In the early 80s, Felicia ‘Dee Rock’ Harvey, founder and creator of the Pittsburgh Black Pride celebration and movement, was a DJ popping around local bars like Luckys, Travelers, and the Tender Trap in East Liberty, on a deck and gear borrowed from a friend. This is how Dee Rock says she became uniquely connected to the Black gay community. She and friends used to travel to D.C. for their Unity weekend and were inspired to make something similar happen for the black gay community in the Steel City.
In 1995, Dee Rock set out with friends and loved ones to create the Pittsburgh Unity Bar-b-Que. Everyone was encouraged to bring food and everyone cooked and created community together. This community had suffered great losses at the hands of the AIDS epidemic, and it was a very painful time. For Dee Rock and other contributors, the losses solidified the need for a communal space for black gay and same-gender-loving folks to gather and celebrate their lives and unique experiences with friends, family, loved ones, and allies. The Bar-b-Que was the catalyst for the week-long Pittsburgh Black Pride celebration we have today.
This year, Pittsburgh Black Pride Week is jam-packed with activities from July 24th to Sunday July 30th and includes everything from a movie night, a health fair, and a variety show, to the now famous community Bar-b-Que.
Monday, July 24th is the Opening Reception, taking place at the August Wilson Center.
Tuesday, July 25th, Pittsburgh Black Pride will be screening Moonlight at the Carnegie Library at 7101 Hamilton Ave. Winner of the Academy Award for Best MotionPicture, Moonlight is “…a movie about growing up poor, black, and gay… It would be truer to the mood and spirit of this breathtaking film to say that it’s about teaching a child to swim, about cooking a meal for an old friend, about the feeling of sand on skin and the sound of waves on a darkened beach, about first kisses and lingering regrets.” (New York Times)
Wednesday, July 26th Pittsburgh Black Pride presents the 3rd Annual Health Fair in the Square, downtown in the Market Square from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Dee Rock is really excited about Pittsburgh Black Pride being able to link up with the Allegheny Health Network in order to make this year’s health fair happen. She is dedicated to advocating and educating folks about the myriad of health disparities that exist in the black gay community. These issues include diabetes, dialysis, and things like cancer, as she lost her best friend to liver cancer this year. The health fair will include entertainment, including Lady T, a strong local black ally who supports Pittsburgh Black Pride every year.
Thursday July 28th, is Pittsburgh Got Talent, a Variety show at the Carnegie Library in Homewood which is open to all kinds of talent, including musical performances, comedy, sketch, magic, acrobatics, juggling, ventriloquism, singing, rapping, and more. There is a $250.00 prize for the winner.
Friday, July 29th Pittsburgh Black Pride is sponsoring a Happy Hour at Images 5 p.m.-8 p.m. for the Best of Prince Lip Sync Battle. Come out and get a taste of the rainbow of drinks and entertainment. This event is free and for 21+ only.
Saturday, July 30th is the Family Day and East Liberty Presbyterian Church from 1 p.m.to 5 p.m., as well as the official Black Pride OTY Awards Ceremony and Awards Banquet.
The Family Day is a free event which will have soccer, bowling, basketball, music, and a youth talent contest with face painting, light snacks, and information and resources for families.
The Black Pride OTY Awards Ceremony and Awards Banquet is the first ever of its kind, and is definitely dress to impress. Pittsburgh Black Pride will be awarding local house leaders and more for their time, energy, and commitment to community, followed by a ball hosted by the Legendary East Coast Father Sheek elite with Music by DJ Pills Ebony (GalacticBass Musik). There will be an afterparty announced in the future, so make sure to keep your eyes on the link above.
To round out this full week of events, Sunday, July 30th is the 22nd Annual Pittsburgh Black Pride Bar-b-Que! It will be happening once again at Schenley Park, Prospect Drive and Prospect Grove from 12 p.m.-8 p.m. There will be good food, games, entertainment, face painting for the kids, information and resources booths, testing all day, a bounce house, and more!
Most events for Pittsburgh Black Pride will be MC’d by local comedian, Peaches. Peaches has been involved with Pittsburgh Black Pride for about 4 years and knows she can keep smiles on people’s faces and keep them entertained all week long. Peaches is looking forward to turning a little twist on this year’s festivities, so you definitely want to come out and support. Pittsburgh Black Pride is a celebration of the black gay community that is open to all people–gay, straight, black, white, leaders, organizers, and community allies alike. All are welcome.
If the line-up alone doesn’t entice you, check out this Flip C. Williams video in honor of Felicia Harvey.