BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Hundreds gathered in Bed-Stuy's Herbert Von King Park on Saturday to celebrate Bed-Stuy Pride, an annual festival to honor the neighborhood's LGBT community while providing information and support for LGBT people of color.
The festival, sponsored by the Audre Lorde Project's Safe OUTside the System Collective, started as a way to help members of the LGBT community feel safe in central Brooklyn, organizers said.
As part of their relationship with the neighborhood, Audre Lorde started reaching out to local businesses to create partners in their mission, according to Executive Director Cara Page.
"It's about collaborating with these businesses and thinking about what safety looks like," Page said. "Central Brooklyn in general as been seen as somewhat more volatile."
Businesses in attendance included Common Grounds Cafe at 376 Tompkins Ave. and Madiba, a Fort Greene restaurant at 195 DeKalb Ave., which both pledged to be safe spaces for LGBT people who felt unsafe. Representatives from local social justice groups like the Anti-Violence Project and Progressive Pupil also set up shop to hand out literature.
But many of the projects were generated by locals, who were encouraged to get involved with the festivities.
A timeline hung up with a clothesline detailed the history of the Audre Lorde Project, while also raising awareness of victims who were killed in LGBT bias attacks through the years. Those in attendance were asked to pin up their own stories.
And a "mixtape" designed to build ideas for safe communities recorded people answering the question, "What does a safe Bed-Stuy look like for you?"
"Positive interactions," one person on the tape said. "Interactions where we can communicate without being sexualized."
"When you walk out in a public space, it does not mean you are public property," said another. "You can still have boundaries."
The groups chose Bed-Stuy because of its legacy as a place of political power for the disenfranchised. Hopefully, Page said, the LGBT community will soon have more of a connection to that power.
"We're adding to the historical legacy of a space that's always been a place of political power," Page said. "We're just trying to build on and leverage that history."