Black Pride multiplies, but it's up to the community to decide the benefits.
Black Pride kicks off this holiday weekend, and this year the African-American LGBT community and its allies will have twice as many parties, events and fund-raisers from which to choose. But it’s not because Black Pride doubled in size—it’s because it split in two.
According to Windy City Black Pride Treasurer Keith McCoy, several members of its board ousted founder and president Charles Nelson last summer, citing bad business practices. Nelson, with support from the International Federation of Black Prides (IFBP)—a coalition of black pride organizers devoted to promoting a nationwide network of community prides for same-gender-loving people of color—decided to form Chicago Windy City Black LGBT-SGL Pride. Both groups have scheduled events around the Fourth of July holiday (historically the weekend for Chicago’s black pride). Both also boast their share of community support: WCBP has partnered with the HRC and Sidetrack (and even has a welcome letter from Barack Obama on its website), while CWCBP has the aforementioned support of the IFBP as well as the Center on Halsted and nightlife gurus Clubhouse Productions. But does Chicago’s LGBT African-American community need two prides tugging at opposite ends of the rainbow?
McCoy contends more is better. “There’s space for multiple organizations to exist,” he says. “I don’t think one organization has the market on pride weekend. Chicago is large and metropolitan enough.” Meanwhile, CWCBP’s pride theme is “A New Birth,” suggesting that Nelson, too, is ready for change. “[We’re] becoming more of a community-focused organization,” he says, “and more visible in our own community, not just in the LGBT community but in the African-American community, so that’s the new birth.”
Whether Chicago can—or should—sustain two black prides is yet to be seen. But a smorgasbord of weekend highlights from each organization should help break the tie.
WINDY CITY BLACK PRIDE
* FREE Windy City Black Pride Opening Reception Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, 2233 S Martin Luther King Dr at 22nd St (312-567-1234). Bus: 1, 2, 3, X3, 4, 6, 10, 14, 21, 26, 28. 6pm. WCBP 2008 kicks off a weekend of parties and activism with this opening reception featuring an intimate conversation between ex–porn star Bobby Blake and relationship guru Chat Daddy.
Fashion Carnivale Harold Washington Cultural Center, 4701 S King Dr at 47th St (773-373-1900). El: Green to 47th. Bus: 1, 3, 4, 47. 6pm, $20. Chat Daddy emcees a Mardi Gras–themed fashion show and benefit for the Luck Care Center and its fight against HIV/AIDS.
FREE Pride and Unity Ball Harold Washington Cultural Center, 4701 S King Dr at 47th St (773-373-1900). El: Green to 47th. Bus: 1, 3, 4, 47. 9:30pm. The House of Ultra Omni and Redlight Entertainment provide more flash than Fourth of July fireworks with this party to get your weekend started.
* Rails: Tenth Anniversary Celebration Prop House, 1675 N Elston Ave between North Ave and Cortland St (773-486-2086). Bus: 9 Ashland, 72 North. 10pm, $12. Rails, a marketing and promotional group focusing on nightlife events for alternative urban lifestyles, celebrates ten years with the WCBP Men’s Party, featuring DJs Sedrick, Ransom, Unknown and Anton spinning hip-hop and house.
* FREE WCBP Hotel Vendor/Health Fair Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, 2233 S Martin Luther King Dr at 22nd St (312-567-1234). Bus: 1, 2, 3, X3, 4, 6, 10, 14, 21, 26, 28. Noon. Join the Illinois and Chicago Departments of Public Health for workshops on topics including building financial freedom for LGBT people, the use of the words gay and out as they relate to the black community, and health and wellness for men and women of color.
WCBP Park Festival Sherman Park, 1301 W 52nd St at Racine. (312-747-6672). Bus: 44 Racine, 51 51st. Noon, $5 suggested donation. Hundreds of people will converge on Sherman Park for this all-day finale of food and performance for LGBT people and their families.
For more parties, events and information, visit windycityblackpride.org.
CHICAGO WINDY CITY BLACK PRIDE
Chicago Black Pride Welcoming Party Club Ruby, 151 W Ohio St at LaSalle St (773-991-7962). El: Red to Grand. Bus: 65, 125, 156. 10pm, $10. Chicago Windy City Black Pride goes full throttle with an all-out welcome party featuring NY-based DJ Unknown.
Poetry Slam Circuit, 3641 N Halsted St between Addison St and Waveland Ave (773-325-2233). El: Red to Addison. Bus: 8 Halsted, 152 Addison. 6:30pm, $7. Get ready for some slammin’ good spoken word as more than two dozen contestants duke it out for a cash purse worth $400. Categories exist for both adults and youth.
* FREE Chicago Black Pride LGBT Author Reception Center on Halsted, 3656 N Halsted St at Addison St (773-472-6469). El: Red to Addison. Bus: 8 Halsted, 152 Addison. 4pm. The spotlight shines on the written word at this afternoon meet-and-greet with the best and brightest in African-American LGBT literature. The event includes readings and book signings from Anita Charlot, Lee Hayes, Naleighna Kai, Rodney Lofton and D.J. McLaurin, among others.
* Black Party Congress Theater, 2135 N Milwaukee Ave between Maplewood Ave and Rockwell St (773-486-6672). El: Blue to Western. Bus: 49, 56, 73. 10pm, $20. Try to stay cool at this hot and sweaty evening of hip-hop and house courtesy of DJs Anton, Kenae and Craig Loftis.
* FREE CWCBP Pride Celebration South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S South Shore Dr at 71st St (773-734-2000). Bus: 6 Jackson Park Exp, 26 South Shore Exp. 11am. Bring your own picnic or choose from among the many food vendors at this packed afternoon of cultural activities, live performance and worship.
Chicago Black Pride United Circuit, 3641 N Halsted St between Addison St and Waveland Ave (773-325-2233). El: Red to Addison. Bus: 8 Halsted, 152 Addison. 10pm, $10. A week of festivities winds down with the Chicago Windy City Black Pride closing party. DJ Stoney provides hip-hop, house and reggae until you just can’t take it anymore.
For more parties, events and information, visit chiblackpride.com.