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‘Heaven is What You Feel:’ Brooklyn Museum celebrates community, joy and Pride at First Saturdays

brooklyn museum first saturday pride
Tickets were sold out for the Pride themed First Saturday at the Brooklyn Museum.
Photo by Ximena Del Cerro.

For many, June mainly means one thing — Pride. During this month, especially, Brooklyn gets upholstered by rainbow flags to support the LGBTQ community and to make sure everyone celebrates uniqueness, love, inclusion, acceptance, diversity and being true to one’s identity.

This movement reached the iconic Brooklyn Museum and took over the well-known and loved free First Saturdays event. June’s First Saturday was themed “Heaven Is What You Feel,” and the line-up for the evening was made up of performances, talks and screenings from queer and trans artists, musicians and organizations.

The party featured performances from the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus and an appearance by local councilmember Crystal Hudson, who is openly queer.

crystal hudson at brooklyn museum pride first saturday
City Councilmember Crystal Hudson speaks with Brooklyn Museum Director Anne Pasternak during the Pride-themed First Saturday event at the museum on June 4. Paul Frangipane

Six columns just past the glass doors of the beaux-arts building were lit in red, orange, yellow green, blue and purple and a few steps ahead, and a glowing neon sign that read “Love Rules” welcomed attendees as they strolled in for an evening of art and celebration.

“I love being gay in Brooklyn,” said jewelery designer Saif Latif, who was participating in the artisan’s market on the museum’s third floor. “It’s important for all of our queer brothers and sisters and non-binary conformists to come together and celebrate each other, come together as a community and celebrate our freedom and our pride. The Brooklyn Museum is a great place for it because they’ve found ways to do so through art, history and creativity.”

“I feel so supported and loved by the community,” said Saif Latif, vendor at the pop-up market.Photo by Ximena Del Cerro.

The event also offered the opportunity for community members to express and a hold a forum on their political concerns. Senti Sojwal, co-founder of the Asian American Feminist Collective and director of the Center for Popular Democracy, tackled the ongoing threats to abortion access and the fight for reproductive justice.

The museum is currently hosting a nuanced exhibit about Andy Warhol titled “Revelation” that explores the intersections between the artist’s queerness and his Byzantine Catholic faith.

In another gallery, non-binary writer Candice Iloh, author of “Everybody Looking,” discussed her new novel “Breaking This House,” a reflection on systemic violence against black communities through gentrification.

“The takeaway of this story is that things can’t keep happening in our neighborhoods without us trying to break in and take them back,” said Iloh. “The story gets to the point where the main character has to get active in ways that the reader might not expect and she did not expect either, but I couldn’t wait to write that scene.”

The novelist announced there will be a second part to the story with a non-binary main character.

gay men's chorus first saturday crime
The New York City Gay Men’s Chorus performed at the Brooklyn Museum’s Pride-themed First Saturday, which sought to celebrate queer art and community. Paul Frangipane

As day turned into night, the museum’s sculpture garden became the venue of a summer dance party with queer and trans creative initiative Angelito Collective’s DJ set.

brooklyn museum first saturday pride
A person carries a Pride flag through the Brooklyn Museum plaza amid celebrations of joy and community at the June First Saturday event. Paul Frangipane

“My goal for this Pride month is to just learn to accept and love myself more than ever before,” said Jamila Jenkins, a first-time visitor to the museum, as the event drew to a close.

The Brooklyn Museum’s Pride celebrations aren’t over yet, with a figure drawing class called “Drag and Draw” planned for June 9 and the ninth-annual LGBTQ+Teen Night, hosted by the museum’s queer interns, on June 10.

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