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Black Pride returns for weekend celebration

Ryan Williamson/CITY
Black Pride co-directors Chanel Anita, left, and Shani Wilson.

Black Pride is back this weekend as new organizers launch a celebration for Rochester’s Black and brown LGBTQ community.

Entering its seventh year, this year’s Black Pride is a three-day event featuring a ball, a barbecue, and a closeout party running Friday through Sunday.

The festivities kick off at 6 p.m. Friday with the “Night of Excellence” ball at Urban Euphoria, 37 S. Washington St. Tickets are $10, but admission is free for anyone younger than 18.

Black Pride is at a critical juncture, having recently undergone a change in leadership that has moved to fill gaps in services for the broader LGBTQ community in the way of emergency housing, health, and finances that had primarily been handled by the now moribund Out Alliance.

It is a big role, but Black Pride leaders said it fits with the organization’s long-standing mission. Black Pride, they said, exists because people of color often felt excluded or overlooked by the Out Alliance and traditional Pride events.

“We definitely know that there is a lot missing with Out Alliance gone, but we also know that a lot of that was not reaching Black and brown queer and trans people in the first place,” said one of its leaders, Chanel Anita. “In our community, there really is no gap (made by Out Alliance’s closure), to be completely honest.”

Anita is among a trio of Black Pride leaders that includes Shani Wilson, who is also the chair of the city’s Police Accountability Board, and Bianca Castro, who took over the helm of the organization after its founder, Adrian Elim, relocated to New York City. All the leaders have previously been involved in Black Pride organizing.

“We’re doing a lot of the festival planning, but also a lot of the growth work on the business and operations side,” Anita said.

Wilson sees the role of Black Pride as less of a weekend celebration than a support network for people whom she says have been too often left out of larger community conversations.

“Really, Black Pride was an extension of that need, where it was a celebration of Black and brown queer people, but also recognizing that there is a need for Black- and brown-centered care and making sure we were safe,” Wilson said.

Trillium Health is a sponsor of the event, and is scheduled to administer COVID-19 vaccinations at the Sunday barbecue at Genesee Valley Park, dubbed the “Black in the Day Festival.” Vaccine recipients will be offered either a $25 or $50 gift card as an incentive to get inoculated, organizers said.

Black Pride will also be offering free HIV testing at other events during the festival.

All participants in Black Pride events will be required to wear masks and required to divulge their vaccination status for indoor activities, although being vaccinated is not required to attend.

“All are welcome, we just ask that people respect that this is a Black, queer space,” Wilson said.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or