Zakia Jamaceye has lived in Richmond, and been active in the local LGBTQ community, for most of her life and she’s shocked there’s never been a Black or POC specific Pride event in her city.
“People never came together to actually organize it and put it together,” she said in an interview with GayRVA. “People talked about it, but no-one ever put the effort forward to make it happen.”
While the city’s largest Pride event, Virginia Pride, does its best to catch up with the needs of the POC community, Jamaceye sees a Black Pride event as a chance to create their own niche in a majority-minority city like RVA.
But Jamaceye, along with the group UGRC (Us Giving RVA Connections), is hoping to change that.
“It’s not exclusionary, its just highlighting our role, our space in the world,” said Rev. Lacette Cross, the Founder of UGRC who formed the group to help get events like Black Pride off the ground in RVA.
Cross hopes to model the event like other Black Prides held in major cities around the US. The first planning meeting for the event happens this Thursday evening and all are welcome and encouraged to attend.
“This group would convene the planning committee and execute the event,” Cross said. “The event would be open to everyone to attend, but it centers on that [Black and LGBTQ] intersection.”
Cross is hoping to see the event, which they aim to throw in Summer 2018, span a weekend with a party on Friday, an outdoor event Saturday and an interfaith service on Sunday. Throughout the event, the core principals of inclusion and diversity would be celebrated.
“You can’t have pride without having a good time,” she said. “We want to give back to the community and find people who are interested in getting involved in that community.”
Cross admitted she hasn’t been in Richmond all that long – only 7 years, but when she moved here from DC she was also shocked to see the lack of a Black-specific pride event. She also admitted, after being here for a few years, she thinks she understands why such an event hadn’t occurred yet.
“I’ve learned to understand the racial dynamic of Richmond,” she said. “One of those things I’ve understood is that Southerners all want to get along in theory… when things happen that don’t feel good to POCs in the LGBTQ community, we drink about it and complain but nobody does the next step.”
She sees UGRC and this weekend’s meeting as a chance to change that.
“The timing is right – and maybe for UGRC, and for Black Pride RVA, the time is right.”
And Jamaceye’s presence on the board bodes well for the young organization which only formed last fall. She’s recently joined the VA Pride board in the hopes of diversifying their vision but its also given UGRC the connections to build their own event.
“They’ll be consulting to help us get our ducks in a row, but it won’t be a VA Pride event,” she said. “In the past, there hasn’t been a huge presence of People of color as far as VA Pride planning goes, so hopefully this event will provide a space that is reflective of our culture and our traditions – how we show our pride in our community.”
As far as the kinds of folks they hope to see come out this week? They hope to see some new faces to the world of LGBTQ organizing or who have expereince getting large events off the ground.
“We needed this meeting because I don’t know who I don’t know,” she joked. “As I’m starting to meet people and asking questions… I’m further realizing i’ve only been here seven years and I appreciate the newness of my eyes but I respect the longevity of the people who have been here.”
The meeting happens this Thursday, 6PM, at 1200 Bently St, Richmond VA. Please RSVP with Cross by emailing your name and info to UGRCRVA@Gmail.com