delighted to announce the next step in BlackOut UK’s development – our community mobile app The BlackOut HUB is now available on Google Play and Apple App Stores
We have always aimed with BlackOut UK to build spaces for Black Queer Men to thrive. Safer spaces which allow us to loosen the restrictions imposed on us as we seek to operate in British society. Where we are required to warily navigate through 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 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. When 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 on the app store.
The networking apps end up tracking your every online move, constantly seeking greater profit 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 . . .)
The dating apps sink to the lowest common denominators pretty quickly …The networking apps end up tracking your every search … a battle keeping walls between different parts of your life online
So much for supportive digital spaces. As yet another report released today shows, even when seeking help (this time in the form of therapy, but it seems to be reflective of a broader pattern), we are less likely to receive it, and more likely to find it irrelevant.
It is great to see brilliant initiatives for young people in terms of supportive digital and IRL services. Innovators such as XenZone, Ieso and Big White Wall offer at least a digital ear and more extensive direct therapeutic services, but access is dependent on your location or your employer. Also, would they understand our particular experiences with minority stress? Despite evidence pointing to our needs and disproportionality in accessing services when in crisis rather than earlier, there is not yet a targeted service for us or by us.
It’s really inspiring to see the work over the past 50 years by organisations like OTR Bristol who describe themselves as a social movement for young people’s mental health. Perhaps we need to become a movement for us in a similar manner. But. . .
Remember. . . One step at a time
First. let’s just see what you guys want, and whether we can start to shape on The BlackOut HUB, the kind of digital community that we’ve always wanted but never been able to have, because, well . . . racism.
Download the app, have a look round and tell us what you think of it. There’ll be a feedback workshop during the next couple of brunches (29th March and 26th April) so come down and share your thoughts.
We’re looking for a few people to become community managers for the HUB too – so get in touch if you think that might be a fun thing to do, we can offer training on the tech side.
Oh – and say hello when you get online. Let’s start as we mean to go on.
For you – for each other – for real.