New York City Black Pride is returning this month with a days-long slate of engaging events, including an awards ceremony, a beach day in Coney Island, discussions, and several free activities. This year’s NYC Black Pride is particularly significant because it will be the 25th anniversary.
“There is pressure to make it special just by the nature of the landmark event that it is,” Lee Soulja-Simmons, who spearheads the annual NYC Black Pride events, said during an interview with Gay City News. “The last two years, we have been in various forms of lockdown and other health restraints and concerns, so we are allowed to do so many things we couldn’t do last year and in 2020.”
While there is a busy schedule of events, Soulja-Simmons carefully acknowledged the reality of multiple coinciding health concerns, including the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the monkeypox outbreak. Soulja-Simmons, who has had calls with city and state health officials about monkeypox, emphasized that the response to the health crisis must be equitable and without stigma targeting LGBTQ individuals.
While the events officially kick off on August 17, there will be an August 11 town hall called “Black, Queer, and Here,” which will explore intersectionality in the Black LGBTQ community. The event, produced by Native Son, will feature Nancy Santiago from the surgeon general’s office; comic and Saturday Night Live writer Sam Jay; TV personality Kalen Allen; Hope Center executive director Lena Green; Councilmember Chi Ossé of Brooklyn; and theGrio contributor Dr. Nii-Quartelai Quartey.
The official NYC Black Pride events will kick off on August 17 with “Healthcare as a Human Right,” a discussion focused on wellness, at the LGBT Center at 208 West 13th Street in Manhattan. The free event will kick off at 5 p.m. and conclude by 9:30 p.m.
The evening will continue with an opening mixer at 10 p.m. at Lambda Lounge, which is located at 2256 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard in Manhattan. Like the healthcare discussion, the opening mixer will be free to attend.
There will be two more events on Thursday, August 18 — including another free discussion at the LGBT Center from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Thursday’s discussion is called “Reflections: The souls of Liberation.” Nolan Tesis will host the event alongside eight panelists: Micah Marquez, Lady Pearl, George Bellinger, Cheryl “Jus Shady,” Tim Lanvin, Luna Khan, Duchess LaWong, and Charly Dominguez.
The second event of the day is “TRAPPY HOUR: Black Pride” at 4 West, which is located at 303 West 127th Street in Manhattan. That event begins at 10 p.m. and lasts until 4 a.m.
Friday’s festivities will begin with Hoodstock at the Christopher Street Pier at 393 West Street. The free afternoon event will begin at 2 p.m. and finish up at 6 p.m.
At 5 p.m., folks will gather for one of the main events, The Heritage Image Awards Ceremony at The Schomburg Center at 515 Lenox Avenue at 135th Street. The honorees for the free event include Ceyenne Doroshow, the executive director of GLITS; “Pose” star Michaela Jaé Rodriguez; and actress, model, and dancer Leyna Bloom.
The night will close out with “FUSION/Part 1” — which will feature a cover charge. The event, beginning at 10 p.m. and ending at 4 a.m., will be held on 7 East 36th Street between Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue.
Saturday will be another busy day on NYC Black Pride’s 2022 schedule. The Black Pride Expo will take place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at The Times Square Center at 242 West 41st Street. The events also include a trans bodybuilding competition at the Theatre at 11 a.m., a blackout music concert at The Hall at noon, Mr. and Miss Black Pride International at the Theatre at 4 p.m., and a Black Pride mini ball at The Hall at 5 p.m.
The night will wrap up with another Fusion event from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. at 42 D’OR at 512 West 42nd Street in Manhattan.
NYC Black Pride will conclude on Sunday, August 21, beginning with “Pride at the Beach” from noon to 8 p.m. at Coney Island Beach at the boardwalk and 21st Street. There will be a show at 6 p.m. featuring Inaya Day, Susu Bobien, and Octavia Lambertis.
The last event will be “Fusion: The Finale” from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. at Club Lambda at 1031 Grand Street in Manhattan.
The events throughout the week are expected to highlight the 25th anniversary of NYC Black Pride. New York’s Black Pride events followed in the footsteps of other cities that had already established similar festivities beforehand.
“The idea of having a Black Pride started in DC and LA and other cities first,” Soulja-Simmons said. “New York’s came about 25 years ago, and that’s important because this is such a big city and the population here in itself warrants a huge celebration… so we’re excited about it.”
Although some Pride events are known to represent a party atmosphere, Soulja-Simmons stressed the cultural aspect and explained that Black Pride festivities represent an opportunity to shine a light on queer people of color.
“I think people misunderstand what Black Prides are — why Black Prides are booming around the world,” Soulja-Simmons said. “It’s about celebrating people of color. We have history, and we have contributed to all parts of society. A lot of accomplishments are not in history books and are not talked about. This is a way to celebrate the amazing contributions that we’ve given to the world from the perspective of LGBTQ people.”
To learn more about NYC Black Pride, visit NYCBlackPride.com.