Baltimore Black Pride has arrived! The yearly—and much anticipated—celebration kicked off on October 3 and ends the 9th.
I managed to “get my hands” on Mr. Carlton R. Smith, the influential and well-respected gay rights activist. Mr. Smith is the Executive Director/CEO of the Center for Black Equity (CBE) and Co-founder of Baltimore Black Pride. Having resided in Baltimore for decades, many (including myself) have affectionately bestowed upon him the title of “Mr. Mayor.”
Here’s my rundown with “Mr. Duchess” (another one of Carlton’s many titles. LOL). We discuss the impact of CBE, the importance of Black Pride—and more.
WYATT: The Center for Black Equity (CBE)—of which you are a founding
member–began as Baltimore Black Pride, Inc. What was the impetus behind you helping establish this storied organization?
CARLTON: There was a sense to be connected to the African American LGBTQ community and social life. And, there was such a need to rapidly respond to critical health issues (including HIV/AIDS, high blood pressure, and diabetes) among gay/same gender loving (SGL) and bisexual men.
CARLTON: There was also a definite need for the artistic community to know the larger Black LGBTQ community. And lastly, it was a vehicle to foster working together to transcend racial and cultural boundaries, while simultaneously celebrating diversity.
WYATT: What’s the vision and mission of the CBE?
CARLTON: Our vision is to eradicate social inequality of Black LGBTQ persons. And, our mission is to improve the well-being and quality of life of Black LGBTQ individuals and their allies by setting the standard of excellence in the Black LGBTQ community through health and wellness, spiritual and economic empowerment, social justice, and coalition building.
WYATT: What are the three major goals of Black Prides?
CARLTON: Well, they vary from city to state. The International Federation of Black Prides (Center for Black Equity Leadership Forum) organizers merged as a coalition of Black Prides to promote a multinational network of LGBTQ Prides dedicated to building solidarity, promoting unity, and ensuring the development of education and economic empowerment. These are similar to Kwanzaa principles.
WYATT: Is there a continuing need for Black Gay Prides? Actually aren’t we discriminating when we hold our own?
CARLTON: Baltimore Black Pride’s focus and commitment have been to take the lead on not only the needs of our own African-American LGBTQ community– but the community’s needs as a whole. In fact, we collectively have been involved with voter registration, same-sex marriage, trans-equality, and housing assistance. We want the community to have a better understanding of the political process and impact within the Black community. #blackgaylivesmatter!
WYATT: Carlton, what’s been on tap for this year’s B-MORE Black Pride?
CARLTON: Well Wyatt, I’m not giving away specifics; however, we have an entire slate of exciting events that appeal to everyone. You gotta be there!
WYATT: Carlton, some folks say that Prides are just one big “partay!” Any truth in that?
CARLTON: Well, that’s a matter of opinion, and who’s going to the party! My generation (he’s 54) considers Pride a great way to socialize and see friends or acquaintances that they have seen in years. The younger generation will consider it “a party for the masses.”
WYATT: Bruh, let’s say that a Brotha From Anotha Planet with a mocha complexion and workin’ a HAWT bear physique crash landed on earth in the middle of Baltimore Black Pride! Now, what would in the world would he think? What would be his takeaways?
CARLTON: So, I would like to think that this Brotha From Anotha Planet would be a non-binary being. They would probably get into their groove first and then invite the humans into the space ship like Parliament Funkadelic, and jam into the morning! And meanwhile, spraying the humans with some kind of space mist that keeps their kink up before leaving the spaceship! The rest I’ll leave to our readers’ imagination.
WYATT: Mr. Smith, what is your special Pride message?
CARLTON: I personally want to THANK the community for their patronage, and for supporting the leadership of Baltimore Black Pride throughout 15 years. And remember: “We Embrace and Celebrate Our Blackness Every Day.” This affirms my love and legacy throughout the SGL communities.
WYATT: Mr. Mayor, Mr. Duchess—thanks for taking the time to drop by Wyattevans.com.
CARLTON: My pleasure, Wyatt!