Nina Blowe (also known to so many as Nina Monet Collins and Nina Divine) passed away on November 5 in Norfolk’s DePaul Hospital.
She was a trail blazer and a force to be reckoned with in her quest for strength and inclusion of the African American LGBTQ community in Hampton Roads. Her distinctly feisty approach to creating safe spaces where her community could come together and celebrate life is her legacy.
Nina was more than just an event promoter. She was a mother, sister, aunt, grandmother and more to the thousands of people’s lives she touched over the years. She was the the shoulder you cried on when you had relationship problems and the mother in the middle of the biggest fight trying to break it up.
Nina had no fear. Instead any fears she had drove her to do better by her community.
Nina was a firm believer in her kids, convincing bar owners like Annette Stone and managers like Brendan Mulligan that the sometimes chaotic situations were needed in order to provide the end result: a place for her community to be a community.
Her drive to keep the ballroom scene alive was evident at Nutty Buddy’s and at 37th and Zen. Her Wednesday nights at the Hershee Bar were a weekly celebration and continued at 37th and Zen when the Hershee Bar closed.
Although sometimes a handful to work with, Nina was an educator in inclusion. She believed that no matter the faults of individuals, people can and do change; that the color of someone’s skin shouldn’t define where they stand in the LGBTQ community.
That inclusion and fight to give everyone a place to celebrate who they are is what made Nina different than everyone else. She didn’t need to be included in public events as long as she was able to have her own LGBTQ events.
Often not recognized in the mainstream community, she is to this day an icon of the African American LGBTQ community, and it serves to recognize that without her, the community that she fought so hard for wouldn’t be where it is today.
Nina supported everyone in her own ways. She knew her path. She knew what was important. Most importantly she knew the true meaning of family, that you may not always get along but at the end of the day you loved everyone who was a part of your family.
She was and forever will be, for so many, the legendary and iconic Nina.