AMAAD Logo .png

A Message From Our CEO

Carl H.jpg

Greetings Friends and Family,

August is National Black Gay Men’s Wellness Month. At the AMAAD Institute we acknowledge the importance of highlighting this fact. Bringing awareness to health issues that disproportionately affect Black gay men is especially meaningful to us at AMAAD as the majority of our employees identify as both Black and gay or same gender loving. 

As a peer-based entity, we give reverence and respect to others that are working to eliminate disparity in HIV/AIDS, substance use disorder (SUD), mental health, homelessness and housing, social isolation, as well as criminal, legal, and justice system involvement. 

I encourage you to not only familiarize yourself with the comprehensive work of the AMAAD Institute, but also the work of the other community-based organizations that are making an impactful difference on the lives of Black gay men.

Happy Black Gay Men's Wellness Month

Dr. Carl Highshaw, MSW

Founder & C.E.O.

August Calendar.jpg
Click here for Details
COVID Survey 2.png
I am fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
I am partially vaccinated.
How concerned are you about getting COVID-19?
Not at all concerned
A little concerned
Moderately concerned
Very concerned

Black Boy Joy:

Black Gay Men's Wellness Month- A Celebration


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?”

Gerald Garth

Director of Programs & Operations

Reclaiming Innocence Appreciation Dinner:

A Night to Remember

Reclaiming Innocence 1.jpg

A Reclaiming Innocence honoree and program participant and guest shares his story.

Due to the impacts of COVID-19, this past year has been particularly challenging for many of us. Globally, anxiety, depression, and isolation increased, leaving vulnerable neighborhoods in South LA further in need of communal programs and services. As the mask mandate from the state of California lifted, the need for face-to-face interactions and fellowship reached an all-time high.

On July 15, the AMAAD Institute hosted the Reclaiming Innocence Appreciation Dinner, with the purpose to acknowledge and celebrate participants' hard work and success over the past year. Despite challenge, program participants were able to secure housing and improve personal development skills, ultimately leading them to making healthier life choices.

With nearly 40 guests in attendance, the event opened with the introduction of each Reclaiming Innocence Care Coordination Team member and welcoming guests. Executive Director Carl Highshaw and Director of Programs Gerald Garth shared with participants their background and how the AMAAD Institute came into existence. Participants were embraced and reminded of the support that exists at the AMAAD Institute.

This special event was made possible, by the talents of each Reclaiming Innocence team member: Ron Jackson, Peer Navigator, Ryan Sample, Behavioral Health Therapist, Tony Hawks, Housing Navigator, and Ted Booker, Housing Manager. Together, the team created a phenomenal event with a fully catered meal, swag bags for each participant, lively decorations, a photo station, and more. 

Reclaiming Innocence 3.jpg

Reclaiming Innocence Shonta Montgomery and friend celebrate a moment.

The Reclaiming Innocence team was overjoyed to celebrate with participants and congratulate everyone on their successes and accomplishments. The last half of the event was dedicated to the participants sharing how the AMAAD Institute has impacted their lives. Each individual spoke transparently and authentically about the support that they received. Participant Shonta Montgomery stated, “I was homeless for four years after being released. When everyone said no, AMAAD said YES! A year later, I have housing, custody of my son, and I will soon be a case worker."

The Reclaiming Innocence team looks forward to more great success! For more information or to connect, please reach out to

By Tony Hawks

Reclaiming Innocence, Housing Navigator

Resilient Solutions:

Smoothies and Paint

RS 2.jpg

Resilient Solutions started off their summer season of programs with "Smoothies and Paint", a healing arts event hosted at the House of Resiliency.  Resilient Solutions is AMAAD's wellness and recovery program designed to create healthy and culturally affirming programs, services, and events. The goal of Smoothies and Paint was for our community members to fellowship, share their recovery journey, and to gain a connection by their stories of resiliency.

Closely following the Los Angeles County COVID-19 guidelines, the AMAAD Institute staff decided to brainstorm ideas for this event. For some participants attending "Smoothies and Paint" was an opportunity to overcome the long isolation experienced during the fifteen months of COVID-19 social distancing and restrictions. 

One of the major breakthroughs from the event was centered around a conversation on how individuals in the group define recovery. Recovery looks different for everyone, and this was an opportunity for those experiences to be heard. “Art and a safe spaces do the job every time” says Program Manager, Darnell Green. AMAAD staff members understand the importance of creating safe spaces for healing conversations to happen and will continue to do so monthly with the Resilient Solutions group.

The more we equip the community with tools and support, the better they will be. AMAAD is aligning the Resilient Solutions group sessions with AMAAD's annual National Recovery Month programs and events held every September to continue to highlight and support our participants. This year is no different.  Although, recently it feels like we are restarting life over again. It feels good to know that our participants found their inner strength and are maintaining it. 

That’s the resiliency of our community! 

By: Darnell Green

Youth and Wellness Manager

RS 1.jpg

In Loving Memory of

Mr. Darrin Aiken

Community Activist, Brother and Friend

Christopher Webb - Communications Coordinator

(He, Him, His)

Jerran Hinnant - Contributing Coordinator

(He, Him, His)

Gerald Garth - Editor

(He, Him, His)

Carl Highshaw - Publisher

(He, Him, His)

AMAAD Logo .png

The AMAAD Institute | | 323-569-1025

Facebook  Instagram