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Nurturing LGBTQ+ Spaces with Obio Jones

Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, Queer and LGBTQ+ scenes began to sprout within Atlanta, attracting a myriad of Black Queer people to the city. These spaces began to become a source of holy communion for Queer folks. However, it is important to point out that spaces are created by people. Community is fostered by people with the passion, care, and resilience to develop them. Adding to the many in-person and online spaces that have been created for people in the LGBTQ+ community, Obio Jones has used his platform to create intentional spaces for healing. Jones stands as an esteemed advocate, curating shows on his social media platform where people can stand ten toes down on their truth. As a culture-shifting interviewer, Jones has consistently brought up themes of identity and sexuality within Black culture, urging us to have open, nuanced conversations.  


His YouTube show, “It’s Just Not Adding Up,” came to fruition after deciding that he wanted to create a safe space for himself to voice his truth. In the video series, he reclines at home, hooping and hollering with interviewees like Gee Smalls, Hope Giselle-Godsey, and Alexander Woods. The show was Jones’ way of illuminating taboo conversations and encouraging LGBTQ+ people to unpack their traumas and childhoods. Instead of pushing conversations on stereotypes and cliches, he urges us to dig into ourselves, own our lessons, and accept the change that comes with self-transformation.   


Jeremiah Drummond ©

How are you feeling today? 

Feeling good. Feeling hopeful. I think I keep describing myself these days as hopeful. You know, I think as we navigate new waters, things are constantly changing. The world is constantly changing. I'm constantly changing. You just go with the flow, but you also set those intentions along the way. So hope really drives me in this moment [and] in this season.


How are you navigating using your platform on social media? 

Yeah, I “came out the closet,” quote on quote, in 2019. In 2020, a pandemic happened. I wanted to keep sharing with the community, so I started a series called ‘It’s Just Not Adding Up,’ where I talked about different queer microaggressions every Wednesday at noon, and I felt the community quickly grew. People wanted to chat in the comments, people wanted to be seen and feel heard. It was very liberating for me and for other people. So from there, chopping up the clips and putting them on Instagram, I kind of built a platform out of it. I think a lot of us, especially in the Black queer community, don't really understand how much activism is in our presence. I think we think we find ourselves in solitude but really get to get those mirrors within the community. 


Why is community necessary for healing? 

I think for me, what's healing is legitimately identifying as who I am. I think it's harder than we think. As marginalized people in general, the bar is moving constantly, right? You know, or to your point earlier, losing family is scary. Losing friends, that's scary. And all those things happened to me when I came out. But what people don't know is that even if you do lose those people that you had, there's so much more community at your arm's reach. You know, there are so many other people who are waiting to embrace you. They're only waiting for you to embrace yourself. 


How have you healed through your trauma to get to where you are now? 

I still grieve some friendships I had prior to walking in my truth. But I trust that, and my therapist often says this: whatever has happened, trust has happened. And I think a lot of us don't trust that whatever has happened has truly happened. We think we miss something, we think that, you know, we didn't get something or it was something more we should have heard from that friend or seen with that friend, but that brings that freshness to expire. It's happened. I think I just have to keep pushing because I can't control anybody but myself. At the end of the day, I lost friends, and family has been weird towards me because of it. A lot of people would say things around me that were homophobic, and I would let it go when I was closeted, and hiding. But the point is, it's not okay to say those kinds of things. I wouldn't change my freedom for nostalgia. 


I also know you are very vocal in your advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community. Did you feel like that was a divine call? 

I often say I didn't grow up with a vocally homophobic family. My parents never used the slurs; it really wasn't that deep. My dad was always very kind and warm and gentle. But I think there was a piece of my journey that God wanted me to pull from, to be able to speak, understand, and encourage the community around me. I'm not oblivious to the realities of the community. I've been in a lot of places that have dealt with a lot of trauma. So, I think that God was trying to compile these experiences to share it, yeah.


Jeremiah Drummond ©

What advice do you normally give to the up-and-coming generation?

It's different every time. But at this moment, I would say, try new things. Don't waste your time with judgment. Don't waste your time on judgment. I think a lot of us have judged ourselves, which causes us to judge others over internalizing other people's judgment, which causes us to judge ourselves of judgment that's being played. Just don't waste your time with it. The way the pendulum swings, what you do today, and what you're judged for nine times out of ten, that person is going to want to try in the coming years. Just being your authentic self, you'll attract so much abundance when you're in your fullness.


Whew, yes. You also talk a lot about creating space and your YouTube show. But I also feel like you help people to see themselves reflected in the media, as well. So why do you think it's important for us to see ourselves reflected in the media, but also seeing ourselves in the future too? 

I think in a heterosexual space, there's so many examples in books and magazines and podcasts and things that showcase relationships, how to parent, all these things that they get to pull from different experiences. I think we all should be afforded those opportunities and luxuries.


How are you creating space in 2024?

A lot of things are coming soon. It's just my voice and my platform, and trying to speak up and speak out more. There might be some literary works…


Okay, so you’re stepping into your author bag. Can we talk about the conversations that we can look forward to seeing you have this year?

I think a lot more of an advocacy for other parts of the LGBTQ experience. Although I am a Gay Black man, speaking to other people within the community – my transgender brothers and sisters, and also bridging the gap between LGBTQ+ people and the heterosexual community. I think sometimes we can have that fear or just don't want to center them, which I understand for sure. But I think we kind of educate them on how to really see people. I think I just wanted to get more into the full scope of LGBTQ+, right? I think sometimes we don't really talk as much in casual conversation. Sometimes, we think about just educating people and giving them language, but I would love to see us casually in conversation with a diverse group of people. 


What kind of conversations should we have?

I think we would do [our] community service if we've made our conversations more personal. I don't mean personal in the sense of getting in our business. Conversations have to become more dynamic. Because you really can't speak for the whole entire community. I think this year, I want to make sure that we're having conversations in group settings. I think it allows people to see us in our corners and our raw humanity and understand that our raw humanity deserves to be loved. 

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