Darian Aaron is the publisher of the blog Living Out Loud with Darian (loldarian.blogspot.com) which offers news and opinions on the African American gay community. His writings have appeared online and in several national publications which include AOL Black Voices, GBM News, The Advocate, The Daily Voice, The Los Angeles Times and Clik Magazine. PrideIndex.com recently spoke with Aaron about his writings and here’s what he shared with us.
PRIDEINDEX: When were you first published? And under what circumstances?
AARON: I was first published in 2007. Dwight Powell, former editor of CLIK Magazine gave me my first opportunity to have my writing published. He noticed I had a real talent even before I did and contacted me to write a story for the magazine after reading the work on my blog. This was a defining moment because prior to Dwight’s phone call I had no idea that blogging could be a springboard into the more respected realm of “real journalism”. And to add the icing on the cake, my first assignment was to interview men whose work I’d admired and respected for decades, Keith Boykin, E. Lynn. Harris, Maurice Jamal, Billy Porter…men who were instrumental in my coming out and loosing the shame and fear often associated with being black and gay. I was beside myself. Dwight offered me a staff writer position at the magazine following my first article being published.
PRIDEINDEX: Please describe 1-3 authors/writers/performers that have influenced your artistic style?
AARON: I’d definitely have to say Keith Boykin for his activist approach on LGBT issues. His writings have been thoroughly researched and presented intelligently, almost borderline academia, but he’s still able to engage the reader without coming across as intimidating. Rod McCullom for his clear and concise writing style along with his ability to identify his target audience, which I believe, is crucial whether you’re writing an article or a novel. Janet Jackson. Every gay man has to have a diva and she’s mine. I’ve had a 20-year love affair with Ms. Jackson and everything about her inspires me from her music to choreography, fashion, humanitarian efforts, LGBT causes and her overall resilience and longevity in the business. Actually, each section in my new book When Love Takes Over: A Celebration of SGL Couples of Color is named after one of her hit songs.
PRIDEINDEX: Do you believe LGBT authors have an obligation to the LGBT community? Why or why not?
AARON: Yes. I definitely believe if you’re a gay author writing about the gay experience you have a responsibility to approach your work with honesty and integrity, especially if you’re writing about the black gay experience. Being a minority within a minority I feel a sense of responsibility to expose sides of my community that the majority don’t get to see or wouldn’t necessarily believe to be true about who we are after being constantly bombarded with negative imagery and stories. My writing is black LGBT focused so my thoughts begin and usually end in my community, that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate when my work crosses over, as it often does, but I never lose focus of my base and I expect and respect their feedback and support.
PRIDEINDEX: While looking at your face book page I noticed that you posed for the No H8 campaign, what was that experience like?
AARON: The NOH8 Campaign was an amazing experience. I participated in a closed shoot with the creators Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley along with The Real Housewives of Atlanta, whom I had a chance to interview for my blog a couple of years ago in Atlanta.
As someone who is in a committed relationship marriage equality is very important to me and I felt the sting of Proposition 8 passing in California even in Atlanta, so having a chance to participate in the NOH8 Campaign was extremely important to me.
PRIDEINDEX: Do you consider yourself to be a gay rights activist? Why or why not?
AARON: I do consider myself to be a gay rights activist, but my form of activism is very different from the activism of the past. I’m more of a digital activist. My writing and visibility as an openly gay black man is how I choose to express myself and contribute to furthering the cause of achieving full equality for LGBT people. Some people march the streets with a bullhorn, and I’ve done that too and will jump at the opportunity, and some people effect change from in front of their computer.
PRIDEINDEX: I’ve had the chance to look at your blog; it’s excellent, how long have you been blogging?
AARON: It will be five years in May. I took a hiatus last year to begin work on my book and I actually thought I wouldn’t return but my audience wouldn’t let that happen and my heart is still in it.
PRIDEINDEX: How do you decide the subject matter for your blog?
AARON: The only criteria I have is that it needs to be black LGBT focused and it needs to inform, inspire, and entertain. I’ve gotten some negative criticism from other bloggers and some readers for specifically focusing on black LGBT content and my response is: My blog is for people of color and if you happen to be of another race and the content resonates with you then I welcome you and your experience, but of the thousands of LGBT blogs online there’s only a handful of blogs that consistently tell our stories. Black LGBT’s are an underserved community.
An openly gay singer who is also a reader of my blog e-mailed me to vent his frustration recently because in a google search for “black gay blogs” only three sites appeared and the rest were porn. I rest my case.
PRIDEINDEX: Are there any subjects that you won’t touch?
AARON: I won’t touch gossip, porn, or anything that goes against uplifting and informing our community. I don’t say that to say I don’t enjoy salacious stories or porn or those who do should be condemned it’s just not the focus of my blog.
PRIDEINDEX: I understand that you are pursuing a degree in Journalism, have you considered pursuing work in broadcast journalism such as television? Why or why not?
AARON: Yes! Broadcast journalism is exactly the field I want to work in post graduation.
PRIDEINDEX: What is the biggest misconception about you and/or your work?
AARON: I think the biggest misconception about me and my work is that I’m doing it to be famous or acquire wealth and this couldn’t be further from the truth. First of all, anyone who is involved with activism or blogging and they’re expecting to become a household name and make millions of dollars are delusional. It can happen, Perez Hilton is an example but he is among a small few and you also have to look at his brand and the sacrifices he’s made to be where he is. I’m not willing to promote his brand of crazy or exploit the ugliest side of our community for a buck.
PRIDEINDEX: Can you share some thoughts on your upcoming project(s)?
AARON: I’m excited to be releasing my first book When Love Takes Over: A Celebration of SGL Couples of Color this spring. The book will be the first of it’s kind to exclusively profile 18 African-American SGL couples from across the United States who are in committed relationships. The book contains beautiful images and details how each couple met, their journey towards self-acceptance, liberation, and ultimately how they fell in love and maintain their relationships.
PRIDEINDEX: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
AARON: I would say just write. Write every chance you get and build a relationship with established writers whom you admire. Utilize social networks to meet people who share the same passion and create an online presence to share your work. Be open to constructive criticism and use it as a tool to grow.