'In The Life Atlanta' PRIDE 2009 has officially jumped off. If you are in Atlanta this weekend please make sure you partake in the many events from the hottest parties to the most socially conscious and educational community building workshops. Represent. Show Up. Live. Be Heard.
We at The FUTURE wish all 'In The Life Atlanta' Pride attendees a safe and fun Pride!
On another note, we would like to share an article that was posted on Southern Voice. Some may find it quite moving, hilarious, educational, or offensive. We find it definitely moving in the right direction for the wellness of Black LGBT men and women. We thank our white allies for understanding, respecting, hearing, and sharing our Voice as affirming and progressive LGBT men and women of color who care about the wellness of our lives, families, and community.
By Christie Ayotte
Southern Voice Online
Black Pride 101 for white people ‘My people’ can learn a lot from next weekend’s festival, if we don’t act like jackasses.
I HAD NOT even made it all the way through the June Pride festival when I heard “the question” again: Do you think we need a Black Gay Pride?
It was one of “my people” who asked, of course, meaning a white person. Now, I like white people just fine. Most of my family is white, the majority of my friends are white, and I appreciate the individual contributions of numerous white people to technology, science, business, culture and education. And yet, my people embarrass me sometimes.
The whole dynamic of one white person asking another if they think Black Pride is necessary is illustrative of how unbelievably oblivious most white people are to white privilege.
A less tactful version of myself would have said, “Why on earth would you think it’s up to you or me to decide what other people need or should have? And further, what are you going to do if we two white people agree that it’s not really needed? Cancel it?”
Is anyone catching on yet as to why Black Pride exists?
Many white people would rather worry over whether having a June Pride festival and a Black Pride event in September perpetuates racial divisions rather than actually do something to eradicate those divisions.
After all, they think, why do black people feel this need to create the spaces and events they want in a separate sphere when they could just hope that we let them tag on to our event? Plus, then our event could be “diverse.”
It’s for those white people that I offer a few facts about Black Pride.
FIRST, OUR CITY’S two Pride events are not even remotely similar in structure, content, size or location. Atlanta Pride is a 300,000-person three-day outdoor festival. It offers more than 500 marketplace vendors, two stages of live music, and a parade. It has a celebratory feel.
Atlanta’s Black Gay Pride feels more like a conference. With an even mix of in-state versus out-of-state attendees, the event is headquartered in a host hotel. Attendees participate in numerous educational, wellness and cultural workshops. Instead of a parade, there is the more politically inspired “Stand Up and Represent” March, which travels through black neighborhoods and ends in a rally on the front steps of the State Capitol.
Some 10,000 people participate in some part of Atlanta’s Black Gay Pride weekend, which is probably a good indication that there is a need for the event.
But even if only 10 people attended, the point is, those 10 people would be determining what they need and creating it for themselves. What is it that my people find problematic about this idea?
Oh, right…it isn’t about them, so it must not be important.
BUT WHITE PEOPLE are welcome
at Black Gay Pride, and generally enjoy themselves when they don’t act like jackasses. Here’s how to avoid the latter categorization: Most importantly, recognize that it is not about you.
Don’t name drop. Don’t babble in the elevator about how excited you are to be part of such a “diverse” gathering. Don’t try to establish your credentials as an anti-racism activist.
Don’t dominate audience questions in a workshop that focuses on nothing to do with you (like raising children as same-gender-loving people of color). And for heaven’s sake, do not ask to touch anyone’s hair. This is not a petting zoo. Please, white people, you’re embarrassing all of us!
In truth, Black Gay Pride is more political, more educational, and more affirming than the Atlanta Pride festival.
Frankly, I think the Atlanta Pride Committee could learn a thing or two from In the Life Atlanta, the official organizers of Black Gay Pride, in moving Atlanta Pride toward a more educational, empowering and family-friendly event.
This year’s Black Gay Pride will be held Aug. 30 through Sept. 4 at the Sheraton Colony Square in Midtown. If you are looking for a more cerebral Pride celebration this year, or just had most of your fun washed away with the rain in June, you should check it out.
But please, white people, do not tell the organizers I sent you or ask the volunteers if they know the only black gay person you know.
We’re trying to represent a little bit better by now.
Christie Ayotte is a paralegal and lives in Atlanta. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org