Emil Wilbekin is a famous gay man that we should all know about.
He is the former editor-in-chief of both Vibe and Giant, the former managing editor of ESSENCE, and the creator of a program to inspire Black gay men.
Wilbekin’s program, named Native Son, was founded in 2016 and is defined as being dedicated to building “inspiration and empowerment within the Black gay community.”
The program has traveled across the East in the year since its inception (in cities like Baltimore, New York City, and St. Louis) in order to give speeches and have a now annual awards ceremony to celebrate the achievements of Black gay men in media, entertainment, and social activism.
Then just yesterday, November 28, Native Son joined Google at its New York office to hold an event focusing on the intersection of Black gay men and technology.
The event hosted panels with notable tech professionals like Marcus Mabry, the director of mobile news programming at CNN Digital (and formerly The New York Times, Newsweek, and Twitter), Antonius Porch, the general counsel at Shazam, and James Felton Keith, founder of SlayTV and current running candidate for the house of representatives in Harlem.
“We’ve partnered with Google on a panel discussion about Black gay men in technology,” Emil Wilbekin told ESSENCE in an interview about the event and the program as a whole, “We have really amazing panelists who work in different areas of tech.
Wilbekin further explained that the point of the event is to help inform Black gay men of the possibilities in the technology field and how it can help raise our voice and multiple platforms.
Wilbekin also went further to explain why he created Native Son in the first place.
“I founded Native Son in 2016 because I felt like I was time for Black gay men to own their truth and their power in the world. There really was an activism part of me that felt like we needed inspiration and empowerment within the black gay community, so that we could also then have more visibility and control our narrative in the world. This is when Moonlight was coming out, and I Am Not Your Negro was nominated for an Oscar, so there was a lot happening. It just felt like it was our time in the world to be seen and heard.”
In a time where discussions are happening to bring more inclusivity into the LGBTQ community, like the one that happened in Philadelphia on the same day as this Google event, it’s good to know that there are men like Emil Wilbekin out there to support Black gay men in raising our voice.