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Native Son to Host 2023 Black Gay Leadership Forum at Harlem School of the Arts

News & Opinion | Entertainment News

Native Son will be hosting their annual event The Black Gay Leadership Forum: Creating Change In A Changing World Thursday, Sept. 28th at the Harlem School of the Arts.

The event is set to include panel discussions and talks that discuss why representation and thought leadership matters in the boardroom, entrepreneurship, health equity, media, and technology.

Native Son's founder Emil Wilbekin expressed his excitement for the event's first live in-person gathering in a statement.

“As we continue to grow as an organization, we have built a real community within Native Son and it is central to our mission to introduce programs that will support that community in a very tangible way,” said Wilbekin.

Wilbekin said he wanted to create a signature event that spoke directly to their audience's diverse group of professionals as they navigate their careers.

“One of the primary conduits to creating equity is arming folks with the resources, information, and tools they need. Ultimately, we want the Leadership Forum to become a springboard for goal setting, legacy mapping and further connecting with an extended network,” said Wilbekin.

Native Son Founder Emil Wilbekin
Native Son Founder Emil Wilbekin

Originally established in 2020, the Black Gay Leadership Forum reinforces Native Son’s commitment to the empowerment of Black gay and queer people.

Previous speakers have included Don Lemon, Valerie B. Jarrett, George M. Johnson, Reggie Van Lee, Rashad Robinson, Aaron Walton, Brickson Diamond, Jonathan Capehart, and Richard Fowler.

Powered by Gilead and Citigroup, this year's panels and talks will feature leaders across industries and will include: Torrence Boone (VP of Global Client Partnerships, Google); James Cole Jr. (Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of The Jasco Group); Phillip Michael Collins (Founder of Good Black Art); Derek Ford, Jr. (Creator of Carter Wear, Kingsley); Kingsley Gbadegesin (Fashion Designer of K.NGSLEY); Greg Reynolds (Founder and CEO of Hadley-Reynolds) and more.

Nikki Darden, Managing Director, Head of Brand Engagement and Integration at Citi shared in a statement, “We are so excited to be collaborating with Native Son at this year’s Leadership Forum as they work to drive change for the Black LGBTQ+ community with thought leadership, ideas, and innovation that emerge from this fantastic event.”

“​​Gilead is proud to support Native Son in their ongoing efforts to provide impactful programming to members of the Black gay and queer community,” said Darwin Thompson, Director, Public Affairs, Corporate Giving at Gilead Sciences.

“At Gilead, we understand that Black LGBTQ+ people continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV and recognize that the HIV epidemic is perpetuated by numerous structural and social factors. It takes more than medicine to address the root causes of these disparities, and events like the Black Gay Leadership Forum are critical in breaking down barriers to information while empowering our community to live healthy, equitable, and thriving lives.”

For more information on Black Gay Leadership Forum: Creating Change In A Changing World, visit The event will also be streamed on Native Son's Facebook and YouTube channels.


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