True Pride: What Pride Means At True T PGH

Photos – Jill Farrar Photography – Allies Ball 2021 – Featuring True T PGH 

Pride 2021 brought out a special level of celebration here in the city of Pittsburgh. It’s not too hard to figure out why we’re all just a little more ready to take to the streets to celebrate, dance, and march this year. With the vaccine here and infection rates decreasing, our time to come back together is more than well deserved and the folks at True T have (safely) re-opened our doors to all. Co-Director, Naheen Binion recently answered a few questions on how True T is doing it’s best to get back to some version of normal all while celebrating Pride month.

True T has always been known for a unique sense of timeliness and awareness that never fails to bring the community together for celebration. According to Binion, that celebration is at the core of what PRIDE really is. “PRIDE to True T PGH is an intentional opportunity to celebrate the unique strengths, beauty, and resilience that lives within our LGBTQIA+ communities. To those on the outside looking in, you might see people scantily clad, and/or large convincing and party opportunities highlighting the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.”

This year True T PGH took a different approach to the month of June. The pandemic making things a little different at the moment for the studio has the staff out in the community this year as Pittsburgh continues to redefine Pride celebrations for the steel city by focusing on what folks really need.  “True T PGH celebrates Queer People of Color 365 days per year. – In past years True T PGH has positioned ourselves as a lead presenter of Prideful activities through collaborations that build community. 

Unfortunately due to the 2020-21 COVID-19 Pandemic, and learning from past years history we made an intentional decision to support PRIDE activities from afar this year while understanding and focusing on the necessity of community needs around everyday life resources.” 

Pride wasn’t the only reason to celebrate in the month of June. Juneteenth gave the staff the perfect opportunity to reopen the studio back to the community while celebrating an important anniversary for True T. “Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States and ironically falls in-line with the Grand Opening of True T Studios says Binion.

This year for Juneteenth we saw this as an opportunity to bring supporters, and members of our community together while celebrating the work and importance of having a Black-Queer space in the heart of Bloomfield’s “Little Italy”. We celebrated years of True T Studios with an old fashioned community Cookout as a thank you for the continued support we receive from patrons near and far.” 

The holidays haven’t been the only thing on True T’s packed schedule this summer. Naheen let us know that they’ll be continuing to offer excellent programming and educational opportunities completely free for those that need it. “Throughout the pandemic our creative juices have been flowing. Our Spring 2021 season saw a diverse mix of Virtual and In-Person activities including educational workshops such as; Financial Literacy in which we partner with Chris Lempke/Citizens Bank – Bloomfield Branch on the last Wednesday of every to share updates with the community around funding opportunities, account management, and other final life skills all while also continuing our CurioCity series” 

Like anywhere else, 2020 threw a slew of curveballs at the studio. But with those challenges came lessons that Binion and his staff could learn and evolve from making the studio as strong as possible in 2021.

“Overall 2021 has been what we’ve expected. I think 2020 prepared us for the inevitable and taught us all to find comfort in uncomfortable situations as it threw many hooks and punches at us, never quite allowing for any individual or organization to find complete confidence in their plans of action.

“This year we have continued to adapt with the times and needs of our community as well as begin to explore ideas around how it all aligns with the next 3-5 years of True T PGH. — Our organization was birthed out of social media, and COVID-19 reminded us of our roots and the ability to hybrid virtual and in-person activities. I think this is something we will continue to experiment with in the future as we develop creative ways to make all programs accessible and spread knowledge about our work to larger audiences.”

Now that summer is in full swing, things are far from slowing down at True T. Upcoming events include the return of the in person Vogue 101 Workshop series, a film screening of Fabulous with Reel Q PGH on July 26th, and more educational series including Operation Occupation with Duquesne University,  the ongoing Breaking Binary with Matoaka Winston and the return of Vogue 101 with Dezmanian 007. The rate at True T is going, you know this is just the beginning.

For more info be sure to follow us on socials at @truetpgh!