CINCINNATI — A celebration of black members of the local LGBTQ community kicked off Thursday night with a film festival. Like similar events across the country, Cincinnati Black Pride is virtual this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the eyes of the nation focused on racial injustice, Black Pride members said they’re doing all they can to be seen and heard.
“I think the community is really grateful that we didn’t give up on Pride this year,” Cincinnati Black Pride co-founder Tim’m West said.
When the pandemic seemed to erase life as we knew it, the organization adopted the theme "still here." The slogan applies to both COVID-19 and in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I think the people that are here now are demanding that we be visible, that we show up fully as black people and as LGBT people,” West said.
West said even without the ability to come together physically, more people are realizing the importance of how the gay rights and Black Lives Matter movements intersect.
“I think we experience that in the gay community, where there is racism unfortunately, but people are working through that and we experience it in the Black community when we’re told to show up, but not show up fully,” he said.
West said black members of the LGBTQ community simultaneously navigate both worlds and face both sets of challenges. He shared an example of how he was racially profiled during a recent traffic stop where backup was called and guns were drawn.
“That reality is real for me,” he said. “Those people may or may not have known that I was a part of the LGBT community, but I walk outside every day as a Black man and experience what other Black men experience.”
West said that experience, though painful, makes him and others qualified to help move society forward.
“If there are keys to what will heal our city and bring it together, you might want to look at people at that intersection,” he said.
West said he hopes Cincinnati Black Pride will be a chance to grow both movements and signal to people citywide that those of all genders, sexual orientations and races belong here.
“I think still here is a theme of resilience,” West said. “I think Cincinnati has always had a resilient Black, LGBT community. It’s always been invisible in years past and I think that is the thing in Cincinnati that is changing right now.”
Thursday’s film conference is available online at the organization’s website. You can also learn about more events happening the weekend of June 25-28.