BUFFALO, N.Y. — In Buffalo, Pride Week is a time when the community comes together to celebrate love, inclusivity, and unity. It's also a time to acknowledge the ongoing challenges and injustices that many people in this community face every day.
Kelly Craig is the Executive Director of The Pride Center of WNY, she's also a Black transgender woman. Craig says, growing up, she battled many stereotypes that challenged not only the way she saw herself through her own eyes but also the way the world viewed her.
"Growing up, whether it was coming from the black family or the Black church I remember experiencing things that were up against me systematically," Craig says. "But I'm grateful that I had a grandmother who would love me unconditionally. There was nothing foreign to her about me."
Craig credits her family's love and support as a big reason she was able to fully embrace herself.
"In so many aspects of my life, I live a public life. But I struggle with depression, I struggle with anxiety. I struggle with all those things that the average person who feels that they are alone struggle with," Crag shares.
Craig tells 2 On Your Side's Liz Lewin her work and role at the Pride Center truly give her a sense of purpose.
"It feeds me on so many different levels. I think of it as a blessing. I'm from the community, working for the community and I feel like I'm the best person to be in a position leading this Center," Craig explains. "I've seen it all, I've done it all, and yes I'm still making mistakes because I'm human. So, I get it. I understand the magnitude of what we do here."
And while there's much to celebrate this week, there's also much to keep fighting for.
The Human Rights Campaign has spent 40 years fighting for LGBTQ+ rights. 2021 was reported as the deadliest year on record for transgender and non-binary people. So far, according to their data, in 2022 there have been at least 14 deaths and startling reports of discrimination specifically among black transgender and non-binary people.
"I really get emotional even thinking about people who look like me," Craig says. "Most of our trans women of color that have been murdered, they have known their killer, whether it was a relationship behind closed doors that went bad or it was just a spool of hate."
For details on Buffalo Pride Week visit here.