Black Pride is Same Gender Loving Pride …

Although It’s the end of August and the performative parade of appreciation of Pride has long ended, we need to talk about the intersection of Blackness and the LGBTQ+ community. We need to acknowledge boys, girls, non-binary, and trans people who love other girls, boys, non-binary, and trans people. More importantly, we need to realize much of the groundwork done in our communities has been done by Black LGBTQ+ people.

June is Pride month. In that month, we see a confetti like burst of “solidarity” for LGBTQ+/ same gender loving folks. When the rainbow confetti is swept away and the flag flooded with colors comes down, it leaves the question of “so now what?” Especially after the continued and senseless violence enacted upon transwomen and the erasure of transmen.

Before any of you decide to snub your nose at celebrating pride or LGBTQ people, ask yourself these questions:

“Do I love to watch Pose or RuPaul’s drag race?”

“Do I say shade, read, the gag?”

“Do I sympathize with civil or uncivil disobedience?”

“Do I say sickening? Do I say realness, fish, or serving?”

If you answered yes to any of those questions then welcome to the celebration because you owe all of those things to the community. Especially the Black LGBTQ community!

Black people are trendsetters. We are the backbone of this society and have worked to create a culture that is our own. In doing that, Black LGBTQ+ people created a culture because there was a divide created in our community. Black people have adopted patriarchy and other Eurocentric ideals that have damaged our relationships with each other. We have othered a group of people within our community. Eurocentrism promotes othering and having a lower group to enact power over. Eurocentrism also encourages heteronormative societies while establishing gender roles to be followed. When we have people who don’t fit that structure, othering happens.

“Disagreeing with their lifestyle,” is an invalid, ignorant statement. A lifestyle is a choice. A lifestyle is something you can change. It’s a way of “styling” your life. Health and fitness is a lifestyle. Being “outdoorsy” is a lifestyle. LGBTQ+ people don’t go through life as heterosexual, then randomly one day wake up and say, “… it’s Saturday. I think … I think I’m going to be gay today.” That’s not how it works. People usually know they aren’t heterosexual or cisgendered early in their lives. We usually ignore children or shame them into hiding their true selves. We must stop this. We are causing detriments in our culture and denying the importance of our people in history when we do. We can’t beat, pray, or force people to change who they are to make others comfortable and we shouldn’t want to.

They are several people that made contributions in our community that are Black and LGBTQ+ . We have:

•Bayard Rustin

•James Baldwin

•Ernestine Eckstein

•Alvin Ailey

•Audre Lorde

•Andrea Jenkins

•Willi Ninja

•Angela Davis

•Marsha P. Johnson

There are so many more people that we could and should acknowledge in our community that created space and opportunity for Black people. We need to stop othering and exile homophobia from our communities and our lives. We should not be asking Black people to choose between their identities because intersectionality exist. Stop asking, “Are you Black first or are you [insert orientation or gender identity] first?” Learn the difference between orientation and gender. Learn/ educate yourself on the topic of gender or the social construct that it is. Your opinions about a person’s preferred pronoun doesn’t matter. Call them by their preferred pronouns.

We have many issues plaguing our communities. It’s time to retire homophobia and transphobia.

A Word with Baltimore’s own Kotic Couture

This month we celebrate PRIDE.  Pride is more than the parade, the beads, and the bars. Pride is the people, the history and the culture. The city has few spaces and voices for queer Black people to be happy and together. There is an artist, creating a space every second Saturday for these voices and the people. Meet the artist restoring Baltimore music and creating a voice for Black queer people in the city. That artist is Kotic Couture, born Kyle Wilson. Couture is one of those people that defines style and pride in every sense of the word. Proud to be Black, proud to be a part of the LGBTQ community and overall proud of the journey to artistry. Couture is like a sermon on Sunday without paying tithes. They are a word, a vibe, and a mood wrapped all in one. Kotic started creating music for the love of music and to complete a bigger picture: opening the door for other artists who are gay, queer, non-binary, lesbian, or identify with those categories at all. The more Kotic succeeds, the more others can look to them as an example to defy odds.

A look at Kotic’s bold style.

Kotic got their humble beginnings on the Eastern Shore and made their way to Baltimore. Outgrowing subtle racism and homophobia and a town whose first LGBTQ parade will They came to Baltimore for the style, the culture, and followed the sounds of 92Q jams (which they grew up listening to). Couture started freestyling on the bus in middle school (think back to Myspace era) which is where the name comes from. The line, “Bitch, I’m chaotic,” became not only a Myspace name for the artist but a part of the glam of Kotic Couture. That and the Remy Ma song, “Fresh” where the line was, “This is couture hip-hop.” And that was the style, Kotic wanted to embody. To do Couture hip-hop. But they realized, “I can’t create my own style of hip-hop. So imma just take that name.” Thus, we have the birth of the fierce artist Kotic Couture. From the spelling of the name to the bold fashion and make-up, Couture brings genuine sound back to Baltimore. l this year to hosting version every second Saturday at the Crown, Couture has come a long way. As they put it, “I was made in the country but built in the city.”

They came to Baltimore for the style, the culture, and followed the sounds of 92Q jams (which they grew up listening to). Couture started freestyling on the bus in middle school (think back to Myspace era) which is where the name comes from. The line, “Bitch, I’m chaotic,” became not only a myspace name for the artist but a part of the glam of Kotic Couture. That and the Remy Ma song, “Fresh” where the line was, “This is couture hip-hop.” And that was the style, Kotic wanted to embody. To do Couture hip-hop. But they realized, “I can’t create my own style of hip-hop. So imma just take that name.” Thus, we have the birth of the fierce artist Kotic Couture. From the spelling of the name to the bold fashion and make-up, Couture brings genuine sound back to Baltimore. Songs ranging from hyped up-tempo like “Get Ya Life,” to heart-felt truths like “Diary of a dreamer.” Couture is essential what Baltimore music is missing, a queer outspoken artist. “As queer people or people in arts community, we are very hyperconscious of gender, gender presentation, and sexuality. You have outside entities where if that’s not a thing to them they don’t think like that. They see straight, gay, male, or female. So, when somebody sees me for the first time, [they’re like] okay that’s a gay man in make-up. They can be a little weirded out, they can be a little iffy. Another thing I’ve learned is move in between these communities and being myself.”

As we continue to recognize June as Pride month. We should appreciate the lessons taken from Kotic. Appreciate yourself, develop your style, and be upfront about who you are and what you want. They have a simple yet clear message, “I did a little tastemaker’s series with Big Improv. They interviewed me, and all their sketches were based off my answers. It was hilarious. But one of the questions the interviewers asked me was, ‘what is something hip-hop fans would be surprised to know about you?’ Well I don’t know if it’s apparent but I’m queer. In our culture, in hip-hop and Black popular culture, queer people are always a cliché. My mentor told me when I was younger, ‘don’t ever pigeon-hold yourself into being a gay artist but always be authentic and who you are because outside entities will use that and oh yeah we like your music but you’re strictly a gay artist so there is nothing we can do with that.’ I think it’s important to represent myself but it’s also important to show people as queer people we’re not monolithic like there are so many things we can do.”

Remember the people and experiences that make pride what it is. From the first frontiers of Stonewall to everyday extraordinary artists like Kotic. Baltimore has a large LGBTQ community which needs to be acknowledge, not vilified or demonized. Kotic gives our city what we need, a fearless artist, fashion forward, and unapologetically Black.

Catch them every second Saturday hosting Version at The Crown or stay plugged in with SoundCloud