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Communities of African Descent
Communities of African Descent Media Resource Kit
poc media program > communities of african descent media resource kit


Fair, Accurate & Inclusive
General Rules
Story Possibilities
Glossary of Terms


The media is covering the lives, stories and issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people more frequently, and often in a more fair, accurate and balanced manner. Repeatedly, however, Black LGBT voices, perspectives and opinions are left out of the picture. From the National Black Justice Coalition to the National Black AIDS Coalition to the many elected officials across the country who are out and proud, Black LGBT people are making headlines by changing the very fabric of this nation.

With this resource kit, GLAAD encourages journalists to cover African American LGBT people's lives, families, accomplishments and issues. The Communities of African Descent (COAD) Media Kit provides suggested guidelines for coverage, terminology and contact information for Black LGBT organizations and individuals as tools for more inclusive, fair and balanced coverage of this community.


Stories about the Black LGBT community provide important insight into the political and social climate we face today. Interviews with and opinion pieces by LGBT people of color are good opportunities to increase the diversity of voices in the media.

Recognize that the Black LGBT community is diverse and that no one voice can or should represent an entire community. Black LGBT people encompass a broad spectrum of life experiences. We are a community that spans every region of this country, every economic class with diverse ethnic backgrounds and religious experiences.

Consider the daily lives of Black LGBT people. So often stories about Black males who engage in sexual activity with other men revolve around HIV/AIDS. While these are important stories to tell, also try to think about positive or upbeat stories that might be of interest to your readers, and which reflect the daily reality of the Black LGBT experience.

While it is okay to use lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender when writing in general terms about the Black LGBT community, do not assume that all people use these terms to describe themselves. Some have adopted the term "Same Gender Loving" (or SGL) or other identities that are more inclusive of both sexual orientation and race. Others may not identify with any terms at all. Include questions that ask about gender and sexual identity in interviews with the Black LGBT community.

Avoid stereotypes when covering AIDS, the Black community and the "Down Low." Coverage of the "Down Low" has been problematic as it has been primarily alarmist and blaming. It is important to examine the socio-cultural complexities of the DL community with respect and dignity.

Consult with Black LGBT leaders and organizations if you have questions about complex issues. When dealing with an issue that is unfamiliar, community leaders and experts can offer invaluable resources that can assist you in providing the best possible coverage.


There are a wide variety of stories that are inclusive of Black LGBT lives:

  • LGBT issues are present in the media from the issuance of marriage licenses to the Musgrave Federal Marriage Amendment. When covering these stories, represent diverse opinions by including Black LGBT voices and perspectives.

  • Profile the work of prominent figures in the Black LGBT community, locally and nationally, in politics and entertainment.

  • Cover your local Black Pride. Major cities across the country, including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., hold annual pride celebrations for the Black LGBT community. Visit for a full list of locations, dates and contact information.

  • Cover stories of inclusion in Black churches. The Unity Fellowship Church, for example, is a well-respected Black church with a congregation and ministerial staff that is LGBT. Many prominent Black pastors have come out in support of marriage equality.

  • Explore some of the socio-cultural factors that contribute to many Black LGBT people not identifying with standard terms dealing with gender identity or sexual orientation.


African American: A term used to describe a U.S. citizen of African descent. While this has become an acceptable term to use, it should be noted that some people prefer to use the term "Black" because they find it more inclusive. For example, those who are of West Indian heritage may identify as "Black," but not as "African American." It is best to ask the individual for their preference and not to assume.

Ball: Dating back to the 19th century and with evidence of balls in Harlem, N.Y. found in Black newspapers during the 1920s; balls are events to which people come as both spectators and participants to compete in a variety of competitive categories. The performance-heavy categories often combine athletics, dance and gender role-play. Balls were popularized in the early 1990s; Madonna's "Vogue" is an ode to the ball scene, community and culture. Balls continue to serve as meaningful events for the Black LGBT community nationwide.

