Tell a Pride organizer that they have 5 weeks to throw together a Pride Festival and they would likely balk and label the task impossible.
But sometimes, when the right people come together and the need is great, the impossible comes to pass.
Such is the case with the inaugural Dayton Black Pride, which will be celebrated on Saturday, July 10.
With a goal of creating “a Pride environment that openly celebrates the Black and brown LGBTQ+ community,” the event will feature food, vendors, entertainment. and access to health and safety resources and supplies. White allies are both encouraged and welcomed to attend.
The Buckeye Flame spoke with Chrisondra Goodwine, Dayton Black Pride Coordinator, to find out how this all came together (so quickly!), why it’s important, and what visitors can expect.
Give us the origin story of Dayton Black Pride.
CG: I was in Dallas in the first week of June…
Just a few weeks ago?
Yes! I was looking at their Pride event and I thought, “We should have something like this in Dayton.” There are so many of us who live on the other side of the bridge who don’t actually partake in the downtown Pride, mainly because it doesn’t cater to people who grew up in Dayton. It’s a great Pride event and it’s really fun, especially if you went to college and you came back. But most of the common folk—as I like to call them—don’t get to engage in those celebrations because they’re on the other side of the bridge.
You have to understand that Dayton is a town, not a city. And it’s a small town at that. When you are in the Black community, it’s a little different to be open with each other than it is when you are with non-Black people. So I thought, “How amazing would it be if we threw an event where you could see yourself somewhere and feel a little bit more open and supported?”
I put that thought out there into the universe and the universe sent back multiple people who said, “Let’s do that!” So I guess we’re doing that now. <laughs> We all met on Facebook. There were 8 of us who immediately signed on and started bringing our resources together, and came through with an event to celebrate us.
What were those first reactions like when you started telling people about Dayton Black Pride?
All positive. A lot of support and way more than I thought we would have received right from the start. And the support came from all sectors: from individuals who live in the community who I have never seen active, from individuals who are professionals, from established organizations, just from everywhere. It was all hands on deck with everyone saying, “Let’s do it. Let’s help you guys get going. We need this and we want to help you get what you need.” The support has been beautiful.
What kind of vibe can people expect?
We want you to feel like you are surrounded by people you know. We used to have an event here called Jefferson Township Days, which was thrown on the Black side of town. You felt like you were with a large extended family.
We’re going for that chill vibe with Dayton Black Pride: of being able to talk to people, hang out, eat, and just feel like you’re at a family reunion or barbecue. And we’re hoping multiple people come crash, because that’s what we do as a Black culture. You show up and say, “Yeah, I’m with them!”
How would you describe the importance of the event?
Every culture has to have a space. It’s great to immerse ourselves together at times, but it’s also good to feel connected to people who look like you. This is not a divisive activity. It’s not meant to have white Pride and now Black Pride. It’s not that.
When I’m just surrounded by people in the LGBTQ+ culture, it feels phenomenal. But when I leave that world and I go to my churches, or I go to my neighborhood things, or I go to my grandma, it feels different. People have to have spaces where they can see other people who are like them and feel that energy of, “It’s ok. We’re here. We have allies all around. And you can be you no matter what circles you are in.”
What does success look like for this event?
Success is really just seeing people having a good time. No matter if it’s 50 people or 500 people, if you are feeling like you can be you in this culture, that is success. Just seeing people laugh, have conversations, dance a little, enjoy shows, that is all success.
It was very intentional to put the event on this side of the bridge. In Dayton there are two sides. The river segments us in a ways that it really shouldn’t. But it does. I really wanted people to see us in this neighborhood and say, “Yes! We are neighbors over here as well as over there.”
You’re already thinking about 2022, aren’t you?
I already get that sense from you!
<laughs> Look, we literally put this together in 5 weeks, so imagine what could happen if we had a year to plan. When talented people get together, and they have a vision, and the resources just come, you just move forward.
In 2022, we’ll have a full year to plan. And we get to work within the current ecosystem of all the events that are already happening in our area. It’s going to continue to grow and be bigger and better and make our entire LGBTQ+ community even stronger and more connected.
I think it’s going to be big this first year, but this isn’t going to be the first and only event. There’s so much more that we can do collectively. We need to see that we exist outside of entertainment. We exist everywhere. But we sill need to have fun together. We need all of those things that make us feel alive. We’re going to make sure we start supplying those spaces and events in a way that the Black and brown community can say, “Yes! I can be myself no matter where I am in Dayton.”