Kin Folkz will never forget the 1988 San Francisco Pride Parade. Having just moved to The City from New York, Folkz, who identifies as s(he), was thrilled to see disco legend Sylvester leading the parade. Surprisingly, few others seemed to know who Sylvester was, including the parade monitors, who were unwilling to admit him until he was vouched for.
“I was blessed enough to be aware of what this meant,” says Folkz, 53, an LGBTQIA+ activist and advocate who appears in “State of Pride,” a new YouTube documentary that examines the current meaning of Pride. “Sylvester was disrespected and disregarded that year and that helped me truly understand how important it was to platform marginalized communities.”
Now living in Oakland, Folkz is one of several members of the LGBTQIA+ community from three diverse cities — San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Tuscaloosa, Ala. — to offer their perspectives on Pride in the feature-length documentary hosted by Raymond Braun and directed by Academy Award-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.
Folkz, founder-director of Spectrum Queer Media — an advocacy group that empowers LGBTQIA+ communities through events including the Oakland Queer + Trans Open Mic, Oakland LGBTQ Pride Creative Arts and Film Festival and The Oakland Pride Run + Wellness Expo + Ball — was excited to take part because it was an occasion to spotlight grossly underserved populations within the LGBTQIA+ community.
When Folkz, who identifies as indigenous, black and gender nonconforming (GNC), served as a 2018 SF Pride Grand Marshal, s(he) seized another opportunity to bring visibility to marginalized groups by creating a float that honored rainbow ancestors and elders as well as the queer and trans communities and to lobby for support for organizations that serve each of these populations year-round.
Ultimately s(he) says that events like Pride and a documentary like “State of Pride” should empower all individuals to effect positive change in their own lives as well as in the greater LGBTQIA+ community.
“Sylvester set the tone for me as to what it meant to be the representative of a community that is silenced and to the importance of having each other’s backs,” Folkz said. “So I look for transitional age youth, I look for my trans and GNC family and ask among us, ‘Who’s the most marginalized, who needs the resources now and how can I step into a space of connection?’”
IF YOU WATCH
State of Pride