Other Countries is an embodiment of the passionate belief that the lives, voices and visions of Gay Men of African heritage are inherently valuable. It is founded from the desire to create opportunities for our precious visions to be developed and shared with each other and with the rest of our communities...As our name intends, Other Countries is a celebration of the importance of difference. Not only the difference we share, but our internal diversity as a community; the many voices we speak with, the different pasts and consciousness we bring to our commonality as Gays, as Men, and as people of African descent.
There had been previous Black gay male writing collectives in New York and other cities, including New York's Blackheart Collective, some of whose members would go on to participate in Other Countries. Other Countries built upon this legacy, which included the foundations laid by the Civil Rights, Women's Rights and Lesbian and Gay Rights movements, and more broadly leftist collective and community-oriented self-organization, as well as prior artistic and cultural legacies such as the Harlem Renaissance, whose core comprised many Black gay and bisexual people, and adapted the title of Black queer icon James Baldwin's (1924-1987) novel Another Country (1962) to capture the themes articulated above.
At the center of the Other Countries collective was and continues to be the weekly writing workshops, which initially occurred and continue to take place at the old and now completely renovated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, which is still on West 13th Street, just off 7th Avenue. At the workshops participants have presented and critiqued writings across genres, while also reading critical and theoretical texts, discussing politics and social issues, and trying to develop a language through and about which to write their lives, to bring themselves into language. Out of these extra-institutional critical sessions have come three anthologies, the first listed above; the second, Sojourner: Black Gay Voices in the Age of AIDS (1993); and Voices Rising: Celebrating 20 Years of Black, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Writing (2007). Many members of the group, including those still writing, those who have ceased to do so, and those who passed away, also published their work in periodicals and anthologies and as chapbooks and books, and also have presented their work over the years at a range of venues.
|G. Winston James|
|Rev. Jeff Haskins|