Rochester Black Pride is in full swing. The four-day festival celebrates LGBT identity and expression among local black people and people of color. It began Wednesday and on Thursday, several local young people came together for the Mocha Day Party, an event in Martin Luther King Jr. Park that brought the LGBT Youth together for food, dancing and games.
Organizer Adrian Elim says the goal of the festival is to both celebrate LGBT identities but to also provide safe spaces:
“I definitely feel it’s important to create safe spaces like this especially with partners like the MOCHA center, one so they can get plugged into the community and all the resources they have available to them,” he said. “It’s also so they can be in a safe environment that’s not a club, or a space where they might have to deal with things many of them aren’t ready to deal with yet.”
In addition to the youth party, other events this weekend include: a concert by Trina, a brunch for trans women and several night parties.
“It’s a space where young people, queer people and trans people are empowered to be their best selves and to live their best lives,” said Josh Allen, who has been coming to the festival since it’s start three years ago. He currently lives in Philadelphia. “Through the community’s challenges, people are excited to support each other and spend time together during the summer. So it’s a really good community space to be a part of and that’s why I keep coming back.”
In addition to food and music, the MOCHA Center provided information on HIV testing and prevention, healthy living, and other resources in the community.
“We’re living in a time where you think it’s ok, but we still fight stigma every day,” said Christopher Goodwin, a supervisor who works with young people at the Center. “We’re trying to find our identity in a place that doesn’t always embrace us so we have to embrace ourselves and continue doing that for our youth.”
The Center, located on North Water Street, provides free testing, contraception and social opportunities like movie nights and game days.
“Our stories are being told, we have Pose on FX, and Marsha P. Johnson did have a movie on Netflix so it’s starting but we have to rally and keep doing what we have to do to make sure we’re heard. It’ll uplift our youth, and it’ll uplift us and the people who have been fighting for us.”