CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH
When JW Richard started Mandrake Society Radio in 2005, he wanted to document his community’s experience.
"What was life like at the intersection of gay and black?" Richard said.
He learned about podcasting and began recording interviews. His first was with Dallas writer and evangelist Tuan N’Gai, author of "Will I Go To Heaven."
"This is a neat way to archive my interviews and experience in the community. I wanted young gay activists to know that work had been done. We’re standing on the shoulders of people who’ve been there," he said.
With more than 200 interviews recorded, Richard said he keeps going back to the theme of spirituality in the African-American community.
The podcasts can be found at MandrakeSocietyRadio.com.
"Most drop on Monday or Tuesday," Richard said. He does some editing and he added, "The schedule isn’t as important as the content."
Last year, Richard teamed with Harold Steward, performing arts coordinator for the South Dallas Cultural Center, who is also gay.
"He approached me with ideas that would become Fahari Arts," Richard said. "I believe it’s that piece that adds to black gay life in Dallas."
"Fahari" in Swahili means "pride."
Richard describes Fahari Arts as a multi-disciplinary arts organization that celebrates black/gay contributions in art, film, dance and theater.
In September, Fahari Arts began presenting Queerly Speaking and a queer film series.
Queerly Speaking is a monthly open mike event for black gay poets held at the Backbeat CafÃ© & Listening Room on the ground floor of the Mosaic building in Downtown Dallas.
The series is not slam poetry, Richard said. He said the evenings have included readings of scenes from plays and poetry selected from a wide variety of work both new and old works.
The film series is held at the South Dallas Cultural Center. In January, they presented "Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin," about the gay civil rights leader who was organized the 1963 March on Washington.
The February program included five short films from gay black artists who had AIDS, including Fort Worth filmmaker Marlon Riggs. His piece, "No Regret," was released in 1992, two years before his death.
Richard works for Dallas Theater Center and lives with his partner of 12 years who is transgender.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 26, 2010.