“’20 Years Strong’ means Atlanta Black Gay Pride is about more than just a party. It's about expanding the mind for the true meaning of Black Gay Pride; affirmation, advocacy, unity and educatioRead More Read More
Adam “Benji” Irby was born on this day in 1983. He is a writer, blogger, activist and “Instagrammer”.
Adam Benjamin Irby was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Willie Irby, a minister and plumber and his mother Lydia Irby is an evangelist, milliner and homemaker. He is the second youngest of four siblings, and attended the High School of Art & Design and Canarsie High School, graduating with a GED in 2001. Following High School, he enrolled at the Wood Tobe-Coburn vocational school where he studied Graphic Design and NYC Technical College where he studied Hospitality Management.
Raised in the Pentecostal Church, Adam found it extremely difficult to come out about his own homosexual feelings in his teenage years. So he didn’t. Bound by thoughts of disapproving parents, and a ravenous burning hell, this once honor roll student became increasingly apathetic about school and life in general, barely graduating high school in 2001 with a GED.
Benji recounts his experience, saying: “After a while I just stopped wanting to go to school. I was depressed. Other kids at school are talking about proms and football games and college, but I was trying to save my soul from a burning hell. I like girls, but I found myself increasingly attracted to guys. In myself I felt okay, but the thoughts of what other people were going to say and think are what plagued me. I prayed and prayed ‘God change me’ and no change was coming. Instead it was getting worse and now people were starting to notice”.
Adam Benjamin Irby went on to say, “It’s so weird, growing up in church. Obviously, we see who all the homos are. We applaud them with the right hand, yet slap them with the left. It’s like being in a horrible abusive relationship. To most people I knew growing up in church, a young man could be a crackhead with six different baby mamas who stole change from the offering plate and still be looked upon with less disdain than the homo who directs the choir and is a faithful tither. It’s ridiculous! As soon as I got grown enough to escape the hypocrisy of the mainstream black church I took off running and never looked back. That transitional period from when I was first coming out as gay, dealing with my parent’s disapproval and being new to this world of men dating men was tough. Because I couldn’t afford a psychologist I poured my feelings into writing, writing about dates and sex and feelings. I would write an entry and email it to a few of my friends. One day somebody told me I was blogging. I didn’t even know what blogging was at the time.”
In 2007 he officially started his personal blog about his dating experiences as a gay black man in New York City. The blogs were poignant, funny and often revealing about his personal challenges and triumphs. The once unpopular, shy crybaby growing up in school had become an “it-boy.” By 2008 Adam and the unrelenting sexual and emotional candor of his blog were making waves throughout the urban gay community. Relishing in his newfound popularity on and off the internet Adam became quite the socialite throwing lavish birthday parties in celebration of himself every summer.
Adam Benjamin Irby is delighted that his words have the power to impact others: “The best part about blogging is touching people. When people from Jamaica and Africa, in places where people literally get killed for being gay, write me letters telling me how much of an inspiration I am and how they almost live vicariously through me and how great it is to see a black gay man be open and expressive with his feelings in such a positive way, that’s what kept me going. When I get recognized by strangers on the street and people can tell me verbatim about posts I’ve written and how my struggle helped them get through a hard time, it’s the best feeling ever.”
The blog was at its apex of popularity in 2009 when Adam Benjamin Irby was invited to speak on a panel about Black Sexuality at Yale University. Shortly thereafter he put his blogging on hold to concentrate on more traditional career pursuits.
“Blogging about the stuff I blog about, the way I write is hard. It was fun at first, then the bigger and more popular it got, the harder it got. You’re putting your whole life out there on for everyone to not only see, but also to judge and ridicule. You may say something and mean it one way, but it can be taken in an offensive way. As much as the things I’d written about touched people, you know, the candor and all, a lot of times I still felt pre-judged and misunderstood and it began to really stress me out. And like with any stressful job, you’re eventually gonna need a break. In my case where my stressful job is sharing the gory details of my love life or the lack thereof, I needed a break from being me! So with all the wonderfulness that was going on with Yale and everything, it was great but I wasn’t ready for something that started as a hobby to take on a life of its own that way. So I did a ‘Dave Chapelle’ and ran.”
After failing miserably at fitting into the cat-and-mouse, dog-eat-dog world of traditional employment and after all the persuasion of his longtime readers Adam returned to the world of blogging earlier this year. You can check out his blob here: http://benjiirby.com/, his Instagram here: @ benjiirby and his Facebook page here: http://facebook.com/benjiblog
“I did it for them, my readers. Although I had stopped the blog a few years back, my loyal readers still kept up with me via social media. After a while I noticed that although I wasn’t quote-unquote blogging per say that my Facebook and Instagram posts became longer and longer to the point where they were becoming mini-blogs and now new people were getting into my writing. At that point I knew I had to come back. I’m back older, wiser and better equipped to handle the jealousy, ignorance and undue scrutiny that comes along with putting my life out there like I do. Because at the end of the day, I realize, it’s not about me, it’s about them, my readers. I write about my bad experiences as a way of healing for me and paying the lesson forward to them, so that they don’t have to experience the same pain I went through. That’s how I stay blessed.”
We join Adam Benjamin Irby on this day to celebrate his 31st Birthday, and thank him for his candid blogs, his empowering advocacy, and his many contributions to our community.
Copyright © MMXIV Stephen A. Maglott. I’m not fond of lawyers, but I have one anyway. She insist that I inform you that permission to share this biography or any portion thereof, on an online service or blog other than Facebook, must be granted in writing by yours truly (Stephen Maglott). Please feel free however, to share this post with others on Facebook.
* If you enjoy these biographical tributes to same-gender loving/Trans men and women of African descent, please “like” the Ubuntu Biography Project page! And then go back and select “Get Notifications”. (https://www.facebook.com/UbuntuBiographyProject) Thank you.