Darnell Moore Makes the Black Gay and Queer Male Experience Vibrant and Visible With Being Seen

Illustration for article titled Darnell Moore Makes the Black Gay and Queer Male Experience Vibrant and Visible With iBeing Seen/i
Photo: Erik Carter for Being Seen

Simply put, Darnell Moore was born to do the work.

As an award-winning writer, vigilant activist and acclaimed thought leader, his illustrious career is defined not only by his passion for our people but his insistence that our humanity is honored and protected at all costs.

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To that end, his latest venture, Being Seen, is a natural extension of that motif. Produced by Harley & Co, and created in partnership with ViiV Healthcare, Being Seen seeks to capitalize on the flourishing podcast medium by exploring the impact of cultural representation with prominent entertainers, community leaders and creatives. And in staying true to its namesake, its first season will focus on the gay and queer Black male experience, with the help of guests such as writer and director Lee Daniels, author Kiese Laymon and poet Saeed Jones.

In speaking with The Root, Moore explained why podcasting provided the perfect medium to address cultural biases and misconceptions through the power of storytelling.

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“I was really interested in doing something that actually centered Black, gay, queer, bi, trans men and Black queer culture,” he said. “These are the types of voices that are often muted or erased out of conversations. Even despite the many contributions that so many of us have not only done historically but also in a moment. It was about elevating those voices and centering those voices right now.”

In centering those voices, Moore will demonstrate just how integral the contributions of the Black queer community have been to our collective progress.

“When we think about Black culture in its wide, expansive way—whether that’s art, entertainment, literature—even the moment we’re in now with the movement for Black lives, or historically with the arc of the Black movement. It is often the case that we don’t think about Black queer, trans and non-binary folks to being central to those things,” Moore said. “When in fact we have been and are. We can’t acknowledge the bigness of Black culture without talking about the contributions of Black, gay, queer, trans and non-binary people. So I think the void [this podcast] is filling in is this void that has always been. And that’s invisibilizing and erasing [the LGBTQIA community].”

Moore is also excited that Being Seen will also serve as an archive in which preeminent Black and gay queer voices have the opportunity to share the same space.

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“It’s not new, right? There have always been spaces where we’ve come together,” he said. “But within this moment, to have one show that has everyone from like Lee Daniels to Jordan Cooper to [playwright] Michael R. Jackson, right? To Saeed Jones and Michael Killgore. And with brothers who are allies, like Kiese Laymon and Luke James. [...] Having these folks all in one place centering their conversations on Black gay and queer folk is everything to me. I haven’t seen that.”

It’s also important to note that Being Seen isn’t built on the back of big names. Moore is far more interested in conversing with game-changers who are actively committed to Black freedom, regardless of their popularity or stature.

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“Some of those folks we know their names. Other people we don’t know their names, but we should,” he said. “Every time I got off one of those conversations, I was like, ‘Damn! This is somebody that’s doing amazing work and we need to know about it.’”

And thanks to Being Seen, we will.

“I hope the 35-minute journey that we take people on is one that they not only enjoy, but they leave each episode having learned something and feel inspired or more curious,” Moore said.

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Being Seen is available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast fix.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.

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