LINCOLN PARK — For the Lighthouse Foundation, a Black- and LGBTQ-led racial justice organization, 2020 was a year of huge growth.
The Lincoln Park-based group nearly tripled its operating budget and added four staff members. Its organizers also raised about $16,000 in mutual aid for Black queer people during the pandemic and hosted trainings for white allies to get involved with racial justice work.
Now the group, which got its start protesting racism within Chicago’s LGBTQ neighborhood in 2019, is taking a moment to celebrate its progress with a virtual celebration.
Black Queer Pride: Winter Edition will stream live from the group’s Facebook page Friday through Sunday, featuring digital performances from Black queer musicians, poets, storytellers and other artists across Chicago.
Anchoring the event at 11 a.m. Saturday is a one-hour year-in-review highlighting the organization’s 2020 achievements before revealing the nonprofit’s plan for the year ahead, which includes partnering with larger LGBTQ organizations to ensure they are realizing diversity and equity for Black queer people.
“This is a victory lap, baby,” said Jamie Frazier, executive director of the Lighthouse Foundation and lead pastor of the Lighthouse Church of Chicago, a predominantly Black and LGBTQ-affirming church at 2335 N. Orchard St.
“While we have not been able to be out protesting because of the pandemic, we have been doing all this other stuff to grow the organization, so it’s time to celebrate our 2020,” Frazier said.
The weekend-long celebration is a follow-up to the foundation’s virtual Black Queer Pride event held in June during LGBTQ Pride Month.
Frazier said it was important to recreate the online space in the winter so Black LGBTQ people can connect when the pandemic has everyone at home.
“This is a profoundly challenging time for Black queer people, because many of us have chosen family we can’t be with, so this is a boost for community mental health,” Frazier said.
Performances will touch on themes including mental health, the Black queer experience and the fight for racial justice, Frazier said.
Mikey Everything, a musician and dancer from suburban Oak Park, will share pre-recorded performances from the release party for their EP, “the Reason,” which came out in July, as well as a new acoustic version of their song, “Every Day I Wake Up.”
“It’s a song about the journey of a Black man’s existence in the world and how I learned to confront my haters while paying homage to my ancestors,” Everything said. “It’s timely, so I’m excited for people to hear the new version.”
Joshua Miller, an artist and storyteller from South Chicago, said he’s premiering a short documentary about local artist Zola, a Black transgender woman and DJ who is part of the Molasses nightlife collective.
“I really like sharing Black, queer stories to show that we do have voices and our voices are important,” Miller said. “This project follows Zola and shows how she overcomes the extra obstacles Black trans people face in the DJ community.”
All artists will be paid for their contributions to the celebration through a sponsorship by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, which Frazier said is “an example of power-sharing and coalition-building.”
“They are sharing financial resources so we can support our community,” Frazier said. “It’s a beautiful example of a larger organization helping a smaller organization like us touch people they might not otherwise reach.”
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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