Brandon Anthony is an outside-of-the-box thinker.
Urban Pride is his passion project, and as its event promoter, he wants to make sure everyone who loves urban culture and hip-hop music feels absolutely included.
Urban Pride has become this year’s most highly anticipated LGBTQ event among young African American and Latino people and is one of the largest urban, hip-hop Pride events in Los Angeles and SoCal.
Anthony has worked as a program and talent coordinator on the Christopher Street West, LA Pride for several years, and took over promoting Urban Pride three years ago.
He says he chose the term Urban for the name with intention: he wants to remove race from the event and focus simply on a Pride based hip-hop culture.
“Growing up I always felt I was too straight to be gay and too gay to be straight. I was too black to be white and too white to be black. I just adjust and adapt,” Anthony says.
He says it’s important to him the event removes color because it’s more welcoming to everyone who enjoys urban culture. Also, the name “looks and sounds great for sponsorships,” he says.
A local nightlife impresario behind some of West Hollywood’s big recurring club nights, including Starboy Sundays at Rage and ACCESS at Villa Lounge, Anthony grew up in the Ninth Ward in New Orleans, Louisiana. He’s a proud African American/Creole of Haitian descent, which gives him an intimate understanding of America’s melting pot.
His plan for this year’s Urban Pride aka “Summer Bash 2018,” happening on the same weekend as the many Black Entertainment Television (BET’s) events, is to offer a place where the young, hip and often brown LGBTQ kids can come out and party.
“BET weekend generally offers a lot of events that non-celebrity people can’t easily get into,” Anthony told the Los Angeles Blade. He says he’d like Urban Pride goers to have a place where they can go and celebrate their culture.
Traditionally held on the Fourth of July, this year Urban Pride will kick off the Friday before, on June 22 as the 4th falls on a Wednesday.
Anthony is well aware of the issues facing gay men, particularly gay men of color. He says it’s vital for the event to be fun, while still addressing the issues of HIV, it’s stigma and mental health. According to the CDC, African Americans account for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses, those living with HIV, and those who have ever received an AIDS diagnosis, compared to other ethnicities. In 2016, African Americans accounted for 44 percent of HIV diagnoses, though they comprise 12 percent of the U.S. population.
“Racism, homo-negativity and the experience of violence and discrimination contribute significantly to mental disorder burden and morbidity in this community,” Louis F. Graham, lead study author and a Kellogg Health Scholars postdoctoral fellow in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor told Black Radio Network.
Thirty percent of men in the study reported depression and 33 percent reported anxiety, which is higher than rates for people in the general population – with 95 percent of study participants experiencing them at least once in the last year.
Anthony says, “You can enjoy urban culture, but let’s not forget why we do this. I may have not experienced racial profiling, but I have experienced friends passing away from HIV.”
Jeffrey King, founder of In The Meantime Men’s Group, a 20-year-old non-profit community service organization for gay black men, says club promoters like Anthony are keeping things alive when it comes to providing a space for young, black LGBTQ to come and party.
King says he believes Anthony is one of the few who’s been able to get in the door, represent the community effectively, and is doing a great job of getting black talent involved in Pride, and most importantly he’s bringing the kids into the mainstream Pride.
Anthony says he just wants to create an event that “really means equality.” A place he says, where no one feels left out of experiencing the weekend.
The event kicks off Friday, June 22, with a party from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., at the Hard Rock Café in Hollywood (6801 Hollywood Blvd.), with a special performance by Superstar Trina.
For those early-bird folks, Urban Pride offers a “Day Party,” Saturday, June 23rd, at Boulevard3 (6523 Sunset Blvd.) from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday night, there’s a special performance by 702 at the Roxy Theatre (9009 Sunset Blvd.) from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Lastly, Sunday, June 24th, party kids can let loose at Rage (8911 Santa Monica Blvd.) in West Hollywood from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., with a performance by City Girls.
All Access passes for the entire weekend are $75 dollars. Individual Location General Admission Tickets are $20. Individual Location VIP Passes are $30.
Brandon Anthony’s Urban Pride event kicks off Friday, June 22 at the Hard Rock Café in Hollywood, with a special performance by Superstar Trina. Day Party Tickets are $15.