Academic Lead: Dr Antoine Rogers
The experiences of those racialised as black have for too long been marginal to the struggle for equality for LGBT people in the UK. BlackOut UK launched in October 2016 as a means of creating spaces by and for Black queer men in the UK for cultural expression community-building and resilience through a more inclusive engagement with and understanding of social and political environments including: health and wellbeing (including sexual and mental health), education and cultural heritage and enterprise.
BlackOut works with and supports writers, videographers, activists and event organisers and entrepreneurs to build both individual resilience and community resilience. Using an inclusive model of leadership BlackOut aims to ground community engagement and development in a theoretical understandings of critical race theory; intersectionality; and models of leadership for effective and impactful social change.
Context and rationale
Through a critical reading of Critical Race Theory and within it intersectionality, we recognise that race and gender are interrogated more thoroughly than Black Queer experiences – in particular in the British literature. Is this a hierarchical foregrounding of identity and forms of oppression where sexual and gender identity are less valued, or merely a function of the relative novelty of queer studies and Black studies in British academe? Joseph Beam in the introduction of the ground-breaking anthology In the Life (1986) states, “There are many reasons for Black gay invisibility. Hard words come to mind: power, racism, conspiracy, oppression, and privilege – each deserving a full-fledged discussion in gay history books yet unwritten”. For a generation of Black gay–identifying men in Britain this anthology and other writings from Black American LGBT people provided affirmation. This text contained material that helped Black queer men to resilience and community signposting for action to create social change. There have been a limited number of attempts to emulate this anthology in the UK e.g. Black and Gay in the UK (2014) and a comparative dearth of academic texts. BlackOutUK seeks to challenge these silences and assert narratives that document the resilience and leadership styles which emerge from the lived socio-political experiences of Black queer men in the UK rather than those imposed by existing structural inequalities which have rendered our lives as only of interest in terms of poor sexual health, pornography, deception of female sexual partners, internalized homophobia, or as a subject of the white gaze. Through the distillation of a range of leadership models; this research will identify a bespoke (unnamed) leadership development model that builds individual and community resilience; resilience that contributes to community economic social and political strengthening and overall sustainability.
An overall outcome of our 48 month research project will be to demonstrate how black queer community organising via the three socio-political areas of Health (sexual and mental), Educational and Cultural Heritage and Enterprise is able:
- To identify characteristics of a resilient Black queer man and a resilient Black Queer community (the dynamic tensions between the concepts of the ‘individual’ and ‘community’)
- To identify communication and engagement mechanisms that develop effective and impactful leaders in varied socio-political contexts (i.e. health, education, cultural heritage and enterprise)
- To examine how community leadership can either contribute to and/or hinder resilience in Black Queer communities;
- To demonstrate how through leadership development, Black Queer community organising can adopt inclusive nurturing and inherently critical positions that are able to contradict essentialised visions of masculinity and ‘race’.
In terms of reflecting on the personal experiences of our Project Leaders, we will use an autoethnographic approach that ‘dig[s] deeper into the memories, excavate rich details, bring them onto conscious examination tables to sort, label, interconnect, and contextualize them in the socio-cultural environment’ (Chang, 2008, 51). In order to study our groups, we will also use an ethnographical approach that will borrow from the ‘central voice’ perspective of Critical Race Theory (Taylor, 2009).
Building on the research context and proposed theoretical framework outlined above, the proposed study will be structured around the following research questions:
- Can an effective model of leadership development be created through a collaborative distillation of a range of existing models drawn from statutory, NGO and business sectors?
- What are the characteristics of leadership that can enhance or hinder community resilience?
- Is intergenerational dialogue and engagement required as part of an effective model of leadership development?
- What is the role of intergenerational homophobic and racist experiences in shaping an effective leadership development model?
- Within BlackOut spaces (digital and physical) do Black Queer people experience less homophobia and racism than in LGBT and heteronormative spaces?
We will keep you posted on our progress on this page.
Back to the Research Page, here.