In 1986, Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD) was conceptualized in New York City, a result of the vision of founder, The Reverend Charles Angel (photo on left) who embarked on a mission to empower the black gay men. In the many New York neighborhoods, gay black men continued to exist below the radar: Black men were dying in silence from HIV/AIDS because prevention funds did not reach them; Black gay youth were becoming homeless and resorting to violence and prostitution as a result of feelings of isolation, alienation and harassment; Black gay men were suffering from depression and insecurity because they feared coming out and most importantly black gay men felt unsupported by the community at large. Reverend Angel recognized that the need was a hybrid need that was being left unaddressed. Historically, these men had been forced to prioritize their battles as if each was mutually exclusive. They were simply not just black or not just men or not just gay --- they were all three of these things. GMAD stepped in to fill a void and connect the dots. Choosing not the path of least resistance but one of challenge and uncertainty, Reverend Angel and his colleagues took on the role - and the weight - of community activists in order to create parity for the black gay community.
GMAD started as a rotating weekly forum at the houses of friends and colleagues then evolved into the organization as it is known today. By virtue of the mission, GMAD is working to improve quality of life within the New York City black gay community by effectively fight the triple threat of AIDS, homophobia and racism through education, advocacy, health and wellness and social support. It was incorporated as a 501 (c ) (3) in 1990 and moved into a larger office space in Harlem in 2001 after spending several years in Chelsea and the West Village.
Recognizing that still there are variances within the subculture of the gay community of color, GMAD continues to provide targeted services in the form of drop-in groups, age and need appropriate activities and counseling. The organization offers a drop-in center for seniors, YMSM's, health and wellness counseling, prevention education, street outreach and HIV testing. GMAD is also actively planning more aggressive prevention initiatives with the use of a mobile testing unit. Additionally, GMAD is actively planning more inclusive programming that will embrace both transgender individuals and lesbians. True to its mission, GMAD remains the voice of the LGBT community, championing its rights and challenging wrongs.
For a detailed list of services go to the GMAD website