“This is incredible!”
Ceyenne Doroshow, founder of GLITS (Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society), was positively gushing at the fourth annual Black Trans Women Cookout on Wednesday at Herbert Von King Park in Bed-Stuy.
“It’s like watching your babies, your grandbabies, your nieces, your great nieces and nephews, your great nephews, your grandsons and granddaughters all like you and in a space of being trans and visible and loved and held,” she added. “And, oh my God, the essence of us means everything to the next generation.”
In addition to the food — corn on the cob, jerk and fried chicken, macaroni and cheese — there was a closet for attendees to pick out free clothes, a free garden pantry, Double Dutch and DJ performances. At sundown the entire group gathered in the amphitheater.
There, cookout co-organizers Qween Jean, Gia Love and Gabrielle Souza roused the crowd with chants of “Black trans lives matter!” and reminded people of of the tenuous existence of Black trans women with a moment of silence for the Black trans siblings they have lost.
“This incredible assortment of talent and beauty and resilience. It exists in Brooklyn, New York. It exists in Harlem. It exists in the Bronx, the Boogie Down. It exists all over the entire U.S. and all over this world,” said Jean to the gathered crowd.
“We want to take the time to acknowledge our dear sisters who are not with us. It is very painful that we can’t get to share these moments and memories with them.”
While the cookout in Bed-Stuy happens annually, Jean and Love work with Black Trans Liberation to provide hot meals and community every Wednesday in Manhattan. Souza, meanwhile, is the executive director of the Okra Project, “a mutual aid collective that seeks to remove the barriers and provide assistance to Black and Trans queer people nationally,” she said.
Once the remembrance concluded in the amphitheater, it was time to eat again. People lined up for food in a line that snaked around the trees, with Black trans women at the front. Heaping up piles of food, attendees sat and exulted in the space they had created for their community.
“Look,” said Souza. “We are making history by creating a safe space for Black trans women.”
Here are a few more photos from the day.