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‘We’re just regular folks trying to live our lives’: Black, queer intersectionality

Black Pride St. Louis President Randy Rafter said, “Everyone’s invited; everyone’s included,” about this weekend’s events.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
Black Pride St. Louis President Randy Rafter said, “Everyone’s invited; everyone’s included,” about this weekend’s events.";s:3:"uri

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the intersectionality of black and queer identities and how the organization Black Pride St. Louis offers support for the community in advance of its celebratory weekend starting Friday.

The president of Black Pride St. Louis, Randy Rafter, joined Marsh in-studio as Earl Fowlkes, president and CEO of the Center for Black Equity, chimed in via phone.

“There’s a great deal of homophobia in many African American institutions, in particular, the church. However … most individuals know someone who is LGBTQ, often times in their family or their community, and [they] have friends,” Fowlkes said.

While asking a question, Marsh referred to being black and being queer as two separate communities, to which Fowlkes commented: “I hesitate to call them two separate communities because we are a community within the community. And part of the issue why Black Prides exist is because of [the] duality [that] many members of the black LGBTQ community have; we kind of have one foot in the LGBTQ space, and then we have a foot in the black space.”

Fowlkes continued to explain that rather than “straddling those spaces,” many are “creating their own safety zones,” such as Black Pride where the two identities can coexist.

“We’re just regular folks trying to live our lives,” Fowlkes added.

Marsh dived deeper into the concept of “safe spaces,” and inquired about what these spaces are safe from.

“It can be from anything, specifically when it comes down to being victimized within the community,” Rafter said. “From racial slurs to physical assault, these things happen still today.”

Fowlkes went on to describe what goes into creating a safe space.

“It’s really … spending time, and resources, creating a space where everyone is welcome, that people don’t have to worry about being judged, or being treated differently,” he said.

With safe spaces defined, Marsh posed a question about the involvement of law enforcement in maintaining those spaces as safe.

“The relationship [with law enforcement] can be … it’s not necessarily always the best relationship,” Rafter admitted. “In certain situations and certain circumstances, there’s individuals that are afraid to call the local police department because the way that they may be treated. Being black [is] number one. But if I happen to be black and then LGBT, and if I’m having a domestic situation, what’s the likelihood of the police officer actually taking the time to actually figure out the situation properly?”

Before wrapping up, Rafter outlined a few of the upcoming weekend’s events in regards to Black Pride.

“Everyone’s invited; everyone’s included. It’s about showing diversity and inclusion within the community,” Rafter said.

Related Event
What: St. Louis Black Pride
When: Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, through Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018
Where: Various locations
More information

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex HeuerEvie Hemphill and Caitlin Lally give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Caitlin Lally is thrilled to join St. Louis Public Radio as the summer production intern for "St. Louis on the Air." With a bachelor's degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Caitlin also freelances for area publications like Sauce Magazine and the Belleville News-Democrat. In her career, she's covered topics such as Trump's travel ban, political protests and community activism. When she's not producing audio segments or transcribing interviews, Caitlin enjoys practicing yoga, seeing live music, and cooking plant-based meals.

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