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What does it mean to be a black, gay man in today’s social climate? Our country prides itself in being a nation where people of all walks of life, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations and genders are welcomed and treated respectfully, yet we still have to remind each other that #BlackLivesMatter. We’ve made strides regarding civil rights for the LGBT community, and gay marriage has become overwhelmingly favorable, but what message does it send when our White House erases an LGBT rights page from its website? Not a good one.

One group of men realize that If anyone is going to have the best interest of the black, gay community in mind, it’s the black, gay community itself. This small but motivated group has come together with one goal in mind – to empower, organize and inform their peers on how they can uplift each other and improve their lives both personally and professionally.

From left: Erick Nunez, Content Producer; Kenneth Courtney, Publicist; DaShawn Usher, Founder; Julian Walker, Talent Manager;
D’Ontace Keyes, Content Producer; Steven Duarte, Photo Director; Anthony Curry, Event Producer – Image by Steven Duarte

They hope to achieve this through the launch of Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative (MOBI).
MOBI is a series of curated social connectivity events for black, gay and queer men to see their holistic self. The initiative seeks to cultivate the black, gay community through MOBItalks, a three-part personal and professional development series in Harlem, Brooklyn and the Bronx. In celebration of black queer excellence, MOBIfest is a four-day citywide festival set for May 2018 that gives voice to the convergence of interactive arts, film, fashion and music in black, queer culture.

“Being able to have a series that celebrates black, gay men is vital,” says Dashawn Usher, MOBI’s founder and executive director. “Every person involved is a black, gay man, and this showcases not only our capabilities as a community, but shows others that it’s possible to work together on behalf of our community. Our goal is to put on amazing events in spaces that are affirming and allow other black, gay men to walk away feeling whole. We’re raising the bar with MOBI and setting the standard.”

Recognized as the star of the film “Blackbird” and a cast member on the latest season of “Being Mary Jane,” Julian Walker was eager to align himself with a cause that creates a sense of community among his peers. “The way that MOBI is going to reach our community will let them know it’s OK to walk in your authentic self,” he says. “It’s OK to have questions and find positive answers.”

The first MOBItalks event will take place on Saturday, September 23, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Ilan Rubin Studio (14B 53rd Street, 7th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11232) and will feature engaging talks surrounding sexuality, creative expression and identity with speakers including journalist and LGBT activist Emil Wilbekin; “Real World” alum and television host Karamo Brown; “queer conscious” rapper Jay Boogie; social commentator Richard Brookshire; and Rico Pruitt.

You can register to attend for free at mobi-nyc.com and follow @MOBINYC on Instagram, Facebook and @MOBI_NYC on Twitter for updates.

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