Gregory Darnell Victorianne

Victorianne, Gregory 2017

Gregory Darnell (Gd) Victorianne was born on December 4, 1959. He is a longtime sexual health community activist, organizer, and researcher, as well as an accomplished educator, and prevention and policy advocate. Victorianne is also a highly respected self–publisher, music critic of “tribes, scribes and vibes” on the Africa Diaspora, and a connoisseur of the “beautiful” game of soccer (football).

Victorianne was born in Chicago, Illinois to Florence and Bernard Victorianne, Sr, the youngest of three male siblings. His family relocated to Los Angeles, California, where he attended John Burroughs Junior High School, and was a member of both the school newspaper and yearbook committee. Victorianne was a member of the Boy Scouts, and also self-published a roller derby/games fanzine covering the popular banked track action sport. He also became a philatelist, starting a stamp collection in the early 1970s that now includes more than 5,000 rare stamps.

Victorianne enrolled in Fairfax High School, where his passion for writing continued as the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper as a senior. It was during that time he became aware of social injustice around the world, particularly apartheid in South Africa, which he learned about by reading the controversial banned book “House of Bondage” by Ernest Cole, a harrowing pictorial of the plight of Black Africans in South Africa, along with “Magubane’s South Africa” by photojournalist Peter Magubane. These works, along with the reading essays by Steve Biko, changed Victorianne’s life and encouraged him to become more aware of oppression against minority people.

After continuous censorship of his writings and battles with school administrators, Victorianne and other students formed the school’s first campus underground newspaper, “WE SPEAK,” which received recognition from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Black Student Union and “Nommo” newsmagazine for its thought-provoking, conscious-raising commentaries. He fostered a new passion for politics by volunteering for Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, the city’s first African American chief executive. After graduation from school, Victorianne came out to his family, who were supportive of his identity as a same-gender loving man.

Victorianne attended California State University, Northridge, where he explored the meaning of his sexuality in a public way. Through a variety of campus activities and organizations, Victorianne learned about the cultural and political significance of race, class, gender, and sexuality, and its impact on his own identity as a Black, gay man. He was active with the Black Student Union, Black Business Association, and was a staff writer for the “Black World” newspaper. Victorianne became involved with the 1984 Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition presidential campaign, and went on to graduate with a double major in Pan-African studies and social psychology, with a minor in radio, television and film.

After graduation, Victorianne joined the law firm of Peterson, Ross Schloerb & Seidel, where he served as a law clerk for ten years. During this time, he remained active as a volunteer for local politicians. He was part of a collective of midnite ramblers who had a weekly radio show, “All Us We” on KPFK-FM Public Radio, covering offbeat happenings, and providing social commentaries on topics affecting the lives of minorities.

Seeing many of his friends infected and dying of AIDS at the beginning of the epidemic, Victorianne volunteered with the Minority AIDS Project as a street/club outreach worker, and received its Volunteer of the Year Award in 1992. He continued to develop his organizational and leadership skills, and volunteered with the National Black Lesbian & Gay Leadership Forum, serving for ten years as the point person for its annual conference. Victorianne was the conference chair for the 13th annual conference in Chicago, Illinois, during one of the city’s most brutal snowstorms in decades.

In 1995, Victorianne relocated to Boston, Massachusetts, to join the staff of Men of Color against AIDS (MOCAA) as its coordinator of public policy/community outreach in HIV prevention. He later joined Pathway Health & Wellness Center, a grassroots agency with a focus on acupuncture and holistic health care for persons living with HIV/AIDS, serving as its client services/volunteer coordinator. Victorianne was a consultant for Northeastern University’s Student Life Department and AIDS Action Committee for their World AIDS Day events and Black gay men’s retreats.

Victorianne was a member of the Bayard Rustin Breakfast Committee in Boston from 1995 to 1998. He served on the Community Advisory Board at Fenway Health Center Research Department, and volunteered for the campaigns of the Honorable Kenneth E. Reeves, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the city’s first openly gay, African American mayor. Victorianne also received the Wayne S. Wright Advocacy Award presented by the Multicultural AIDS Coalition, Inc., for providing a positive impact for minorities in the New England region.

In 1998, Victorianne packed up his bags and moved back to Chicago to spend more time with his family, and enjoy the richness of his hometown. While in Chicago, he worked at Howard Brown Health Center in the Research Department as the co-study coordinator for the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 015 EXPLORE Study. Victorianne shared his skills with the Chicago Black Lesbian & Gays Annual Conference, and was a member of ADODI Chicago. He also volunteered for then-Senator Barack Obama on his presidential campaign, assisting in reaching out to the Black LGBTQ community in Chicago.

