By: DeoVonte “Deo” Means
It’s been well documented that within the last few months, the established socials of the city have begun to abandon the notion of frivolous weekly nightclubbing. They are embracing the mindset of intimate social networking events; in which the invited guest can enjoy good music, cocktails, conversations and entrée’s while also networking and establishing partnerships that improves the quality and effectiveness of each individuals brand. At one such event, I was privileged to gain the acquaintance of Mr. Adam McMath, Director of Programming for the now annual Black Alphabet Film Festival, held here in Chicago. Over a few conversations and lunch; I realized that this project, in its second year, is definitely one of those entities adding to the beauty, culture, opportunity and diversity of Chicago’s community. I was definitely intrigued and on board as a supporter.
After graduating with a B.A. from Columbia College Chicago, Adam McMath started his film career as an intern for several major motion pictures and quickly learned that Hollywood was not telling the stories he wanted to see on the big screen. He caught his first major break when he was hired to produce and direct two music videos for Homo Hip Hop artist Tori Fixx. Both videos immediately took off and gained notoriety after appearing on Logo. He then moved on to produce and direct a music video for Cyon Flare (a Billboard charting dance artist). From there Adam became the in house video director and Producer for Music Plant records and produced videos that made appearances on Logo, VH1. MTV, dance clubs, and malls worldwide.
After being intrigued, I discovered Black Alphabet is a non-profit organization formed in Chicago, Illinois. The premier program is the Black Alphabet Film Festival, a film festival dedicated to showcasing the works by and about the Black LGBTQ/SGL community. Black Alphabet’s mission is to promote and nurture the stories of LGBTQ/SGL people of color through film, empower our storytellers, and celebrate our community. Black Alphabet symbolizes the unity and sexual diversity in the Black community. As we affirm the existing and emerging ways people identify in our community, we celebrate and affirm the freedom to self-define. Black Alphabet serves as a reminder that, no matter which letter we identify with, we are part of a legacy honoring our past, present, and future. Beyond LGBTQ or SGL, we tell our stories with each letter of the alphabet. Our mission is to empower our community, celebrate our achievements and foster our future. We do this through the support of culture, art, entrepreneurship, and health. Our aim is to create and encourage a new dialogue of what it means to be Black: Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer or Questioning, Same Gender Loving, as well as Allies and the identities beyond. We are Black Alphabet: Building on our past, uniting in the present, affirming a prosperous future. Let no story be told without us.
In 2012, Adam decided to go back to his roots and produce films that serve the LGBT community. He formed his film company, Coloring Box Entertainment Group, in an effort to tell stories that no one else would tell. With former college classmate Monica Jenkins and up and coming producer Ayanna Oden-Goode, Adam has focused his energy on social justice films under the “Gay Like Me” brand which falls under the Coloring Box Entertainment Group umbrella. “Miss UnderSTUD” is the first in a series of films that are meant to tell the untold stories of queer people of color.
The Black Alphabet Film Festival (BAFF) is back for another exciting year showcasing films and other works that highlight and explore the African American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) and Same Gender Loving (SGL) experience. The international film festival will take place before the Independence Day observance on Wednesday, July 2 and Thursday, July 3 at the DuSable Museum of African American History and Center on Halsted, respectively. Tickets will be available for purchase beginning in June. “We are to glad to be able to provide another year of wonderful programming to share with Chicago’s African American LGBTQ community and beyond,” stated Janelle Allen, executive director.
Established in 2013 and named precisely because of the mouthful naming LGBTQ/SGL inclusivity can be, Black Alphabet (BA) is a non-profit Chicago-based collective of black sexual and gender minorities committed to art, culture and entrepreneurship in the “Black Alphabet” community. Its mission is to empower the African American LGBTQ/SGL community by celebrating, promoting and nurturing untold stories that are often forgotten in the broader LGBTQ/SGL landscape. In its inaugural launch, BAFF featured a combination of 15 shorts and features from around the world. Highlights included the official Chicago premieres of films such as Friend of Essex, a documentary meditation on the continuing influence of poet activist Essex Hemphill and Glitterboys & Ganglands, a documentary about transgender life on the South African beauty pageant circuit.
This year, BA plans to create an even bigger and better celebration of storytelling, art and community for all to enjoy. To achieve this goal, BA needs the community’s support in raising the funds necessary by contributing to the crowd-funding campaign on the website, Indiegogo.com. By donating as little as $5 can assist in BA’s efforts to reach its target funding goal. The link to donate is http://igg.me/at/baff/x/6792431. Donations through this site will be accepted until Thursday, May 9. “This film festival was created for our community. BA needs their assistance to ensure that we can continue to tell our stories that are a part of a rich legacy that builds upon our past, informs our present and prepares us for the future,” she continued. Black Alphabet is also currently accepting film and video submissions. For details on how to submit a film or video, visit blackalphabet.org/submit.
Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Download the sponsorship package at blackalphabet.org/sponsorship. For assistance, contact Black Alphabet marketing managers Langstan Smith at 312.678.7688 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and Brenikki Floyd, at 251.454.2919 or via email email@example.com.
For general information about the organization and the upcoming Black Alphabet Film Festival, please visit blackalphabet.org. Connect with Black Alphabet on Facebook (BlackAlphabetChicago) and Twitter (@BlackAlphabet).