Black LGBTQ+ history plays a major part in Black history, American history, and world history. From literature to politics to art and academia, Black queer individuals have been pillars of every facet of this country’s cultural experience. One observation of the community is Black Gay Men’s Wellness Month recognized during the month of August.
For decades though, data has spoken to the disproportionate burden of Black gay men impacted by HIV, homelessness, substance use, and a number of other inequities; however, Black Gay Men’s Wellness Month is an opportunity for organizations, institutions, and individuals around the country to observe the experiences, contributions, and resiliency of Black gay, bisexual, same gender loving, and other sexual minority men.
As we look at ways to prioritize and center Black gay men, below are 4 ways to celebrate Black gay men’s wellness:
1. Create leadership development and opportunities: Organizations and leaders should uplift Black gay, bisexual, and other same gender loving men into roles and opportunities that are centered on building skills, strengthening self-efficacy, and pointing individuals to growth through roles and positions that allow them to inform and impact change.
2. Build brotherhood and community: A safe space must be a feeling first. A necessary part of what builds Black wellness is a sense of community. Focusing on creating ongoing programs, activities, and events that are culturally affirming and celebratory to the uniqueness and richness of the Black LGBTQ+ experience is key.
3. Recognize the power of storytelling: So much of the healing the Black community finds comes through storytelling. From therapy to testimony service to roundtables, there is an ability of Black people to heal through being, what I call “in the driver’s seat” of their own story. Policy, media, and evaluation are all informed by our stories, so Black gay men should be empowered, equipped, and aligned to tell their own story across platforms and sectors
4. The messenger matters. Visibility and representation are ongoing ways of celebration. Oftentimes, an image alone can evoke possibility, inspiration, and observation. Organizations and leaders should look broadly to assess, address, and ask do the faces and experiences in the space embody and speak to the community.
One quote says, “Black joy is one of the strongest acts of resistance,” so as we look to provide programs, services, events, and activities for Black gay, bisexual, same gender loving, and other sexual minority men, we must ask, “Amidst it all, where is the space to celebrate and be celebrated?”
Director of Programs & Operations