( ENSPIRE Community) A Day of MOBI: Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative
ENSPIRE Contributor: Djata Doumbouya
Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative (MOBI) is a series of curated social connectivity events for
Black gay and queer men to see their holistic self. MOBI seeks to cultivate their brothers through
MOBItalks, a three-part personal and professional development series in Harlem, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. In celebration of Black excellence, MOBIfest is a four-day citywide festival that gives a voice to the convergence of interactive arts, film, fashion, and music in Black queer culture. On Saturday, October 23rd we had the opportunity to attend the talk held at the National Black Theatre of Harlem. This was the third installation of discussions surrounding the state of Black gay life in America. The first two events took place in Brooklyn and the Bronx. MOBI’s intent is to educate and empower Black gay men on self-love, self-care, STDs acceptance and much more.
Dahsawn Usher, Founder/Executive Director of MOBI, Celebrity Ambassador and actor Julian Walker along with the amazing MOBI team hosted these series to prepare Black gay and queer men in their personal lives and in the professional world. The first speaker, former football player, now an activist and writer, Wade Davis shared his experience on coming out as a gay Black man. Davis lived a lie, he constantly tried to prove to others that he was a heterosexual male. Once he came out he felt free, he was happy that he can now be true to himself and other people. He didn’t face any backlash because of his platform. He still stands for other gay men. He stands for his masculinity and how being gay doesn’t make him less of a man.
Writer and Activist Darnell Moore read a chapter from his upcoming book “No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America,” which will be released in 2018. He shared intimate details of his early teens, his first kiss and so on. He showed a certain level of confidence that everyone, gay, straight or trans needs. From the chapter that he read, he learned acceptance of who he is from a very young age. That message ties into the discussion of MOBI, which is for everyone to be who you are with no limitations and live a life of self-acceptance. After hearing excerpts from Darnell’s memoir, its clear that he is not only telling a story but teaching one.
The writer of “The Skinny” and “Noah’s Arc” Patrik-Ian Polk spoke on four very important subjects that included health, self-care/love, financial stability, and relationships. He encouraged the audience to seek medical care when in need. As there are times that we can ignore problems due to fear and make excuses. He named several clinics and health care facilities that are available to everyone including those who do not have insurance. Patrik spoke from his perspective as an older gay man, discussing topics directed to the younger audience. He believes young gay teens should have mentors to educate them. Times have changed and so has information for the Black gay man. Information is more resourceful and available and with the addition of proper guidance everyone can look out for each other.
Civil rights activist Deray Mckesson, well known for being an advocate for issues related to children, racism, and youth identifies as a gay man. He grew up with a single mother and still educated himself through hardships. When asked does he identify as a gay man, he feels as if he’s not compelled to let people know he’s gay. Being Gay does not define him, it does change what he does for the black lives matter movement or any movement for that fact. No matter what industry or career choice one chooses, being gay should not stop that person from being great at what they do or limit their ability to do the best that they can do.
Tyrone Hunter, stylist, and motivational speaker proved that being gay never stopped him from achieving his dreams. At 45 years old he is still branching out into other endeavors. Ty is widely and socially known for positive uplifting (as well as being Beyonce’s stylist), he encourages people to surround themselves with positivity and love oneself. Hunter went deep into his personal life, something he rarely does. He explained just because all we see on social media looks great, doesn’t mean that is the case all the time. He goes through moments where he can be down and depressed, but will only allow it for one day. Ty mentioned that everyone should learn to be alone, that it helps to know yourself better and find inner peace. “You have to visualize better and know that you deserve better,” said Ty. With this statement, it affected members of the audience because a lot of their struggles makes them feel alone. Ty does not let the down moments take over and shared that so others can apply to their situations. He also talked about the strong bond he has with his mother and other family members. He gave an example that his bond made him so comfortable with himself that he learned self-love from a very early age. Ty’s words about support meant a lot to those in the audience. His message echoed appreciation, hope, and ambition regarding situations and opportunities that the majority of the audience related to.
The event had some amazing vendors whose services or products aligned perfectly with the mission of MOBI. Vendors included:
- Marquise Foster
- Black Gifted & Whole
- WELTHĒ Images
- The LGBT Center
- Taste Treasures
- eLo Lipcare
- Mount Sinai NYC
At some point during the show, everyone in the audience hugged for a moment. The aura in the room was made out of love. Everyone took something from that event, whether it was self-love, self-care, information or motivation. Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative is a movement focusing on the well-being of yourself inside and out so that you can share that love with others.
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Check out the recap from one of the amazing media outlet SlayTV who also covered the #MOBITalks