Since 1999, Philly Black Pride has been a spotlight of the annual Penn Relays Carnival weekend in April. By creating multicultural opportunities that educate, inspire, improve and celebrate the experiences of LGBTQ people, this annual same-gender-loving celebration brings the “children” to Philly in a big way. We chatted with Le Thomas, the current President of the event, as they prepare for their 18th anniversary year on April 27-30th.

SWERV: How has Philly Black Pride impacted life for Black LGBTQ people in Philadelphia over the years?

Thomas: It can be quite challenging to make an impact on an everchanging community.  With that being said Philadelphia Black Pride has been able to make an impact throughout the years by recognizing the needs of the community and being a conduit to address those needs through education, entertainment and/or social networking for Black and Brown LGBTQIA people.  Throughout our 18 years we have developed partnerships and worked tirelessly in community building and engagement which helps us better identify the needs of the community we serve.

SWERV:  What should attendees expect from this year’s events?

Thomas:  Last year we wanted the attendees to create their own experience with “My Philly, My Pride.”  This year we wanted to get a little deeper, especially in the social and political climate we find ourselves in both locally and nationally.  We want participants to see #AMovement, with the focus even more now than ever on community and the continued fight for equality and justice in all areas of our lives.  It is so important to us that we don’t get distracted by the noise and get lost in it, but to see through it and continue to make a place for Black and Brown LGBTQ people.

SWERV:  The Penn Relays also takes place during the same weekend. How has that affected Philadelphia Black Pride?

Thomas: Philadelphia Black Pride evolved from parties and celebrations that were held during Penn Relays. Over the years, a good mixture of track & field fans and those attending daytime workshops and night-time celebrations has become the Pride we know today.  The idea is not to compete with Penn Relays but work in conjunction with it. That’s how we are able to have growth in attendance during year after year, along with amazing partnerships that help build the experience that participants are going to have.

SWERV:  Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?

Thomas:  Our theme of #AMovement, is not something new.  The idea is that whatever moves your heart, mind and spirit — it is time to get involved.  We can no longer sit back and allow others to do it for us.  It is going to take all of us to advance this

movement forward.  There is no need to reinvent the wheel on how to heal the divide so long as we are spinning the wheel together.  We have to decide if we want chaos or



community.  If community is what we choose we have to be willing to have the courage to cross the lines of inequality and injustice.  In all of this social injustice remember:  Black joy is resistance.  “Hard times requires furious dancing” – Alice Walker.