June is LGBT Pride Month and we reached out to Black LGBT folks and asked, “What does pride mean to you?” Here is a taste of the inspiring and amazing things they had to say.—Kellee Terrell

Monica Roberts, Houston, Texas

“Pride reminds me I'm also part of and heir to a legacy of struggle for the human rights of transgender people that was kicked off one night in June 1969 by Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson.  And the struggle for trans human rights continues today.  It's even more important it be recognized by fellow African Americans in the face of the anti-trans violence and discrimination disproportionately aimed at us.”

Betsey Hawes, St. Paul, Minn.

“Stepping out with my wife and child and facing the world with the attitude that we are as good and as important as every kind of family. Pride means being who we are fully and showing our child that we are just like every family, built solely on love."

Regnarian Jenkins, New York, N.Y.

“Having the strength to be who I am regardless of the feedback from others. Pride is self-manufactured and maintained over the years. Pride is something that u may not be born with but is very attainable with perseverance and strength within yourself to realize that hey….I am who I am and I love all of me…..the good just as well as the bad. I am pride…”

Anna DeShawn, Chicago, Ill.

“Pride is a time to honor everyone on the rainbow continuum. I am black, female and queer and I have come to love all of who I am. This time of the year gives me a chance to celebrate all of my identities. But, during pride I also remember those who cannot live out. I remember those who struggle with their sexuality. Being out and proud is a gift that I do not take for granted.”

Christian Axavier Lovehall, Philadelphia, Pa.

"LGBTQIA Pride month is a time I let the world know loudly, 'I'm Trans, I'm Bisexual, and I'm Proud!' It's when I carry in my mind, soul, spirit and heart every day, the live taken via hate crime or suicide. It's when I fight even more diligently for equality and against social stigma through fierce activism. It's that very special month, when I become visible."

Dreama McCree, N.C.

“Pride is being able to be you regardless of how anyone feels. Being out was not always a positive thing for me, it was scary. I have a 15-year old son and I heard other people talk so badly about the LGBT folks. I didn’t want to embarrass my son, so I kept my bisexuality a secret until he was 12. But when I finally told him, he said it was OK and he was happy with whoever made me happy. He is amazing. ”

Khafre Kujichagulia Abif, Atlanta, Ga.

“Pride is standing solid in the fact that who I am is by the grace of God. I am not a mistake or an error. I am wonderfully and fearfully in His image and His likeness. Being my authentic self is how I stay in total submission to my God’s will and purpose for my life.”

Patricia Ione Lloyd, Brooklyn, N.Y.

“It’s the feeling we carry with us in the light of day and down dark intolerant streets. It is a knowing that although we are still not always safe. we are always loved by “family.” Even though we may be strangers, this entire LGBTQ community and our allies celebrate and fight for our existence. I am so very proud of us.”

Jojo Azevedo, Cincinnati, Ohio

“Giving a voice to myself and others who typically left out of conversation. Letting my experience known in a world that reminds me everyday that I'm a gay person of color, but doesn't want me to talk about it. Pride is a way of establishing solidarity among people who face a similar struggle. This unity aims to challenge social norms in order to create a safe space for  everyone.”

Diamond Stylz, Houston, Texas

"Pride is a state of being happy with your identity, causes and convictions. It’s about being the catalyst that changes the minds of others and affirms who you are inside and out. Pride is intergrated in your work, how you speak, how you look, your walk, how you dress and every other  aspect to your life. No reservations. No insecurities. No shame."

Maurice Tracy, St. Louis, Mo.

“It’s more than fit bodies and dances. Pride is being unapologetically triumphant. And that I am. I am more than my past: The teasing, the taunts, the suicidal attempts, the feelings of ugliness and being a sin. My truth is clear: I am enough; I am worthy and dark and queer. I am not a dream deferred. Instead, I am one of the walking, talking and thinking versions of my enslaved ancestors' dreams. I am here.”

Olivia Ford, Brooklyn, N.Y.

"Pride, for me, is about visibility. It seems a matter of course to omit Black LGBT folks in references to 'Black community' and 'LGBT community'; LGBT people of color who look to mainstream sources for a sign of their communities' existence may conclude that they're the only ones out here. Pride events are opportunities to just be gay, and in community; being a visible presence in the crowd still matters."

Quincey Roberts and Corey Yarbrough, Boston, Mass.

“As two Black gay men in a committed relationship, pride for us means unconditional love for self, each other and our community.  We show our pride by living honestly, being visible and working to create a better world for others who may not have the ability to live in their truth and stand in their pride. “

Tiq Milan, The Bronx, N.Y.

“As a transgender man, I take pride in how the Black LGBT community is beginning to understand that the 'T' is not silent. We are at the forefront of opening up the discourse around the spectrum of gender identity. Black masculinity is diverse and should be celebrated in its entirety. “

Dymir F. Arthur, Brooklyn, N.Y.

