Young Black woman smiling and posing with her hand to her chin next to a painting

Monee Jae

Queer and trans people of color showcased their artistic, poetic and musical talents by performing at the “Community Pride: Decades of Resistance” kickoff event on June 4th at The Vanderelli Room. The theme of this grassroots festival references the origins of Pride as a revolt against state violence to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that trans women of color like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera had leading roles in. The first event was titled “Speak Up: Columbus Community Pride Spoken Word” to celebrate the radical nature of queer existence.

Dkéama Alexis and Charlie H.A. Stewart are co-directors of this year’s grassroots pride and are leading the Consciousness team of Community Pride. Alexis explained what decades of resistance means in their kickoff speech in the beginning of the show to highlight the need to stand up for the most marginalized members of queer communities.

“Fifty years later, we are seeing an increase in homophobic and trans misogynistic violence. And we are really seeing that crackdown on black trans women,” said Alexis. “This year there have been eight reported deaths. All of the reported deaths of trans people have been black trans women.”

Some of the artists who performed at the kickoff were Al Dilorenzo, Angie Simone, Jessica Kahn, Ogonna, Armond Wimberly, and Draia. Centering people of color, indigenous, and LGBTQ artists in its lineup, the festival protests the rainbow capitalism of the carceral state which profits off of whitewashing queer culture. Monee Jae, a queer black woman, artist, scholar and visionary, was the emcee for the night. Jae is also a member of the fundraising team for Community Pride.

“I’m forever grateful that I have found Black Queer Intersectional Collective. Just finding people like myself, it’s nice to be represented. It’s nice to be loved totally,” said Jae. “This is the second year. It’s nice to be able to say you know we did this once and it happened successfully. We are going to do it again. And it’s going to happen successfully.”

Armond Wimberly is a multi-disciplinary music educator and conductor of Urban Strings Columbus Youth Orchestra. He played the cello and violin in his performance last Tuesday. He said that he appreciated the intimate setting of the “Speak Up” event. He boycotted corporate pride after learning about what happened to the protestors and feels more welcomed at community pride. He will be performing again on day of the festival.

“There were a lot of activists who made significant movements in the civil rights and black liberation movements who were also part of the LGBTQIA community as well but that part often gets tossed aside,” said Wimberly. “If there is still one oppressed group at the end of the day then are we really making progress?”

The 2019 “Community Pride: Decades of Resistance Festival” will be held this Saturday from 12pm to 8pm at Mayme Moore Park. The organizers are calling for a boycott of Stonewall Columbus Pride and Parade because they support Columbus Police, which is one of the most racist forces in the country. Attending Community Pride is a demonstration of solidarity with queer people of color.

Armond Wimberly on bass fiddle and Alexis and Stewart at mics