By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
For 18 years, Miko A. Evans of Meak Productions – the Atlanta-based and LGBTQ-exclusive talent agency and production company – has been deeply immersed in creating content and campaigns for the LGBTQ+ community and beyond. Coming up on its 10-year-anniversary, his project, History of Black Gay Atlanta, has gained momentum and is celebrating one of its biggest program launches yet for Black History Month. Peach spoke to Miko about the significance and celebration of Black History Month and the History of Black Gay Atlanta.
What significance does Black History Month have to you?
Black History is not just a month for me; it’s all year long. However, during this important month, I’m specifically reminded of many unsung heroes and sheroes who may not have been as popular or mainstream as MLK, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and others, but who made a huge impact on the struggle, evolution, and progression of Black people in this nation.
Meak Productions has several divisions, and one of them is your special project, History of Black Gay Atlanta – tell us a little bit about it?
Now known as the Atlanta Chapter of History of Black Gay America, HBG Atlanta was created in the Summer of 2011 as a special marketing brand for the first historic Atlanta Black Pride press conference, which was produced in August of that year to honor the 15th Anniversary of Atlanta’s Black Gay Pride Celebration. That Year, the host organization, ITLA (In The Life Atlanta), along with Traxx Atlanta, Traxx Girls, State of Black Gay America Summit, Rockstars Production, Change Atlanta, and our first sponsors, Xtreme Entertainment and the Tenth Amendment Media Group were the main features for the conference.
After the success of the first press event, which was also recorded for radio broadcast and podcast the next day, Meak Productions continued the momentum annually by creating a talk radio show and on-location tv series to cover and archive “history in the making” at various black LGBTQ events and community outreach initiatives in metro Atlanta and beyond. The name later evolved into History of Black Gay America for a more national presence in 2014, and in 2016 we selected Angela Hutchins (who’s also an Atlanta native and a new talent to our roster at that time) to be the First Lady of HBG Atlanta. This year will mark the tenth anniversary of the History of Black Gay Atlanta brand and the Annual Black Pride Press Conference series.
In connection with History of Black Gay Atlanta, what has been some of the highlights over the years?
WOW, let me count the ways! With the HBGA brand, we pioneered online Black LGBT+ podcasting and internet radio in metro Atlanta via our partnership with our first straight ally, the Tenth Amendment Media Group; we were the first online radio media outlet to do live on-location broadcasting for and at Various LGBT+ town halls, events and organizations; we have been the first Black LGBT media brand to host Q&A’s and broadcast live at Out On Film; we are the first online radio media sponsor for the Annual Gentleman’s Ball (signature event of The Gentlemen’s Foundation); We are the first online radio partner for the State of Black Gay America Summit; the first online radio media partner for the Annual Atlanta Gay Black Pride; the first online media partner for the Annual Journey To Change Conference; we were the first outlet to broadcast and record the Annual Trans Day of Remembrance; the first outlet to broadcast and record the ATL International Day Against Homophobia, and many more accomplishments.
What are some of the high-profile guests you have had on your show?
I can tell I’m getting old ’cause you have me going way back! We’ve had some of the best in unsung heroes and mainstream figures on our online radio and TV Shows, such as the Executive Team of ITLA, Juan & Gee Sessions-Smalls of The Gentleman’s Foundation, DeMarco Majors (LGBT sports icon), Maurice Jamal (pioneering Black gay filmmaker and director), J. L. King (renowned author), State Rep. Park Cannon, Former State Rep. Simone Bell, Tracee McDaniel, Dwight Allen O’Neal (producer/actor/author), Charles Stephens (Counter Narrative Project), Cynthia Bailey (supermodel & RHOA veteran), Stepp Stewart (Dr. OZ Show), and many more!
Will you be doing any special features with History of Black Gay Atlanta during Black History Month?
Thanks to our new and successful partnership with you all (Peach ATL Media), we will be producing special short bio tributes to Black LGBTQ icons (national, local, and next-generation) in upcoming issues this month until March. We will also be premiering our Winter Season of HBGA Talk Shows on our YouTube and Mixcloud channels with some throwbacks of previously unreleased footage from Black LGBTQ events.
With a new administration and a new outlook for 2021, how do you feel it will impact the Black community at large and thus influence Black history?
History has already been made by electing our first female of color as our new Vice President. This speaks VOLUMES and provides hope and inspiration to the next generation of women of color. Since Biden/Harris have taken office, they’ve already started doing the work to correct the numerous mistakes made during the Trump Administration and have signed numerous executive orders. One in particular deals with Black equity and dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. Since people of color and low-income citizens are largely most affected by the devastation of COVID, the passing of this next stimulus bill is going to start helping families put their lives back together.
In terms of History of Black Gay Atlanta, what are some of the issues facing us right now?
The criminal injustice system (yes, I stated that correctly), brutality and discrimination against trans people of color, Black equity (because there’s not enough financial support and contracting opportunities for Black LGBTQ-owned businesses so that we can hire our own), the homeless crisis (especially as it relates to LGBTQ youth of color) and affordable health care. Finally, there’s not enough support for Black media outlets overall. Mainstream LGBT+ media and advertising firms need to offer more collaborative and partnering opportunities and show REAL Inclusion, and not look at us as competition. Mainstream straight media doesn’t cover LGBTQ issues, so we in the queer community need to stick together in providing news coverage.
How do you think we can recognize the history of Black gay Atlanta and move forward towards a more inclusive city?
By genuinely inviting us to the table, not just to satisfy diversity and inclusion quotas, but by seeing the value in what we as a diverse culture has to offer. And by recognizing the numerous historical contributions our people have given to the overall progression and advocacy of the LGBTQ+ community. Remember, it was people of color that started all civil and human rights movements in this nation. Just as Black History is also American History, Black LGBTQ History is also National LGBTQ History. As the late Joe Clark would say in the movie Lean On Me, “We Rise, We Fall, We Sink, We Swim, We Meet Our Fate Together!”
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’m really excited and grateful about our partnership. We’ve done some awesome and historical things in our first six months together, and I’m looking forward to what’s in store for the rest of 2021. The year’s just getting started.
Learn more at blkgayusa.meakproductions.com