We have always aimed with BLKOUT to build spaces for Black Queer Men to thrive. Brave spaces which allow us to loosen the restrictions imposed on us as we seek to operate in British society. Society in which we are often required to warily navigate the minefields of racism, class, patriarchal manhood, and white supremacy; while at the same time being expected to explain each step we take to others who cannot (or will not) see the unexploded bombs in our path.
It can be very tiring to be a conscious Black man in Britain today. It is unsurprising, therefore, that many of us struggle to maintain an even keel. The stresses and strains find many of us struggling with our mental health, or seeking solutions based on escape that ultimately prove destructive. Some space to let off some steam, reach out to others, or be reminded of some home truths by fellow travellers might have been all that we needed.
So we use digital spaces that are supposed to be for us, in response to our ‘needs‘ – the dating apps sink to the lowest common denominators pretty quickly with underlying racism, internalised homophobia, HIV stigma, colourism, fat-shaming, gaslighting, and mendacity, now standard features that they don’t (but should) list as features on the app store.
The advertising revenue-driven networking apps end up tracking your every online move, constantly seeking greater profit (or state secrets) from your data
– I’ve just bought one of those [scroll], how many fridges does one man need? [scroll], even if it is £50 cheaper than it was last week [scroll], oh £100 [scroll] thanks for letting me know!
You are a valued customer, great. Where do you go where it’s not about shopping, or gambling, or spending? (and why am I still waiting for that ‘great value’ pair of trousers that I don’t really need anyway that have been on their way from China since last November?)
It’s sometimes a battle keeping walls between different parts of your life on the larger platforms and you know that if you’ve searched new work colleagues online almost as soon as they’ve been appointed, they’ve done the same to you.
(Is that Johnno from Accounts unsuccessfully thirst trapping on his timeline again? Is that appropriate? You can’t unsee that stuff. Did he really just send me a friend request on my burner account? And as for Uncle Royston, well . . .)
So much for supportive digital spaces. Even when seeking help Black men are less likely to receive it, and more likely to find online services irrelevant.
Joining the blkouthub
We recruit for the BLKOUTHUB in cohorts – small, manageable groups of up to 30 folk. This means that when you join, you get to meet others who have also recently signed up. We ask that new members invest a little time during their first month on the hub, getting to know the digital space, and get the vibe that the more you give, the more you get out. We actively encourage new members to shape the BLKOUTHUB.
Many other sites seek to make enrollment ‘frictionless’. Yawn. We like a bit of friction, so we require a photo, and some thought to go into the way you introduce yourself to the other members. Your profile will be checked before you are given full access to the BLKOUTHUB. Set aside 20-30 minutes to fully register – it will be time well spent. We aim to make bonds that last, so the old ‘cut and paste’ from a defunct BGC profile, won’t cut it.
sign up by oct 15 for the next hub cohort
I dare us to dream that we are worth wanting each other. Black men loving Black men is the revolutionary act.
In The Life; A Black Gay Anthology (1986), Introduction Joseph Beam