Down Low: This term along with "homo thug" has garnered much attention in the media. Both terms describe masculine Black men who have sex with men. Men on the "DL" usually do not identify as gay or bisexual and are often in relationships with women. Media coverage of this community thus far has been prone to blame DL men for the rates of HIV and AIDS cases among Black women.

House: A House is a group of people who create a family structure with an appointed Mother and /or Father and a collective of other members called "the children." Often people join houses because of rejection from their families after coming out. The house is very connected to the ball scene; houses are responsible for throwing balls and many times only those that are in a house are able to compete in the categories.

MSM: A term often used by people in social and health services to describe any self-identified man who engages in sexual activity with other men. This term includes men who identify as gay, bisexual, or do not identify with those categories.

Same Gender Loving: The term "Same Gender Loving" (SGL) emerged in the early 1990s with the intention of offering Black women, who love women, and Black men, who love men, a voice, a way of identifying with the uniqueness of Black culture in life.

Womanist: A term introduced by author Alice Walker to describe women of color who are concerned with the oppression of other women. This term was introduced to embrace women of color who have felt left out of the "feminist" movement due to institutionalized racism.


This is a partial list of some of the organizations around the country that provide services to Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and SGL people.

Community Groups

543 W. 43rd St., Ste. 8045
New York, NY 10036
phone: 212.927.7136

African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change (AALUSC)
c/o The Center
1 Little West 12th St.
New York, NY 10014
phone: 212 620 7310
fax: 212 924 2657

AmASSI Center
160 South La Brea Avenue
Inglewood, CA 90301
phone: 310-419-1969
fax: 310-419-1960

CLOAVE (Collective Lesbians of African-Descent Voices Everywhere)
P.O. Box 1142
Washington, D.C. 20013
phone: 202-544-9298

Colours Organization
1201 Chestnut Street
15th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107
phone: 215.406.0330

For Those We Love
c/o PFLAG of Metropolitan Washington DC
P.O. Box 66363
Washington, D.C. 20035-6363
phone: 202.638.3852
fax: 202.463.9222

Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD)
103 East 125 Street
Suite 503
New York, NY 10035-1641
phone: 212.828.1697
fax: 212.828.9602

Southerners On New Ground (SONG)
PO Box 268
Durham, NC 27702
phone: 919.667.1362
fax: 919.683.6395

United Lesbians of African Heritage (ULOAH)
1626 N. Wilcox Ave., #190
Los Angeles, CA 90028
phone: 323-960-5051

ZAMI, Inc.
P.O. Box 2502
Decatur, GA 30031
phone: (404) 370-0920

HIV/AIDS Organizations

Black AIDS Institute (The Institute)
1833 W. 8th Street, Ste.#211
Los Angeles, CA 90057
phone: 213.353.3610
fax: 213.989.0181

Black Coalition on AIDS (BCA)
489 Clementina Street, Top Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
phone: 415.615.9945
fax: 415.615.9943

Minority AIDS Project (MAP)
5149 Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016
Phone: 323.936.4949

People of Color Against AIDS Network (POCAAN)
2200 Rainier Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98144
phone: 206.322.7061
fax: 206.322.7204

People of Color in Crisis
468 Bergen Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
phone: 718.230.0770
fax: 718.230.7582

National Advocacy Organizations

National Black Justice Coalition
Po Box 1229
New York, NY 10037
phone: 212.330.6599

National Body of the Black Men's XChange
P.O. BOX 8216
Inglewood, CA 90308
phone: 310.419.1969
fax: 310.419.1960

International Federation of Black Prides
Earl Fowlkes Jr., President
phone: 202.526.9774

Zuna Institute
4660 Natomas Blvd 120-181
Sacramento, CA 95835
phone: 916-419-5075
fax: 916-419-0738

Youth Groups

Sexual Minority Alliance of Alameda County (SMAAC)
1738 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA 94612
phone: 510.834.9578

Affirming Black Churches

Unity Fellowship Church - USA
Bishop Carl Bean, D.M., Founder and Presiding Prelate
phone: 323.938.8322

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