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For the second year in a row, Coloradans gather to celebrate Black Pride

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Black Pride Colorado was one of the Grand Marshals of the Pride Parade in Denver's 2022 PrideFest.
Photo: Eboni Coleman/EB Pixs

The Harlem Renaissance era is often referred to as the golden age for Black artists — full of style, culture, art and music — so it is no wonder that Black Pride Colorado chose this era to be the theme of its second annual Strange Fruit of Black Excellence Gala. 

The name of the gala is a reference to the iconic Billie Holiday song, “Strange Fruit.” The song is a heartbreaking reminder of the injustice and suffering Black Americans have faced, and continue to face, in America. In the song, Holiday describes the lynching of Black Americans, contrasting the smell of rotting flesh and to those of flowers. Last year’s gala was also named after the song.

[Previous coverage: Colorado celebrates Black Pride for the first time, with a focus on its roots in resistance]

On Friday, June 17, guests approached the Freyer-Newman Center at the Denver Botanic Gardens in style, walking down the red carpet to enter the building’s glass doors. At the event, guests gathered to celebrate not only Pride, but specifically individuals in the Black community who identify as LGBTQIA+. Many Black queer people have shared with Rocky Mountain PBS that they feel like a “double minority,” meaning that mainstream Pride is not as supportive to them because of their Black heritage, and that they often feel “tokenized” in their own community, all while dealing with racism and homophobia.

“For me, what Black excellence means is to be seen and heard and to be acknowledged for who you are, not what it is that you’re doing or how you’re doing it, but really taking up that space and really showing who you are, being affirming,” said Dr. Tara Jae, co-founder of Black Pride Colorado. “With the folks here in Colorado, there is not many of us and being able to take up that space where we are not tokenized is a very freeing and liberating opportunity.”

Guests were dressed from head to toe in vintage, 1920s-era clothing at the event, which included food and drink, as well as an auction to help fundraise for Black Pride Colorado’s future events. 

Colorado Voices

Celebrating a week of Black Pride Colorado

Eboni Coleman, co-founder of Black Pride Colorado, said that her message from last year’s Black Pride remains the same: to be “authentic.”

“Remember who you are … despite the media, despite many messages that come back and forth to you on a daily basis, remember at the root of who you are, and no one can change that for you,” Coleman explained. “There is only one you. Shine bright.”

At the gala, YouthSeen, an organization that supports the QTBIPoC/LGBTQIA+ community, presented its “Asante” award to Ladycat De’Ore. This award is presented to those who have displayed diligence in creating safe spaces and empowering LGBTQIA+ individuals. 

De’Ore shared a short but heartfelt speech thanking guests and members of Black Pride Colorado. 

“From the bottom of my heart, I’ve been working in and around this community for 15 years and 21 years doing performance as a Black queer female. I couldn’t live this life without other Black queers around. I wouldn’t be the person that I am today without people like Felony [drag performer Theariale Felony Misdemeanor]. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without people like [drag performer Tyrell “Miss Zarah”] Zarah, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without people like [drag performer John é Roberts JUICCY] JUICCY and other strong Black queers in the community.”

Another honoree at the event was Nic Stone, an author and mental health and wellness advocate. Stone worked with Black Pride Colorado to help fundraise for the Empower Community High School’s student group.

The gala included a poetry performance from Black Pride Colorado member Jas Sherman, who shared their life experience dealing with colorism. To help raise funds for the other projects Black Pride Colorado provides, Miss Zarah hosted a live auction at the gala. And lastly, Nizhoni Smocks and Theriale Felony Misdemeanor performed an ancestor tribute to acknowledge the Indigenous land the event was taking place on, as well as to remember those who have died as a result of police brutality, domestic violence, human trafficking, suicide, hate crimes, gang violence and those who have battled HIV/AIDS. 

This month Black Pride Colorado, which served as one of the Grand Marshals for Denver’s PrideFest, has also hosted several Juneteenth and Pride events. Those events included: 

  • Happy hour at the Museum of Contemporary Art 
  • Black Pride Colorado and Felony Misdemeanor presented Black Diamonds with special Guest Yvie Oddly for a performance 
  • A Black Pride Queer cookout 
  • Main Stage at the Denver PrideFest 
  • Beer Bust fundraiser for Black Pride Colorado


For future events and more information on Black Pride Colorado, click here

Lindsey Ford is a multimedia journalist with Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach her at

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