Gee Smalls was born on March 24, 1977. He is a father, husband, philanthropist, writer, blogger, love coach, brand ambassador, entrepreneur, event producer, LGBTQ activist, and community leader.
Gee Smalls was born as Gregory V. Smalls, in Baltimore, Maryland. His Black father, the late Virgil F. Smalls, was retired from the Navy; his white mother, Rita F. Smalls, is a caregiver for kids and seniors. He has one older sister, Tawnya C. Smalls. The family relocated to Charleston, South Carolina shortly after Smalls’ birth. His upbringing in Charleston gave Smalls very strong Geechie/Gullah roots, and you can still hear a strong accent come through—often mistaken for Bahamian, Jamaican, or even Creole.
Smalls attended James Island High School, and graduated in 1995. Following high school, he enrolled at DeVry University, where he obtained his Bachelor of Computer Science degree, and went on to attend Keller Graduate School of Management and earn his master’s degree in project management.
Growing up as a biracial gay young boy was not always easy for Smalls. His family moved to Charleston, South Carolina shortly after his birth, and Charleston had little diversity. Although he did not identify as gay growing up, Smalls knew that his differences went beyond his biracial makeup and soft, curly hair. Often bullied and tormented because of his atypical exotic appearance and behavior, Smalls quickly learned to blend in, and suppress who he was and what he felt.
At age 22, shortly after graduating college, Smalls married his high school sweetheart, and a year later, Gee Jr. was born. Something happened to Smalls after the birth of his son. It had a profound impact on him, and he was challenged in ways unimaginable, including his acceptance of his same-gender attraction that he’d been battling all of his life. A year later, he realized that being married to his son’s mother was not only unfair to her, but unfair to him and his son. It was time for Smalls to face who he really was, and a divorce was a new beginning for him.
It wasn’t until age 27 that Smalls became comfortable enough with himself to come out of the closet as a gay man to his family and friends. For the most part, all were receptive, although by this point Smalls was over living his life for the world, and did not really care how anyone would respond to his newfound peace. Four years later, Small’s life would be changed forever. Dining with a friend at local Atlanta restaurant, he met Juan Session. The following day, they had an eight-hour date, and the rest is history. In 2009, the pair got married in Connecticut—the first of many partnerships they would form as a couple.
About two years after tying the knot, Smalls and Session decided to purchase their first house together. Their journey to find the perfect home was captured by HGTV’s “House Hunters,” and made them the first Black gay couple to be featured on the popular home improvement network. This, along with the fact that they were one of the very few Black gay married couples, positioned them as being a role model for other relationships in the gay community.
It was not uncommon for gay (and even straight couples alike) to approach Smalls and his husband for relationship advice and guidance. Relationships had always been a strong passion for Smalls, and he had always been supportive and open to giving advice and encouragement to struggling relationships. This led to creation of LoveWorks, a blog dedicated to promoting love of self, others, and the community, as well as providing relationship and dating advice through articles and videos. The blog quickly became a popular daily stop for the Black LGBTQ community, and lent its support to other media publications, such as “Urban Socialites” and “SWERV” magazine.
After thirteen years of working in the world of information technology and project management, Smalls decided to finally pursue his true passion of event production. Alongside his husband, they created a full-fledged event production and marketing company. Shortly after starting the business, Smalls had the idea of having a “second chance prom” for the LGBTQ community. Thinking about how most LGBTQ individuals did not attend their prom with the date of their choice, Smalls thought it would be a great event for the community.
After dubbing the event as The Gentlemen’s Ball, the focus rapidly changed from having a second chance prom to a movement that celebrates The True Gentleman, while raising funds and awareness for local non-profits that serve the LGBTQ community. They have defined the True Gentleman as a man that is generous in his giving, confident in himself, and proud to stand tall in his truth. In a nutshell, the ball celebrates the Black gay male who takes pride in who he is, and is here to help change the mainstream society’s perception of the Black gay community.
Small’s passion for LGBTQ communities color has influenced him and his husband to create The Gentlemen’s Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the quality of life, leadership ability, and mental and physical health of LGBTQ individuals, particularly those in the Black and other minority communities. It offers support, in the form of grants and increased public awareness, to other charitable and non-profit organizations that share the same mission or have similar goals, interests, and objectives. The Gentlemen’s Foundation also developed mPact2, a mentoring program from LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 24. The Gentlemen’s Ball Honors is the annual event for the foundation.
Smalls has been honored by The G-Listed, National Youth Pride Services, The Good Life Awards and The Vision Community Foundation for his efforts and work in the LGBTQ community. Although the recognition from outside organizations is always confirming and amazing to receive, Smalls says his biggest accomplishment is the love and feedback that he receives from those he has helped inside the community—and even those outside the community who attribute their newfound enlightenment to the work he does.
Smalls spent most of his life trying to figure out his role in life. Early on in his career, he allowed money to drive him to his destiny, but not long after coming out of the closet, he discovered that he was here to do much more than programming computers and managing information technology projects. It wasn’t until his early 30s that Smalls realized that his life story and determination to stop others from making the same mistakes he did was his destiny. Smalls says that to know that he can help a young Black gay boy feel secure so he doesn’t have to battle depression or suicidal thoughts makes every bit of work he does worth it. The ability to help give hope to a single gay man or a struggling couple fuels his passion for the community even more.
Smalls lives in Atlanta with husband Juan, and they are raising Gee’s teenaged son. Smalls enjoys cooking at home, dining out, working out, spinning, travel, playing basketball with his son, entertaining family and friends, and spending time poolside or at the beach.
You can keep up with Juan and Gee at www.juanandgee.info/home.
We thank Gee Smalls for his tireless advocacy, and for his support of our community.