By YAKIRA LEVI
For the Hyde Park Herald
Pride Month ended on a high note for many members of the black LGBTQ community on the South Side of Chicago. The season came to an end with lots of love, health resources, and outreach, a live performance, followed by the meet and greet with R&B singer-songwriter, Tweet.
On June 30, The Promontory, 5311 S Lake Park Ave W., served as a meeting place for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or queer) community of Chicago and neighboring States. Nearly 1,000 people attended Love Fest and the White Party combined. Both events featured the option to dine at Promontory’s restaurant, have drinks at the bar, view vendor tables, enjoy music and dancing, but Love Fest catered to the men with health and outreach while the White Party event for women featuring a sultry live performance by Grammy Nominated R&B Singer-Songwriter, Tweet. Best known for the 2002 chart-topping classic “Oops (Oh My)”, an ode to self-love featuring four-time Grammy Award winner Missy Elliott.
“Love Fest is an annual event that Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus has been doing for the past 14 years,” said David Dodd, board chairman of the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus. “We started in 2005. The event initially started as a way for people from various parts of the community to come together to support them, at least at that time the HIV epidemic that was happening here in Chicago.”
Dodd said, “Over time the event evolved a little bit. It’s more of [a focus on the] holistic health of our community, specifically black, gay, queer, cisgender [the opposite of transgender], and bi men.”
Erik Glenn, executive director of the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus said, “Love Fest is important for our community to really anchor the Black Pride season, and make sure that there is a daytime opportunity for men in our community and just Black [LGBTQ] folk in general, to come together and feel that sense of togetherness and connectedness.”
Glenn said resources included distribution of materials from Project Veda, Chicago Department of Public Health, the University of Chicago, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the Lighthouse Church of Chicago, and Equality Illinois.
The White Party, code name Lipstick and Lace, featuring R&B Singer-Songwriter Tweet, was presented by Man-Man Productions. The cause was “breast cancer, HIV awareness and catering to the Lesbian community of the Chicagoland area and all around the nation.” said Brian Chapman, assistant to John Flemming of Man-Man Productions. “We are trying to get women to come from all around the world to come here and have a good time, without the drama. To come here and unify.”
Tocie Williams from Chicago brought her friends Zaneta James and Deb from Detroit, Silk from Indianapolis and Josephine, also from Chicago.
“We’re here to have a great time at the White Party with all the beautiful women.” Said Williams, who said she and her friends were first in line at the Promontory.
They showed up one hour before the doors opened.
“We wanted to get here early to reserve a good table,” Williams said. “I have been coming to John-John’s parties for the last 15 years. He’s a really good guy.”
At 1:30 a.m., the room was packed with eager fans awaiting Tweet’s performance. Everyone was on their feet when she took the stage. Tweet performed four songs including “Party”, “My Place”, “Make Your Move” and her most popular song “Oops (Oh My)”. The crowd went crazy over her Jamaican dirty wind dance at the end of the last number.
Tweet told the audience that she would be releasing new music soon and took pictures and briefly chatted with every fan that approached her after the performance.