What does Pride mean to you? What do you get most excited about during this month? Is it the parade? The comradery and connections? It can be whatever you need it to be. As it has taken many years and battles for us to be able to be who we are today, we must remember that every journey is different.
This year we are quite publicly celebrating 50 years since what is known as the Biggest step towards Queer Liberation; the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969. There were many important moments before and after this date that have led to the freedoms we have today, being able to celebrate Pride in 2019.
I was lucky to partake in planning Toronto Pride last year, as well as an international parade while travelling. The freedom to travel as a queer person without fear is a blessing I get to experience, as a “less visible” queer woman. Every year since the history of the Riots, our ability to live as we are becomes easier. With every movement, activist, and Pride parade, our community will be more accepted.
Let us remember the strong people who came before and after Marsha P Johnson. Who created the thoughts and opportunities who made it possible.
Tiana Smith is a Fashion Arts Student at Humber college who truly is art AF. This is the second year that she presents her “Come as You Are Art show for pride!”
Hi Tiana, thank you so much for being here and for everything you do! I want readers to get to know you some more. This art that you do, where does it come from? What is your artistic background?
I am a Fashion Arts student at Humber College. I am also a freelance multimedia artist with a background in photography, film making, creative directing, and styling.
That explains a lot. I’ve been following you on social media for a while now and you’re either modelling or creating! I love seeing your art! You’ve got something huge coming up right? How did you come to creating ‘Come As You Are’?
Cathleen Calica, the director of 187 Augusta is the amazing individual who encouraged me to provide a space initially for my work last year, and the series that I originally directed ‘Queer & Existing’. I felt seen and it allowed me to feel proud of the space that I was taking up for black queer people.
Amazing Tiana! As a queer black woman myself I think this is so important and I’m so thankful for people like yourself who create these opportunities for our community. So what is your reason for this? Why do you organize, plan, and prioritize an art show for queer people of color?
I continue to organize and provide a space that prioritizes QTBIPOC because we need to be seen and we need to be celebrated. I personally have not felt seen during the overwhelming celebration of Pride Toronto. There are so many intersections of sexuality and gender expression when it comes to someone’s identity, especially when culture plays a big role in how we identify.
Beautiful, I agree with you; these spaces are so important! I think you’ll have a huge turn out! Tiana, beyond the obvious amazing reasons you spoke about already why should queer folks and allies in the community attend ‘Come As You Are?’
This show provides a breath of fresh air for folks who don’t understand or know how to provide language to their identity. I want people to see that through them living their life as who they are; amongst the obstacles and hardships is how they can provide language to their stories. There is no one-way to be queer, like there’s no one-way to be anything. Throughout the night I open the floor to include the audience to speak on their truth by asking, “What does it mean to you, to be your most authentic self?” I ask this question to remind the individuals who are attending the event to understand that they are loved, and that they are seen. As much as the art show and space is for the artists, it is also for our community as a whole. This space provides a chance for allies, queer folks, and especially queer folks of colour to realize that we should be here for each other and respect each other as we are.
So I’ve got to ask you then, what does it mean to you to be your most authentic self?
As a black, queer, femme, woman, being my most authentic self means loving all of who I am and being damn proud of it. Living authentically as me is reminding black girls and women that we live for ourselves and not within the gaze of men and the media to sexualize our bodies.
Wow, so proud of you and what you do! Well, I want to thank you again Tiana for chatting with me and readers please support this event! Details below!
187 Augusta Avenue $10 at the door Doors open at 6:00 PM Thursday, June 20th 2019