St. Petersburg Gay Black Pride gets its groove back

By : Samuel Johnson
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ST. PETERSBURG – After a six-year hiatus, Gay Black Pride is out and proud this year in St. Petersburg. Its epicenter is the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African-American Museum located in the city’s historic African-America neighborhood, The Deuces. Throughout the month of June, the museum will be celebrating Gay Black Pride with a series of events. The centerpiece of the celebrations is the exhibit, “As Black as They were Gay: The Harlem Renaissance.”

Dr. Carter G. Woodson African-American Museum is the only museum in St. Petersburg which isn’t downtown or near the waterfront. It’s nestled next to Jordan Park, a public housing community. This year the Woodson Museum is making a splash on the Gay Black Pride front. On June 12, there was a candlelight vigil to commemorate the victims of the Pulse tragedy. On Friday, June 16, starting at 7:30 p.m., the museum will be putting on a screening of the Oscar winning film Moonlight. Nearing the end of Pride month, Tuesday, June 20, the museum will host an LGBTQ panel discussion entitled, “Not a Trend: The Truth.”

The anchor of Gay Black Pride is the exhibit “As Black as They Were Gay: The Harlem Renaissance,” which consists of a series of wall displays commemorating the LGBT icons of the Harlem Renaissance. This was a period of time in the early 20th Century in New York City’s Harlem when African-American art and culture flourished. Some of the notable luminaries given center stage in the exhibit are authors Zora Neal Hurston and Langston Hughes, as well as performers like Billy Holiday and Josephine Baker.

Terri Lipsey Scott, director of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African-American Museum, says when the same exhibit was shown six years ago, it got a tepid reception. But now, “As a community, as a nation, we have evolved with a greater sense of acceptance, and now it is an ideal time to bring this exhibit back,” she says.

The impetus for the exhibit, according to Lipsey Scott, is that so many of the revered historical figures in African-American culture are gay. She went on to say that, “So many folks didn’t realize the contributions they made, and it was critical that we brought that to the forefront.”

Not only is Gay Black Pride at the Woodson Museum seeing the reemergence of the exhibit “As Black as they were Gay: The Harlem Renaissance,” but it is also bringing back the Pride to local Black LGBTQ pillars of the community, Lipsey-Scott explains.

The six honorees are Bob Devin Jones (author and director of the cultural center Studio 620), Sheree Greer (author who teaches St. Petersburg College), Trevor Pettiford (Emmy Award winning broadcast journalist at Bay News 9), Nadine Smith (LGBT activist, CEO and co-founder of Equality Florida), Desmond Clark (military veteran and former Director of Operations & Digital Media at Morean Arts Center) and Lillian Dunlap (journalist, communications professor who is currently with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies).

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