While Pride events around the globe have either been canceled or postponed, Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative (MOBI) has announced that MOBIfest, its annual free wellness festival for queer communities of color, will gather audiences virtually on Thursday, June 4, at 6 p.m. ET to celebrate in the age of social distancing.
In its third year of programming, MOBI remains committed to producing one of the only free festivals focused on seeing its attendees as their holistic selves. The initiative is funded by a grant from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) with support from community partners including GLAAD, Gilead, Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC), The New Group, Out in Tech, The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), New York Blood Center, SOULE, Bisi Alimi Foundation, and more.
Previously, MOBIfest was curated over three days in New York City. The festival typically launches with an opening cocktail event followed by a community art exhibition and reception, showcasing artwork submitted by queer artists of color. This all culminates in the main show with a full day of entertainment and performances. Previous headliners have included R&B heroines Dawn Richard and Sevyn Streeter.
This year, MOBI has opted to curate a lineup of queer-only talent such as Trans pop activist Mila Jam; POSE choreographer and Ballroom icon Twiggy Pucci Garçon; Miami sensation Saucy Santana; and Chicago’s rising 17-year old rapper Kidd Kenn.
In the wake of coronavirus, MOBIfest will be livestreamed on the MOBI website at mobifest.live. Despite the challenges faced by organizers, a few things remain the same: MOBI is peer-led and powered by a team of Black gay and queer men eager to carve out spaces for their community, and all the festival events are free for viewers.
“The goal for MOBI has always been to link our community with various health and wellness activities while celebrating contributions to the arts, entertainment, and culture,” says MOBI founder and GLAAD’s Program Officer, Communities of Color, DaShawn Usher. “The pandemic has negatively impacted the world, especially queer people of color, so it was even more important for us to be resilient and continue to build community because there just aren’t that many options for us. Many pride events already exclude Black and Brown bodies. MOBIfest seeks to center the most marginalized and showcase our continued resilience.”
On Thursday, June 4, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, MOBIfest will entertain viewers with live DJ sets, comedy segments, and performances from dancers, musicians, and the house and ballroom community.
MOBIfest will also curate MOBIflix, a queer film festival on Saturday, June 6, featuring works from known directors and upcoming creators from public submissions.