Empowering, Entertaining, Affirming the Black Queer Community: Meet the Headliners

by Phillis Lewis | photos by L.A. Dowell Photography

Headliners Memphis is a group of LGBTQ community members, stakeholders, gatekeepers and allies who plan events “for us by us” to empower, entertain, and inform Memphis and the surrounding areas.

I met with Headliners members Daniel Thompson and Demarcus Jones to get more insight into the organization.

Daniel Thompson: Wants it to be personal and is a proud black, undetectable gay man. Does what he needs to do; he is recognized for being health conscious. People sometimes are looking for people they look like and feel they can relate to; wants to challenge you to take care of you.

Demarcus Jones: Comes from a small community where there was a lack of a LGBTQ+ presence; wants to be able to create safe spaces, puts a focus on HIV and mental health care services.

How did The Headliners begin?
It started as an innovative pilot project to help encourage HIV Testing in Shelby County. It was those community stakeholders involved in the initiative that helped to form The Headliners.

What are some of the focuses of The Headliners?
Creating positive spaces by creating change in the world to be ourselves without stigma; referrals and outreach; POC (People of Color); LGBTQ+ individuals; status; sex; identity; mental health; getting people the access that they need.

What do you think contributes to the success of The Headliners’ discussions?
It is centered around a non-traditional space (outside of the clubs) and makes the discussions accessible and relatable to everyone.

What type of impact are The Headliners trying to make?
Creating a familiar space for Black Queer folk and allies to celebrate each other’s value; being intentional about the work being done in the community, and helping to build trust with the community representatives; being able to create safe and affirming spaces where the community can come to us.

What is in the future for The Headliners?
Putting it into the universe, having a physical space, fully staffed, volunteers, being intentional about growth and programs, and continuing the I Matter Extravaganza.

Where can we find information about any coming up events or discussions or how to volunteer with The Headliners?

Email us at headlinersmemphis@gmail.com. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Headliners901.