Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative (MOBI) is a series of curated social connectivity events for Black gay and queer men to see their holistic self while promoting community, wellness, and personal development.
In May, MOBI hosted there first MOBIfest, which was a networking event geared with programing for and by our community. For the VIP kick off event, guests were greeted at a posh venue in Brooklyn (Underbar at Rowhouse) with tons of MOBI-Swag and catered specialty drinks. Black queer men corner to corner; artists, techies, teachers, lawyers – A very “Who’s Who” of the Black & Queer. Followed by a KiKi at Trappy Hour, which is a Black Queer NYC staple at the bar Harlem Nights.
The next day, was a stunning art show themed “Masc-Off,” featuring Black queer artists Jonathan and Jarrett Key and Rubby Valentine. Curated by Jae Joseph. The third day was held at the Melrose Ballroom. Headlining MOBIfest was Dawn Richards, best known from Making The Band’s Dainty Kane. The day began with a panel discussion featuring queer men of color across the media and entertainment industries. Moderated by MOBI’s Celebrity Ambassador, Julian Walker, the panelists included: Dyllon Burnside, actor (Pose on FX); Twiggy Garçon, ballroom influencer; Dustin Ross, host of The Friend Zone podcast; Terry Torrington, Slay TV founder; and Josh King, publicist and content producer for Singersroom and Rappersroom. Also performances by Bry’Nt, Harmonica Sunbeam, Brita Filter, Robert Ball, and more. AND a ballroom performance segment featuring DJ Byrell the Great, Icon Jack Mizrahi, and Jonovia 007.
The organization does a host of other events such as MOBI-Talks, and other programming for our community so SOULE got a chance to speak with MOBI’s Founder, DaShawn Usher.
SOULE: Now DaShawn, I won’t lie – Just from knowing you throughout the years, I knew to except something that was definitely on a very sophisticated scale, but I was never expecting something so large. How on earth did you accomplish this, how did MOBI come to be.
DASHAWN: The how… The how is really just that I’ve been apart of so many different organizations, groups, etc… other people’s shit. It’s been a cultivation of seeing what certain gaps were and that sometimes we consistently do things and settle. I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of things in a corporate sense that we as Black gay men don’t get to experience. Whenever I’m in those spaces I’ve always asked, why don’t we have something like this that’s for us, by us that exists. That tries to create an environment of warmth. We bring everything down to earth, and put it at level, regardless of instagram followers, and title – so we can all network to excel.
The Culture definitely stands out to me, you have a quote on your website “The most common way people give up there power is by thinking they don’t have any” – Alice Walker. Why that quote?
D: We were doing Black history – and we chose to celebrate Black queer history. That quote specifically was just a little reminder on what “Power” really is, what resiliency looks like, literally about following your dreams – So when you look at that month on our instagram – it’s about subscribing to whatever the “other is” – and that’s the power that we have.
What does the rest of MOBI’s year look like, how are you going raise the bar?
D: MOBIfest PART II! The biggest thing, is just that this is just the beginning. What did we do well! (The crazy thing is we’re not even AT a year!) I want MOBI everywhere – In other cities. We’re trying to get some stuff in the works in LA – and more programming in NY.
I love how easy it is to get a ticket, and the initiative you all have around access to these events – How do you facilitate that?
D: Most of the venues you can get tested and get a ticket – But a lot of those facilities do a lot of different things, not just HIV testing. A lot of them offer stuff like social support, fitness, tech access, nutritional classes, there are a lot of things people could do to get a ticket – MOBI is all about taking a holistic approach. When we were able to do that I think that was the coolest thing with those partners, and business.
What has been the biggest impact you’ve seen from MOBI – and what’s something you really want to accomplish within MOBI?
D: I think the biggest impact has been the stories that are shared, after the events, the responses, the comments, the likes. It is all about impacting lives, and creating experiences that people remember – feelings that they felt in the moments in that space. For me it’s being able to see the feedback, because we’re still learning and we’re so open to expand.
What we wanna accomplish next? Raising more money. No really – The only people that want to fund things like this usually falls in public health, but outside of that … it’s like how do we get money from places like Google, etc… Who we know funnel into these other communities, when we have the same buying power, and really trying to not sell-out, however we do want to be fully funded so we can keep these events free.
Check Out www.mobi-nyc.com – as Well as MOBINYC on all social media for more info about upcoming events from MOBI!