50 Years After Stonewall: Black Gay Cultural Legacies in Times of Terror

Event date: 
Saturday, June 29, 2019 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Charis and the Counter Narrative Project welcome Jericho Brown, Darius Bost, and Calvin Warren for a multi-disciplinary discussion about Black Gay resilience, creativity, and love in response to anti-Black and anti-queer violence and terrorism on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall riots moderated by Charles Stephens, founder of The Counter Narrative Project.   

Jericho Brown is an award-winning poet (Please, New Testament, The Tradition) and the director of the creative writing department at Emory University. His newest book, The Tradition, questions why and how we’ve become accustomed to terror: in the bedroom, the classroom, the workplace, and the movie theater. From mass shootings to rape to the murder of unarmed people by police, Brown interrupts complacency by locating each emergency in the garden of the body, where living things grow and wither—or survive. In the urgency born of real danger, Brown’s work is at its most innovative. His invention of the duplex—a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues—is an all-out exhibition of formal skill, and his lyrics move through elegy and memory with a breathless cadence. Jericho Brown is a poet of eros: here he wields this power as never before, touching the very heart of our cultural crisis.

Darius Bost is an Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies in the School for Cultural and Social Transformation at The University of Utah. His book, Evidence of Being The Black Gay Cultural Renaissance and the Politics of Violence, is an interdisciplinary study of black gay cultural movements in Washington, D.C., and New York City during the early era of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S.  Bost’s account of the media, poetry, and performance of this time and place reveals a stunning confluence of activism and the arts. In Washington and New York during the 1980s and ’90s, gay black men banded together, using creative expression as a tool to challenge the widespread views that marked them as unworthy of grief. They created art that enriched and reimagined their lives in the face of pain and neglect, while at the same time forging a path toward bold new modes of existence. At once a corrective to the predominantly white male accounts of the AIDS crisis and an openhearted depiction of the possibilities of black gay life, Evidence of Being above all insists on the primacy of community over loneliness, and hope over despair.

Calvin Warren is an Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University. He is the author of Ontological Terror: Blackness, Nihilism, and Emancipation and a contributor to the collection The Psychic Hold of Slavery: Legacies in American Expressive Culture. In Ontological Terror, Warren intervenes in Afro-pessimism, Heideggerian metaphysics, and black humanist philosophy by positing that the "Negro question" is intimately imbricated with questions of Being. Warren uses the figure of the antebellum free black as a philosophical paradigm for thinking through the tensions between blackness and Being. He illustrates how blacks embody a metaphysical nothing. This nothingness serves as a destabilizing presence and force as well as that which whiteness defines itself against. Thus, the function of blackness as giving form to nothing presents a terrifying problem for whites: they need blacks to affirm their existence, even as they despise the nothingness they represent. By pointing out how all humanism is based on investing blackness with nonbeing--a logic which reproduces antiblack violence and precludes any realization of equality, justice, and recognition for blacks--Warren urges the removal of the human from its metaphysical pedestal and the exploration of ways of existing that are not predicated on a grounding in being.

Charles Stephens is the Executive Director of the Counter Narrative Project. He has over 10 years of experience developing innovative community engagement initiatives, piloting programs, and mobilizing black gay men. He has worked with such organizations as  AIDS United, AID Atlanta,  and Kaiser Family Foundation as a consultant, providing strategic guidance and thought-partnership around program development and policy advocacy with black gay and bisexual men. Past honors include: Georgia State University College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award, Gentlemen Foundation Gentleman of the Year Service Award, Arcus Leadership Fellowship,  and the Rockwood Leadership Institute Fellow for Racial and Gender Justice Leaders in the HIV/AIDS Movement. His writings have appears in The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Creative Loafing, Atlanta Magazine, and he is a columnist at The Advocate.  

This event takes place at Charis Books and More. It is free and open to the public but the suggested donation is $10. All three authors' books will be for sale. We are happy to arrange ASL interpretation for this event free of charge. Please let us know via email at info@chariscircle.org as soon as possible if you would like ASL interpretation or if you have any other accessibility concerns and we will be happy to help.  

Event address: 
Charis Books and More
184 S Candler St.
Decatur, GA 30030
The Tradition Cover Image
$15.30
ISBN: 9781556594861
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Copper Canyon Press - April 2nd, 2019

"By some literary magic--no, it's precision, and honesty--Brown manages to bestow upon even the most public of subjects the most intimate and personal stakes."--Craig Morgan Teicher, "I Reject Walls: NPR 2019 Poetry Preview" "A relentless dismantling of identity, a difficult jewel of a poem."--Rita Dove, in her introduction to Jericho Brown's "Dark" (featured in the New York Times Magazine


The New Testament Cover Image
$15.30
ISBN: 9781556594571
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Copper Canyon Press - September 16th, 2014

Honored as a "Best Book of 2014" by Library Journal

Honored as a "Standout Book of 2014" by American Poet magazine

Winnner of the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry

Paterson Award for Literary Excellence, 2015


Ontological Terror: Blackness, Nihilism, and Emancipation Cover Image
$28.55
ISBN: 9780822370871
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Duke University Press - May 18th, 2018

In Ontological Terror Calvin L. Warren intervenes in Afro-pessimism, Heideggerian metaphysics, and black humanist philosophy by positing that the "Negro question" is intimately imbricated with questions of Being. Warren uses the figure of the antebellum free black as a philosophical paradigm for thinking through the tensions between blackness and Being.


Evidence of Being: The Black Gay Cultural Renaissance and the Politics of Violence Cover Image
$30.25
ISBN: 9780226589824
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: University of Chicago Press - December 21st, 2018

Evidence of Being opens on a grim scene: Washington DC’s gay black community in the 1980s, ravaged by AIDS, the crack epidemic, and a series of unsolved murders, seemingly abandoned by the government and mainstream culture. Yet in this darkest of moments, a new vision of community and hope managed to emerge.