Since 2017, Desi Carr has been the sole organizer of Melanin Pride – a multi-day social event that celebrates the Black queer community. The event started with Black queer folks wanting to play kickball together, but slowly grew into something much bigger. The 2021 festival was five days long, in celebration of the event’s five year anniversary. This summer marked year six, and people simply could not get enough.
This year’s Melanin Pride was sponsored by organizations such as Queer Kentucky, Pride Games Events, and Louisville Pride Foundation. It was held over the course of four days, and included various activities for both adults and children looking to express their identities in a safe space.
The first night was themed “50 Shades of Melanin.” It consisted of a “lust and mingle” – a singles mixer hosted by Goodloes Bar & Grill in the Portland neighborhood. The mixer included various djs, food, drinks, games, and local Black entertainers. One of the featured performers was Midnight Mirage, a dance group known for promoting body positivity.
Night two was an open mic, which also took place at Goodloes. One of the main entertainers was Goldie Wilson, of Tuesday Talks w/Goldie, a podcast about dating, sex, children, finances, and more. According to Carr, “Friday was pretty dope honestly. There was several singers, rappers, some people came and did poetry. We had Goldie there. It was awesome.”
Day three, themed “Day Party,” took off with hookah, food, drinks, and entertainment from Chris Malone of Malone Step-n-Dance Company. The nighttime portion of the event featured exotic dancers and brought on a lot of twerking.
Day four started at the Waterfront, with an open discussion of Black queer mental health issues. Carr stated that she felt honored to be able to provide a space for Black folks to speak openly and safely about a topic that is seen as taboo by many Black communities. The day ended with dinner and games at Goodloes, where folks gathered with their families and friends to celebrate the successful event that had brought so much joy to the Black queer community.
Carr has been the primary organizer for Melanin Pride since it started, and she primarily pays for everything herself. This isn’t about the money for her.
“I just want to see everyone enjoy themselves and provide a safe space for everyone,” she said. “When I started this with just a small group of people playing kickball, I had no idea it would grow to be what it is but I’m just so happy and thankful for all that it has been for me and people here so far.”
She added that she works three jobs currently, and barely has a moment to stop and breathe, but Carr always makes time to organize, and she has a 10 year plan in place for Melanin Pride. After she hits the 10 year mark, she would like to pass the torch onto another Black queer individual who cares about the community as much as she does.
Despite her “do it yourself” mentality, Carr has accepted help from supporters through the years, and is always open to sponsors and donations from anyone who would like to support Black queer spaces within the community.
“If we wanna support each other and build community, we all have to work together around this stuff,” she said. “Everyone’s so focused on the money that can come from this type of organization. I just wanna create a safe space for Black LGBTQ people.”