LGBTQ+ advocates work together to help communities of color through COLOURS Organization

Thursday, June 27, 2024
LGBTQ+ advocates work together to help communities of color
Pride month may be coming to a close, but there are many organizations throughout the city that help the LGBTQ+ community all year long.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Andre Ford, Ph.D. has served as Executive Director of the COLOURS Organization since 2019.

"The COLOURS Organization's mission is to impact, improve and empower the lives of LGBTQ communities of color," says Ford.

Tyrone Smith is a board member, but his roots as an advocate go deep. He's been an advocate and activist for LGBTQ+ people in the Black community for decades.

"We as human beings must help each other," says Smith. "I think so many times younger people may think that, oh, I'm just a part of the gay community. No, you're part of the community at large."

Ford says Smith has been both an asset and an anchor, since he's been part of the COLOURS Organization "since the very beginning."

He calls him "a troublemaker," but in a good way, because Smith "stirs up stuff" that needs to be taken care of in the community.

"That's my mission - to help individuals," says Smith.

The COLOURS Organization was originally founded as a magazine in 1991.

Ford says the goal of the magazine was to help make people aware that HIV was killing Black men, because HIV was "devastating their community."

Smith says people shared their personal stories in the magazine.

"They had to admit the fact that they were openly, unapologetically gay," says Smith. "And they did a lot to move us forward."

Smith says that he and Dr. Ford have worked together for more than 30 years at different organizations, and that they both care about the work that they do to support the LGBTQ+ community.

Smith helped form the Minority AIDS Coalition in the 1980s. He says this organization was a way for "African American individuals to deal with this tragedy."

"Because no one could speak for us, but us," he says.

He also founded Unity.

"And it was the first time that there was an organization put together for Black people by Black people around the issue of AIDS," he says.

Today, the COLOURS Organization offers services in a safe space.

"The goal here is to build trust," says Ford.

"It's been a growth process, but it's been a good journey," says Smith. "I'm blessed to see where we are now."

For more information:

COLOURS Organization: https://coloursorganization.org/

COLOURS' Services: https://coloursorganization.org/programming/