Visibility, voice, resources, and emotional support are important considerations in making Brooklyn and NYC safer for LGBTQ+/GNC (gender non-conforming) individuals.
Gay Men of African Descent, Inc. (GMAD) is a non-profit organization established to represent and spread Black Gay consciousness and cultivate Black Men’s holistic health. GMAD was founded in the spring of 1986 by Reverend Charles Angel, a Pentecostal minister and societal engineer. He envisioned, as do we, a world in which "...gay men of African descent have all the love and support they need to thrive." Rev. Angel’s black gay consciousness conversations (better known as "Friday Night Forum"), addressed deficits many saw in the community and the paucity of outreach towards and/or for Black and Latinx Gay men and their social and sexual networks. Rev. Angel often said “we are not just black, not just gay, not just men but all three of these.”
For thirty over years, we have been a pioneer in championing intersectionality, sexual liberation and gender fluidity. We help ourselves and others distinguish between sexual orientation, gender identity and its expression, and individual behavior; as we reduce the impact of stigma.
Our mission is to empower gay men of African descent through education, advocacy, health and wellness promotion and social support. This done through our core competencies of being a F.R.I.E.N.D., they are:
Flexibility in daily interactions;
Respect for every individual;
Integrity through communication;
Empathy and compassion;
Networking and cooperation;
Dependability in professional performance.
These are the cornerstones of our relationship with the city, its communities, neighborhoods, and diverse constituents.
Serving as a community hub, we encourage, and educate gay men of color from all walks of life about the steps to become positive agents of change to advance the dual causes of social justice and equal rights. The core of our work remains in striving to end isolation, prejudice, and violence in the lives of LGBTQ+/GNC people. GMAD is a place to gain a reprieve from attacks on self-esteem, to build social and intellectual connections and to gain and maintain a healthy sense of self-identity.
Since its humble beginnings in 1986, GMAD has hired 135 people who served over 590,000 Black men who have sex with other men and their allies. GMAD uses the term richly-complexioned to capture the spectrum of men of color served.
The agency’s Community Advisory Boards, Board of Directors, Executives, staff, and volunteers reflect/represent the cultural, educational, economic, and medical diversity of the people we serve, affording us great levels of cultural competence and standing which empowers us to better be able to address their needs on their level, while increasing their overall knowledge of health and well-being.
By selecting relevant members of the local and cultural community, staff and volunteers are well versed in targeting/treating/servicing racial/ethnic and sexual minorities, with preferred and needed services. This perspective adds an emphasis on indigenous norms, language and values. We strive to create sustainable communities that offer food, clothing, shelter, safety, and security not as acts of charity, but as acts of parity.
Our community-based and patient-directed programming reflects the breadth of its reach in NYC and NYS. Our services include:
- street, community and digital outreach;
- rapid HIV/HCV counseling testing and referral;
- targeted case finding;
- linkage to care programs;
- health education risk reduction activities;
- substance misuse groups (LGBTQ+ NA and AA groups)
- individual and group psychotherapy;
- support groups; (Perspectives, Friday Night Forum to name a few)
- community-driven, evidence-based prevention interventions;
- homegrown/practice-based interventions;
- training and advocacy programs (that empower Black gay men and combat discrimination);
- age-specific projects for young adults (Day Center, computer lab, peer-education) and Black Gay Elders (50+);
- technical assistance and training and innovative social marketing campaigns that were seen on NYC MTA public transportation, newspapers and movie theaters.
- Financial literacy and small business incubation
GMAD serves individuals who range in age from 16 to 65+. Our constituent profile is comprised of those needing a helping hand, homeless individuals, college students, retirees, the unemployed and professionals. These include individuals diagnosed with and affected by HIV disease. Annually, GMAD reaches between 10,000 and 13,000 Black gay men and, with the addition of new programs, this number will inevitably continue to grow.