EVENTS | PRIDE
The meeting spot for the event was appointed right on the Riegelmann Boardwalk just a few hundred feet away from Ford Amphitheater. A few dozen people gathered around the event’s stage, waiting for the start of the scheduled programming. Amongst the predominantly cis straight looking crowd of Coney Island, this little gathering of people stuck out like a sore thumb. I automatically knew I was at the right place. There were a few booths lined up opposite of the stage with an inflatable Bungee Run on the south side of the boardwalk. I noticed three women sitting at a booth that was almost hidden by the enormous inflatable game. It was just outside of all the action, but close enough to still be a part of it. The women belonged to AALUSC (African Ancestral Lesbians United for Social Change), a member-led community group that has been at it since 1974 and is recognized as the oldest LGBTQI+ organization in the nation. They refer to themselves as “womyn.” The term “womyn'' first appeared in print in 1976 in order to avoid suffix ‘men’ (read more about its origin HERE). AALUSC’s mission statement is “to ensure the spiritual, cultural, educational, economic and social empowerment of African Ancestral womyn,” while representing their voice in policy reform and decision making around issues that affect them. The organization closed down in 2015, only to be reopened in 2017 by a younger generation who continue the empowerment of the same gender-loving womyn of color.
Womyn from AALUSC
Just in time for my return to the performance stage, a group of HIV-positive spokesmodels for the “HIV Stops With Me” campaign were sharing their empowering stories and addressing stigmas that come with the status of being positive.
Next up was a performance by ballroom legend Jasmine Van Wales; ballroom icon Lee Soulja led a voguing competition; and the show was closed out with a bang by the stunning Miss Continental 2018 Stasha Sanchez.