After ten years of cold winters, Victorianne returned to Los Angeles and worked at the UCLA Center for Behavior & Addiction Medicine (CBAM) as its community engagement/recruitment and retention coordinator. Victorianne was part of the HPTN 061 BROTHERS (Broadening the Reach of Testing, Health Education & Resources) and HPTN 073 Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Initiation and Adherence among Black Men who have Sex with Men (BMSM) studies in three United States cities. A man of many talents, he was also responsible for countless other administrative duties.

Victorianne has contributed to several scientific articles, including the groundbreaking “The Language of Black Gay Men’s Sexual Behavior Implications for AIDS Risk Reduction” (“The Journal of Sex Research,” Vol. 29, Issue 3), “Homonegativity, Substance Use, Sexual Risk Behaviors, and HIV Status in Poor and Ethnic Men Who Have Sex with Men in Los Angeles” (“Journal of Urban Health,” Vol. 86, Issue 1), and a book chapter on “Public Health Issues: Surrounding Methamphetamine Dependence” in “Methamphetamine Addiction from Basic Science To Treatment” (Guilford Press).

Recognizing a need for some “nasty sex, deep reads, and in your face artwork” that was lacking in most Black LGBTQ publications in 1992, Victorianne was the creator and publisher of the hard-to-acquire but widely acclaimed and beloved “Buti Voxx,” a notorious guerilla ’zine that also featured sizzling entertainment reviews, and community commentaries that “pissed off some, lectured others, and praised many.”

Self-published for a decade, “Buti Voxx” was distributed at Black LGBTQ Pride celebrations, conferences, and retreats. It received several accolades and set the stage for some of the more sophisticated erotica published today.  In addition, Victorianne contributed music commentaries of the African Diaspora to several other Black LGBTQ magazines, including “Alternatives,” “ARISE,” “JFY,” “SBC,” and the specialty “Dysonna” and “Straight No Chaser” magazines.

Victorianne continued his community involvement with the Black Gay Research Group as membership chair from 2008 to 2012, and served as the summit chair for the 2010 conclave, where he received the Executive Award for his leadership. He has been a member of the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition, Los Angeles PrEP Working Group, Black Los Angeles HIV AIDS Coalition (BLAAC), and currently sits on the Los Angeles Black MSM/W PrEP Workgroup.

Victorianne has been a self-proclaimed sports junkie and avid soccer (football) fan since 1975, when he watched Brazilian legend Pelé at the Los Angeles Coliseum, creating magic with his skills. He has been present at more than a hundred matches worldwide, including five World Cups (Spain, USA, France, South Africa, and Brazil), and he proudly displays over 150 soccer scarves, beanies, and jerseys.

Victorianne is passionate about his work, and finds encouragement from his many friends and chosen family members around the world. He took an 18-month break from work to focus on some projects that have been lingering for many years, including 20 years of Black LGBTQ archives (books, broadsides, flyers, journals, magazines, programs, and correspondences) provided to the “In the Life Archive” at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library in Harlem. He is also working on a 1980s/90s British acid jazz/soul pop-up photo exhibit.

Today, Victorianne works at Charles R. Drew University School of Medicine & Science/OASIS Clinic, the first HIV/AIDS clinic in South Los Angeles, as its PrEP Community Awareness/Navigator, providing community awareness of sexual health prevention strategies in the Watts/Compton/Willowbrook area. He resides in the Hancock Park district of Los Angeles.

We thank Gregory Darnell Victorianne for his numerous contributions, and for his support of our community.

JL King

King, JL 2017

JL King was born on December 4, 1952. He is a best-selling author, publisher, an HIV/STD prevention activist, and as he told Oprah Winfrey’s millions of viewers, “a proud Black gay man and father.”

Known simply as “Jimmy” when he was a child, James Louis King was born in Springfield, Ohio, the son of Louis V. King and Lillie M. King. His father worked for the government for fifty years before he retired, and his mother was a homemaker who previously worked as a maid, served in the retail industry, and as a banquet server at a hotel. King’s father was originally from Browns, Alabama, and his mother hailed from Cartersville, Georgia. King has one younger brother, Ronald L. King.

JL King attended Springfield South High School in Springfield, Ohio, and after graduation, went into the United States Air Force and pursued his degree. While in military service, he was stationed in Turkey, and it was there that he married and had his first child, Ebony. King said that he loved living overseas, and as a 19-year-old father with an 18-year-old wife, he grew up fast and accepted the responsibilities of being a young parent.

After he was honorably discharged, King returned to Springfield—now as a father of two children—and started his life stateside, working in various jobs to make sure he could take care of his family. King seemed to have a balanced, happy life; he enjoyed spending time with his wife’s large family and cherished his own, and they were active in church and lived a comfortable, middle class life.

