Being of the minority in a majority-laden industry such as Hollywood can be isolating. Just ask the scores of Black, brown, LGBTQ+, and disabled folks in Tinseltown coming out of the margins and demanding meaningful inclusion and representation. But as they work toward such a Promised Land, finding community can ensure they faint not. That’s why Melody Cade organizes the Queer Black Women in Entertainment Brunch every quarter.
“It's important that we know one another exists,” she told Out. “Seeing someone like yourself out in the professional world matters.”
Cade, who works in film, TV, and media distribution, is creator of the LH Group and organizes the brunch and other networking events for Hollywood’s queer Black women. She started the Group after attending an open event by Black Gay Brunch, or BGB, a networking group of and for Black gay men in the industry co-created by Ben Cory Jones (Boomerang’s showrunner) and organized by Empire writer Cameron Johnson. The QBW Brunch, which counts Ellene Miles, Sony’s vice president of intersectional marketing, and actresses Jasika Nicole and Portia Bartley as attendees, joins BGB and The Clubhouse, which is for gay Latinx people in entertainment, as safe social spaces.
Out spoke with Cade about the founding of the LH Group and their referral-only brunch, and how such spaces are paving the way for community in Hollywood.
What is the LH Group? Describe for me the inspiration behind it.
The LH Group started as a brunch for queer Black women working in entertainment; it was a networking event. Over time, it morphed into something of a community building group. Queer Black women in entertainment don't really know one another and it can be pretty isolating. When I first started seeking women out, I was always met with the question, “Where are they?” followed by excitement to be a part of something that brought us together.
I came up with the name, 'LH Group' after watching Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, the Lorraine Hansberry documentary. She, of course, wrote A Raisin In The Sun and also considered herself to be a lesbian. There was a part in the documentary where her biographer noted that when Lorraine was alive, there wasn't a place where being Black, gay, female, and an artist intersected. She couldn't bring her whole self to a lot of places she went. It must have been lonely. My heart broke for her a bit. We are in a time now where we have more options, so I named the group after her.
You mentioned that attending a BGB event actually crystallized the thought for you.
I started the group after attending the gay Black men's entertainment group for a couple of years. They had open days, where you could come if you weren't a gay Black man in entertainment. I loved seeing my male friends and just enjoying their company. But, open days weren't often. When I questioned if there was a women's group, there wasn't. So, I waited a year. I thought someone would eventually do it. No one did and so I started taking the thought a bit more seriously. I reached out to Lena Waithe and told her I was thinking of creating the group. She told me she thought it was a great idea. A tiny part of me said, “Crap!” because her saying that meant I should do it. So I did. That was 3 years ago.
Have there since been other gathering spaces created for Black queer women in entertainment?
There are so very few places where Black queer women come together in L.A. at all. And when you narrow it down to Black women in a certain industry, it gets harder to connect. Everyone is so busy. People have families in addition to careers.
Why would you say a space specifically for Black queer women in the industry is necessary?
Knowing that there are other voices similar to yours out there creating content matters. There is no reason for us to feel alone anymore. We shouldn't have the same experience Lorraine Hansberry had 50 years ago.
How would you describe the overall experiences of Black queer women in Hollywood? How do you see this group impacting that, if at all?
Often times, Black women get left out of the conversation when it comes to LGBTQ+ media and representation. I hope the group emboldens the members to completely own the space they inhabit and know the group is behind them.