“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 by all who come to the AAACC’s Open Air Gallery, 762 Fulton St. in SF’s Fillmore District.

The twins share the opinion that the city’s world-famous Castro District, seen as a place of freedom for so many, 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.

Photo at top of post shows the Green twins in front of 1984 mural by Dewey Crumpler at African American Art & Culture Complex’s Open Air Gallery, 762 Fulton Street. Many more pieces have been added in the past year, including the two murals shown below. All three photos by Janice Lee.

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