We do our  work because we know that discussions of LGBT rights do not reach into the Black community as often as they do in the larger community. Although the approval rates for marriage equality and overall LGBTQ rights have greatly improved according to official census data, we know that Black church attendance is highly concentrated within those denominations that have officially taken a stand against LGBTQ marriage and adoption. When we analyze the figures regarding Black  gay youth being thrown out of their homes, we know that things are not significantly changing on the ground level. The most recent reports on the murders of transgender Black woman also tell the story of the persistence of hate in our Black LGBT communities both at home and overseas.

Our organization’s work is to educate and advocacy for our inclusion, respect and safety within our Black communities.

This document is to give you an idea of the impact that the organization has had:

We hold participant evaluations for all of our events as well as a members’ review after each event. Since our beginning, we have held an annual all day forum.  The audience has grown significantly each year. We had 131 people at the State Office Building in January 2015. Two new members joined. The response was overwhelmingly positive with respondents indicating that they were motivated to become more active around social justice issues in their churches and in their communities. Participants were given the opportunity to respond to individual workshops and the general forum. Evaluations included such descriptive statements as “left feeling more empowered and purposeful as regard to my future commitments to my church, family and community.” This year, because of increased attendance, we broke into five afternoon workshops after our major morning session rather than the four that we usual conduct.

We are required to give to our major funding source, New York Foundation, the number of people who attended board meeting during the previous year. We have never been without a quorum of 15 in attendance. Our attendance is generally 17 to 19 board members.

We have completed 17 video-bios that tell the journeys that our members have traveled to integrate their sexuality and faith. These have been prepared for commercial educational release and are on sale at all our events.

For the last three years, we have held a public education campaign.  Working with  CEMUSA Inc., an  outdoor furniture company, we selected ten bus stop locations where there is a significant Black population as determined by census track information. Ten sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx were selected to post affirming and educational messages for LGBT people and the public at large. We obtained from the company the number of viewers at each location – overall there were 4 million viewers. The company gives us numbers tallying total viewers and viewers in each census track location.  With these figures we are able to modify or change our locations.

Another major evidence of our impact is that we have  been approved to teach two elective courses, for credit, at Union Theological Seminary. We designed the course and petitioned for it and three of our members were approved to teach a course on “Ministering to the Black LGBT Community.” The course was attended by 15 students. We provided a curriculum plan for the course to obtain the approval by the Deans. The course appeared in the materials of the Seminary.

With the Moriah Institute, we partnered to offer two workshops on sexuality, homosexuality and religion. This workshop was designed for clergy and offered by invitation. Not as many attended as we desired, but we had five clergy attend along with Brooklyn Boro President, Eric Adams, who showed his support.

In 2013, we conducted a six week intensive class for LGBT homeless youth teaching them how to create and write their life story.  Each participant was taught by professionals the skills of writing a story and videotaping the story. The class of eight students was highly successful and it was a great experience for the youth.  We know that one youth is now in college and one is gainfully employed.

Those in the audience (friends and families) described the event on their evaluation forms as “excellent, honesty of youth, stories were informative, reaffirmed that I am not a mistake.”

From the youth themselves: “It is important to be outspoken. I have learned about the struggles of others like me. I am able to speak more in depth about certain subjects. This project was a stepping stone for what I hope for LGBTQ youth and our community. I have learned about film editing and how to use a video camera. It feels awesome to hear that my story is like so many others. It made me feel proud to be a LGBT youth.”

Our members have written articles that have appeared in all the Black press and Huffington Post and The Daily News. The articles have dealt with information on gay homeless youth, same sex partner families, pride in being gay and lessons for Black clergy.

Because of our visibility and impact in the community, we have been invited to cosponsor events with several Black LGBT organizations. Events include art events, intergenerational workshops, celebration of life memorial services, entrepreneurship training for members of the Black LGBT Community. The organizations have included SBA National, National Black Justice Coalition, Griot Circle, Inc. SAGE Harlem, Harlem Pride, Circle of Voices, Maranatha, Community Board 10. LGBT Task Force, Gatekeepers, and Depressed Black Men. We have sponsored evening events for film makers and writers. We sponsor art events when they are educational in nature and address issues in the Black LGBT community.

A number of our members have been invited to present on panels and as major speakers. They have also been selected for municipal faith based coalitions.

Our work has been recognized by awards and acknowledgements to its co founder, Dr. Wilhelmina Perry. These have included ENCORE Fellow 2014, Kwanzaa Legacy Award, Harlem Pride Recognition and a GLAAD recognition.

We rely upon our face book page and website to understand our reach outside of events.  Our face book page reaches close to 17,000 on a weekly basis; our engagement is from 2,500 to 3,000. The page is translated into 18 languages and is read around the world. We reach youth as young as 13 and over 54. The largest population reached, both males and females in almost equal numbers, are those between 25 and 54.  Our face book page is the second highest read within our category. The first is Believe Out Loud.

We are currently organizing a citywide coalition of persons of faith to address the serious problem of LGBT youth homelessness in the Black community. Distinguished clergy from various churches have agreed to serve. There are 10 who have been selected for their visibility and standing in the faith community and their knowledge of LGBT issues. The citywide coalition People of Faith will address and speak to the needs and issues of homeless Black gay youth. Overwhelmingly, youth identify religion as the reason that they have been thrown out of their homes. We feel that this problem is an issue for the Black community to face and address. As of this date, ten distinguished clergy, both gay and straight, have signed on to work with us.

Our organization has been instrumental along with others in launching a movement to address the hateful homophobic sign in front of a local Black church. We were instrumental in organizing community leaders, people of faith and organizations to take out an ad in the Amsterdam News since the situation was receiving no local coverage by the Black media.

We have been instrumental in organizing with several other Black organizations to address issues in the Black community such as Stop and Frisk, Black Lives Matter, Action against Police Brutality, $15 wage and others. Because of our visibility and the manner in which we work, we are frequently invited to co-sponsor events by both Black and white organizations. We also receive invitations to be main speakers and panelists representing the perspective of people of faith, who are gay and members of the Black community.

We are in the fifth year of a grant from the New York Foundation. This is a highly prized fund for capacity building and grants are given to those organizations that the Foundation considers to be highly impactful in their chosen mission.

In 2014, we sent three people to the Proctor DeWitt Conference, the national forum for Black progressive clergy. We were among the first to represent as an LGBT faith based organization.  In 2015, one of our members was invited to be a speaker for a panel on homosexuality and religion.

We are an all-volunteer working board.  Since we are all connected with various houses of worship, we recognize and accept the model of working ministries. We are divided into working committees and we plan and implement our programs with this model.

Our administrative coordinator, Dr. Wilhelmina Perry, acts as a full-time person although she is a volunteer.  Dr. Perry is a retired social work educator and not for profit administrator. We consider her time as a significant in kind contribution. Another member, unpaid, works as secretary and a third, unpaid, serves as treasurer assistant.

In addition to these in-kind contributions, members are asked to donate both time and funds when needed.  Although this amount has not been officially determined, contributions are made. We will be determining the official amount at our annual retreat on November 14. From time to time, we use church locations for meetings or other organization’s offices. These arrangements are made without fees.