“Pride is about walking with my head high because the faith I have in myself mitigates the forces of the world that would otherwise distract me from my true value and purpose. Pride isn’t about comparing ourselves to others. It is about acknowledging who the world may want us to be and who we know we are and deciding to love the latter openly, unconditionally and without apology.” 

Deon Haywood, New Orleans, La.

“Shaquita and I are both activist, and organizers in the south. Celebrating pride for us is a celebration of ourselves . We talk about being invisible as black women and how the world views us, which is not always positive. It's important for us to be visible to celebrate all of who we are, and stand for LGBTQ people globally who can not.”

Earl D. Fowlkes, Jr., Washington D.C.

“New York Pride was the first pride I attended and for the first time, I saw thousands of men and women of all races hanging being together. I realized that my journey was a shared one and that strength comes in numbers as I continue to accept myself in the face of homophobia and racism in America. This year, I have the honor of being one of three Grand Marshals in the NYC Pride parade. Talk about coming full circle!”

Laverne Cox, New York, N.Y.

“It means owning who I am as a black trans woman and practicing self- love. Pride is about challenging the negative self- talk I have internalized that tells me that I’m not good because of who I am or that I cannot live my dreams because I am ugly or too tall or sound like a man. When I replace all of that that with affirming words, I judge myself less and love myself more.”

L. Michael Gipson, Chicago, Ill.

"I came out at age 16, some 22 years ago. I was slightly ashamed then and didn’t fully understand what pride meant. I know now that pride means embracing that you’re no better or worse than anyone else. You’re just as worthy and valuable as every other human being. To understand that who you are, just as you are, is enough is an amazing thing.

Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Oakland, Calif.

“Despite corporatization of pride, I know that for many of us in the LGBT community it is a time to celebrate, inspire and to have fun–and as a trans man, I honor and respect that.” 

Sasha Alexander, Brooklyn, N.Y.

"As a media maker and educator, I know how critical it is to reframe and understand images and messages about race and gender. As a mixed South Asian/Black trans person I have found deep pride in my many communities historic commitment to justice. I am proud to honor our stories and the experiences of Black trans people."

Nino Dev Dorenzo, Chicago, Ill.

“I sit on a board for a national youth service that caters to young LGBTQQA people of color, so it is imperative that we continue to learn about our pride. Pride comes from not just being proud of who you are, but from being able to hold yourself accountable for your actions. Learn from them,  learn to love yourself,  love the world  around you and your family both blood and chosen.”

English Fields, Corinth, Miss.

Pride to me means to EMBRACE YOU for YOU. No matter what your community thinks of you, or what you do in life, you always have to be comfortable in your own body.

Kylar Broadus, Columbia, Mo.

"I’m proud to be me! All people should be proud to be themselves regardless of race, sex, or gender, which is one thing that my parents taught me. I am a Black American who just happens to be transgender and my path to manhood has not been the traditional path. But is any man’s journey the same?"

Dawnn Brumfield, Chicago, Ill.

PRIDE is confidence in whose I am and what I stand for.  PRIDE is the ability to speak MY truth regardless of who’s watching or listening.  It is assurance that what I do, who I love, how I live and what others see is in alignment with who I am.  PRIDE is a gift—my gift—for being AUTHENTICALLY ME.

Brown Girls Burlesque, New York, N.Y.

Pride for us means inspiring women to be more fully themselves, to own their pleasure, to freely express their sensuality, and enjoy their passionate bodies. Pride means creating our own reflection in the art form of burlesque, taking our rightful place on the stage to celebrate our cultures and sexuality with fierceness, artistry and humor. 

KOKUMO, Chicago, Ill.

Pride for me is being a black trans woman who is a businesswoman and not a victim. I manifest my dreams and live without asking permission.

Cheryl Courtney-Evans, Atlanta, Ga.

While Pride for the LGB may be about “coming out” and “expressing themselves,” for the transgender community, we have been compelled by our irresistible urges/yearnings to "express ourselves" [sometimes with devastating results] from the day we realized who we are. We generally insist on respect for our demeanor and dress as we identify ourselves for ourselves. So Pride for me means that the LGB community have caught up our Pride.

Matthew Rose, Washington D.C.

Pride always reminds me of the lyrics in the Heather Smalls song “Proud.”

What have you done today to make you feel proud.

It’s a statement of understanding, reflection and self-discovery. A mantra that questions what actions have I taken to be happy and proud of myself. The season is about self-love and self care

LaTasha D. Mayes, Pa.

"Pride is revolutionary. I live, breathe and exist in the world as my complete self. It means affirmation of all parts of my identity. Pride is love without shame and illegality. It is a blessing to be a proud, Black woman and an activist for Human Rights and Reproductive Justice. Pride is liberation. Pride is freedom. Pride is power."

Roslyn Tate, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Pride was established in my home from an early age because my father, Penfield Wallace Tate II. In 1972, he was the first black mayor in Boulder and the state of Colorado. He passed one of the first gay rights ordinance in the country. The fury over the ordinance would cost him the mayorship, but it was finally made law in 1989.