Houston Based Nonprofit Normal Anomaly Hosts Inaugural Black Queer AF Music Festival

From Left: Jordan Edwards, Joelle Espeut, Ian Haddock, Normal Anomaly’s executive team. Normal Anomaly is the driving force behind the Black Queer AF Music Festival. Image: courtesy of Pisces310Photography

Black LGBTQ+ folks have always been present and a driving force of innovation within spaces of creativity. Individuals within the queer community deserve to be joyfully celebrated in their totality, free from fear of violence and hatred.

With this goal in mind, music festival Black Queer AF, founded by the organization Normal Anomaly, is touching down in Houston on April 30th for the first time ever.

The Normal Anomaly Initiative supports its community by providing HIV tests, at-home tests, transportation for testing, employment assistance opportunities, sexual education classes, sex positive, liberation and LGBTQ+ affirming trainings, and events to uplift Black, queer+ persons and their culture. Prior to becoming a public nonprofit in 2021, the organization was apart of the The Montrose Center’s nonprofit incubator program.

“The Black Queer AF Music Festival came from the need to have greater, more expansive Black, Queer spaces and experiences.  Oftentimes, the Black, Queer community is either relegated to experiences that lack true representation of queerness (as it exists at the intersection of black and queer).  The Black Queer AF Music Festival is about providing an experience for black, queer persons that is created for us to encompass all aspects of black queerness (from the music and drag shows to social activism) and the opportunity to build a stronger sense of community through partnership with community stakeholders, allyship, and the uplifting of black, queer businesses (through our “Project Liberate” leadership program),” shared Joelle Espeut, Director of Programming for the festival.

Taking place at Stampede in Houston, the festival will be headlined by Sissy Nobby, SevnDeep, Durand Bernarr, and Dawn Richard from early 2000s girl group Danity Kane. Local talent is also slated to perform at the event such as ShaunWes, Tre’ Ward and Vockah Redu and will be hosted by Krystal Smith, Brandon Sanders and Khaos Talks with sounds by DJ Rocabye.

“My excitement for The Black Queer Music Festival comes from everything the festival was created for. There is a lack of safe inclusive spaces for Houston’s black queer community and The Normal Anomaly Initiative Inc. is on a mission to change that. This festival has black queer talent from local to global, 14 black leaders launching their non-profits and businesses, and equitable opportunities for the marginalized to attend the festival. Everything that is for us by us so I am excited that the Black Queer music festival lives up to its name by being Black Queer AF,” said Jordan Edwards, Director of the BQ+ Center for Liberation.

In addition to the festival, Normal Anomaly has launched four new programs, including Positives Organizing Wellness and Resilience (P.O.W.R.) Project, Project Liberate, Trans Ally Collective, and the Community Burial Fund in the past year.

“Understanding that Pride came because queer people of color were activated against a system to display how proud they were to be queer and complicating that with Black, Gay Pride in Houston’s creation being because other celebrations overlooked or distanced themselves, we hope that this is an acknowledgment of all the culture, beauty, resilience and joy it is to be Black and Queer. We recognize that it is impossible to encapsulate the complete culture across the spectrum of this intersection, but we hope that people leave hopeful and empowered to be more of themselves than before,” stated Ian L. Haddock, Executive Director & Founder of Normal Anomaly.

This event is sponsored by Viiv Healthcare Accelerate Initiative, Gilead Compass Initiative, Impulse Group Houston, COVID Prevention Network, Legacy Community Health Services, and AIDS Foundation Houston.

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