Black LGBTQ Narratives

Thu, Oct 15

In Partnership with TCNP_FinalLogo_g3+.png

This conversation focuses on the intersections of Black, gay, and trans identities, and the legacy and work of Black artists within both the Black Lives Matter movement and LGBTQ rights movement. Featuring a screening of a film short from the co-directors of Hands Up, introduced by playwright Nathan Yungerberg, and a performance from artist E. Patrick Johnson.

Moderated by Charles Stephens, The Counter Narrative Project
E. Patrick Johnson, Performer and Professor of African American Studies; Author of Sweet Tea
Nathan Yungerberg, Playwright and Author of “Holes in My Identity”
Trevor Perry, Actor and Drag Performer
Thandiwe Thomas DeShazor, Writer, Actor, Comedian
TAYLOR ALXNDR, Musician, Drag Performer, and Community Organizer

Thursday, October 15th at 7pm EST

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Charles Stephens is the Founder and Executive Director of the Counter Narrative Project. He is committed to working at the intersection of art, culture, and social justice. Charles served as the Conference Organizer for the historic 2014 conference “Whose Beloved Community Black Civil and LGBT Rights” at Emory University. He also led the innovative social marketing campaign “From Where I Stand” for AID Atlanta. The anthology he co-edited Black Gay Genius, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Charlies received the Georgia State University College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award and received the Gentleman of the Year Award from the Gentlemen’s Foundation. He has also been a CDC Institute for HIV Prevention Leadership Fellow, an Arcus Foundation Executive Director Fellow, and a Rockwood Leader in the HIV movement fellow.  His writings have appeared in the AJC, Atlanta Magazine, and Creative Loafing. He previously wrote a column for Advocate magazine and Georgia Voice focused on Black LGBTQ+ politics and culture. A native Georgian, Charles received his B.A. from Georgia State University in 2005. He is also a member of the Alliance Theatre Advisory Board. 

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E. Patrick Johnson is Dean of the School of Communication and Annenberg University Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University. He is a 2020 inductee into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A scholar/artist, Johnson performs nationally and internationally and has published widely in the areas of race, gender, sexuality and performance. Johnson is a prolific performer and scholar, and an inspiring teacher, whose research and artistry has greatly impacted African American studies, Performance studies, and Gender and Sexuality studies. He is the author of Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity (Duke UP, 2003), Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South—An Oral History (University of North Carolina UP, 2008); Black. Queer. Southern. Women.—An Oral History (University of North Carolina Press, 2018), and, Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women (Duke UP, 2019). He is the editor of Cultural Struggles: Performance, Ethnography, Praxis by Dwight Conquergood (Michigan UP, 2013); No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies (Duke UP, 2016); and the co-editor (with Mae G. Henderson) of Black Queer Studies—A Critical Anthology (Duke UP, 2005); and (with Ramón Rivera-Servera) of solo/black/woman: scripts, interviews, and essays (Northwestern UP, 2013) and Blacktino Queer Performance (Duke UP, 2016). 

He has received multiple awards for his scholarship, including the Lilla A. Heston Award, the Errol Hill Book Award, Hurston/Wright Legacy Book Finalist, Stonewall Book Award Honor Book, Lambda Literary LGBTQ Studies Book Award Finalist, the Randy Majors Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to LGBT Scholarship in Communication, Publishing Triangle Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction Finalist, Lambda Literary LGBTQ Anthology Award Finalist.

Johnson’s performance work dovetails with his written work. His staged reading, “Pouring Tea: Black Gay Men of the South Tell Their Tales” is based on his book, Sweet Tea, and has toured to over 100 college campuses from 2006 to the present, and his full-length stage play, Sweet Tea—The Play, premiered in Chicago and toured to Austin, Texas, Washington, DC, New York, Los Angeles, Providence, Rhode Island, Durham, North Carolina and the National Black Theater Festival. The playscript was published by Northwestern University Press (2020). He is one of the subjects and co-executive producer (with John L. Jackson, Jr.) of the documentary, Making Sweet Tea, based on his book and play.

Johnson has received many awards for his performance work, including the Leslie Irene Coger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Performance from the National Communication Association, the Bert Williams Award for Best Solo Performance, from the Chicago Black Theater Alliance, and the René Castillo Otto Award for Political Theater. And his film Making Sweet Tea has also received several awards, including the Judges’ Choice Award at the Longleaf Film Festival, Best Documentary Audience Award at the Kansas City International Film Festival, Best LGBTQ Film at the San Diego Film Festival, Best Documentary Audience Award at the Out on Film Festival, and the Silver Image Award from the Association of American Retired Persons (AARP) for Positive Representation of LGBTQ People over Fifty at the Chicago Reeling LGBTQ Film Festival. In 2010 he was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame.

