Bed-Stuy Pride Day Highlights LGBTQ+ People Of Color

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“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”- Audre Lorde

The Audre Lorde Project and The Safe OUTside the System (SOS) Collective, this Sunday hosted their 9th annual Bed Stuy Pride at Herbert Von King Park.

The local festival celebrates queer and genderqueer people of color through resources and historical expos commemorating famous LGBTQ+ people of color such as Audre Lorde and Marsha P. Johnson, and family-friendly wellness and workshops.

Lorde, a New York native with Grenadian descent and who died in 1992, dedicated her poetry and writing to promoting intersectional feminism and exploration of queer black female identity. In fact, she was a leading pioneer in the concept of intersectionality.  

According to their organization website, the Audre Lorde Project, started in 1996 and is, “a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color center for community organizing, focusing on the New York City area.

‘Through mobilization, education and capacity-building, we work for community wellness and progressive social and economic justice. Committed to struggling across differences, we seek to responsibly reflect, represent and serve our various communities,” the website continues.

Some of the other events and programs the project supports includes the SOS Collective, an anti-violence program challenging hate crimes and police violence using community based strategies, TransJustice, a political group celebrating trans and gender non-conforming people of color, and Third Space, which helps Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Trans, Gender non-conforming people of color with employment, education, health care, and immigration.

Similar to the NYC Pride and Curlfest, attendants of the Sunday event dressed with a variety of colors and culturally-sensitive apparel that celebrated queer pride and counterculture in Brooklyn, New York.

The festival, catered to BedStuy LGBTQ+ residents of color, features local artists, vendors protecting queer identities and sexualities, DJ sets, and healing methods.

Photo by Louric Rankine

Some of the healing methods provided at the festival were metaDEN, a queer trans People of Center centered healing incubator promoting meditative and spiritual practices, and Capoeira Mucurumim, an Afro-Brazillian martial dance focus on bridging cultural gaps, combat community violence, and promote empowerment of self and others.

A week before the festival took place, the Audre Lorde Project hosted a community safety training to offer skills and practices in conducting a festival with security and protection for people of color and allies.

The training and festival came as racism and discrimination in the genderqueer community remains heavy amongst people of color, where some have commented, “it’s like being a minority within a minority”. 

It also came a month after the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, and amid people of color in the LGBTQ community building more presence, especially after the legacy of famous gay liberation activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who identified as black and Puerto Rican, respectively.

Bedford Stuyvesant over the past two years has struggled with queer politics and homophobia, with stabbings, assault, and shouting homophobic slurs happening to queer POC residents.

The Community Altar, a memorial display of victims of homophobia, transphobia or queer discrimination in Brooklyn at the festival, allowed conversations for allies and members in the community to find ways to progressively protect queer-identifying people of color against racism, misogyny, and other incarnations of queer injustice.

This led to chants of, “We will be saved outside the system” from the audience.

LGBT Network Director of Programs JR Cehonski said the LGBT Network works with the Audre Lorde Project, the organizer of the event, in many ways.

When they reached out to community partner for exhibitors at their Pride event, we were eager to join them,” said Cehonski.

“The rhetoric of hate continues to be amped up across the country. At a time when immigrants are being vilified, and 14 black transgender women have been killed on 2019, it is all the more important to have events where LBGTQ people of color are at the centered and celebrated. Bed-Stuy Pride is an opportunity to come together, get re-energized for activism, and take pride in the unique experiences of the community.”