PrideFest Milwaukee has officially begun! Milwaukeeans have celebrated LGBTQ pride for more than 40 years, and the festival events are once again taking over the Summerfest grounds.
One group attendees can expect to see there focuses on connecting with LGBTQ men of color.
LGBTQ people of color face several disparities in this country. In addition to racial discrimination, access to health care, jobs, housing, and being overrepresented in the criminal justice system are just a few.
But the program Intersectionality Among Men (IAM) is helping LGBTQ men of color talk through those issues, or any other issues they may be dealing with in their lives. The Milwaukee program also ties in sexual health education.
IAM is an extension of Diverse & Resilient, an advocacy group that works to address the health disparities experienced by LGBTQ people in Wisconsin.
"What we do here with the Intersectionality Among Men program is definitely not only a safe space but a brave space. So, people can actually step up and take action for their life without of any regard of judgement, ridicule or being exiled," says Stacy Clark. He's one of the IAM coordinators.
As an empowerment group for LGBTQ black and Latino men ages 18-29, Co-Coordinator Jamal Perry says the group helps with leadership development and building a sense of community. The group also puts on events and holds outreach activities.
“Pretty much creating that safe space within that age group to better our own lives and talk about things that are relevant to our community. [We also tie in] HIV and STI prevention and substance abuse, which are all real issues within our community."
Perry says many of those issues come from not being well informed.
"This group provides some of that education and informing … whoever is coming through about simple things like how to put on a condom, or different safe sex guidelines, or the risk of being under the influence and having sex, and how all of these things are linked to HIV rates and STI rates. Just different things as a young black man that you probably won’t get just in your everyday community."
Perry was one of those young men who didn’t have this kind of resource. And, he says, that’s probably the case for many young LGBTQ black and Latino men.
A lack of adequate resources or safe and inclusive spaces for people who identify as LGBTQ is something Perry and Clark say is still an issue in Milwaukee. Clark says that’s why IAM wants to be that safe space for young men.
"Just adding on to that, IAM understands the statistics and the health disparities that men of color in general, black and Latinx, really have to face every day. And the fact that we are black men ourselves and we are from this community really feeds into the passion that we have for this. Because we look at in the lens of what did we need when were 18, 19, 20, 21, 22,” he explains.
Both coordinators say they’re giving these young men a sense of belonging, the tools they need to be successful — and normalizing conversations about sex and sexuality that some may still consider taboo.
If visiting PrideFest Milwaukee is on your agenda, you can stop by the Diverse & Resilient table on June 7 to learn more about the Intersectionality Among Men program. The festival runs from June 6- 9.
Support for Race & Ethnicity reporting is provided by the Dohmen Company.
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