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Nathan Yungerberg is a Brooklyn-based Afrosurrealist and storyteller whose plays have been developed or featured by The Cherry Lane Theatre, JAG Productions, LAByrinth Theater, Lorraine Hansberry Theater, The National Black Theatre, The Fire This Time Festival, 48 Hours in Harlem, The Lark, Roundabout Theatre Company, The Playwrights’ Center, American Blues Theater, Crowded Fire Theater Climate Change Theatre Action, The Sheen Center, The August Wilson Red Door Project, Climate Change Theatre Action, The Bushwick Starr, and BBC Radio Afternoon Drama. He is one of seven Black playwrights commissioned by The New Black Fest for HANDS UP: 7 Playwrights, 7 Testaments, which was published by Samuel French. Awards and honors: 2017 Mentor Project with Stephen Adly Guirgis, Blue Ink Playwriting Award (Finalist), 2019 Djerassi Resident Artist, The 2016 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference (Semifinalist), Ken Davenport 10-Minute Play Festival (Winner). 

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Trevor Rayshay Perry; They/Them is beyond thrilled to be a part of this panel. As an non-binary artist Trevor lives for new and intresting works and is so thankful for an opportunity that lets them represent their community. Previous Atlanta credits include: Pythio in Head Over Heels (Actor’s Express), Ensemble/Soloist in RENT (Actor’s Express), Eat Moe in Five Guys Named Moe (Theatrical Outfit), Willie in The View Upstairs (Out Front Theatre), and The Emcee in The Red Room Cabaret (The Alliance Theatre). Trevor is a graduate of Western Carolina University with a B.F.A. in Theatre with a concentration in acting. While there he studied with Broadway legend Terrence Mann. They would like to thank their partner Nicholas for all of his support and love! They would also love to dedicate this show to the memory to their mother Maxine. Follow them @MusicklyGifted on Instagram


Thandiwe Thomas DeShazor is an Atlanta based actor, writer, producer, and director. He is an alumnus of Oakland University's Meadowbrook Theater Apprenticeship Program and a recipient of the San Francisco's Queer Cultural Center Grant for his one-man-show “Children of the Last Days”, a comedy about the intersections of Black church and the LGBT community. Thandiwe has performed and collaborated on new and experimental work throughout the country including “Before the Dream: The Mysterious Life and Death Of Richard Wright” (Oakland Public Theater), “Pomo Afro Homo's Fierce Love” (National Tour), and “Armstrong’s Kid" (off-Broadway). Thandiwe is a founding board member of Oakland LGBT Pride and served as their marketing chair in 2010 and 2011. Thandiwe served as the Artistic Director director of Black Girlz Productions a touring urban theater company.

Since moving to Atlanta, his theater credits include, “Tomcat”, The Legend Of Georgia McBride” (Actor’s Express”) and “Angels in America” (Actor’s Express). Thandi’s tv credits include Homicide Hunter, Swamp Murders Fatal Attraction. He can be seen in 2018 in Murder Chose Me and in a re-occurring role in AMC’s Lodge 49. Thandi’s artist collaboration business, Thandi & Company has partnered with Blake Vision Entertainment to write and produce musical biographies of soul music legends, Little Richard, Diana Ross, and Aretha Franklin and tour throughout metro Atlanta.

Since the pandemic, Thandi accidentally became an essential worker. He began the year teaching acting/improv to at risk emerging adults interested in careers in the arts. Because the facility provides essential needs (showers, food, etc.) he’s become essential.

He’s also been directing productions and readings in the zoom platform; “one in two” by Donja R. Love, “The Grand Transsexual Draweth Nigh” by Sloka Krishnan and currently The Harlem Connection: Paris, Negritude, and the Harlem Renaissance with Théâtre du Rêve, Atlanta’s French language theater company.

He and his husband live in Atlanta with their 7 year old daughter.

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TAYLOR ALXNDR (they/she) is a DIY musician, drag performer, and community organizer based in Atlanta, GA. Raised in the rural edges of the metro area, ALXNDR has been creating in and captivating Atlanta and beyond since 2011.

ALXNDR is the co-founder and current executive director of Southern Fried Queer Pride (SFQP), an Atlanta-based non-profit organization empowering Black queer and QTPOC centered communities in the South through the arts. They are also the mother of the House of ALXNDR, an Atlanta-based drag family and events hub, creating drag-centered, inclusive events.

See additional conversations and events taking place as part of the HANDS UP ATLANTA: Art & Activism series.


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