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Friday, June 29, 2012

Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance: The Dream Will Not Be Deferred

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 3:30 AM

Kirya Traber
  • Kirya Traber

Maybe when you think of the '20s all you see are long cigarettes, fringe, and flappers, but it was a time fraught with rampant racism and severe economic depression. Despite (and perhaps because of) the conditions, the Harlem Renaissance emerged -- a period of cultural and intellectual flourishing in which the Black experience in America was brought forward, and the emergent literary, artistic, and social responses laid the groundwork for the Civil Rights Era.

Read our review of last year's show

In the words of Langston Hughes, it was a time for the "expression of our individual dark-skinned selves." That tradition carries forward this weekend in the form of the third-annual Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance. On the heels of sold-out shows in 2010 and 2011, this year's lineup promises a provocative mix of music, art, dissident spirit, fashion, theater, film, burlesque, and every cultural sliver of life you could hope for.

Brontez Purnell Dance Company
  • Brontez Purnell Dance Company

Film? You get Alexis Pauline Gumbs (one of Utne Reader's "50 visionaries changing the world") and Crystal Mason. Music? Blues star Earl Thomas, SF Weekly's "Best Hyper-literate Busking Outfit" MadNoise, Sista Monica, and the talented Brontez Purnell. Writers? Carrie Leilam Love, Indira Allegra, Kebo Drew, Joshua Merchant, activist poet Maisha Johnson, and feminist storytellers Griot Noir. Dance? Burlesque's Dorian Faust. Drag performance? The famed Honey Mahogany. Art? Entrepreneur Anthony Julius Williams and "visual alchemist" Adee Roberson. The night also features the all around talent Kevin Simmonds, Drag King of the Blues TuffNStuff, Black Girl Dangerous founder Mia McKenzie, feminist Alicia Kester, and the amazing performance that is also what makes this evening for adults only -- The Lady Ms. Vagina Jenkins.

Earl Thomas
  • Earl Thomas

If you think an urban environment with rampant racism and severe economic depression is a thing of the past, then maybe you haven't stepped outside lately. Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance brings both a performance to celebrate the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance, and also to honor the queer artists of color working today to shape our culture both through their talent and defiance.

Co-director Celeste Chan affirms, "Most things of beauty have been born from necessity. Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance is a celebration of our beautiful community, a testament to the power of creating and building with each other, then and now. We invite everyone to join us."

How could you resist an invitation like that?

Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance runs June 28-30 at 8 p.m at the African-American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton (at Webster), S.F. Tickets are $15-$25.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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Anisse Gross


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