“There is a big…part of the Black Lives Matter movement that doesn’t acknowledge that Black trans lives matter, or that Black queer lives matter,” says Bob the Drag Queen. “And that is upsetting. I’m really excited to uplift those voices and shed some light on how important Black queer people are to the very fabric of America.”
It’s for that reason that NYC Pride and GLAAD chose to hand the reins of their headlining Pride 2020 event to drag superstars Bob, the season 8 winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Peppermint.
The high-profile pair will co-host and produce Black Queer Town Hall, three days of performances, panels, and discussions, with scheduled appearances by Laverne Cox, Mj Rodriguez, Angelica Ross, Todrick Hall, Monét X Change, Isis King, Shea Diamond, Alex Newell, and many more.
Bob, who is currently co-starring with Eureka O’Hara and Shangela on HBO’s We’re Here, says the event was conceived as “an opportunity to uplift Black queer voices.”
Previously, NYC Pride had announced an entirely different celebration of queer voices, a Pride 2020 Drag Fest hosted by New York City queen Marti Gould Cummings. With tragedy and anger and protest and change came the decision to shift focus.
“George Floyd was just the straw that broke the camel’s back in the middle of a pandemic, where people have been out of work, trying to live off of $1,200 for three months,” says Bob. “It was just a perfect storm that people were like, enough is enough. It’s kind of like the famous quote, ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.'”
Event organizers agreed that the right response to turbulent times would be Peppermint and Bob’s Black Queer Town Hall. “I think we’re on the precipice of great, irreversible change,” said Peppermint in a statement. “And I’m so happy to be involved in an event that could be a catalyst for facilitating powerful, meaningful, and inclusive conversations across the board.”
Scheduled Drag Fest host Cummings, also currently a candidate for a seat on New York’s City Council, says they were fully on board with the switch: “Peppermint and Bob are incredible leaders and are going to make an incredible event. I can’t wait to tune in with everyone else and donate.”
Set to stream on GLAAD’s and NYC Pride’s Facebook and Youtube pages, Friday, June 19 through Sunday, June 21, the Black Queer Town Hall will raise funds for the Okra Project, a nonprofit that extends “free, delicious, and nutritious meals to Black trans people experiencing food insecurity.”
Bob, however, is quick to point out that the event “is not a fundraiser. This is paying Black queer artists, thinkers, movers, and shakers in the Black queer community what they are owed and what they deserve. And I’m very happy to be saying that upfront.
“There will be moments where we entertain. There’s also moments where we reflect. Moments where we mourn. Moments where we rejoice. Moments where we get to think. We’re trying to inspire thinking. A town hall. I don’t want [people] to think this is just a concert, because that’s not what it is. It’s not just a bunch of singers and drag queens getting up and doing their thing. It’s about the Black queer community coming together to offer reflection on our experience.”
The Black Queer Town Hall runs online June 19 to 21, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET nightly, and will stream on Pride NYC’s and GLAAD’s Facebook and Youtube pages. Visitwww.blackqueertownhall.org.
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André Hereford covers arts and entertainment for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @here4andre.
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