June 10, 2022
Community Spotlight: Interview with Eboni Coleman, Co-Creator of Black Pride Colorado
June is Pride Month! MCA Denver is excited to partner for the second year with Black Pride Colorado to host a happy hour celebration on Wednesday, June 15, kicking off the Black Pride events. Black Pride Colorado, which is associated with YouthSeen, was created to celebrate, liberate, and engage the Black LGBTQIA2+ community by building resilience, honor, and preserving our history and culture. I had the opportunity to email Eboni Boneé Coleman, Director of Communications & Engagement with YouthSeen and Co-Creator of Black Pride Colorado, to learn more about the organization and how it celebrates the Black queer community in Colorado.
Hi Eboni! How are you doing?
Hello! With Pride right around the corner, times are busy, however, I am well in mind, body, and spirit.
YouthSeen is a wonderful non-profit organization here in Denver that was established in 2017. What is the mission of YouthSeen and the services provided?
YouthSeen envisions a society where people are empowered as individuals to access non-judgmental and unbiased treatment in every aspect of their lives. We encourage the creative creation of a community that celebrates everyone’s worth, diverse characteristics, and dignity.
Our organization works with our communities and stands as a leader in our local Colorado area, and beyond, for establishing partnerships with groups who specifically tailor their resources, education, and outreach to our youth and young BIPOC + LGBTQIA2+ community. YouthSeen strives to highlight the intersections that many communities of color face when addressing social issues that impact families that identify under the umbrella of LGBTQIA2+. This also includes our community members identifying as gender non-conforming, non-binary, genderfluid, genderqueer, and two-spirit, which is often left out of the mainstream language around services.
How did you become involved with the organization?
In 2020, I had my first gallery show, The Queer Faces of Color Series: To be a Black Woman, To Love a Black Woman. During that time, I was looking for an organization to work with that catered to the LGBTQIA2+ community, especially one that had a focus on youth/young adult involvement, and folx of color. It was then that someone shared with me an organization called YouthSeen. After speaking with Dr. tara jae on the initiatives they were looking to implement, I felt working together could bring about great change. Back in 2021, Black Pride Colorado, a program powered by YouthSeen, was established. I became a Co-Creator and founding member, in addition to serving as the Communications & Engagement Director for all programs under YouthSeen which include Clinical, CampSeen, TransSeen, and Black Pride Colorado.
Black Pride is a program of YouthSeen. Could you share with us more about how Black Pride came about?
It began with the need to take up space, the lack of acknowledgment in queer culture especially for QTBIPOC, and the hunger for progressive change. A group of 7 Black community members, leaders, and activists (Dr.tara Jae, Tyrell Rae, Nizhoni Smocks, Theariale Felony Misdemeanor, Lex Dunbar, and John E. Roberts/Juiccy Misdemeanor) came together to address that need and created Black Pride, Colorado. We’ve been going strong ever since then.
What are some of the events happening this year with Black Pride that you’re excited about?
This year, our lineup of events has expanded! With our major events for Pride month taking place June 15-19, I’m extremely excited for our 2nd annual “The Strange Fruit of Black Excellence Gala: Celebrating the Harlem Renaissance” at Denver Botanic Gardens. This event was created with the intention to give access to spaces that folx of color can’t always enjoy. With one of the values focusing on dismantling the ideologies of mental health and wellness, we found it imperative to be in a space that welcomed life and its natural components.
How has the program created space to amplify the voices of the Black and Brown LGBTQI+ community in Denver?
Black Pride Colorado, in the span of one year, has seen an attendance of over 2,000 people in events and a digital reach of over 20K. Creating space and amplifying the voices of the Black and Brown LGBTQIA2+ folx meant listening with an active ear to our community, and our programming implementation has done just that. As we grow and look to expand our financial boundaries, we look forward to more community partnerships and ways to address economic disparities.
How can the community become involved with YouthSeen and/or Black Pride?
Be sure to follow us on our media outlets (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin) @YouthSeen & @blackprideco. You can also visit our websites to become a volunteer at youthseen.org and blackpridecolorado.com.
What are you looking forward to for this year?
I am looking forward to doing the work on what it means to bridge the gap between those who identify within Black and QTBIPOC communities but more importantly to set a reminder that our community is deserving of joy.