Like many of us, our Wednesday nights are not complete unless we get our fill of Luscious Lyon, his talented and handsome sons, and of course the delicious and ferocious Cookie Lion. I’m talking about Fox’s new hit drama, Empire.
Director, Lee Daniels, made it very clear that he would use Empire to bust open the topic of homophobia in the black community. In a heart dropping scene, young and playful Jamal Lion plays dress up with his mother’s clothes and walks into the living room where his father, mother and family are hanging out. Luscious, furious that his son is dressed in women’s clothing and high heels, picks up Jamal, marches outside and throws him in a trash can. For those of us who have experienced this type of cruelty from our family, we were both shocked yet we could relate. That was a real life experience for Daniels.
Also watching that night, was former Washington Redskins football player Wade Davis. Since leaving the NFL, he came out, became an activist, and started a non-profit organization aimed at eradicating homophobia in professional sports. Homophobia doesn’t just show up in the black community. It happens in every community and shows up in all families. Davis knew the narrative of hyper-homophobia in the black community—and more specifically black families—was bias and unfounded. He knew love, affirmation and acceptance could prevail and he wanted to create a space for black love to be celebrated.
So, like any activist, he called his friends that he knew could get behind a movement aimed at highlighting, celebrating, and telling the stories of affirming black love in LGBTQ families. People like writer Darnell Moore, Tiq Milan from GLAAD, Sharon Lettman-Hicks from the National Black Justice Coalition, and Danielle and Aisha Moodie-Mills of Politini. Organizations like Feministing.com, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and Ebony Magazine were eager to get behind this “luv” fest.
#ThisIsLuv lead off with series of stories from out and proud queer individuals of color sharing the love and acceptance from their families. Danielle Moodie-Mills of Politini Media shared the story of her sister always being her biggest champion. Mia Mckenzie from Black Girl Dangerous shares how her deeply religious family shows up for her without a question. Milan spoke of his dual coming out and how that never changed the way his mother stood in his corner. You can find these stories on Ebony.com. The community was invited to participate and share their stories by uploading a picture of their affirming family love to ThisIsLuvProject on Tumblr.
The goal was to elevate the conversation offline and into the community by having an interactive town hall event affirming stories of black love. What transpired on Sunday February 22 at the HRC headquarters was nothing short of a “luv” in of epic proportions. Audience and panel members alike shared their real life stories of family love and acceptance, friendships that were forged along the way of self discovery and pain caused by their own assumptions and disconnections. It was the little things that showed love and confirmation of that love, which was a big thing. Black love is everywhere in the LGBTQ community and it is not something you even have to look for. You simply have to feel it.
I could write a multi-page essay about each panelist and guest. The stories were rich with things to make your heart swell and your eyes teary. These are not stories that can be retold. Luckily for you, it was recorded. Click Here to watch the entire event.
More importantly than just listening to these stories, accept the challenge to walk away with a directive and accountability to love harder, open up to being loved, and affirm the love around you. Black love is rich and abundant. #ThisisLuv