Well it’s official!

I am pleased to announce that on Wednesday, January 23, 2008 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the historical Black community of Leimert Park, Los Angeles, the Black LGBT community will come together for a Presidential election forum entitled, “It’s A Black Thang!  The Black LGBT Vote 2008.”

Invites have gone out to all of the leading Democratic and Republican candidates to participate.  The California primary election is on Super Tuesday (February 5), so what better time to hold a discussion of our own and with our own.

Confirmed participants include: Abner Mason, Executive Director of AIDS Responsibility Project and former president of the Log Cabin Republicans, Alan-Michael Graves, Board Member, National Black Justice Coalition, Christina Fontenot, Graduate Student, Dillard University, New Orleans, LA, Doug Spearman, Actor (Noah’s Arc), Ivan Daniel, C.E.O., Ivan Daniel Productions, Jazzmun, Actor (Punks, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Heroes), Jeffrey King, Founder, In the Meantime Men’s Group, Jewel Thais-Williams, C.E.O., Catch One Night Club and Village Health Foundation, Emmy Award winning director Paris BarclayPatrik-Ian Polk, Filmmaker (Punks, Noah’s Arc), Rosalind Renfro, Partner, Soulful Touch Entertainment, and Treazure Lee, C.E.O.,

Along with myself, Season 3 star of BET’s College Hill reality series Ray Cunningham will moderate the discussion.

The two-hour event will be held in Los Angeles before an audience in the historic African-American community of Leimert Park at the Lucy Florence Coffee House and Cultural Center located at 3351 West 43rd Place in Los Angeles.

This Forum will mark the first of its kind that features the voices and opinions of African-American LGBT persons, a community whose voice often goes unheard in both the mainstream gay community and African-American community.  At the conclusion of the Forum audience members will participate in a mock vote to determine if the primary election were today, which Presidential candidate would have the Black LGBT vote.

You already know my thoughts on this, but let me remind you.

African-American same-gender loving people are coping with the same issues as the overall Black community including poverty, access to education, health care, employment, and affordable housing, as well as Black female and male incarceration at disproportionately high rates compared to other races.  While the thought may be that gays are only concerned about gay marriage, when you’re Black and gay marriage may not be the defining issue for you in comparison to putting food on the table and having a roof over your head.  Hopefully this Forum will shed light on the issues that Black gays see as being most important while letting our Presidential candidates know that our voices and votes count too and that all gays aren’t white and all Blacks aren’t homophobic or heterosexual and our vote is not to be taken for granted or our voices ignored.

And no worries, for those of you not in Los Angeles, The Advocate has signed on as a media sponsor and will have pre and post coverage including live coverage via their blog.

Very cool.

I’ll keep you updated as to whether or not any of the candidates accept the invitation and I’ll also tell you which ones declined.

More on the Forum next week, but for now save the date!