These films explore the subtleties of sex, love and mental health in the Black LGBTQ+ community

Creative director and filmmaker LaQuann Dawson puts community and wellness at the fore in 'MOBItalks: A Digital Series'

Published On
Feb 17, 2022
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Editor's Pick

Our Creative Excellence Series for Black History Month continues with LaQuann Dawson, a Brooklyn-born filmmaker, creative director and photographer based out of Elyria, Ohio. Dawson’s work explores themes of healing, isolation, desire, joy and disappointment while centering the visibility, wellness and liberation of Black and queer people.

His creative leadership spans a host of pursuits. He’s the founder and visual director at MOBInyc, curated social events for Black gay and queer men in New York City. He also serves as one of the hosts of the HIM Podcast and was the creative director and curator for Impulse Group NYC’s Our Light Through Darkness coffee table book.

“LaQuann Dawson’s camera feels like an extension of his very being,” said GLAAD Creative Director Abdool Corlette, this week’s guest editor. “He uses it tactfully to capture the beautiful complexities of Black and LGBTQ people. What first attracted me to his work is how personal it feels. He manages to capture a level of intimacy and vulnerability in his portraits that gives you pause. LaQuann’s art does not shy away from the nuances that exist at the intersection of race, gender and sexuality. His ability to capture the very essence of who his subjects are is proof that he deeply understands the power of being seen as you authentically are.”

Here, Dawson shares an important project he created for MOBI, the digital series MOBItalks, a platform that gave Black LGBTQ+ individuals—from adult film stars to activists, and artists to dancers, an avenue to explore themes such as the subtleties of sex and mental health. 

LaQuann Dawson

I’ve spent a lot of my life searching for different ways to effectively find and build community. In 2018, I found MOBI, an organization dedicated to not only building, but nurturing communities of Black LGBTQ+ people. MOBI granted me an opportunity to organize, to create, and to heal with a community of people who were meant to find each other. 

Through MOBI, I’ve been able to produce "MOBItalks: A Digital Series," a three-part experimental docu-series that celebrates the stories and talents Black LGBTQ+ folk in the NYC area. The project focuses and examines sexuality, love, mental health and identity in the Black LGBTQ+ community.

The goal of MOBItalks has been to allow our community a platform to tell their stories in their own voice with hopes to inspire, educate and offer care. We wanted this iteration of the initiative to be recorded, as opposed to our historically live event, so that it could be revisited forever and reach lives outside of NYC. 

MOBI asked me to shoot and direct this project however I wanted to as long as community and wellness were prioritized. I spent about six months planning, filming and editing. I spoke to adult film stars, psychotherapists and activists. I worked with dancers, illustrators and musicians. 

One of the biggest challenges I face in this work is feeling as though I am not doing enough or that I’ve failed to properly represent the people I serve. Space, distance and positive affirmations from my community and my team remind me that the work is doing its job and reaching who it needs to reach.

"MOBItalks: A Digital Series," was released in May of 2020. Since then, I’ve produced Our Light Through Darkness (2020), a coffee table book with Impulse Group NYC that celebrates the lived experiences of Black and queer people in the NYC area. I’ve also been able to work on NEON x GLAAD’s Black History Legacy Series, a series that places historic Black LGBTQ+ figures next to heroes living today. 

Through my work as an image-maker and community organizer, I’ve been able to build a career that centers Black LGBTQ+ people and brings me both joy and safety. I get to make beautiful images of the people I love for a living. What could be better?

 

Credits

Date
Feb 17, 2022
Director/Photographer :
LaQuann Dawson

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