Pride Month is a time of celebration. A time where same-gender-loving men get together to celebrate love, liberty, and the occasional Beyoncé. During these celebrations, it is imperative for us to feel safe in the spaces we inhabit. Our mere existence can be viewed as a threat to some, and therefore, many of us have to be mindful of where we choose to shake a tailfeather. Luckily for us, there are a host of black men curating safe spaces for us to have a good time while celebrating who we are.
New York and Washington, D.C. both house the biggest pride celebrations in the country, but most of the events during this time center whiteness and tend to forget about people of color. As a people, we have been gifted with the talent of making lemonade out of lemons, so instead of complaining, we have created our own spaces to celebrate. Behind the month’s biggest events are some of the top event producers in the game: Joe Morris, Reginald Monroe, Louis Wilson, and Frank Watson.
“The idea of creating our own safe spaces came from a lack thereof,” says Wilson of Day In The District Events. He continues by stating that “everyone should have a safe haven or a happy place where they can freely express themselves without threats of criticism from society.” Wilson believes that these safe spaces give same-gender-loving men a better sense of self and prepare them to navigate other spaces that might not be strictly curated towards the LGBTQ+ community.
Monroe, of Reggie Riich Events, echoes these same sentiments. Both being D.C.-based producers, Monroe feels that these safe spaces are key to preventing us from being vulnerable to harm, due to society’s ignorance. It is no secret that we are being attacked for merely existing; Monroe’s mission is to create spaces that keep us out of harm’s way. Monroe wants his guests to live out loud and unapologetically, so he makes sure to curate elevated experiences that afford them that opportunity.
As stated before, black and brown people often get neglected in the main celebrations of Pride. Monroe and Wilson have ensured that we, too, have a weekend that’s dedicated to us and curated by us. During D.C.’s Black Pride weekend, many trek to the District to engage in some mild-mannered frivolity.
This weekend in NYC is World Pride; the biggest pride celebration in the world. Yes, my anxiety is already through the roof and I already want a nap. To make sure we don’t get lost in translation, Morris has created “A Hand of Spades.”
“It is imperative for me to create safe spaces to redefine the negative narratives that have been placed on us,” says Morris, referencing the self-hate that many heterosexuals suffer from and how that hate causes harm to our community. Morris reflects on all the World Pride promotions and mentions how he rarely saw Marsha P. Johnson’s likeness anywhere in the promotions and how it disgusted him. Rightfully so; because without Johnson, we would not be out here living the lives we have grown so accustomed to. Morris’ hope is that people can enter his space and see people that look like them and that action would make them feel at home. “It gives me such joy to know that I can create this feeling in our community,” he says.
Watson, another event producer in NYC, echoes Morris’ sentiments and touches on our country’s current state. “I am happy that people have the freedom to be themselves in the events I create,” he says. Watson says ensuring that spaces are safe is “the only option,” regardless of the sexual orientation of his guests.
As a person who doesn’t fit into the traditional box of masculinity, safe spaces are crucial to my survival as a black gay man. The industry I work in affords me the privilege to be in rooms that are welcoming and open-minded, but that is a privilege many aren’t afforded. Event producers like Wilson, Monroe, Morris and Watson hold a special place in our community because they’re making sure the current and next generation of LGBTQ youth know they are not only welcomed but that there will always be a seat at the table waiting for them.