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Black Alphabet Transforms Advocacy and Art in the Black LGBTQ+ Community

Black Alphabet Transforms Advocacy and Art in the Black LGBTQ+ Community
Photo Courtesy: Adam L. McMath

By: Nic Abelian, AnotherZero

CHICAGO – Black Alphabet, originally launched as the Black Alphabet Film Festival (BAFF) in 2013, has significantly evolved under the leadership of Executive Director Adam L. McMath. The organization, once focused exclusively on film, now encompasses a broader mission of advocating for social equity and promoting wellness through the arts for Black LGBTQ+ communities.

From its origins as Chicago’s first Black LGBTQ film festival, Black Alphabet has grown into an influential entity advocating for the fair and equitable treatment of Black LGBTQ+ individuals. The founding board’s vision to empower Black LGBTQ communities worldwide to share their stories has established a lasting legacy that honors the past, highlights the present, and nurtures the future. This evolution is reflected in the organization’s expanded mission and refined name, symbolizing its broader reach and deeper impact.

Since its inception, BAFF aimed to present stories that portray the diverse gender and sexual expressions of the Black LGBTQ community through the art of film. This mission has been a cornerstone of the organization’s activities for several years, fostering storytelling, new dialogues, and educational initiatives that spotlight the cultural and social contributions of Black LGBTQ individuals.

In 2019, the Black Alphabet leadership recognized the need for greater visibility and representation of various forms of creative expression within the Black LGBTQ+ community. This insight led to a significant shift in the organization’s vision and mission, emphasizing social equity and awareness of issues disproportionately affecting Black LGBTQ+ individuals. Under McMath’s guidance, Black Alphabet has embraced a holistic approach that leverages media and the creative arts to promote healthy and fulfilling lifestyles.

The organization’s commitment to social equity is demonstrated through its focus on the fair and equitable identification, provision, implementation, and impact of services, programs, and policies. By advocating for these principles, Black Alphabet strives to ensure that Black LGBTQ+ individuals receive the support and recognition they deserve.

McMath has played a pivotal role in transforming Black Alphabet’s sustainability, mission, and reach. His strategic leadership has led to the expansion of the organization’s activities, including the continuation of the in-person film festival in Cincinnati, collaborative virtual festivals, and drive-in events in Seattle, Washington, and Covington, Kentucky. Additionally, Black Alphabet hosts virtual events throughout the year that address current issues facing the Black LGBTQ+ community.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 prompted Black Alphabet to shift its focus towards mental health awareness and wellness strategies. The organization has since offered free culturally responsive art therapy sessions and developed initiatives to address the isolation experienced by Black LGBTQ+ individuals. These efforts have underscored the importance of art as an accessible and powerful tool for healing and cultural affirmation.

“We live, work, and breathe art every day. It is one of the most accessible healing tools in the world,” McMath stated, emphasizing the organization’s belief in the transformative power of art. This philosophy has guided Black Alphabet’s approach, ensuring that art programs serve as a critical platform for Black LGBTQ+ individuals to engage in critical thinking and cultural affirmation.

As the oldest arts and wellness nonprofit in the world focused on Black LGBTQ+ populations, Black Alphabet stands out for its unwavering commitment to using art as a medium for advocacy and healing. The organization’s innovative programs and initiatives continue to make a profound impact, addressing the unique challenges faced by Black LGBTQ+ communities and fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment.

For more information about Black Alphabet and its programs, visit or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

By leveraging art to address issues disproportionately impacting Black LGBTQ+ individuals, Black Alphabet remains a beacon of advocacy and cultural affirmation, dedicated to creating a more inclusive and equitable world for all.

To support Black Alphabet’s work a Tax deductible contribution can be made at 

Published by: Nelly Chavez

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