LGBTQ+ employees of Booz Allen Hamilton, a town hall for people who are transgender or gender-nonconforming, a separate town hall focused on trans and nonbinary youth, and a workshop looking at the intersectionality between substance use, HIV, and suicide among black queer communities.
Unique this year is a “Tranquility Lounge,” where attendees can relax and get various organic beauty or spa-style treatments from foot rubs to facials, provided by Genise D’Artois of Making U Fierce, from 3:30 to 8 p.m. on Saturday.
This year’s poetry slam, from 6-9 p.m., is named in honor of Mary Bowman, a Black Pride volunteer who died unexpectedly last Thursday and was instrumental in reviving the poetry slam in past years.
As always, various daytime parties and nightlife offerings abound throughout DC Black Pride Weekend. Some special guests attending this year’s festivities include actor Gavin Houston, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 4 winner Monét X Change appearing at Ziegfeld’s/Secrets on Friday as part of promoter Daryl Wilson’s Wet Dreamz Live, and the rap duo City Girls, along with trans performer Miss Shalae, dubbed “The No. 1 Beyoncé Impersonator in the World,” set to perform at Echostage on Saturday as part of Wet Dreamz Live’s “Flewed Out” Party. (Scan through the Nightlife Section on page 56 of this magazine for details on select Black Pride parties.)
On Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, Us Helping Us will host “Pride in the Park,” a day-long festival-style event from noon until 6 p.m. at Fort Dupont Park in Southeast. It will feature musical and dance performances, food, and an outdoor expo and resource fair featuring various vendors with giveaways and information.
From 1-3 p.m., there will be a karaoke contest with up to $600 in available cash prizes, and from 3-5 p.m., a J-Setting competition, a form of majorette-style dancing that has been popularized by bands at historically black colleges and universities, with $2,000 in available cash and prizes. (The entry fee for the J-Setting competition is $25, but there is no fee for the karaoke contest.)
“We’ll have different health and wellness seminars or sessions in tents on the park grounds,” says DeMarc Hickson, executive director of Us Helping Us, People Into Living, Inc. “We’ll also have different festival games like outdoor laser tag, a ‘human hamster ball’ competition, flag football, a potato sack race, and a carnival game where you race to blow up a balloon by filling it up with water.”
DC Black Pride runs from Friday, May 24 to Monday, May 27. The host hotel is the Renaissance Washington DC Downtown, 999 9th St. NW. For a full schedule of events and parties, visit www.dcblackpride.org, www.darylwilsondc.com, and www.uhupil.org.