Monday, February 21, 2011

High LGBT Culture for Black History Month

Marvin K. White, Jewelle Gomez, and Brian Freeman

Three masters of this era’s Black LGBT culture appeared at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center for a Black History Month event on Feb. 18. Jewelle Gomez, Marvin K. White, and Brian Freeman are accomplished writers and performers who were on stage for a full house of mostly African Americans on a rainy night. Over 100 people from local groups enjoyed “Generations: Black LGBT Experiences” to celebrate those who came before and paved the way for our present society and the ads promised “food, art, entertainment, and much more.” There was artwork that featured popular Black LGBT icons such as Sylvester and Angela Davis along the wall where a buffet at such events is usually provided. Instead of a buffet there was a sparse food offering for people who depend on such meals and for others who work hard and sometimes forget to eat lunch.

Jewelle Gomez performed a scene from her book “The Gilda Stories” that entranced the audience. The book is celebrating its 20th anniversary in print and is the only black lesbian vampire character in the world of literature. Gomez is a writer and activist and was a litigant with her wife Diane Sabin, who attended the reading, in the Proposition 8 court case that ended successfully in marriage equality. Gomez has also taken on the enormous tasks of President of the San Francisco Library Commission and dispersing much-needed grants at the Horizons Foundation.

Marvin K. White is a playwright, poet, visual artist, performer, and community arts coordinator. He is a former member of Pomo Afro Homos troupe, who performed at the Castro’s Josie’s Cabaret and Juice Joint and all over the U.S. He powerfully read from his spine tingling and affirming spoken word poem “I Want to Make Black History with You” and it drew resounding yells of approval from the audience.

Brian Freeman is a co-founder and director of Pomo Afro Homos. His work “Civil Sex” is based on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s openly-gay strategist Bayard Rustin and is highly regarded. He assumed the voice of Rustin’s event piano accompanist to tell a hilarious story about Coretta Scott King’s attempt to sing at a rally.

All three of the evening’s performers are fine actors and they convincingly portrayed the characters from their work and mesmerized the crowd, drawing rounds of applause.

Free rapid HIV and STD tests were available and the event was sponsored by Black Brothers Esteem of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, African American Health Disparities Project, AfroSolo Theatre Company, Black Coalition on AIDS, HIV Prevention and HIV Research Sections of the SFDPH, Our Love of the Stop AIDS Project, the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, Shanti, Trans:Thrive of the Asian Pacific Islander Wellness Center, and Walden House.

Activist Steve Ibarra, who works at City College battling HIV/AIDS and STDs, said that he was at the party to represent Blatinos. It was an extremely successful event and next year’s Generations is bound to be even bigger.

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