Dennis Carney

Founder of Black Connections and co-founder of Loving Men he/him

When I was about 22/23 years old, I went for a swim at the Brixton Recreation Centre and one day saw a sign at the reception advertising an event ‘Homosexuality & Black Communities’ organised by the Black Lesbian & Gay Centre Project (BLGC). I went in shaking and worried I’d be ‘found out’. You know, it was the early 80’s and I was going there every day.

I attended another meeting the following week which turned out to be the annual general meeting of the BLGC! Before the end of that meeting and even before I realised, I got elected as the treasurer! I guess that’s what got me started in the world of Black Gay Activism.

A friend of mine spotted a job at Project for Advocacy, Counselling & Education (PACE), an LGBT Mental Health charity that offered a personal development programme aimed at Gay men. I worked at PACE with a specific remit to work with BAME gay men. Through that I met and worked with Alfred Hurst and Tim Foskett. After a minor disagreement with the new director of PACE we decided to take on running the event ourselves that led to what is now known as Loving Men.

I never thought I would live long enough to see gay marriage become legal in the UK. The very first Black Gay venue I ever went to had a dance floor that was smaller than my living room. Last year’s UK Black Pride had thousands of attendees.

The pandemic highlighted the isolation many Black LGBTQ people experience. Especially ones aged 50 and over, so as one of that age group I thought there should be a place that provides some sort of support and networking opportunities. That’s why I created ‘Black Connection’ a positive social network for Black Gay Men aged over 50 living in the UK. Within the first couple of weeks there were already over 50 men! We are currently seeking funding to progress the work of the network. Watch this space!