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For Daniel McHenry, learning to accept his sexuality while heavily involved in a popular church in Tulsa left him feeling alone and broken. He wasn’t just a member of a congregation, he was an influential member of the praise and worship team for Transformation Church, not someone who expected to become the leader of Black pride in the city.
Yet, after continually being told explicitly and implicitly that being gay was a problem, he decided to leave in 2017. After spending time in Arkansas, McHenry returned to Tulsa in October of 2019 on a mission to create an environment for other Black queer Tulsans who feel alone.
Thus, McHenry founded the organization Black Queer Tulsa, and plans to host the city’s Black Pride festival in the Greenwood District. Black Queer Proud 2022 takes place from June 10 through June 12 at AHHA Tulsa and other locations around the city.
In an interview with The Black Wall Street Times, McHenry explained his passion for supporting the queer community and his desire to foster understanding among queer Black Tulsans and their straight neighbors.
“There are some friends who know what I do but don’t want to be part of it because they’re afraid,” McHenry told The BWSTimes. He’s determined to change that by hosting the city’s first Black Pride festival in the historic Greenwood District, home to the original Black Wall Street.
“To bring awareness to the Black community. To give people the ability to see Black Wall Street and to let Black people see the queer aspect of their community so they can be more open to that,” McHenry said. “We want to normalize that. We want people to see Black and queer and think that’s OK.”
Bringing the community together
Daniel McHenry spent over two years as a worship leader at Transformation Church. His experience left him feeling self-hate, and he eventually became determined to reclaim his mental health. As someone who believes that God loves all his children, Daniel McHenry created Black Queer Tulsa to create a welcoming space for the Black queer community to meet, network and enjoy the city together.
Since March of 2021, the group has been meeting every third Sunday for a brunch with members and other events that foster community.
McHenry wants people to “get together and come outside.” He said he spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make God happy, something that came with “a lot of self hurt and self hate.”
His solution is to foster better understanding among all Black residents of Tulsa.
“So we can make the Black community aware of the queer side. They try to neglect it. They see it as a weakness, honestly. We want to erase that or at least work on that to give better visibility to Black Queer Tulsans,” McHenry said.
Black Pride on Black Wall Street
Black Proud runs June 10th – June 12th. Kicking off the festival, celebrations begin at a skate park from 7 to 9 p.m. Location to be determined.
On Saturday, the day begins with “trap yoga” at AHHA Tulsa from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. A “day in the park” block party takes place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m, and the evening ends with a Sneaker Ball from 7 to 9 p.m. Expect to find people dressed to impress.
Wrapping up the festival, Sunday begins with guided meditation at 11 a.m. and a brunch from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more specific details, visit their website at blackqueertulsa.org .
Security will also be in attendance during Black Queer Proud 2022.
“You’re not alone in the struggle. We are here for you. We want people to see that and become more active and more supportive,” Daniel McHenry said.
Eventually, McHenry wants to partner with ORU, a conservative christian private university because “queer people in the church is real.”