Black, gay publication gives visibility to Louisville’s West End through authentic storytelling

by Sophia Lee

“bell hooks was from Berea, I’m from Louisville. Let’s make it happen,” said Talesha Wilson of Black Gay Tymes, a Louisville-based Black archival research project. Working with several organizations, including the Black Leadership Action Coalition of Kentucky (BLACK) and Change Today, Change Tomorrow, Wilson is a full-time organizer who is dedicated to cultivating and maintaining space for the stories of the lived experiences of Black folx for the past, present, and future generations to come. 

“The launching was very successful and intimate. I would definitely like to do another. With this, I’m hoping to mend that gap between Black folks of various social “statuses” and eliminate those differences and labels,” Wilson reflected on the launch event, which took place on November 12th.  

The Black Gay Tymes grew through an idea she had as a Filson Historical Society community fellow. The Filson Historical Society was designed to be a place to house historical objects to hold the history of Kentucky. Recognizing that the work put into this society mostly came from the labor of Black people. However, it didn’t allow Black stories in contributions prior. They decided to create this fellowship. 

“I was trying to figure out how to put life experiences and occurrences into documentation, histories, and archives so that Black generations to come will be able to reflect on that and use it as a resource,” said Wilson.

Her project was about Black queer love over time, but she ran into issues when trying to find documented histories of these things. Throughout her research, she discovered The Free Press of Louisville from the 1960s-70s, which was known for reporting radical politics across the spectrum but remaining mostly white-centric. Her idea for Black Gay Tymes grew from this point. She reached out to the creator of Black Scene Millennium for tips on how to get started collecting and documenting Black queer stories.

“If I had to say what my ‘target audience’ is, West-end folks that have had absolutely no representation. Getting funding is our primary concern right now because people see money as production rather than well-being. I wouldn’t dare come to any of them empty-handed,” Wilson stated, advocating for Black folx to always be paid for their work. And never accepting anything less than what they are worth. “Funding black liberation helps you.”

She first saw stories within her friend groups since they are incredibly diverse. Comparing them to the friend group from Living Single, a Black sitcom from the ‘90s, but bigger. By seeking out the community she was already a part of, Wilson created a space for them to see her as an asset, and she sees them as just the same. 

“My goal is to create more spaces and help with the sustainability of those spaces so that I may eventually remove myself from this space because I’ve been doing this for a long time. So, now it’s somebody else’s turn. I am creating spaces that will stick and evolve and change over time because that’s what has to happen but first, I gotta meet people where they are,” she closed. 

Through Black Gay Tymes, Wilson is looking to connect Black folx resources to one another through stories of all types, including written and oral forms. She would like to include more art in the actual launch space next time, so if you are a Black queer individual interested in having your story heard, seen, and understood, submit a piece here

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