Founded in 1838. the historic, Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church is one of the oldest AME churches in Washington D.C., and the city’s oldest continuously Black-owned property. Located in the center of the District’s bustling downtown sector. Metropolitan once served as a temporary sanctuary for enslaved men and women on their journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad. From anti-slavery leadership in the mid-19th century to housing rights and voter registration projects today. Metropolitan has been not just a major center of worship, but an institution on the forefront of civic, cultural, and intellectual life among African Americans.

Metropolitan leaders Jewell Jones Truxon and Marie C. Johns, in partnership with Pastor William H. Lamar IV. have co-founded The Family Room to build on this rich history. The Family Room is a new conversation series that marries Metropolitan’s past and future. All are welcome, and ideas are ignited through action-oriented, thought-provoking dialogue that feels like it’s taking place in your own home.

Over the last 182 years. freedom fighters like Frederick Douglass and Mary McLeod Bethune have spoken at Metropolitan AME. Today, The Family Room continues that legacy with featured guests like politician, lawyer, and author Stacey Abrams and investigative journalist Nikole Hannah Jones. “Expanding the Boundaries of Blackness” — featuring the critically-acclaimed author of No Ashes in the Fire Darnell L. Moore and actor Dylion Burnside, from Pose on FX is the most recent addition to the conversation series.

Together. Moore and Burnside unpack what it means to remove limitations around Black identity by engaging in authentic dialogue about being Black and LGBTQ in America today.

Having these important, and sometimes difficult, conversations are not new for Moore or Burnside. Both activists practice self-reflection in order to promote culture shift and social evolution.

In an interview with The On Being Project. Moore said. “Honest, uncomfortable conversations are a sign of love.” Moore — a writer, activist, and director of Inclusion Strategy for Content and Marketing at Netflix — is pushing society to a new understanding of change and healing.

“I don’t want to become a better man because what I’ve been told I about] manhood isn’t something I aspire to. I want to become a better human person.” Moore continues.

Burnside was recently honored with The Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award. In a heart-wrenching acceptance speech, he shared his life before becoming a star on Pose. Then he was working as a creative director at a megachurch in South Florida where he confided to the pastor his attraction to men.

“I expected support, counsel [and] prayer. [I]nstead I was immediately removed from my position of leadership. But what stuck with me the longest were his final words at our exit meeting.” He said. 1 hope you get a handle on this ‘thing’ so it doesn’t ruin your life.”

In his speech. Burnside continued to explain that the thing” his pastor was calling a weakness — this single piece of his complex identity — he later learned to be one of his greatest strengths. Throughout this journey, Burnside saw authenticity as a superpower. it is the very thing that has made my dreams come true. This process that we all have to undertake has so little to do with sexuality or gender identity and everything to do with freedom.”

The Family Room conversation series serves as a beloved community and healing space where everyone feels free. welcome, and heard.

Expanding the Boundaries of Blackness with Dyllon Burnside and Darnell L. Moore will help all humans journey to a place of freedom where they can unlock the cages that are keeping so many who have identified as men — and been socialized into manhood — trapped.

For more information about The Family Room visit: Instagram and Twitter: @TheFamilyRoomDC

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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