1992 was 20 years ago… It was the year Curtis Lipscomb moved back to Detroit after spending time in NYC working in the fashion industry. It as also the year he became part of Men of Color, an up and coming motivational group that met every Tuesday in the basement of a Woodward Avenue Episcopal church. The group represented Black gay men and their supporters and on any given Tuesday you might find 30 - 60 members congregated around a topic of discussion. More often than not there might be a motivational speaker brought in to tell their story. Every meeting ended with you feeling better than when you had walked in and was often followed by a dinner somewhere in the city. It was a special time for many of us. We were meeting in a place other than a bar and suddenly these individuals came alive as individuals vs. club kids… Between 1993 and 1995 the group grew into a bigger organization ultimately developing offices, and an HIV outreach program funded by a Ryan White Act Grant of considerable value. MOC had become a 501c3 non-profit with a board of directors and Curtis and I became part of a team responsible for getting the word out… A newsletter and events became part of our responsibility. At the zenith of the groups existence we helped to role out the first program ever targeted to an inner city gay audience in Detroit's history called "In The Circle". Shortly there after the motivational group collapsed under the new and immense responsibilities and egos gone array leaving only the HIV outreach group to finish out their responsibilities to the grant. Looking back it was a stunning implosion.
Curtis and I worked diligently to start a magazine to fill the hole that had been left in our lives… it was called Kick. Over the years Kick has grown into another organization, which has largely replaced the original MOC with Curtis at the helm. I had by then moved on to a new job in Toronto. Today Kick is an organization that is out on the front lines, getting out a message of safe sex, and fighting for human rights in a city enduring tough times! Back in the MOC days it was a big deal to get support from a City Council Member or even a meeting with the Mayor. Curtis has moved Kick into a new orbit with his work and mission as recognized by a recent trip to the White House and Meeting the President.
The story I have encapsulated is much larger and epic in scope but when I looked at these photos I couldn't help but think back to those early MOC days… Couldn't help but think of all the things the group wanted to accomplish then. I walk away with the thought that while the road may have been convoluted and long, the mission for Curtis and many others never waivered from its original goals. Curtis's tenacity and vision being recognized at such a national level says it all.
I'm so proud to see Curtis recognized for his work and efforts… Yet still only the beginning of a bigger and more epic story still being told in Detroit!
Jonathan Carthart of the Washington Post,