|Performers Marvin K. White, Jewell Gomez and Brian Freeman. Photo by Rink.
Three of the masters of this era’s LGBT black culture appeared at the LGBT Community Center for a Black History Month event on Feb. 18. Jewelle Gomez, Marvin K. White, and Brian Freeman are accomplished writers and performers who were on stage for a full house of mostly African Americans on a rainy night. Over 100 people from local groups enjoyed “Generations: Black LGBT Experiences” to celebrate those who came before and paved the way for our present society and the ads promised “food, art, entertainment, and much more.” There was artwork that featured popular LGBT black icons such as Sylvester and Angela Davis, along the wall where a buffet at such events is usually provided.
Jewelle Gomez performed a scene from her book The Gilda Stories that entranced the audience. It is celebrating its 20th anniversary in print, and it is the only black lesbian vampire character in the world of literature. Gomez is a writer and activist, and she was a litigant with her wife Diane Sabin, who attended the reading, in the Proposition 8 court case that ended successfully in marriage equality. Gomez has also taken on the enormous tasks of President of the San Francisco Library Commission and dispersing much-needed grants at the Horizons Foundation.
Marvin K. White is a playwright, poet, visual artist, performer, and community arts coordinator. He is a former member of Pomo Afro Homos troupe, who performed at the Castro’s Josie’s Cabaret and Juice Joint and all over the U.S. He powerfully read from his spine tingling and affirming spoken word poem, “I Want to Make Black History with You,” and it drew resounding yells of approval from the audience.
Brian Freeman is a co-founder and director of Pomo Afro Homos, and his work “Civil Sex,” which is based on the life of Martin Luther King’s openly gay strategist Bayard Rustin, is highly regarded. He assumed the voice of Rustin’s event piano accompanist to tell a hilarious story about Coretta Scott King’s attempt to sing at a rally.
All three of the evening’s performers are fine actors, and they convincingly portrayed the characters from their work and mesmerized the crowd, drawing rounds of applause.
Free rapid HIV and STD tests were available; the event was sponsored by Black Brothers Esteem of the SF AIDS Foundation, African American Health Disparities Project, Afro Solo Theatre Company, Black Coalition on AIDS, HIV Prevention and Research Sections of the SFDPH, Our Love of the Stop AIDS Project, the LGBT Community Center, Shanti, Trans: Thrive of the Asian Pacific Islander Wellness Center, and Walden House.
Activist Steve Ibarra, who works at City College battling HIV/AIDS and STDs, said that he was at the party to represent Blatinos. It was an extremely successful event and next year’s Generations is bound to be even bigger.