The Gatekeeper's Collective (TGC)


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SUMMARY: The Gatekeeper's Collective (TGC) 1st Anniversary

The Gatekeeper’s Collective (TGC) celebrated it’s first anniversary in a rousing tribute during which participants acknowledged shifts which have transpired over the year, including Gatekeepers who have transitioned, challenges navigated, new self-efficacies developed, and expressed gratitude.

In checking in and saluting the work of TGC, one Brother who works in a facility with formerly incarcerated men who are intensely anti-homosexually disposed, remarked, “Our job is to help these individuals arrive at themselves…and, we’re doing it…”

“TGC has demonstrated one thing that has been lacking in the LGBT community is collaboration…”

“We’re fighting, not just for survival, but for elevation…”

“I was a little depressed over the election, but I Keep on [pressing forward}…”

“Next weekend, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent will be teaching a course at Union Theological Seminary on familiarizing one’s self with the SGL/LGBT community towards becoming a more effective and informed advocate…”

“TGC forges on…continuing to pursue, enrich and enhance the lives of SGL people…There will always be doubters, haters, naysayers, but it is imperative to forge on…”

“I’m writing a play about homophobia in the Black church and I want to include the Gatekeepers…and I had started writing about them two years ago, but then reading the posts from John-Martin, I realized I was missing something…I decided I have to go and find out who they are…Who are the gatekeepers?...”

Facilitator reminds the group that, {“The construct of gatekeepers was introduced to us here in the West by Malidoma Somé, and his then wife, Sonbonfu Somé who are from the Dagara people of Burkina Faso, West Africa, among whom there is a group who live on the margins of the society, and whose charge is, when there is conflict, strife, crisis in the community, taking cues from nature and the ancestors, to restore balance and harmony to the community…Seven years ago this time, we invited Dr. Somé to join us at BMXNY for a weekend-long symposium during which he shared with us that, while not all gatekeepers are same gender loving, all same gender loving people have gate-keeping potential as a function of what Indigenous Americans call our two-spirit energetic balance…As we are grounded in that energetic balance we are extraordinarily powerful…You all are powerful beyond measure…And most of us have no inkling of it…that’s what TGC exists for, to provide space for us to unlearn the myths of our inferiority and learn to tap into that energetic balance by which to heal ourselves and our community and such other communities as we deem appropriate...”

“It’s a tragedy that we have this gift and we don’t have the balance…the support…If I was created as perfect [why am I not allowed to be as I am]…[Then,] what was I created for?...That day that I can commit to being who I am…I am being me…”

Facilitator says, {“You are right…The other part of what Malidoma shared is that, because of anti-homosexual attitudes here, we are not permitted to be who we are…and it is as if we are being fired from our job…and then, people are railing at us for not doing our job…} Sharing The Gatekeeper’s Collective rationale, he reads, {“The emasculation of black men has bred insecurity around the construct of manhood within the African American community.  This dynamic, coupled with patriarchal heterosexism incite anti-homosexual attitudes among African Americans so that many same gender loving (SGL), gay, bisexual and other black men who have love men experience social disorientation which short-circuits our developing fully-integrated personalities, and becoming self-actualizing.

Without integrated cultural identities in which we experience our sexuality, racial-ethnic and religio-moral selves cohesively, we are oftentimes bereft of the sense of entitlement that triggers indignation and impels us to redress disrespect of our human dignity.

The Gatekeeper’s Collective (TGC) operates as a self-reclamation, Historical Trauma relief and community development center  – a place wherein we unlearn internalized (racial and sexual) oppression, commit to valuing and integrating our multiple identities (including celebrating our sexualities), and building our communities.  It is a place where we learn to “Synthesize the language of indigenous tradition into a model the modern cognitive system can chew on.” – Malidoma Somê

TGC creates safe space in which SGL, gay, and bi Brothers are supported in doing the self-examination and illumination necessary to assimilate and tap that part of ourselves which uniquely enables us to guard and mediate constructive and destructive forces on behalf of the black community.  The self-awareness and fortitude we derive in this process disposes us toward spiritual militancy on behalf of our community, simultaneously redefining black manhood and learning how to collaborate with each other in this important work…”}

And then, reading an organization description he proposes is more of a {“mass consumption advertisement…The Gatekeeper’s Collective is a same gender loving Black men's revitalization center which employs education, advocacy and ritual to build resilience and leadership among this population.  As described by West African Shaman and scholar, Malidoma Somé, Gatekeepers are guardians who restore balance and harmony when there is crisis in the community.

