African American Mayors Association Hosts Pride Summit with NYT Bestselling Author George M. Johnson

Published on June 27, 2024

(Washington) – The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) hosted its Fourth annual Pride Summit for mayors and Corporate Business Council members yesterday featuring award-winning, Black, non-binary writer, author and executive producer George M Johnson.  Johnson is the author of the New York Times bestselling young adult memoir “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” which talks about their adolescence growing up as a young Black Queer boy in New Jersey through a series of powerful essays, now optioned for TV by actress Gabrielle Union.

During the summit, moderated by AAMA President and Montgomery, AL Mayor Steven Reed, Johnson talked about the anti-LGBTQ+ climate in the country today and the impact of legislation that seeks to censor and ban LGBTQIA+ inclusive literature. 

“It has been a very interesting fight, because I just never could imagine where we got to a day where you have governors talking about the benefits of slavery and you have the removal of, not just LGBTQ history from classrooms, but now the attempt to remove Black history from classrooms, or the attempt to, as they are doing, re-write, what actually happened during slavery and during Jim Crow and during the civil rights movement,” said George M. Johnson. “That’s why we continue to fight because it’s not just queer books they are removing. They are removing all books that do not center white people, and primarily do not center white men and young white boys as either the savior or the catalyst, and that’s not the society that we live in.”

According to data from the ACLU, there are more than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills this past year alone. The FBI’s annual crime report from last year indicates a 19 percent increase in anti-transgender bias crimes from 2022 to 2023, a 35 percent increase in anti-transgender bias crimes; additionally, a 2022 GLAAD report found that more than 54 percent of transgender and nonbinary people feel unsafe walking in their own neighborhoods. 

Johnson believes the targeted attacks and attempts to censor and re-write history are happening now because the country’s demographics are shifting a lot faster than many had previously thought. Census population projections a few years ago predicted that the US would become “minority white” in 2045, but Johnson says experts already know that the trend is moving much faster, and that up to 15 or 20 percent of today’s generation now identify as LGTBQ.

“We had an identity shift, and we were also having a significant race shift, which means that eventually you will have an entire cultural shift, and so that’s why they are fighting so hard, because they see these shifting demographics, and there is a real fear in them because they know what they did,” said Johnson. “That’s really what the fear is, the guilt from the past in knowing that because ‘our’ ancestors were so vile to so many communities, what happens when these communities outnumber us, so this whole thing is an attempt to try and shift that.”

During the summit, AAMA President and Montgomery, AL Mayor Reed paid homage to the pillars of the LGBTQ+ community who paved the way for African American mayors such as former Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago and current Mayor Mark Barbee of Bridgeport, PA to serve out loud as mayors in their cities, and asked Johnson how mayors can better amplify and protect queer voices in the literary and arts world.

“It’s extremely important to bring us to the cities for speaking engagements, to actually do things like this,” shared Johnson. “We don’t do a well enough job, specifically within Black communities, of actually engaging the populations, rather than talking at each other, we don’t talk to each other.”

As a former journalist, Johnson has written for major outlets including Teen Vogue, Entertainment Tonight, NBC, and Buzzfeed. In 2019 they were awarded the Salute to Excellence Award by the National Association of Black Journalists for their article “When Racism Anchors Your Health” in Vice Magazine. Johnson was listed on The Root 100 Most Influential African Americans in 2020, the Out 100 Most Influential LGBTQ People in 2021, and in 2022 they were honored as one of the TIME100 Next Most Influential People in the World.

To listen to the full recording from the AAMA Pride Summit, please visit here.