Campus News

LGBTQ Resource Center hosts Mahogany Project

The LGBTQ Resource Center will host the Mahogany Project, a theatrical performance sharing experiences of gay black men. | Courtesy of the Mahogany Project

The LGBTQ Resource Center and African American Studies Department will host the Mahogany Project on Thursday night, which is a collective of black gay men telling the stories of other black gay men over a range of societal issues with a focus on building a community in Texas.

The event, free to students, will be at 7 p.m. Thursday in Room 102 of the Graduate College of Social Work. The Mahogany Project is an important piece because it opens students’ eyes to the perspectives of LGBTQ individuals from all lenses, said Jamie Gonzales, program coordinator at the LGBTQ Resource Center.

“It is important for everyone to recognize that although the LGBTQ community shares an acronym, that does not mean we share the same experiences,” Gonzales said. “The awareness and knowledge of our intersecting identities — like race, sexuality, gender and religion — are critical to understanding ourselves and each other.”

The theatrical group consists of four members: Joe Anderson Jr., Barry Florendo, London James and William Lyons.

The actors in the Mahogany Project use prose and poetry as the main avenue to tell stories, said Joe Anderson Jr., co-creative director and featured actor in the Mahogany Project, but all forms of media are used at the event.

“Through storytelling of communal experiences, we hope to build a sense of brotherhood between black queer men,” Anderson said.

The performance will cover an array of issues affecting the black gay community.

“Our theater performance is around 45 minutes total and discusses a broad range of topics that include suicide, coming out, depression, dating, sex, race and a multitude of others,” Anderson said. “After the theatrical experience, audiences are given an opportunity to ask the group specific questions about the piece.”

It’s important, Anderson said, to understand the two-pronged challenge gay black men face.

“On a daily basis, black gay men have to deal with racism within the queer community and homophobia within the black community,” Anderson said. “Rates of suicide, depression and mental health are higher for black queer youth.”

There are higher rates of HIV within the black gay community when compared to that of white men, Anderson said.

“Not only do black gay men have to deal with sexual orientation, but also our lives are further complicated from racism and discrimination.”

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