The Counter Narrative Project

MODEL: We are committed to public education as a strategy to build cultural competence among our community allies, as a tool to heal internalized stigma among black gay men, and fight structural stigma in the culture at large. We also believe advocacy training has to be coupled with black gay men’s movement history and cultural production to best facilitate issue awareness. Finally, such approach is the most effective way to build power among black gay men.

APPROACH: We are committed to engaging black gay men around our history, culture, and social context. We believe that organizing is most effective when rooted in our most meaningful experiences, our sacred spaces, and our most transformative texts. We trace our lineage from the works of Joseph Beam, Essex Hemphill, Marlon Riggs, and other figures engaged in black gay men’s cultural and political activism. It is in this tradition, where “black gay man,” stood as a political category as much as a sexual identity that we find our foundation.

VISION: The Counter Narrative Project envisions the following: (1) A world where all black gay men feel valued (2) Work where policy intervention is rooted in our stories and our lived experiences (3) Narratives that will move hearts and minds and change public policy (4) The availability of narratives through media, popular culture and other locations that uplift black gay men. (5) That community building, collective memory and storytelling are indispensable to movement building (6) A world where we are leaders in the conversation around black gay men (7) A proliferation of black gay male thought-leaders actively engaged in shaping narratives around black gay men (8) A world where black gay men are free, and all oppressed communities are free.

HISTORY: The Counter Narrative Project was born out of a series of conversations, starting back in 2013, among community members around the narrow representation of black gay men in media and other cultural narratives. And though HIV/AIDS is a serious concern for black gay men, and should be addressed, we recognized the urgency of such issues such as economic distress, criminalization, housing issues, aging and culture. This gap provided a significant leadership opportunity for us and we believed that through combining our collective forces we would be the best positioned to lead this effort. Thus, we were born to amplify the voices of black gay men. We believe that visibility is necessary for cultural change, and cultural change is necessary for social change.