For centuries, black women have been superheroes in their families, communities, and beyond. With the various hurdles they face daily, sometimes mental peace can be compromised. Addressing one’s mental health illness in the black community and utilizing resources is usually avoided in fear of being labeled as “crazy” or weak because of the need of another individual having to step in and help. In honor of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to shed light on a resource that has helped me destress and not feel alone in my own issues: Therapy for Black Girls.
This is not another PrideFest review. While I'd originally planned to write one, I've decided to take a different approach this time around. It might have begun with commentary on the lack of thunderstorms at PrideFest this year (instead we got sweltering heat) and ended with kudos for showrunner Jussie Smollett, Grand Marshal Tona Brown, the Hampton Roads Pride Board, and all the little people who helped make the event run smoothly – or at least as smoothly as possible. This year I was one of those little people volunteering, and I thought I'd share why.
This is not another PrideFest review. I’ve written a number of PrideFest reviews over the years and I’ve decided to do something different this time around. It’s hard to follow up on last year’s comprehensive take on Pride month as featured in the Alternatives HR Fall 2017 Quarterly. Also I volunteered at PrideFest this year. Between volunteering and feeling a bit ill in the sweltering heat, I didn’t get to take in as much as I normally would this year. I was disappointed I didn’t feel well enough to stay for the live concert by Jussie Smollett, and some of the other performers and activities that took place later in the day.
Rather than doing a full review, I’ve decided to share photos of a few things I liked during the time I was there. I’ll also be writing a second part to this article about why I thought it was important to volunteer this year.
While many will be celebrating LGBTQ Pride this Saturday, June 30, 2018, at the Hampton Roads PrideFest in Norfolk, others will be out protesting the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents when they cross the U.S.-Mexican border. Why not do both? Many of the rallies are early in the day and PrideFest goes on until 7pm.
Pride Week continued on Thursday, June 28, 2018, with an event at O’Connor Brewery on 24th Street in Norfolk. The O’Connor’s venue has become a staple of Pride Week over the past several years. The event was laid back and mostly social. Folks had their choice of beverages including ‘Crafty Queen Shandies’ made especially for this event. There were also two food trucks on hand – Captain Crabby and New York Souvlaki. DJ Matty provided music while Mercedes Douglas and her Drag Race Girls provided entertainment. There was also a 50/50 with proceeds benefiting Hampton Roads Pride.
The LGBT Life Center and LIFE held a Summer Block Party in honor of National HIV Testing Day on June 28, 2018. The block party was held at the LGBT Life Center’s offices at 1001 Monticello Avenue in Norfolk, not to be confused with the LGBT Life Center’s community center on 24th Street. The LGBT Life Center serves the greater Hampton Roads LGBT community. LIFE stands for “Leaders Involved in Futures and Empowerment.” The program is for young Black males who have sex with other men regardless of how they label themselves. The program promotes safe, healthy relationships, and personal growth.
On June 26, 2018, the Hampton Roads LGBTQAI Interfaith Group held their 6th Annual Interfaith Celebration as part of Pride Week. The group is made of local faith communities “who are part of and/or supportive/welcoming/affirming/friends/allies of the LGBTQAI Greater Community.” Unlike many interfaith celebrations that only feature various Christian denominations and cisgender white folks, this event is always truly diverse. Besides the Christians, there was representation from the local Pagan community and a Jewish Rabbi also spoke at the event. There were People of Color and even a Transgender soloist / guitarist. The event was held at the New Life Metropolitan Community Church of Norfolk.
A rally is set to take place tonight, June 26, 2018, at the Norfolk City Government offices in support of the Hershee Bar. The Norfolk City Council voted to purchase the Hershee Bar as part of the city’s revitalization plan for the Five Points neighborhood. The Hershee Bar is set to close its doors on October 31. In the meantime, the bar is looking for a new home.
The Rainbow Flag, also known as the Pride Flag and Gay Pride Flag, is a symbol of LGBTQ pride. The colors reflect the diversity within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community, and the flag is often used as a symbol of pride in LGBTQ rights marches and parades. The Rainbow Flag was originally designed and hand dyed by San Francisco artist and drag queen Gilbert Baker in 1978. It first flew in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978.
Three Branch River Grove ADF performed its annual Summer Solstice Ritual at Mystic Moon of Norfolk on June 23, 2018. Druids Linda Sager Kazalski and Wes Jolly presided over the ceremony which celebrates the Summer Solstice, also known as Midsummer. The Summer Solstice is the longest day and the shortest night of the year.
As a solar observance, solar deities are often honored. For this particular ritual, the goddess Brighid and the god Lugh were invoked and honored. Cornmeal, tobacco, birdseed, oil, silver, and other offerings were made to the deities, ancestors, nature spirits, and outdwellers.
Hampton Roads Pride kicked off its official Pride week activities with an evening at the Chrysler Museum on June 21, 2018. The event took place as part of the Chrysler Museum’s Third Thursday programming. The party included socializing, a selection of food, a cash drink bar, and music. Musical guests included Melody & Company, Ju Ju Drum, and other performers. Folks could tour the museum, make their own mini Pride flags, and get their picture taken by the LOVE sculpture in front of the museum. Other props, masks, and signs were spread about inside for folks to create their own photos. Bhav Brigade Hampton Roads was on hand to support Pride and International Yoga Day with an all-levels vinyasa flow on the Chrysler Museum lawn.