TheGrio presents ‘Black & Proud,’ with Yunus Coldman

“I’m a proud, Black trans man," Coldman tells theGrio. "I am who I am because the way I exist was always meant to be."

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Yunus Coldman is known for several titles in his community. To some, he is reverend or associate pastor, and to others, he is simply known as Pop.

Rev. Coldman is a BIPOC leader from Buford, South Carolina who currently lives in New York City. At 65, he has lived long enough to see and experience the ever-changing ways of being Black and proud. 

“Pride for me is a gathering of everyone, together in the community, in the LGBTQ+ community — [and] that includes Black Pride as well — so that we can let people know that we exist and that we exist in every part of the human experience,” Coldman tells theGrio. 

Yunus Coldman, featured on theGrio’s “Black & Proud,” is making an impact in media and activism. (Photo: TheGrio)

Throughout his years, Coldman says, he has seen slight but significant shifts in how Pride is celebrated. The origin of Pride Month is birthed out of a New York City riot against LGBTQ police harassment and violence in the 1960s. That riot led to marches, and today, decades later, has evolved into massive parades across the country throughout the month of June as corporations and business owners cash in. 

“It’s very commercialized now,” says Coleman. “It’s no longer about marching. Now, it’s about parading, which is unfortunate.”

“That’s very interesting,” he added, “because the reaction to what started it all has changed, but now, much has been changed in our society.”

Coldman authentically lives out loud as Black and proud. His passion for the community is deeply rooted in his work. He actively participates in community panel discussions and workshops to express his unique faith experience and how it intersects with his identity as a Black trans masculine person. 

“I’m a proud, Black trans man. I am who I am because the way I exist was always meant to be,” he says. “I was created this way. I didn’t just wake up one day and say I’m trans. I’ve always been trans.”

Coldman is committed to helping change the world for the betterment of all people. He is one of several multi-denominational ministers that make up TransSaints, a faith-based community established in 2009. The collective helps train ministers and actively outreaches in the community. During this Pride Month, Coldman says he wants people to get back to the basics of what the month actually means and to leave a legacy that is better paved for the generations to come. 

“Let’s come together and make it right and get it right,” he says, “not only for ourselves, but for our youth.”

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