My granny always told me to be grateful for small things.
As a self-appointed ambassador for love and understanding, let me share with you two LGBT/Pride events you should not miss if you are rainbow-influenced or just curious and supportive.
The first event takes place on June 28 in our lovely hamlet on St. Nicholas Avenue. The other takes place on June 29 at the South Street Seaport.
In Harlem, myNewYorkeye's first annual girly-gurl "Rent Party," a fundraiser for the arts, will be held on June 28 from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. at the Honeycomb Playhouse.
"Harlem is pulling together again, don't you think? It's such a safe place for the gay community. Lesbian, bisexual and straight people are mixing, smiling, and I am happy about that," said a Harlem resident with more than 30 years of observation.
Harlem has a rich LGBT legacy. During the Harlem Renaissance, the Hamilton Lodge of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows became famous for its elaborate annual drag ball (aka the Faggots Ball).
The 1930s roared gay with the Mount Morris Turkish Baths, which attracted a clientele of gay Black men (and the white men who loved them).
In the 1940s, Ebony magazine reported that at Luckey's Rendezvous, owned by Duke Ellington's piano player, Luckey Roberts, "male couples are so commonplace ... that no one looks twice at them": James Baldwin introduced Luckey's to Marlon Brando, and it reportedly became his favorite hangout. ("Stella, I'm coming out!" might have been Brando's inner monologue. Who really knows? The closet is that deep.)
Where are the girls who love girls in Harlem history? Great question! They were there, but on the down low.
Butch women were bold, as witnessed by singer Gladys Bentley, who was notorious for wearing men's clothing on stage and for her marriage to another woman.
Here's another twist (but not a surprise to anyone in the rainbow life). Ma Rainey ("Prove it on Me") was rumored to have had a relationship with bisexual singer Bessie Smith.
Then there's everyone's lovable "mom" comic legend Moms Mabley. Yes, her.
The new documentary "I've Got Somethin' to Tell You," directed and produced by Whoppi Goldberg (HBO), touches upon Mabley's lesbian lifestyle. The doc is a fascinating look at Harlem of old, and it's no real shock that once she took off her trademark clothing, she slipped into a man's suit and was addressed as "Mr. Mom."
To wit and to my point, rent parties (which were held in private venues) were events where rainbow folks could listen to music, dance and socialize in freedom.
Now, in 2013, Harlem is celebrating girly-gurl LGBT pride at the new speakeasy the Honeycomb Playhouse in the rent party tradition.
The Honeycomb Playhouse, located in a brownstone, is new. They don't discriminate, embracing the creativity and hustle of all. They have a full bar and offer a changing appetizer menu. There is also a back courtyard.
The girly-gurl event is only $5 and is sponsored by Harlem Brewing Company, Alacran Tequila, Black Opal Cosmetics and the African-American Jazz Caucus Inc.