Cleveland--The Black, Gay and Proud Celebration opened its ninth year with a reception that drew over 100 people to Hovorka Atrium on Case Western Reserve University�s campus, including Cleveland City Council member Joe Cimperman and Jeff Johnson, director of the city�s Office of Community Relations.
In addition to drag and gospel performances and speeches, the August 1 event featured the presentation of the inaugural Black, Gay and Proud Awards. The organizing committee compiled a list of nominees in a dozen categories, then allowed the community to vote for the recipients of the awards, styling them after the Oscars.
Isis Tiffany Soul-Lamar received the nod for Outstanding Transgender Entertainer, while Outstanding Male and Female Entertainer awards went to Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theater�s Michael Medcalf and comedian Dana Austin.
Among the other award recipients were the Cleveland Friendship Committee, which won both for Outstanding Social Group and Party of the Year for last year�s White Fantasia party, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones for Outstanding Politician and Deb Sharp for Outstanding Community Role Model.
In addition to the trophies handed out during the ceremony, the recipients were called back up at the end so BlackOut Unlimited interim executive director Jon Everett could present them with certificates from the Cuyahoga County commissioners honoring them for their achievements.
The following evening saw the debut of Black, Gay and Proud in Cleveland, a documentary featuring interviews with African American LGBT people in Cleveland, displaying the diversity of experiences in the community.
Over sixty people attended the screening, which was preceded by the film That�s My Face (� Minha Cara), a documentary by Thomas Allen Harris, a gay African American filmmaker, transposing his youth in the Bronx with his travels through Africa, exploring the idea of personal identity in relationship to the larger community.
Set for Wednesday and Thursday were the August 3 Harlem Nights evening of drag and singing presented by Platinum Productions at A Sharp�s Night Out, and the free Art Explosion presented by People of All Colors Together-Cleveland at the Wyndham Hotel on Playhouse Square.
Friday, August 5 brings Da Brothas and Da Sistas Red Hott Affair at Casa di Borally, 27227 Chardon Rd. in Richmond Heights. The red-attire party begins at 8 pm, and admission is $25, which includes dinner and an open bar.
The State of Black Gay America Symposium returns on Saturday, August 6, focusing this year specifically on women. It begins at 12 noon in Ford Auditorium at the corner of Euclid Ave. and Adelbert Rd.
That evening, the White Fantasia party returns, featuring a performance by singer Terisa Griffin. Tickets are $30 in advance, $40 at the door, and there will be food, dancing and an open bar. White attire is recommended.
White Fantasia will be at the Cleveland Health Museum, 8911 Euclid Ave.
On Sunday, the Raise the Roof Gospel Service will start the day at Archwood United Church of Christ, 2800 Archwood Ave. Breakfast will be at 9:30 am, followed by the service at 11 am.
A family festival and picnic at Kirtland Park, East 49th and South Marginal Rd., will follow at noon, and the day will wrap up at Club 2527, 2527 West 25th St, with a closing party presented by Tony Smith.
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