Sometimes, it feels as if Black, gay men are stuck in an invisible corner. We’re the supporting characters on your favorite shows, the authors who receive honorable mention, the group that only tends to make the national news when there is a hate crime or a new statistic released about HIV. But beyond our own community and sites like SOULE, we don’t get the representation or the resources we deserve. Luckily, a handful of organizations are focused not only on increasing our visibility but also helping us advance our societal positioning and rewrite our public narrative.
Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative (MOBI)
Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative is focused on bringing Black, gay men together for enriching cultural events. The organization recognizes the lack of representation within the gay community and seeks to tell a different story. “It’s just trying to actually showcase that there is a community that actually cares about you, that wants to support you, that wants to see you succeed in any area that you do,” founder DaShawn Usher told NBC News.
With MOBItalks, the group leads a series of personal and professional seminars in Harlem, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. MOBIfest is a 4-day celebration of all things Black and queer—art, film, fashion, and music.
On a deeper level, MOBI serves as a shield against the Trump administration’s attack on the LGBTQ community. Through its initiatives, the organization offers a playbook for Black, gay men to progress, even during dark times in which that progress doesn’t seem possible.
EBANMAN is a one-stop shop for professional Black, gay men. Its website features articles on career advice and wealth management as well as lifestyle aspects like dating, grooming, health, and wellness. However, EBANMAN’s primary focus is on building a community. Think of it as a Facebook/LinkedIn hybrid designed just for us. With membership, you can set up either a personal or business profile and connect with other professionals who share the same interests and experiences as you.
Additionally, through their events, EBANMAN helps us focus on electing local officials that champion our community’s causes. In August, the organization hosted a Meet and Greet in Atlanta where Black, gay men could meet local candidates who were running for city positions.
EBANMAN is about elevation and carving out a space where mature, Black, gay professionals can meet, learn, and advance.
Perhaps the most high-profile organization here is Native Son. Founded by former VIBE editor-in-chief Emil Wilbekin, Native Son is all about honoring and celebrating Black, gay men’s achievements. This year’s awards ceremony, the second installment so far, recognized artist Kehinde Wiley and Kyle Hagler, president of Next Model Management, among others. The first annual ceremony included honorees DeRay Mckesson and Don Lemon.
Rather than create a site or platform, Native Son has focused on making a big statement, and it is one that is resonating. High-profile sponsors like Belvedere, HBO, and Cadillac have chipped in to sponsor the annual event.
About his pitch to Cadillac, Wilbekin told OUT Magazine, “They really believed when I made the pitch that there’s a community of me: a community of Black, gay men who are professional and like nice things and are affluent and need to be seen and heard.”
Therein lies Native Son’s differentiator. It targets a segment of Black, gay men who are affluent—who have claimed positions of power. However, it is not an elitist organization. Among its other events, Native Son has hosted town hall discussions and empowerment workshops. Native Son is for all of us but it also gives us something to aspire to.
With MOBI, EBANMAN, and Native Son, it is clear that we have a large community that’s dying to be spoken to. We have community-specific needs that must be addressed, and little by little, our Black, gay men are rising to the challenge and providing these resources. It’s not our destiny to be supporting players. It is time for us to stand front and center.