King was content to live his life on the “down low” but that abruptly ended when he was confronted by his wife in an intimate situation with another man. He spoke about that in his first book, and how that experience led to his long journey of coming out. The discovery led to a divorce, and King moved to Columbus, Ohio, where he started working in corporate America. It was also there that he experienced his first gay relationship, which lasted more than five years.

During this period of his life, King held varies jobs, including at the Urban League, and working as an independent pre-release instructor at four state prisons. King was awarded bid contracts over nine other established social service agencies, and soon started his first company, The King Group, which specialized in providing pre-release employment training for the criminal justice industry.

In 2000, King started writing “On the Down Low: A Journey Into the Lives of Straight Black Men Who Sleep with Men,” which was released four years later and became a New York Times bestselling book for more than 30 consecutive weeks. The book became an instant success that led him to four appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and he received recognition as an “Ebony Magazine” “50 Most Intriguing Blacks,” the cover of “Jet” magazine, and interviews with every major media outlet.

From 2004 to 2009, King served on several boards and contributed to the community by raising money for homeless LGBTQ youth, hosting fundraisers at his Atlanta home, giving money to aid efforts to reach men who have sex with men, and using his brand and platform to raise awareness. He founded the National Black Gay Fathers organization to empower members to be involved in their children’s lives and not give up.

In 2006, King produced “The DL Exposed,” an award-winning documentary that was broadcast on Black Entertainment Television (BET) and became the most-watched program on the network that year.

JL King has been named one of the power brokers in Atlanta, and honored as a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Literary Work.

King is currently the owner of JL King Publishing, publishing books for self-published authors, with a focus on minority writers. He is the author of sixteen books, and his memoir, “Full Circle,” is available at: www.authorjlking.com. In addition to “On the Down Low,” King has authored “Coming Up from the Down Low: The Journey to Acceptance, Healing, and Honest Love,” “Love On a Two Way Street,” “CP Time: Why Some People Are Always Late,” “On the Down Low 2,” and the stage play, “Raw.”

“I think that the Black LGBT community needs to identify a national leader to represent us in [Washington] DC, and established programs to develop future leaders and to establish the power that the Black LGBT community has,” said King. “The Black LGBT community could have the same clout that the white LGBT community has in all walks of life. That is what I want my legacy to be. I made a difference as a Black gay man.”

King is a father and grandfather, and resides in both the New York City borough of Brooklyn and in Atlanta, Georgia. When he is not writing or traveling, he enjoys art, music, and motivating others to follow their dreams and live a “faith over fear” life.

We thank JL King for the power of his words, and for his many contributions to our community.

Adejoke Tugbiyele

tugbiyele-adejoke-2017-by-ade-odetola.jpg

Adejoke Tugbiyele was born on December 4, 1977. She is an award-winning, queer, Black artist and advocate. She was a featured participant in CultureSummit 2017-Abu Dhabi, is a recipient of the 2016 Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant, one of 100 Leading Global Thinkers in 2015, and a U.S. Fulbright Student Alumni. While a graduate student at Maryland Institute College of Art, Tugbiyele was awarded the Amalie Rothschild ’34 Rinehart Award in 2012 and the William M. Phillips ’54 Scholarship for Best Figurative Sculpture in 2013.

Tugbiyele’s works are charged with symbolic meanings that bridge and layer historical, cultural and political ideas around race, gender and sexuality with that of class, economy, sex-politics and religion. They examine the role of religion in defining the way we view our bodies, as well as the subversive role spirituality can play in reclamation towards healthy forms of self-love and acceptance. Tugbiyele works with a diverse range of materials including wire, natural fibres, fabric and wood to create intricate sculptures, which are on occasion integrated into moving performances. She engages ideas about matriarchal forms, systems and strategies in response to patriarchal frameworks; blurring the lines between the dual nature of masculinity and femininity. The concept of duality resonates strongly in her weaving of natural and industrial materials as it dances around natural and artificial light.

Tugbiyele’s work can be found in the corporate and public collections of Credit Suisse Bank, The Brooklyn Museum, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, The Newark Museum, Sugar Hill Capital Partners and in significant private collections in Australia, China, Germany, Nigeria, South Africa, The United Kingdom and the United States. Her work has been mentioned and reviewed in leading publications around the world and she has sat as a distinguished panelist within reputable institutions in the United States and beyond. In 2002, she received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and in 2013, graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Maryland Institute College of Art.

We thank Adejoke Tugbiyele for her significant contributions to art, her human rights and LGBTQ activism, and for her support of our community.