PROVINCETOWN — “Queer people of color deserve nice things,” says Lamb Rahming, the man behind Men of Color Weekend, which happens this year from June 16 to 20. It coincides with Juneteenth this Sunday, the June 19 holiday that commemorates the emancipation of formerly enslaved Black Americans.
Rahming is the founder of Men of Melanin Magic, a Boston production group that specializes in creating fun, safe spaces for queer Black men. The group has organized Provincetown’s Men of Color Weekend since 2019.
“For a long time, many folks of color didn’t know much about Provincetown,” says Rahming. “Its reputation was that it wouldn’t be welcoming. I felt compelled to create a weekend where, if you don’t know P’town but want to experience it, you don’t have to do it alone. A lot of people who look like you are going to be here.”
The theme this year is “Homecoming.” Rahming says Provincetown will be turned into “an HBQCU, that is, a ‘historically Black queer college or university’ called FSU, for Frolic State University.”
“We use that word — frolic — because it captures the vision of queer men of color having the opportunity to be carefree,” he says. “They can be completely themselves, and joy can abide and be expressed.”
Rahming uses the word “joy” often. “Men of Melanin Magic’s mission is to make queer joy easier to find in Boston and beyond,” he says.
His vision is for Provincetown to operate like a college campus during alumni week. As of Monday, 160 people had bought tickets for the weekend’s events. Rahming hopes the “students” will mingle with the “alums” in intergenerational exchanges.
FSU’s mascot is Giselle Knowles-Carter (the last name of Beyoncé and Jay-Z) the Giraffe, and its nickname is “the Baddies.”
Rahming, 32, started Men of Melanin Magic in 2016 as a monthly South End bar takeover for Black gay men. In 2019, the group began hosting parties at clubs, first at Machine, the now-shuttered Fenway gay club famous for catering to those who are usually left out of the nightlife scene.
“The gay scene in Boston is still dominated by white guys,” wrote Nathan Tavares in a 2020 piece for WBUR on Machine’s closing, “but at least for many, Machine was a hub for a more diverse crowd. More people of color, more women.”
The group’s first Provincetown weekend was a huge success. “People met other folks who they would have never known existed,” says Rahming. He had everything planned in the winter of 2020 for that summer’s second Men of Color weekend. Then, the pandemic hit.
Rahming’s plan B? Underwear.
“We pivoted to retail,” he says. “We made underwear with the brand name ‘Frolic.’ ”
In late May 2021, when Gov. Charlie Baker unexpectedly loosened Covid-19 restrictions, Rahming pieced together a practically impromptu Men of Color Weekend in Provincetown. Again, it was a huge success — this time in a different way.
“In 2019, we mostly did club spaces and big parties,” he says. “During the pandemic, we had to get creative.” The Provincetown Brewing Co. provided its large patio space on Bradford Street, and the Bradford Inn’s driveway was converted for one night “into a huge block party.”
Participants in this weekend’s events will get a chance not only to dance but also to “dig deeper into Provincetown — the culture, the people, the restaurants, and other places,” says Rahming.
Events include a “tailGAYte” at the Brewing Co. on Friday from 1 to 4 p.m.; a “Dirty South, HBCU-style” party at the Crown & Anchor on Saturday beginning at 9 p.m.; an “honor society” brunch at the Stowaway Inn on Sunday at 11 a.m.; and a “study abroad” trip to Boy Beach beginning at noon on Monday.
The past few months have been busy for Rahming. In late April, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu asked for new ideas about what Boston should do for Pride month in the wake of divisions on the Boston Pride board. This year, like last year, there is no Pride parade in Boston.
Men of Melanin Magic’s proposal was approved by Wu’s administration and, in partnership with the city, the group is hosting a series of parties this month under the umbrella term “A Very Proud City.”
Rahming’s dream for Men of Color Weekend is for it to be accessible and affordable for all who want to come. “We already have a fund for trans men of color because we want to make sure they are represented,” Rahming says, “but it would be really great if there was a way to subsidize Frolic so that all you have to worry about is getting here. It would be radical, but I think it can and should happen.”