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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
Pride Guide, June 3, 2005

Black, Gay and Proud expands to a full week

Cleveland--Northeast Ohio now officially has the longest black pride celebration in the country. In a surprising move, BlackOut Unlimited announced that its Black, Gay and Proud Celebration has expanded to a full week: Monday, August 1 through Sunday, August 7.

�Last year we had such a tremendous response when we produced the Black Unity Celebration that we decided to really show off Cleveland�s African American same-gender-loving community,� says Jon Everett, interim executive director of BlackOut Unlimited.

Everett says his agency has joined forces with several other community groups for this year�s celebration and decided to change the name of the event to more accurately convey its purpose. Participant organizing this year�s event include the Cleveland Friendship Committee, Platinum Productions, Cleveland Black Pride, Da Brothers and Da Sisters, People of All Colors Together, the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, and a host of volunteers.

Deb Sharp, coordinator of BlackOut Unlimited�s Sister Circle, says all seven days of the �Black, Gay and Proud Celebration� are filled with innovative and unique events.

�Our mission is to empower, educate, and entertain the African American same-gender-loving community,� Sharp explains. �We want to be welcoming and have all members of our community--lesbians, gays, bisexuals, questioning, and transgender individuals--unify and enjoy this special event.�

The week keeps off with an awards ceremony and continues with several major events including �The State of Black Gay America Symposium,�� �Raise the Roof Gospel Service,�� �The White Fantasia� (white attire affair), �The Fire and Ice Ball,�� �The Family Festival� and more.

�We are currently finalizing all the details for the week with our sponsors,� says Adam Conley, coordinator of BlackOut Unlimited�s Brother Circle. �We have people coming from all over the country to participate, including Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Detroit and Los Angeles. The committee is working hard to make sure this year�s celebration is the best ever. We want the world to know that we are black, gay and proud of both.�

For more information concerning the Black, Gay and Proud Celebration contact BlackOut Unlimited at 216-9372268 or visit

Michael Oatman is a freelance writer in Cleveland..



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