BBB Frequently Asked Questions
Where are you located?
BBB has separately organized chapters in Detroit, Cincinnati, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
When and where were you founded?
BBB was established in May 2017 by L. Michael Gipson, MS and a small group of committed, creative Black gay, bi, SGL, and gender non-conforming men of size in a Detroit, MI living room. Other chapters have since followed in late 2018 and early 2019. More may arise over time.
What does BBB do?
BBB is a social collective that offers social, cultural, artistic, political, and wellness spaces for the fellowship of Black gay, bisexual, same gender loving (SGL), and gender non-conforming men of size and those who may not be of size but are allies and admirers who are comfortable with those men being centered in BBB events and programming. Different chapters offer various kinds of events and programming, based on their chapter’s interest, resources, and capacities. All BBB chapters offer a monthly potluck as a core BBB programmatic offering. Some may offer everything from weekly bar nights to monthly self-care salons (with a counselor) to book clubs and fitness or movie meet-ups. Please visit your chapter calendars to learn more about what each chapter has to offer for its particular set of members. For a general overview of BBB Programs visit the BBB “About” Page.
Is BBB its own 501(c)3 nonprofit organization?
BBB is not yet a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. However, in the Spring of 2019, LGBT Detroit, one of the oldest and largest Black LGBTQIA+ community-based organizations in the United States, became the official fiscal sponsor of the Black Bear Brotherhood, making most individual and other charitable donations to BBB tax-deductible.
Does BBB get involved in anything political, cultural, or for the community-at-large?
Different BBB chapters have taken on different issues and concerns to champion. For instance, BBB Detroit is involved in political activities like get out the vote (GOTV) and quarterly community mobilization efforts like forums, screenings, or town halls on topics ranging from HIV to crystal meth addiction to love and relationships in an era of gay marriage. BBB Cincinnati is part of the organizing for Black Gay Pride in Cincinnati and the Black Alphabet Film Festival in Cincinnati focused on Black LGBTQIA+ film and media representation. Each chapter prioritizes some cultural or socio-political concern beyond BBB’s fun and equally necessary social events.
How can I come to your events (e.g., potlucks, bar nights, community forums, etc.)?
At this time, you’d have to reside or be visiting one of the chapter areas as they come online when events and potlucks are happening.
How do I find out when BBB events are happening?
You can keep abreast of BBB by signing up for our monthly newsletter on our “Home” or “Contact Us” page on the BBB website.
How do I join the BBB?
First, please read and take time to really consider the BBB mission, values, and principles and see if they align with your own personal aspirations and principles for yourself. If they do, complete a BBB membership form. Once completed, someone will reach out to you within a week or so to follow-up and link you to the chapter nearest you. But, please remember, physical BBB chapter spaces is only in a few cities at this time. You are, of course, welcome to complete the form and just join in solidarity with our vision and mission.
Can anybody join the BBB?
BBB was founded to first and foremost center and affirm Black gay, bisexual, same gender loving, and gender non-conforming men of size (pansexual, asexual, and trans Black men are also welcome). That’s the goal at every chapter meeting and event. Men of color (e.g., Asian/Southeast Asian, Latinx, Middle Eastern, etc.) who are of size are welcome to join as full members. Those who are not men of size but who are also men of color are welcome to join BBB as full members. However, cis-gender women, transwomen, and white-identified men of size or who are not men of size but may be BBB allies/admirers, including the white partners and friends of BBB members, are only allowed to join BBB as associate members. Associate members have all the benefits of membership and can attend any programming, event, or outing except for the BBB monthly potlucks. This preserves the BBB potluck as the sole sanctuary space for men of size who are of color without fear of objectification, fetishization, gentrification, or having to indulge in the reflexive defense of racial and cultural truths they live with every day and need a safe space to air out those issues, feelings, and concerns with others whose realities may be similar, if not exactly the same. As a social collective modeled in some ways after male fraternal orders, BBB believes men also need a male-centered safe space to work on being better men and better brothers to other men and women (cis and trans) in the private company of men. BBB firmly believes both of these ideas are critical to the self-care, betterment, and mental health of men of color of all sizes.
Does the tiered BBB membership make BBB sexist, racist, anti-trans, and/or anti-white?
No, BBB is pro-Black, not anti-white. BBB is also a pro-feminist organization that organizes in solidarity with cis and transwomen for women’s rights and trans rights. BBB further operates with a view of solidarity with some time, though not always, similar experiences of other men of color within the same gender-oriented spectrum. Lastly, BBB firmly believes Black men and other men of color deserve and need someplace to safely process their experience with one another as men of color without a filter in a racist, sexist, homophobic, patriarchal, hegemonic, and capitalist country that has demonstrated a genuine lack of care for men of color’s agency, rights, well-being, or personhood, especially those of Black gay, bi, SGL, and gender non-conforming men of size. BBB’s general sentiment is that one sole space out of all of the other events, outings, forums, and mobilizations BBB chapters will offer to both full and associate members throughout the year in cities where there is much that caters to the gay majority and little to nothing that caters to or centers BBB’s demographic should get to proceed without comment, concern, or permission. Similar to those who do not share in BBB’s mission, values, and/or principles, BBB may not be for everyone. And, that’s okay too.
How do I start a BBB chapter where I live?
Read and consider the BBB mission, values, and principles and whether they are your own and if you are willing to hold other potential BBB members accountable to those three-core set of BBB philosophies and expectations. If you’re still interested after that, please email the BBB at email@example.com and tell us your name, location, how you identify (e.g., race, gender identity, sexual orientation, as a man of size or ally/admirer), and at least one paragraph expressing why you want to establish a BBB chapter where you live. Your request will be taken under consideration by the BBB national council. New BBB chapters can expect to receive some in-kind organizing, logistical, and marketing supports such as pages on the website, e-blast support, etc. However, BBB founders are required to take on the overall financial expense of their individual chapters or get a team of brothers willing to take on the financial expense of launching at a bare minimum a monthly BBB potluck or a regular BBB bar night (the latter on a temporary basis until a potluck can be established and launched) to get started.
Is BBB affiliated with any other bear groups? How can other groups collaborate with BBB?
BBB is not affiliated with any other local bear groups at this time, though we support and may sometimes collaborate or partner with other bear or Black men of size groups (e.g. Big Boy Pride, Heavy Hitters, Heetizm, etc.) in the future. LGBT Detroit is the fiscal sponsor of BBB. BBB Detroit also enjoys an affiliation with the national Counter Narrative Project, a national black gay advocacy organization based in Atlanta, GA. Separately, individual BBB chapters do often partner or collaborate with other social groups in their local area for community-level events like film screenings, political forums, town hall discussions, etc. to build greater community, political power, and solidarity in areas where BBB resides, particularly area Adodi and Onyx chapters. BBB loves to partner with other community-based agencies and/or social groups in the local area where there is synergy and the fit makes sense. Just contact your local area chapter.
What if I have other questions for BBB not covered by this FAQ?
Please email all other questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* All BBB “About” section images were lensed courtesy of Chris “Inpaq” Sutton.