Observing an Afri-centric paradigm, we recognize Gate-keeping as the birthright of SGL people.  According to Dr. Somé, while not all Gatekeepers are same gender loving, because of our unique ‘two-spirit’ energetic balance, all same gender loving people are Gatekeepers.

At The Gatekeeper’s Collective we create an Affirmation Station where SGL, gay and bisexual black men adopt strategies for self-actualization and community-building.

TGC’s mission is to build strength and fluidity, and explore approaches and activities for the advancement of SGL men in the larger Black community and the world…”

“Not realizing that we have a purpose that is greater than ourselves…that is [unfortunate]…That purpose may change…We may discover that we have more than one purpose…But, to not know that you have a purpose…”

“The first piece you read is powerful…There are words in it that may go over the heads of some of the people we are trying to reach…Because it is so powerful, it will hit you like a Mack truck…but, you may not know what hit you…or what to do with it because you don’t know what hit you…”

“There is a crystal value in speaking from your truth…It came from the source as it did for a reason…If it is a violin, don’t play it as a [tuba]…”

“As long as some of us, if most of us, are held down…we still have a chain around our leg…”

“That is why the uplifting of John-Martin is important… he has started an organization for the uplifting of others…He hasn’t made it if others haven’t made it…”

“What you’re talking about [with the ideas being understandable] has been done…In the two different versions…the second version…”

“Everything I’ve heard tonight is, ‘You are powerful… You don’t see it, but you are powerful…”

“When I came here, I didn’t read or speak very well…I didn’t even have a GED… I didn’t understand everything I was hearing…I just sat here and listened…and I wrote down what I was hearing…Today, I’m in college…I have a goal…A purpose…A purpose I know I will carry with me through my entire life…”

“The way to uplift others is to remain true to who you really are…That he had the courage to keep coming…not even understanding what he was hearing…and had the courage to keep coming consistently…and the honesty to admit that he didn’t get it…but, now he get’s it…is living it and intends to live it for the rest of his life…That is uplifiting…”

“Even if he couldn’t grasp the material, the sense of community made it safe for him to keep coming…”

Co-facilitator says, “Shifting gears…We want to do some brief brainstorming…What would you like to see TGC do?...”

“[I’d like to see individual members communicate with each other…”

“With permission, I’d like to get some information out via the TGC website and fliers…and/or a presentation about [our issues]…”

“A Facebook page…”

“My dream would be for TGC to meet more [frequently]…To grow to be strong enough to take this to a networking level…That I have become strong enough to pursue my own path shouldn’t just be for me…With cameras in this room…a webinar and other formats…[This] comes with a tremendous amount of generosity…Books are being written in this room…plays are being written in this room…The same way it heals us, it can heal others…The same way it has helped me, it can help others in Dallas or on the other side of the world…We are ready to share what we are in this lifetime with the world…to take this out to the world…[to create] a global platform…”

“We can use Skype…”

“To have more guest facilitators…To take this to other venues…To have a weekend retreat…”

“Having TGC-style conversations in the homes of homebound Brothers…”

“Having an outreach person to connect with Brothers who may not be present…”

“More parties…Fundraisers…”

“More meeting educating ourselves on our history as SGL Black people…And more conversations about health…”

“More collaborations like the one with the National Action Network…”

“These are great ideas…The fact is though, you need people who are actually going to do the work…The more ideas [the merrier, but] the actual implementation of those ideas require bodies to do the work…”

Co-facilitator says, “Moving forward, we are incorporating as a non-profit so as to institutionalize the work we’re doing together…And, we need your support in this effort…”


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The Gatekeeper

The Gatekeeper

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