Detroit’s Baddie Brooks Makes History at NYC Pride March

Brooks is the first Black trans woman from Detroit to serve as Grand Marshal

Sarah Bricker Hunt

Detroit’s own Baddie Brooks repped Michigan like the talented boss bitch she is at the annual New York City Pride March on June 30, where she served as a Grand Marshal alongside luminaries like activist-author Raquel Willis and veteran “RuPaul’s Drag Race” judge Michelle Visage. 

Brooks, a classically trained musician who graduated from Eastern Michigan University, has had a busy Pride season in 2024, performing at Pride fests in Ypsilanti, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo and soon, Ann Arbor Pride, set for Aug. 3. Never content to stand still for long, Brooks just released “Nails,” a high-energy dance track, too. 

Brooks recently connected with Pride Source to talk about her experience in NYC, how she feels about trans leaders who have blazed a trail before her and becoming a trans role model herself to the next generation. 

You just made history as the first Black transgender woman from Detroit to serve as a Grand Marshal in the New York City Pride March. How are you feeling about the experience?

It was incredible. And yes, I was able to serve as a youth Grand Marshal mainly for my advocacy in music regarding queer and transgender people. I performed at the NYC Youth Pride Festival on the 29th and then the parade was on the 30th, and it was a life-changing experience. I’m thankful to Borealis Philanthropy for sponsoring my travel.

Can you give us some behind-the-scenes insights into what it was like to be there?

I was able to meet huge giants in the community, like Miss Major, who was part of the Stonewall uprising, Michelle Visage and Raquel Willis, and what was really cool is that although they have such a huge status not only in the LGBTQIA community but also in the world in general, they are very down-to-earth and genuine. Michelle Visage said hi to me before I did, and I was nervous. I was like, “It’s Michelle Visage!” But we were both getting our makeup done — my makeup artist, Isaiah, was amazing — but we were in each other’s peripheral view and she looked at me and waved, and I was like “I know Michelle Visage is not waving at me right now.” But I waved back and she mentioned just getting off the phone with RuPaul, just casually.

Raquel was also so friendly, and I was able to mention how much of an honor it was to be able to connect with both of them at that moment, and I asked for a picture. They were both really kind to me. 

How important has it been for you as someone in your early 20s to see representation in trans advocates like Raquel Willis, who made history when she spoke at the D.C. Women’s March in 2017?

As a young trans woman, I am definitely very inspired following this weekend. It has made me want to continue to push for change within my community and in the world and to continue to advocate for my community, especially in today’s current political climate. We must push for more protections for trans and queer youth, especially, and as someone in the youth category, I want to continue to push for those protections myself as I transition into my mid-20s.

Your new single and the music video is literally about getting your nails done before going out. Why did you focus on that experience?

“Nails” is very upbeat and electric and it’s for anyone who literally enjoys wearing nails, but I also wrote the song when I was going through some difficult things in life. I reflected on things that I quite literally enjoyed doing, and just getting nails and going out with friends, it’s something I enjoy doing. So I was like, “Why not write an anthem centered around that?” I feel like anyone can be able to enjoy the song just because of the musicality behind it, too — I played my own trumpet and euphonium lines. I feel like any audience member can enjoy it because it’s such an upbeat song.

You played these instruments as a student at Eastern Michigan University. Are you still playing with any local ensembles?

Yes. I’ve been playing trumpet since the fifth grade, since the age of nine and I’m 24 now, so throughout middle school and during high school at Belleville High School and then at EMU, where I was involved in the wind symphony and the jazz ensemble, where I sang. These days, I sometimes play with The Better Things Collective in the Detroit area. 

As you enter this next phase of your life, you’re at an interesting age where people are now coming up behind you, looking to you as a role model. Do you feel pressure being in that position?

The interactions that I have with younger people usually happen at my shows. I have some music that is centered around adult tastes and music I can perform for family-friendly occasions, and those shows are where most of my engagement with younger people happens. 

I don’t feel pressure at all. It actually feels more motivational and also inspiring in that regard, because if I’m being honest, I never imagined myself in this position when I was younger. I never even imagined coming out, at all. So to actually be able to be a representative and an advocate for my community and to be the first Black trans woman from Detroit to be a Grand Marshal, it really moves me and pushes me to want to work even harder to be successful and to push for change for my community. 


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