BlackOut is proud to introduce BlackGaySlay; a series of photos and interviews with Black Gay Men who make an impact. Men you should know; if you don’t already.
The series emerged from our observation of various awards list and honors that often do not include of Black Gay Men leaving us to ask WHERE WE AT??
Ajamu X lent his considerable talent and vast experience to produce a series of portraits of BlackOut Co-editors for the About Page. The reaction to those photos from readers inspired us to create a vehicle to showcase Black Gay Men who produce photos; and to stimulate BlackOut readers to share their own photos.
Who’s Doing the Slayin and How They Slay? For over 25 years Ajamu’s photographic cultural and academic work has filled a wide gap in British society’s limited knowledge of Black LGBT people. Ajamu’s revolutionary photos, his LGBT community cultural projects; and his pioneering archival research identifies and showcases diverse perspectives in the LGBT community; and Black LGBT perspectives that often go recognized in particular.
In 2000 Ajamu co-founded the rukus! Federation: Making difference work which remains the only Black led arts organisation in the UK with a specific aim to raise the profile of Black Lesbian Gay and Transgender people in the UK and throughout the diaspora.
Ajamu’s work has been shown in galleries, museums, and alternative spaces worldwide and his photographs are held in numerous private and public collections. While Ajamu’s international profile spans the entire Black Queer diaspora; there are but a few cultural producers who work as hard as Ajamu to evidence the existence of Black Gay Men living in the UK.
Since the 1980s, Ajamu painstakingly and lovingly collected Black Queer artifacts including club night posters; sex party flyers; magazine covers; Queer writers and club DJs private photos; countless obituaries of those gone; many to soon; and everything in-between. This curation of a vast number of imagines, objects and words eventually formed the rukus! Black LGBT Archives now housed at The London Metropolitan Archives.
Ajamu challenges those who produce cultural material about us and for us with one constant question, “Did you record that?” And with one constant demand, “Make sure there’s a copy for the Archives.”
Ajamu’s cultural legacy and his impact on BlackOut specifically goes beyond his vast portfolio of photographic beauty that represents Black LGBT people.
Ajamu’s unapologetic and continued propensity to subvert and his consistent resistance to the conventional and to the binary very much inspires the ongoing development of BlackOut particularly as we work to create a virtual space that not only serves as the evidence our existence but one that reflects the multitude of Black Gay narratives that celebrate and indeed challenge us at times.
- 2016 Khalil West and Ajamu – I Am For You Can Enjoy, Contact Theatre, Manchester (4 February – 18 June 2016)
- 2013 Fierce – Portraits of Young Black LGBTQ people by Ajamu, Guildhall Art Gallery, London
- 2012 Future Histories, Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow
- 2011 Queer Self Portraits Now, Fred, London
- 2010 Photoshow, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York
- 2009 Familiar Strangers, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow
- 2004 Hidden Histories, Walsall New Art Gallery,England
- 1997 Transforming the Crown, Caribbean Cultural Centre, New York.
- 1994 Black Bodyscapes, Camerawork, London
- 1992 From Where I Stand, Brixton Art Gallery, London
- 2016 Curatorial Resident, Visual AIDS, New York
- 2008 Outside Edge: a journey through black British lesbian and gay history, Museum of Dockland London