I just got back from spending the weekend in Seattle, Washington for their first annual Black Pride celebration, and I just have to say that I had the time of my life in Seattle. Who would’ve guessed that there were so many Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Seattle? Not me.
Before I go into the details about the weekend, let me just say that Seattle Black Pride would not have happened without the vision and dedication of one Black lesbian, Kiantha Duncan-Woods. Beautiful, smart, and courageous, Kiantha brought together the Seattle-Tacoma community this weekend and I am so proud of her and the entire board of Seattle’s Black Pride. I told them that their pride was more organized than L.A.’s pride, which I am a part of, and I meant it. Seattle had it going on and I felt so at home.
So, the festivities kicked off with an opening reception at the Langston Arts Cultural Center. Let me just say that one of the things I loved the most about Seattle’s Black Pride was that the majority of events didn’t take place in the gay part of town, which for Seattle is known as Capitol Hill. No. Seattle Black Pride took place in the heart of Central District, otherwise known as the “Black part of town.”
Unfortunately, I missed my flight and was unable to get on another plane until late Friday night, so I didn’t even arrive in Seattle until midnight Saturday morning. But that’s a completely different story that I am trying to forget about.
Moving on…Seattle Black Pride flew in one of D.C.’s hottest performers Xavier Onassis Bloomingdales to get the party started and from what I heard, the job was well done. Mr. and Mrs. Seattle Black Pride were also on hand for the kick off.
After the kick off ceremony, there was party for Seattle’s gay youth, which I thought was extremely thoughtful considering that many of us over the age of 21 tend to forget about the youth.
On Saturday morning, the president of Seattle Black Pride Kiantha Duncan-Woods gave President’s Breakfast in Capitol Hill, Seattle’s gay community. While I was still a little groggy from my horror flight, I managed to make it to the breakfast.
After the breakfast we all headed to the Seattle Asian Musuem for the day’s events. I sat on a panel entitled “Equal Rights in Washington: Why People of Color Don’t Matter.” Other panelists included HRC’s Donna Payne, Josh Friedman from Equal Rights Washington, Reverend John Garlington, Entre Hermanos’ Florentino Lopez, former Miss Seattle Gay Pride Aleska Maila, Quinen Welch from the Black Leadership Council, and Seattle Black Pride’s president Kiantha.
The discussion was very lively and was attended by 70 or so people.
Topics discussed ranged from the Black church’s homophobia to coalition building and whether or not marriage was an issue for the Black LGBT community.
After the panel, there was a film festival that featured a variety of Black LGBT feature and short films, including Debra Wilson’s “Jumping the Broom.”
After all of the events at the Seattle Asian Museum were over we all headed over to Central District to Jo Ann’s, a jazz and soul food restaurant. I just have to say that I had the best blackened catfish and candied yams there. It felt really good to sit down and just converse with other Black lesbians about being a Black lesbian.
By the time, we finished eating and talking it was almost time to get ready for the night’s party. We all headed back to the hotel and to get dressed and headed over to the Langston Hughes Cultural Center for the grown folks party. Let me just say that I never knew there were so many Black same-gender loving people in the Northwest. Folks came from as far as Portland, Oregon to attend this party. We partied until 4 in the morning and when I say we partied, we partied. I was so tired when I got back to the hotel, it was all I could do to make up the elevator to my room and collapse on the bed into a deep sleep.
Well, I didn’t get to sleep too long because the next thing I knew Kiantha was calling me to see if I was going to the Sunday gospel service. My answer, of course. So out the door I headed back over to the Langston Hughes Center for a lively and spiritual service led by the Reverend John Garlington. Now people who know me, know that I am not the most religious person, but I did enjoy the service.
After the service there was a BBQ in the park that I am told over 300 people attended. By the time it was time for the rest of the days activities, I was already back at the airport going through more airport drama trying to get home.
So now I am back home in Los Angeles, where’s it’s in the triple digits.
Reflecting back on the weekend, I had the time of my life in Seattle and it felt so good to connect with other brothers and sisters.
Seattle was starving for a celebration like this weekend’s and they came out in droves to support it and the board of Seattle Black Pride. Countless numbers of people came up to Kiantha and the other board members thanking them for taking the time to put this event together and you could see in their faces what it meant to be able to come out and connect with other “family” members.
I am definitely looking forward to going back to Seattle soon.
I would be remised if I didn’t thank Shevy and Karen for driving me around all weekend and hanging with me. In addition, kudos again to the entire staff and board of Seattle Black Pride, including Kiantha Duncan-Woods, Board President, Isaac Payne, Board Vice-President, Robert Spriggs, Board Treasurer, Harnik Gulati, Board Secretary, Trammell Antrinette Woods, Security & Logistics, and Derrick Harris, Executive Consultant.
Putting on a Pride is no easy feat and so my hat goes off to all of them for making it look so effortless.
Much love SBP! My next stop, New York’s Pride in the City. See you there!
Shevy and Karen, SPB Volunteers
SBP Treasurer, Robert Spriggs outside of the Seattle Asian Museum
Panel attendee Dean and I outside the Seattle Asian Museum
SBP Presdident Kiantha Duncan-Woods, Sistah to Sister Executive Director Kathie Townsend, and HRC’s Donna Payne
SBP Board Member Tramell, Me, SBP President Kiantha, Sistah to Sistah’s Kathie, and HRC’s Donna
SBP President Kiantha and I outside of jazz and soul food restaurant Jo Ann’s
Me, SBP’s Kiantha and Tramell, HRC’s Donna, and SBP Volunteer Shevy outside of Jo Ann’s soul food restaurant
SBP’s Karen and Kiantha and HRC’s Donna
The Grown and Sexy: Me, Harnik, Kiantha, Robert, Issac, and Shevy
Karen, Harnik, and Me at the grown folks party