On the 7th October 2022, Antoine D Craigwell will open the 8th ‘In My Mind Conference’ on the mental health and wellness of LGBTQ+ People of Colour. This year, the focus is on older SGL people. The theme was chosen intentionally around tenacity and ‘agelessness’ of healing.
Unwilling to countenance risking the health of his target group to a resurgence of COVID-19, Craigwell, journalist and film producer-turned-advocate for Black gay men’s mental health, took an early decision to host the conference online, as well as via smaller satellite gatherings across New York. Smaller gatherings are easier to manage in ways that minimise any viral transmission. At the same time, ‘smaller’ means the event is experienced at the more human scale many of the community members he is seeking to attract will prefer. Local partners/hosts will be encouraged to lean in and extend the conversations among their colleagues and users/clients. It will also save him and his team from setting out to close the digital divide one Zoom user at a time. He suspects the long periods of lockdown in NYC were made even more challenging for some older SGL People of Colour due to a lack of familiarity with digital comms platforms.
For the conference planning team, excluding this group from participation would have been unthinkable. They are the stars of the show, their knowledge of their own situation is the highly valuable, expert knowledge.
The indigenous, inherited, and ancestral, have taken a more prominent place in the work of DBGM, the conference organisers whose work Craigwell leads. Had it been possible to be more confident about the impact on health of creating a large IRL gathering, early October would have witnessed the first public event of The Ancestral Institute
The In My Mind Conference emerged as a result of the powerful impact and audience response to the 2012 film, now referred to as YANA, or ‘You Are Not Alone’. The film focused on the experiences of Black gay men, abuse, exploitation, depression, and strategies for healing and ‘recovery’. These issues still resonate as the team consider how best to mark the 10th anniversary of such a seminal work for so many.
The NY-LON special relationship extends to Black SGL people
Since before Jamaican born poet, Claude McKay, left employment as Britain’s first registered Black journalist, swapping Limehouse for Harlem about a century ago, New York and London maintain a special relationship for Black SGL folk.
BLKOUT_UK and DBGMinc are pleased to continue the links between our cities, and communities. BLKOUT have joined In My Mind Conference 2022 as a community partner. We are inviting stakeholders in the mental health and wellbeing of older LGBTQ+ People of Colour in the UK, to respond to recordings of keynote presentations and research papers. Participants will be able to record a short interview online as a contribution to a podcast about mental health and wellbeing for this group in England. We are aiming to start a process of dialogue about mental health and the support that we can offer one another to take action at an earlier stage.