The national leadership of the Black Gay Men's Network (the Network) met in Los Angeles in early October to set their priorities for the upcoming year. The Network is a community of successful black gay men who unite their collective expertise, vision and creativity to provide leadership within the Black gay community and society at large. The Network is an integral part of the Black AIDS Institute's Gay Men's programming. The BGMN currently has more than 740 registered members from across the United States.
As the news about black gay men almost becoming an endangered species based on rising HIV/AIDS rates, suicide and hate crimes, programs like the Network are vital to their survival. The Network provides mentorship, community, safety, support and opportunity for black gay men. In the words of the late great poet Joseph Beam, "black men loving black men is the revolutionary act," and the Network is poised to revolutionize how black gay men see each other and how society sees us.
For 2010-2011, the leadership has decided to focus on the growth and sustainability of the Network and its members. The Network will provide more support for the professional development of it's members and offer more opportunities for networking. There will be enhancements to the current website to facilitate communication amongst members and there will be more local/regional activities for brothers to meet each other. More efforts will be made to increase the visibility of the Network and encourage new members to join.
Upcoming highlights will be the 8th Annual Network retreat in April 2011, which provides an opportunity for members to "activate, motivate and rejuvenate" through a variety of workshops, exercises, motivational speakers and entertainment. There will also be local events organized by members in cities acroscc the country -- Washington, DC, Atlanta, New York, Kansas City, Chicago and Los Angeles. As a part of the Black AIDS Institute, the Network will be actively engaged in the Greater Than AIDS campaign, town hall meetings about the National HIV/AIDS strategy, and activities to acknowledge the 30th anniversary of the first official pronouncements of HIV/AIDS.
The current leaders of the Network are co-chair Ahmed Lee (Washington, DC), Sheldon DeSouza (New Jersey), DeMarco McMilan (Atlanta), Jonte' Lee (Kansas City), Jasper Hendricks (Washington, DC), Paris Mullen (Seattle) and Chris Bland (Black AIDS Institute/Los Angeles).
For more information or to get involved with the Network, visit the Network's page on the Institute's website.