It’s not your imagination. Atlanta’s annual Black Gay Pride celebration over Labor Day weekend is bigger and better than ever. Organizers at In The Life Atlanta credit new partnerships for opening the door to some 70 events through Tuesday.
“It really is bigger this year because we’re collaborating,” says Ebonee Bradford-Barnes, vice president of the ITLA board.
“With partnerships like Traxx Atlanta and TraxxGirls, Xplosion, and so many others plus non-profits like NAESM, we are really trying to unite the community and come together more than ever before,” she says. “That’s the dynamic of what’s going on this time. It’s going to be huge.”
Things are already underway Thursday, and the momentum is just going to build. In addition to more serious events like Saturday’s State of Black Gay America Summit, multiple workshops, vendor markets, and a health and wellness expo, this year’s joint effort also means even more big-name special guests at official events as well as parties by other promoters trying to get a piece of the thousands-strong action expected this weekend.
“Minaj (top photo) is a hot commodity right now, and Ciara (second photo) just dropped a new album, and they’ll both be here,” Bradford-Barnes says. “Those type of performers may also get even more young people involved.”
Other stars in the Black Pride sky include Kelly Rowland, Fantasia, the cast of “Friends and Lovers,” and Jensen Atwood, the “Noah’s Arc” star who hosts Club Rock on Friday and signs his new 16-month “Jensen Atwood On Black” 2011 calendar (third photo)—a followup to his 2009 “On White” calendar—at Outwrite on Sunday. Outwrite also hosts several authors geared toward the weekend.
Sunday’s Soulfood Poetry Slam & Jazz Brunch and Unity Pool Party are also hot tickets, but seriously, there are more Black Gay Pride options than we can possibly share in one post—for men, for women, for everybody.
The best way to weigh all your options at once is to visit Project Q Atlanta’s interactive events calendar and type “Black Gay Pride” into the search field. Everything we know about is there. Organizers also recommend clicking the website at the bottom of each of our calendar entries that you’re interested in; times and locations are subject to change.
The upshot to all the options is that ITLA will be able to do even more all year long, Bradford-Barnes says.
“We’re excited about it,” she says. “We’ve operated in the red before, and as a non-profit, an event this big will allow us to get expenses in order and offer more to the community throughout the year.”
So what about the people who wonder why there should be a separate Pride for black LGBT people? Bradford-Barnes says she is the first on board for an event combining everyone’s efforts into one huge spectacular.
“I do think we should have a combined Pride,” she says. “Atlanta is very diverse—black, white, Latino and on and on—and we should have just one Pride. We’re the perfect place for it. If we came together and had like Taylor Swift and Chris Brown, how great would that be?
“The reality is that some people believe that we as black people have to show our Pride from a black perspective. Our race comes as what it is, but we all share Pride equally. Some just aren’t there yet, but I think that a combined event is going to happen in our lifetime. ”