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Rochester Black Pride 2019 and allyship

Solidarity now


Rochester Black Pride 2019 will be held from Wednesday September 4 to Sunday, September 8, and includes the annual festival and cookout, a fashion show, programming for youth, the Summer Nights concert featuring NYC native Cakes Da Killa, a fashion show, dance party, and more. The theme for 2019 is "retro," the meaning of which goes beyond fashion and music to include a commemoration of Stonewall's 50th anniversary, just as Pride celebrations across the country have this year.

This year's event will also feature the first Trans Day of Excellence, which was formerly known as the Trans Brunch. During the event, three scholarships and grants will be awarded to trans community members, while still honoring the work and contributions of the black trans community with awards and acknowledgements. The event's keynote speaker is Elle Hearns, founder and executive director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, an organization that protects and defends the black trans community.

While Black Pride is a celebration of identity and community, organizers also want to send a message of inclusion to allies, says co-organizer Shani Wilson. While Rochester Black Pride is meant to create a safe space for black, brown, and Latinx people to celebrate who they are, everyone is welcome to come to every event, no matter how you identify, she says.

"Standing in solidarity and showing your support would mean the world to the people that are actively engaged, working day-to-day to make sure that these voices are heard," Wilson says.

These events are crucial in providing a platform for the words, names, and faces of those who are struggling the most in the community, Wilson says.

She says that organizers want allies -- both white allies and heteronormative brown and Latinx people -- to not only feel welcome but also to understand that allyship means attending, mingling with the community, and supporting these endeavors financially.

"It's one thing to share a post, but it's another thing to also show up," she says.

Wilson works as a physician's assistant at Trillium, and specifically focuses on supports for the black trans community, and she says she witnesses the impact that violence and the lack of resources has on vulnerable community members.

"We already know nationally that this is an emergency, and we need to be actually creating spaces for people to feel safe and also for people to raise money for people to be in a safe space. And also to have spaces where we can celebrate each other. If one specific group of the population is struggling, we all are. Please come, because it's about standing with your neighbors who are having a difficult time."


Wednesday, September 4

6-10 p.m. Opening Reception & Jam Session at The Avenue Blackbox Theatre (780 Joseph Avenue). $7, all ages. Hosted by singer-songwriter and BET's Next Big Thing contestant Durand Bernarr, as well as Created 2 Inspire duo She-Rise and Ty Burrs. Also featuring Champagne, Charles Emanuel, She-Rise & The Aliens. Followed by an open mic and jam session with tunes from The Aliens as the house band for the evening.

Thursday, September 5

6-9 p.m. Free To Be Me Fashion Show at The Avenue Blackbox Theatre (780 Joseph Avenue) $10, all ages. Featuring a diverse and inclusive cast of models, hosted and curated by Created 2 Inspire.

8 p.m.-2 a.m. The Get Down: Old School Party at Lux (666 South Avenue). Free, 21+. Featuring tunes from funk to soul, disco, and everything in between.

10 p.m.-2 a.m. Free To Be Afty at Tin Roof (1155 South Plymouth Avenue). $7, 21+. Fashion after-party with food and beverage for purchase.

Friday, September 6

3-4:30 p.m. Vogue Master Class with Paris Milan at The Hochstein School (50 Plymouth Avenue). Free to high schoolers with ID, $5 to general public, 13+. Learn the five elements of vogue.

5-8 p.m. Day of Excellence at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Square Park lodge (353 Court Street). Free, all ages. Keynote by Elle Hearns, founder and executive director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. Awarding three scholarships/grants to individuals in the community.

9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Vogue Rochester: 5 Year Anniversary at Avalon (470 State Street). $15, 18+. Compete in different categories for cash prizes. Featuring two DJs, a commentator, musical performances, and special guests.

Saturday, September 7

11 a.m.-3 p.m. Youth Workshops at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Square Park Lodge (353 Court Street). Free, 13+. Interactive and educational workshops for black queer or trans-identified youth.

2-7 p.m. Black Pride Festival at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Square Park (353 Court Street). Free, all ages. Family-friendly event celebrating the history and creativity that is Black Queer Rochester. Featuring local merchants and performers, food, games, community organizations, and voter registration.

9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Summer Nights: Celebrity Concert feat. Cakes Da Killa & Miss Shalae at Anthology (336 East Avenue). $25, 18+. Also featuring local drag performers, musicians, and dancers.

Sunday, September 8

2-7 p.m. The Cookout Vol. V at Genesee Valley Park Field House (1316 Genesee Street). Free, all ages. Family friendly. Food, games, and community.