June marks the celebration of both Black Music Month and Pride Month, a time to recognize the invaluable contributions of Black musicians and honor the LGBTQ+ community. This piece shines a spotlight on the remarkable journey of Stevo Blaque, a talented painter and DJ from Birmingham, Alabama, and the vital work of the Magic City Acceptance Center (MCAC) in supporting the local LGBTQ+ community.

Beyoncé’s recent projects serve as a powerful reclamation arc, celebrating and uplifting Black genres such as rock, house, and country. Her album Lemonade honored Black women, Black is King celebrated the African diaspora, and Renaissance highlighted Black queer culture. The recently released Cowboy Carter focuses on Southern Black people and the forgotten Black cowboys, featuring Alabama native Tiera Kennedy, who contributed to the tracks “Blackbird” and “Tyrant.” As a Black gay man and music lover, I understand deeply the importance of representation, and this piece embodies the very essence of why I started this column.


(Randall Porter/Contributed)


A Pioneer in Birmingham’s Dance Scene

Stevo Blaque, born Steven Mark Finley Jr., is a passionate painter and DJ who has brought vibrant dance music to Birmingham, Alabama. Frustrated by the lack of local dance music venues, Stevo took it upon himself to create spaces where people could enjoy house music and dance freely.


Overcoming Challenges and Embracing Identity

Despite facing few external challenges in his career, Stevo has struggled internally with recognizing his worth and staying true to his values. He emphasizes the importance of perseverance and authenticity, especially when comparing oneself to others in the industry. Stevo draws inspiration from legendary figures like Frankie Knuckles, Sylvester, and Jean Michel Basquiat, who paved the way for queer Black artists and provided a blueprint for self-expression and freedom.


Creating Memorable Experiences

Stevo’s performances at Milk & Honey are particularly emotional for him, as they provide a space where people can be themselves, regardless of their background or identity. Milk & Honey is a popular dance party in Birmingham that attracts a diverse and vibrant crowd, celebrating freedom, self-expression, and community. The joy and gratitude Stevo feels while guiding his audience into their own freedom are overwhelming, often bringing him to tears on stage.


Using His Platform for Good

Stevo is committed to using his platform to be an example of unwavering authenticity and kindness. He believes that small acts of listening and being a beacon of light can have a significant impact on someone’s life. His ultimate goal is to become a world-renowned DJ and producer, fully realizing his potential and meeting his highest self.


The Magic City Acceptance Center: A Haven for LGBTQ+ Individuals

The Magic City Acceptance Center (MCAC) in Birmingham, Alabama, is dedicated to providing a radically inclusive and brave space for the LGBTQ+ community. MCAC offers a variety of programs and resources to support youth, adults, and families, fostering a sense of community and belonging.


Supporting Queer Black Artists

MCAC actively supports local Black queer artists through various programs and community partnerships. The center provides event space for initiatives like Black Trans Futures, Magic City Fashion Week, and the Birmingham Black Repertory Theatre Company, which elevate awareness of social injustice and LGBTQ+ rights. Additionally, MCAC collaborates with Black DJs like DJ Naka and Bama Bounce DJs, drag entertainers, and Black-owned businesses to promote their work and services.


Impactful Moments and Success Stories

One of MCAC’s recent projects involved collaborating with Bib and Tucker Sew-Op and the March Quilts, allowing LGBTQ youth to design and stitch quilt squares that represent their identities and connections to the South. The completed quilt tells the stories of queer youth in Alabama and will be displayed as part of the March Quilts collection, serving as a tangible representation of their experiences.


Addressing Challenges

MCAC acknowledges the unique challenges faced by Black queer individuals in Alabama, particularly in the face of recent legislation. The center focuses on spreading awareness and building community through its programs, ensuring that no one feels alone. 

“At MCAC, we believe the best way to face these challenges is to stay in the know and we use every chance we get to spread awareness of what’s going on. While spreading awareness, it’s also important to build community. Our programs seek to do just that. We say ‘No one comes to MCAC to be alone.’ Even if you’re doing your own thing hanging out at the center, you’re still there to be in the community,” shares Isaiah Caldwell. 


Community Support

The community can support MCAC by investing time and money into its programs. Participation in events and bringing friends along helps to grow the support network and build a stronger, more inclusive community.


The journeys of Stevo Blaque and the Magic City Acceptance Center exemplify the resilience and creativity of Southern queer Black artists and their communities, my community.  As we celebrate African American Appreciation Month and Pride Month, it is essential to recognize and support the incredible contributions of individuals like Stevo and organizations like MCAC, who work tirelessly to create spaces of freedom, expression, and belonging for all.

My personal journey as a Black gay man and lover of music has driven me to highlight these stories. This piece is a testament to the power of representation and the transformative impact it has on individuals and communities. It is a privilege to share these stories and celebrate the rich tapestry of Black and LGBTQ+ culture in the South.