Launched in February, NEON, powered by GLAAD, is a digital content series that aims to increase the presence and visibility of LGBTQ Black voices. Now more than ever, LGBTQ Black voices are needed within the media industry. I believe that NEON is a step in the right direction towards elevating these conversations and voices.
NEON is meant to be a space that encompasses the art of storytelling and GLAAD’s platform and audience base to create an accurate portrayal of LGBTQ Black experiences within our society.
The Launch of NEON in the month of Black History/Herstory Month is extremely significant because for the first time in my life, LGBTQ Black narratives were finally being put at the forefront and celebrated. Growing up as a black gay youth, I did not see any healthy representations of what it means to be black and gay in media. What I saw were violent images of what it meant in communities of color to reject gendered expectations. At a time when I was still discovering my sexuality, slurs such as as ‘faggot’, ‘sissy’, and ‘punk’ were used as weapons of choice against me, often reminding me of my inferiority.
NEON marks the positive step forward in a long journey ahead in recreating and reimaging narratives for LGBTQ Black folks that are free from stereotypes.
Throughout February, NEON’s Black History legacy series showcased current LGBTQ leaders from multiple disciplines as they pay homage to groundbreaking figures of the past. The Black History legacy series released the following eight installments: Roya Marsha honoring Audre Lorde; Twiggy Pucci Garçon honoring Willi Ninja; Guy Anthony honoring Billy Strayhorn; Torrian L. Baskerville honoring Bayard Rustin; Jari Jones honoring Marsha P. Johnson; Danielle Cooper honoring Stormé DeLarverie; Anthony Wayne honoring Sylvester; and Lee Daniels honoring Marlon Riggs.
These people helped to advocate for equality for LGBTQ communities of color and others in a space and time where it was socially unacceptable dress how you wanted and considered a mental deviance if your sexuality was anything other than heterosexual.
NEON will produce content in four categories: In the Media, Community Conversation, Celebrity Voices, and On the Scene.
GLAAD’s very own DaShawn Usher, Program Officer of Communities of Color and Producer of NEON, shares that “GLAAD’s continued commitment to communities of color is exemplified with the launch of NEON. We hope to help shift the narratives of underrepresented communities in media, especially for the Black LGBTQ community and their allies.”
It is within this current climate, politically and culturally, that more than ever we need authentic narratives of LGBTQ Black voices. They are preserved, shared and celebrated for the survival of future generations to come.
Check out the bio’s of all who are a part of NEON.
Emmanuel Woolard is a Public Relations and Communications Intern at GLAAD. Emmanuel is a recent college graduate from the State University of New York, College at Oneonta, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Africana & Latino Studies with minor concentration in Women and Gender Studies.