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Out in the Bay

SF Pride Grand Marshal Twins Encourage ‘Tough Conversations’

Twins Melonie & Melorra Green are SF Pride's 2021 Public Choice Community Grand Marshals
Annie Sprinkle
Twins Melonie & Melorra Green are SF Pride's 2021 Public Choice Community Grand Marshals

“We are here for the tough conversations,” says Melorra Green, speaking for herself and her twin, Melonie Green. On this week’s Out in the Bay, the sisters talk about their visions for a more inclusive Castro neighborhood, about art, “Black Joy,” San Francisco Pride 2021 and their coming-out experience.

The Greens – SF Pride 2021’s Community Grand Marshals – also co-direct the city’s African American Art & Culture Complex, which they reconfigured during COVID to capitalize on the culture center’s outdoor spaces. They commissioned more than 30 pieces of new art by Black artists that can be easily and freely viewed in the AAACC’s Open Air Gallery, 762 Fulton Street in SF’s Fillmore District.

The twins say San Francisco's world-famous Castro District, seen as a place of freedom for so many LGBTQ people, should be “a safe space … for Black and Brown folks, not only for history and legacy, but just to have a drink and not be gawked at, or someone’s fetish toy for the night.” They said getting there will include sometimes “messy, two-faced” conversations that must be held “with people who you know are problematic.”

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Originally from Memphis and born just a minute apart, the Green twins have been making their mark on the Bay Area LGBTQ and art scenes for more than two decades. They have produced more than 80 exhibitions and 100 public events, including “The Black Woman is God” exhibition at the African American Art & Culture Complex and SOMArts Cultural Center.

Creating change is not new to the Greens. They helped create the 2020 street mural paintings of Black Lives Matter and Trans Lives Matter extending from Civic Center to the Castro; they also helped organize the #ShutDownCastro protest on Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend in 2015 that called on LGBTQ groups to focus more on the needs of queer people of color.

Hear part of their coming out story — and how their art has been perceived differently since they were elected Pride Grand Marshals — and much more in their own words and voices on this edition of Out in the Bay. Learn more about the African American Art & Culture Complex offerings at its website, https://aaacc.org.

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Eric Jansen is a long-time broadcaster and print journalist. A former news anchor, producer and reporter at KQED FM, San Francisco; KLIV AM, San Jose; and Minnesota Public Radio, Eric's award-winning reports have been heard on many NPR programs and PRI's Marketplace. His print work has been in The Mercury News, The Business Journal, and LGBTQ magazines Genre and The Advocate, among other publications. He co-produced the June 2007 PBS documentary Why We Sing!, about LGBTQ choruses and their role in the civil rights fight.