Q: HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE PRIDE AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
As an out Black gay man, I celebrate Pride daily and proudly in the ways I show up in my personal and professional lives. I try to show up as a model of what it means to be a Black gay man living in the United States by living my life proudly, challenging the stereotypes of each of my distinct identities. I similarly think of Pride Month as I do Black History Month, there is more to us—our contributions and successes—than what is just relegated in a month. Both of my communities are great and deserving of recognition throughout the rest of the year.
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK PEOPLE CAN DO THIS PRIDE MONTH TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT IMPORTANT ISSUES THAT IMPACT THE GLOBAL LBTQIA+ COMMUNITY?
In addition to celebrating the achieved progress of the community, I think it is also important to reflect on the month as a reminder of the legal barriers and aggressive efforts of authorities at the local, state and federal levels that have institutionally blocked, denied and tragically violated the civil rights and lives of their fellow Americans.
Q: WHAT DOES BEING AN LGBTQIA+ ALLY MEAN TO YOU?
Being an ally means standing up and using your voice and your vote to advocate and demand equity for not only members of the LGBTQIA+ community but for all targeted communities, including people of color and immigrants. It is also important that members of the LGBTQIA+ community also stand in solidarity, as allies, with members of other targeted communities, including their brothers and sisters of color as well as members of their community who are immigrants.
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE ORGANIZATIONS/BUSINESSES TO SUPPORT LOCALLY?
I think it is important to support Black owned and LGBTQIA+ owned or friendly businesses. One of my favorite Black owned businesses is SweetArt, a bakeshop and café with great art by local artist, Cbabi Bayoc. When I want some good fried catfish or chicken, AAA Fish House is the best. Alice is a great supporter of the Black LGBTQIA+ community. My weekly-Sunday-brunch spot is Brasserie by Niche. Michael Gerard has an amazing team led by Jen; they perfectly get hospitality and are incredibly supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME WAYS IN WHICH PEOPLE CAN MAKE PRIDE CELEBRATIONS MORE INCLUSIVE AND DIVERSE?
Collaboration! I am amazed but not surprised by how fractured and segregated St. Louis Pride events and organizations are. St. Louis has a long-storied history of racial segregation and racism and unfortunately, I believe it is present even among the LGBTQIA+ communities and the ways in which those groups celebrate the month. There are at least three Pride celebrations which normally take place in June, including Black Pride, Tower Grove Pride and the more corporate-sponsored, Pride St. Louis. Each of these organizations strive to meet the various diverse needs of the LGBTQIA+ community and I appreciate that, but it would be wonderful, however, if they could work together to create a celebration in which everyone feels welcomed, represented and celebrated.
Q: WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR LGBTQIA+ INDIVIDUALS?
For those who have become fans of the FX show, Pose, I suggest watching the documentary, Paris is Burning. It chronicles the Black and Brown ball culture of New York. I think it provides an insight into race, class, gender and sexuality. It has become legendary and a cult classic among Black and Brown community members. It not only is a thoughtful presentation of the intersectionality of identities but is also a great way to understand the history and origins of the ball. Let us be clear Madonna did not create voguing! Like so many other examples, the mainstream culture was influenced by the creativity and innovation of Black and Brown people who are LGBTQIA+.
The SPOT (Supporting Positive Opportunities with Teens) is a great community resource with the mission of increasing access to health care for youth who have been disproportionately impacted by HIV, poverty, trauma and discrimination. For those looking to learn more about or be a part of supportive trans community, I think Metro Trans Umbrella Group is outstanding. Another great organization for youth who are looking for social support is Growing American Youth.
For more information on our local Pride centers and resources, please visit:
Black Pride St. Louis: https://www.facebook.com/Blackpridestl2/
Metro Trans Umbrella Group: https://www.stlmetrotrans.org/
The SPOT http://thespot.wustl.edu/
Growing American Youth: https://www.growingamericanyouth.org/
Pride St. Louis https://www.pridestl.org/
Pride St. Charles https://www.pridestcharles.org/
Metro East Pride https://www.metroeastpride.org/
Pride Kansas City https://www.inclusivekc.org/
A special thank you to Vincent for his time, insight, and for his passion in spreading awareness for underserved and overlooked communities.