The West Virginia Black Pride Foundation (WVBP) held its soft opening in Charleston Feb. 7, during Black History Month. The foundation aims to preserve, celebrate, and raise awareness of the contributions of African American LGBTQ+ individuals in the state and country.
President Kasha Snyder-McDonald, pictured above left, and Vice President AJ Fleming, above right, led the event, opening the doors to the group’s new home.
WVBP is a nonprofit organization that started in December of 2022 to promote pride in the African American LGBTQ+ community and works to advance the rights of marginalized groups. With the donation of a building located on 3rd Avenue in Charleston, the organization now has a permanent home, which serves as a safe space for emergency stays. It includes a community closet, toiletry packs, and a food pantry.
The foundation plans to host events such as community cookouts, fashion shows, and parades in the coming year, as well as a pageant to showcase the beauty, intelligence, and talent of Black LGBTQ+ individuals and raise awareness of the injustices they face. These events aim to bring visibility to the community and to share their stories and experiences in West Virginia.
Black LGBTQ+ individuals face even higher rates of discrimination than the general Black population, with a particularly low population in West Virginia. The WVBP is working to create a safe space and a sense of acceptance for this community. The organization also features a life liaison program, where individuals can seek support from a peer in times of vulnerability.
Unfortunately, the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is ongoing. The West Virginia Legislature recently passed House Bill 2007, which bans medically necessary care for transgender children under 18. This law is one of many dangerous attacks on transgender youth and families led by far-right political extremists and anti-LGBTQ+ organizations fueled by disinformation.
Snyder-McDonald has been a pioneer in the LGBTQ+ community since the ’90s and continues to be a “Big Voice Box” for those who cannot speak for themselves. She and Fleming hope that the WV Black Pride will continue to make a positive impact in the Black and LGBTQ+ communities of Charleston for many years to come.
Snyder-McDonald and Fleming are voices and leaders, providing hope and support to those in need.
The new building is located at 1442 ½ 3rd Avenue, Charleston, WV 25302
Author Lekili Dean is Polynesian by nature, West Virginian by nurture.