CHICAGO — PrideFest kicks off this weekend, so episode 21 focuses on Black, LGBTQ+ Chicagoans and the fight for equality in their communities.
Casera Heining, as known as DJ Ca$hera, discusses being one of the few Black, queer women in the DJ community.
“It definitely puts me in a field of my own,” Heining said. “It’s scary being the first in some ways, but I’m hoping that I’m just the first and not the last. I want to make a path.”
Other Black, LGBTQ+ artists and performers said they’ve been blackballed from venues and told to conform to certain norms.
Those circumstances inspired Chicago artist Zola to create Molasses, a grassroots collective of Black and transgender artists. Zola said she was “creating the space I wish I had as a younger artist.”
When Zola was younger, opportunities for Black transgender artists in Chicago’s LGBTQ nightclubs were sparse, and the Molasses parties were among the only nights produced specifically for and by trans people of color, she said.
“Even in clubs where you did see Black trans performers, the bookings were slim and hard to keep if you didn’t follow the whims of white gays who controlled the scene,” Zola said. “Molasses really manifested itself out of a need for representation and community.”
Episode 21 also features Brave Space Alliance, a Black- and trans-led organization based in Hyde Park.
“We like to take a holistic approach to making sure that all LGBTQ folks are able to not only survive, but thrive,” Communications Director Jae Rice said. “Black trans women are not only being murdered; they’re being lynched. So, when I say we want people to survive, that’s literally what we are talking about.”
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