BY: BRITTANY FORTE’
There was not an empty seat for the black pride event hosted by Wild Fig Books and Coffee on Sunday, which was centered around, but not limited to the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community. The event speakers were the Ebony Wellness of Bluegrass Black Pride, who work to break down barriers that make it difficult for African Americans to be out and proud. Reinette Jones, a member of Ebony Wellness, said the main goal was to let Lexington know, “LGBTQ people are here also.”
Ebony Wellness has not been the only organization focused on being an African American and part of the LGBTQ community.
“There have been African American LGBTQ organizations probably since the beginning of time. Unfortunately, they have not been well documented,” said Jones.
However, according to Jones, Ebony Wellness is the second most documented group, meaning they are known about in the community. In fact, Jones said this event was another way for the community to learn more about Ebony Wellness.
The event was made to be a judge free zone and to make everyone feel welcomed.
“We are not here today to prescribe to anybody that you have to be anything. That you have to be out, that you have to dress a certain way, or your hair has to be a certain way,” said Jones, “We are just here to share today.”
They did just that. Sharing everything from stories about how they told important people in their lives from just describing how they get through there day to day lives. Mark Johnson, co-chairmen of Ebony Wellness, expressed his concern of not being seen or heard in the community.
“For a long time even in the African American community LGBTQ folk were invisible and many still are,” said Johnson, “We just wanted us to have a voice and for us to have some kind of unity within the LGBTQ community of color.”
Ebony Wellness is working to eliminate this invisibility by continuing to expand and inviting people into their organization. Although after two years they have come so far Johnson says there is still more that needs to be done.
“We still have a long way to go because there are so many personalities and different cultures within the African American LGBTQ community,” he said.
Despite this long way, Jones says Ebony Wellness will, “Continue our goal to give presence and voice to African American LGBTQ persons striving to live everyday with respect, dignity, and pride.”