PrideIndex and EBANMAN have joined forces for our first ever three-part series, The Society of Intriguing Black Gay Gentlemen. The intriguing black gay men listing shines the spotlight on those fellas who are making a significant impact on their community and the world at large. Some of their names ring familiar in the social circles of Atlanta, DC, New York, and elsewhere. While others are less well known outside their immediate zip code, their passion and devotion to their craft should never go unnoticed.
PrideIndex knows firsthand how daunting it is to put together a short list of crusaders, entrepreneurs, and artists. Since 2007 PrideIndex has honored over 300 individuals and organizations for their contributions to the African American/POC and LGBTQ+ communities.
Determining what makes a person intriguing is never an easy feat. The common denominator these gentlemen share is the positive impact they have made. Activists such as D’Angelo D’Ontace Keyes, Antonio Driver, and Tarik Daniels, the Executive Director of What’s in the Mirror, are role models making a difference and changing lives.
Without further ado, here is Part I: Activist, Artist & Politicians.
Hudgins began his career as a community organizer for the Westview Community Organization. Hudgins has served as Chairman of Atlanta Neighborhood Planning Unit T.
The Kentucky native attended Hampton University and the University of Louisville, where he obtained a degree in Political Science and Public Policy. He is currently pursuing an MBA from Howard University.
Hudgins is currently the Director of Strategic Programs at Atlanta Wealth Building. Initiative. He is responsible for implementing the community wealth-building strategy to address Atlanta’s systemic racial and economic inequalities.
Ken Mejia-Beal is an activist advocating on behalf of the working class. In November of 2021, he was elected as the first African American, out LGBTQ person as chair of the DuPage County Democratic Party.
Mejia-Beal never had aspirations for a career in public service. The Lisle resident’s background was in finance. “I lost six of my friends to AIDS before I turned 30. It made me evaluate how we were failing folks in our health care realm. I became an HIV/AIDS Activist, which led me to work with food deserts and work with elected officials on legislation. This was all a slow climb for me,” he said.
When asked did he decide to run for the mayor’s office, khalid kamau responds, “I did not want to be Mayor. I wanted to work for more economic development and public services for my District.
However, I kept running into roadblocks — some set up by a mayor. He was intimidated by my popularity and some simply inherent in a system better at maintaining the status quo than implementing new ideas. So, I’m running to be the change I wish to see in the system. ”
khalid is an attorney, activist, and self-described democratic socialist. He has worked several blue-collar jobs, including as a bus driver for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority and grassroots organizations. He was born and raised in what is now the municipality of South Fulton. In November of 2021, he was elected as Mayor.
Clay Cane is a New York City-based award-winning journalist, author, television personality, and documentary filmmaker. His work covers various topics: pop culture, sexuality, race, religion, and social justice. Clay is the creator and director of the original documentary Holler If You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church, which earned a 2016 GLAAD Media Award nomination for Outstanding Digital Journalism.
Gerren Keith Gaynor
Gerren Keith Gaynor is the Managing Editor of Politics and Washington Correspondent at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.
Gaynor leads theGrio’s political team alongside White House Correspondent and D.C. Bureau Chief April D. Ryan, covering the White House, Capitol Hill, and national politics. Notably, his work in Washington helped lead to theGrio becoming the first Black-owned digital news outlet to get a designated seat in the White House press briefing room. Gaynor has appeared on Cheddar T.V., Revolt Black News, and Fox Soul’s “The Tammi Mac Show.” During Pride Month 2021, Forbes recognized Gaynor as one of “10 Black LGBTQ+ Figures And Activists to Know.”
Darian Aaron is Communications Director of CNP and Editor-At-Large of The Reckoning. He has a career in media that spans nearly two decades. He first earned widespread attention in 2006 after launching the award-winning blog, “Living Out Loud with Darian,”—a blog created to provide a platform for stories impacting LGBTQ+ communities of color. In the spring of 2020, he launched “Living Out Loud 2.0” after demand from his loyal following. In addition to his work with CNP, he is also a contributing writer for Edge Media Network.
Darian made history as the first African American Editor-in-Chief of Atlanta’s Georgia Voice newspaper. Much of his digital and social justice work has intentionally advocated on behalf of LGBTQ+ people of color, particularly around the intersection of race, sexuality, and religious intolerance, as seen in his previous blog and coffee-table book, “When Love Takes Over: A Celebration of SGL Couples of Color.”
Darian has used his voice towards LGBTQ+ equality and visibility on television and in print as a contributor to several publications: CLIK Magazine (Staff Writer), The Advocate, The LA Times, The Huffington Post, EBONY Magazine, Project Q Atlanta, and The Montgomery Advertiser among a host of other online platforms.
Anthony Green is a writer and filmmaker from Memphis currently residing in Washington DC. Green served as an English professor at Columbia College and the University of Memphis. His writings have appeared in Glint Literary Journal, Polychrome Ink, and Black Magnolias. His works include When Boys Exhale and #BlackGayStoriesMatter, a collection of short stories inspired by his debut film, THE SOULS OF BLACK PEBBLES. In the summer of 2021, he was named one of Lambda Literary’s Top Emerging LGBT Playwrights 2021. His hit play, “When Boys Exhale,” inspired by the 1995 cult classic girl power flick “Waiting To Exhale,” returns to D.C. at the Anacostia Arts Center from July 22 to 24, 2022.
D’Angelo D’Ontace Keyes
D’Angelo D’Ontace Keyes is an artist, philanthropist, and activist. He is currently the Communication Director at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.
The Chicago native obtained his Bachelor of Music degree at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has previously served as an organizer of Philadelphia Black Pride and Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative (MOBI) NYC. As a commissioner with Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, he assisted in developing a report addressing racism and discrimination in Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community.
Antonio Driver is the Executive Director of SpeakOut, a Washington DC-based nonprofit community engagement organization representing more than 6,000 same-gender-loving (SGL) men and women of color. Since its inception in 2017, SpeakOut has served as a safe space for creating meaningful connections across the LGBTQ+ community.
“SpeakOut fell into my lap,” said Antonio. “When I moved to D.C., I knew I wanted to do something like an online talk show. I had already been part of several Facebook groups where many black queers talked about relationships and different things. I was an administrator of a group called “Common Ties.” That group shut down shortly after I relocated to Washington, DC. I was like, you know what, I’ve been a part of many of these groups. I’ve administrated a few, so why not start one of my own. SpeakOut began simply as a Facebook group with about 300 members, and then it grew from there.”
The author, playwright, and activist explain, “The one thing I want people to take away from my work is establishing a critical lens of black queer and trans bodies and our experiences through the art of storytelling. We matter, and our stories matter. After exploring the critical lens, I pray my work evokes a call to action for change for the better.”
The 2022 Esteem Award winner for Future Leaders – National is the Executive Director and Founder of WhatsintheMirror, a healing justice movement providing mental health awareness to communities of color through art. As a public speaker, Tarik uses his story of living with HIV as inspiration, hosts a black queer podcast, What Works For Us, and serves as Vice-Chair of Austin’s HIV Planning Council.