Tucked away in a lounge loft space on Lafayette, a mere set of meters from the busy New York streets below was a buzzing hive of black queer innovation. Colorful yet stylish outfits, bright eyes, and mirth filled the room as the attendees of the 2019 Campaign Launch Party, hosted by the Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative, partook in the open bar and hors d’oeuvres. Various presenters spoke, giving out well-needed information on the types of NYC businesses that are open to supporting the black LGBTQ+ community, networking/business opportunities, matters of healthcare, etc. The purpose of the event was to outline some of the upcoming programs and events from the MOBI team.
“What is MOBI?” you may be asking. Well, the Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative (MOBI) is a series of curated social connectivity events for Black gay and queer men to see their holistic selves while promoting community, wellness, and personal development. MOBI offers several programs as part of its offering, including MOBItalks, a personal and professional development series that brings dynamic speakers to inform and empower the community, and MOBIfest, an interactive art experience that celebrates Black Queer voices in fashion, music, visual arts and media.
SOULE asked some of the attendees of the 2019 Campaign Launch for commentary concerning MOBI as a holistic platform:
“I love how [MOBI] creates this environment for safe discussions, specially about wellness concerning mental health and sexual health. The community collaboration aspect is strong, too. Our program, SLAY TV, has done some video production work for MOBITalks and is looking forward to many more opportunities to bring content to the community together.” –Terry, SlayTV
“A lot of trans men make it a bit difficult to have the conversation with cisgender men. I’m willing to educate and have the conversation to bridge that gap.” –Kayden
“It’s amazing. This is the definition of community!” –Quentarius Higgins
“I’ve been part of MOBI for a year. It’s been an outstanding experience. They’ve been a huge support to myself and my business, having been one of my first clients, and it’s really good to have a community of black queer men that are willing to come together and create this network” –DJ B MAJR
Of course, we had to ask the founder and executive director of MOBI, DaShawn Usher, about what inspired him to create MOBI:
“For me, knowing that we don’t have actual spaces to convene and converse, us as a black queer community, it was about asking myself ‘How exactly can we, as a community, grow professionally and in the matters of health & wellness?’; from there, it was about making that vision into a reality.”
Dwyane Williams, Director of Community Engagement, added on concerning the conceptualization of MOBI: “[There was a] need to connect black queer/gay identified men for health and networking purposes, so the best idea was to do that through social connectivity events. It’s vital for us to provide a stage and a safe space for our own people to receive access to the resources they need to enrich our overall quality of life.”
For more information on the Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative and how you can get connected, check out their website at https://www.mobi-nyc.com/