As we are upon Pride Season, it is with pleasure that I announce Paris Black Pride. No greater time than now to expand the culture of pride amongst the urban community.
I recently had the chance to catch up with the masterminds (James and Johan) behind this great movement to gain some insight on what to expect from the festivities. Kick back and get ready as I am about to give it to you first hand.
DiamondKesawn: Exactly what is Paris Black Pride?
James: Paris Black Pride is a non-profit organization that celebrates the diversity of France’s LGBT people of color and their allies. Our goal is to spark dialogue about increasing the social inclusion and visibility of LGBT people of color in France and across Europe. This inaugural Paris Black Pride dedicated to the lives and memories of Josephine Bake and James Baldwin.
DiamondKesawn: How was PBP birthed?
James: I met Earl Fowlkes, the Executive Director of the Center for Black Equity (CBE), through my husband. I learned that they manage an international network of Black prides. I knew there wasn’t one in Paris so I asked for Earl if he’d give his blessing to me launching the Paris edition. I contacted some friends who were able to brainstorm about parties and cultural events around a weekend in July and the rest is history. PBP wouldn’t be happing without our co-founders, Johan Amaranthe, Brian Scott Bagley, Nawo Crawford, and support from several Black and Arab LGBT event promotion companies in France including B&W Events, Ebony Productions, and BBB.
DiamondKesawn: What does it mean to your personally to be involved in such a monumental occasion?
James: It means a lot to be have founded this organization. Race is a very taboo subject in France. I’m proud to
have played a small part in provoking what will hopefully become a sustained conversation about social equality for LGBT people of color in France and elsewhere across Europe.
DiamondKesawn: Do you think Paris is ready for such an event?
James: UK Black Pride in London was the only Black pride organization in Europe until we came about so this is a new concept for a lot of people. There are no reliable estimates on how many people of various ethnicities there are in France because it is illegal to ask about someone’s ethnic background for census purposes. Many ethnic minorities feel marginalized (including in mainstream prides and LGBT establishments) despite this official policy of colorblindness. Ready or not, we plan to offer a safe and empowering space for France’s LGBT people of color and allies.
DiamondKesawn: What has the feedback been like so far from the patrons as you have been working to get this underway?
James: Initial reaction to PBP through word of mouth on social media was very positive. We got our first backlash when Yagg, a French LGBT magazine, announced our Black pride weekend. At least 12 people actually used the “angry” emoticon to describe their reaction to the story on the magazine’s Facebook page and accused us of racism despite the fact that we have explicitly said that everyone is welcome at our events. The reaction to Yagg’s announcement was still overwhelmingly positive and helped spark a needed conversation in France’s LGBT community.
DiamondKesawn: When is PBP?
James: Paris Black Pride 2016 will take place Friday July 15th through Sunday July 17th. I chose these dates to coincide with July 14th, France’s national holiday, which falls on a Thursday this year.
DiamondKesawn: What can the patrons expect while attending PBP?
James: Patrons can expect a safe and empowering space where they can dance to good music, meet a diverse array of LGBT people, and share their stories and thoughts.
DiamondKesawn: In light of recent events in Orlando, do you think the Paris LGBT community is ready for such a large event?
James: The massacre at Pulse was awful and has shaken many of us around the world. Unfortunately, Paris is no stranger to terrorism. The Paris region suffered a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in 2015 that killed over 130 people. The city mourned, but life returned to its normal pace as a show of defiance and a way to honor the dead. I hope our event will allow people to continue to grieve our losses in Orlando and from the 2015 attacks in Paris as well.
DiamondKesawn: Where can we find you on Social Media?
James: You can find and “like” us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter, @ParisBlackPride and use the hashtag #ParisBlackPride. Also on Instagram soon with the handle @ParisBlackPride. Of course, we can’t forget our website, www.parisblackpride.org .
There you have it. the inagural year of Paris Black Pride. Follow them on social media and make sure you attend if you are in the area.
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