In celebration of NYC Black Pride, Native Son—an organization championing Black gay and queer men—presents Black, Queer and Here, a town hall exploring the intersectionality of the Black LGBTQ community. The event is free and open to the public and will be held at Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater (253 West 125th St., Manhattan) on Thursday, August 11th at 7pm.
With opening remarks from Native Son Founder Emil Wilbekin, Black, Queer and Here will include a conversation with Nancy Santiago of the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office focused on mental health in America; a discussion with Lee Soulja, director of Black Pride NYC about the genesis and history of Black Pride; and a panel discussion centering the experiences of Black queer people sharing their stories, challenges, and hopes while also engaging with other members of the Black community at large. Moderated by Wilbekin, this intimate and in-depth discussion will explore what it means to live in the duality of Blackness and queerness, facing shame and stigma, and unlearning homophobia and transphobia.
The evening’s panelists will include: Kalen Allen (award-winning actor, producer, singer, and television personality); Dr. Lena Green (executive director of the Hope Center in Harlem); Sam Jay (standup comic and Emmy-nominated Saturday Night Live writer); Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis (author, host and Senior Minister, Middle Church); Greg Mathis Jr. and Elliott Cooper (of the E! Reality series Mathis Family Matters); Tiq Milan, (activist, critic, thought leader, and journalist); Chi Ossé (New York City Council Member, 36th District); Dr. Nii-Quartelai Quartey (national affairs contributor for theGrio, multimedia journalist, educator, and activist). The night will also include a performance from queer Afrofuturistic pop duo The Illustrious Blacks.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Warner Bros. Discovery and the legendary Apollo Theater on Black Queer and Here. With this town hall, we wanted to create a safe space for an open and honest dialogue where we can really explore the issues that most affect our community,” said Wilbekin. “There are necessary conversations that we as Black and queer people need to have with each other and with the Black community as a whole. As the national conversation continues to rage on regarding the civil rights of this country’s citizens, it is now more important than ever that we are aligned and unified.”
“Black Queer and Here is a one of a kind experience that represents the type of inclusion we champion at Warner Bros. Discovery. Being able to support a platform advocating for the Black LGBTQ community, solidifies our commitment to shifting the narrative around underrepresented groups and intersectionality,” said Samata Narra, SVP, Equity and Inclusion, Warner Bros. Discovery.
In addition to being known as the epicenter of Black artistic innovation and excellence, the world-famous Apollo Theater has also been a safe space for the queer community from showcasing the famed Jewel Box Revue to Moms Mabley, Johnny Mathis, Josephine Baker, Little Richard, and many more.
Since its inception in 1991 with D.C. Black Pride, the Black Pride movement began as a way to provide Black LGBTQ people—who are often marginalized even within the LGBTQ community—an alternative to the largely white mainstream movement. Black Pride global is a celebration and movement dedicated to ending racism and homophobia and serving as safe space for Black LGBTQ+ people to discuss specific issues that uniquely affect their experience such as racism, homophobia, and lack of proper health and mental care in Black communities. The Black Pride movement has spread beyond D.C. and is now celebrated in more than 50 U.S. cities and across the globe including Chicago, NYC, Atlanta, and Miami.
NYC Black Pride celebration is an annual five-day multicultural event created to honor, educate and uplift the LGBTQ community in New York City. This year’s NYC Black Pride runs August 17th – 21st 2022.
Black Queer & Here is a free event; registration is required to attend. To reserve tickets, please visit Black Queer & Here/Tickets.
Native Son is a movement that exemplifies the duality of being Black and gay in a society that often shuns and belittles their unique experiences. It aims to create a safe space where the Black gay male community can find fellowship, celebrate and empower each other, and—most importantly—see themselves. From the world-renowned to the up-and-coming, Native Son aims to connect and celebrate the members of this influential, yet long ignored community in the realms of arts, business, media, fashion, politics and healthcare. Find out more at the Native Son website.