In case you haven't heard, Pride in the City, New York City's black LGBT pride, which was scheduled to take place this weekend was dramatically canceled yesterday. Allegedly, Michael Roberson, P.O.C.C.’s Executive Director, was fired by the Board of Directors. Well, there goes another black gay event down the dangerously high HIV/AIDS statistics drain.
Of course this means the Blackout Arts Festival I was scheduled to participate in tomorrow is canceled. From what I've heard "most" of the other events will also be canceled.
I am not exactly sure what occurred at the P.O.C.C. offices in Brooklyn, but I do think it's disappointing the event was completely axed. Was there any possibility of waiting on a staff change till Monday? Considering the state of emergency of the black gay community, now is a more important time than ever to have an event like Pride in the City (yes, I realize the prevention methods have fallen off over the years).
Funny thing is, I remember a time when Black Pride in NYC wasn't solely a P.O.C.C. event. I don't recall all the details, but according to the Pride in the City's web site, their events didn't start till 2003, which I am assuming is when P.O.C.C. took over Black Pride completely. I can recall in the late nineties and early 2000s Black Pride in NYC was organized by a committee, which if I remember correctly, included P.O.C.C. but they were not the only ones (don't quote me on this!). Regardless, one agency should not not control an entire pride event for the obvious reasons that are in front of us.
Black pride NYC being disregarded really makes the black gay community look like a laughing stock. Many make this colossal argument how important it is to have “our own” outside of “white gay pride”. Whose event is really? The sponsors? Agencies? The clubs? Or the community? It should be the latter.
This black gay pride mishap is not segregated to New York City. Seattle Black Pride was canceled this year, the legendary D.C. pride is a broken shell of its former self and from what I've heard of the Miami/Puerto Rico/Mexico prides, they are run by promoters—not an agency or a committee. So, it’s more of a heat-seeking event than education, prevention, and unity.
Gay pride in June would never be canceled. We are a divided people -- whether we are gay, straight, light-skinned, dark-skinned, rich, poor, etc. In the future, black gays should consider having black gay pride around the same time as gay pride. Hell, the same clubs that are open gay pride in June pop up again for black gay pride in August! Not that I want black prides to end completely, but I do wonder how relevant a black pride is today.
Nonetheless, take a trip down memory lane...check out a story I did on P.O.C.C. for Blackplanet.com back in 2005, where I interviewed Michael Roberson. This was P.O.C.C. in its heyday. Click on the link below.