Friday, August 17, 2012

MIxing it Up Friday

Its COP 24/7 Catch Up yet again as the updates, info, links, video and just plain ole stuff keeps falling into the in-box. Amazing as it seems, there's always plenty of items to fill the pages of this forum and more! COP 24/7 rocking and rolling our special brand of news for the LGBTQ community and beyond.  Let's hit it....

Black Gay Support Group Churns Discussion

This forum posted an announcement concerning the ground work being created in forming a Black Gay Men's support group as an outgrowth of programming of community based organization The Living Affected Corporation's affiliate named, Strilite.  The affiliate serves as a component of the organizations HIV/AIDS prevention initiative and is emerging as a separate entity which will host independent programming involving issues directly relevant to the Black MSM community and beyond. At the core of the discussion has been the subject of exclusivity and some references to segregation in terms of the groups structure or access to it. At this point I must disclose that I directly work with LA Corp and was apart of the thought process as the effort was being approached. I felt that since that their was going to be a discussion thread about its formation, that it was imperative that I share my thoughts and conclusions. Although the men of Strilite had previously discussed having such an outlet, the catalyst of moving forward with the group actually came at the suggestion of a local  professional whom cited that often they had "clients that were asking for such a group," yet they had no known outlets to offer. They reasoned that it would be beneficial that a city of this size should have such a group. After all, all over the United States groups of this nature exist without question or subject to scrutiny as to their basic nature of providing an array of individual-level, group-level and community-level programs and services targeting the African-American community, particularly Black gay and same-gender-loving men.

From my perspective the creation of this group is ground breaking as these individuals began to discover unique urban centric experiences that they will share through dynamic and compelling conversations or story telling. Could such expressions be apart of any support group is likely, yet the importance of being nurtured, shepherd and or mentored by those in your image can be found in entities such Us Helping Us in Washington D.C., 100 Black Men of America Inc. and has been the clarion call of luminaries such Dr. Michael Dyson, Broadcast Producer Tavis Smiley, Dr. Cornel West and radio personality Michael Baidsen. Black AIDS Institute CEO Phil Wilson has challenged African American men to undertake the mantel of understanding "us" and be about the business of healing "us."

For myself personally, in lieu of our current crisis situation the formation of this group makes perfect sense and continues the necessary work of building human capital among same gender loving men where none exist. Its no secret that I've personally ebbed and flowed within our community construct, carving out my own niche of acceptance or lack thereof as I've tried to cultivate cross cultural alliances and associations. I've championed diversity even in the face of past racial inequities and overt racism that left me believing that our community would eventually move forward as the world around us would also. Yet through all of this the color of my skin has never ever been in doubt nor my sense that I was foremost young, gifted and black who happened to be gay.

 If only had I had such a group that would have been a refuge for me to have a chance to ask questions or try to understand the complexities and conundrum's of being black and gay. It would have been tremendous to have had a resource of men in my image to have shared their experiences about being "in the life," even as they drank from separate water fountains, watched the chaos of the Central High desegregation drama or having to stay on "their" side of gay bars of the past. I can't even imagine how comforting it would have been to have had those elders offering me their wise recollections in preparation for the experiences which would be the foundation of my own. Even though that opportunity may have been lost for me, there's no reason that it should continue to be lost based on semantics or verbiage that may not fit in comfort zones.

I've been so fortunate to have found pathways to enlightenment on my life's journey thus far and its my intention to be of service to those who seek the camaraderie, synergy, and empowerment that lies ahead as the group Tongues Untied becomes a reality. As the group takes shape, there has been discussion that perhaps there will be opportunities to reach out via web circles and other social media outlets to allow those in outlying areas to become connected. Also other national resources including facilitators, capacity builders and or experts could also lend their voices and academia to subject matters or assist in forging directions that the group should pursue. The possibles could be endless and certainly rewarding for those whom choose to attend.

 The first session is tentatively set for October 10, 6 pm, 401 North Maple Street Suite A, North Little Rock. The Topic will be a follow up to last October's, "State of Identity," panel discussion. Additional information can be obtained at 379.8203 or  This service is free to those whom seek it. In-kind donations, contributions and monetary support is always welcomed and appreciated.

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