“Thank you for going on a journey with Better Brothers Los Angeles and attending our Inaugural Truth Awards Ceremony Saturday evening. Your presence fulfilled our dream of creating a space where the Black LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer) community could gather and honor its own. You are all now witnesses to that creation!!”’

—from the Truth Awards Facebook page

In existence for just over a year, Better Brothers of LA has transitioned rapidly from being a platform for social engagement to presenting its first major gala event. Saturday, March 28, saw the inauguration of the Truth Awards at the historic Ebell Theater in Los Angeles’ Wilshire District. Initiated to foster communication within this specific community, Better Brothers was conceived because, in the words of co-founder Scott Hamilton, there was “no networking space for Black gay men where they can network and socialize.”

With this in mind, the organization was launched by Hamilton and co-founders Vincent Holmes and Elton Wise. Since its inception, Better Brothers has progressed steadily as an organ of affirmation, committed to advancing their community by, as Hamilton says, “…building upon each other’s ideas, and bridging the gaps between younger and older Black gay men.”

Along the way, they have implemented a twice a month “happy hour” along with a theater outing to “Choir Boy” at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood. Hamilton points out that it is “…still finding its wings,” in terms of finding new and unique events of interest to its members.

Presently Better Brothers of LA boosts a membership in excess of 600.

The Truth Awards seek to celebrate African Americans within the community who have had an affirmative influence on the perception of the LGBTQ community. The inaugural event had the distinction of hosting a sold-out crowd as presenter Sheryl Lee Ralph feted the honorees. An award winning actress, Ralph has long been an advocate and supporter of the LGBTQ community through her DIVA Foundation (which hosted the ceremony in tandem with Better Brothers).

On hand to help welcome celebrities and honorees alike was game and reality show personality Omarosa Manigault Stallworth.

Among those honored were activist, philanthropist, and all-around matriarch of the community, Jewel Thais-Williams. Among her accomplishments she might be best known for founding Jewel’s Catch One Night Club in 1972, the country’s oldest gay and lesbian night spot catering to a Black clientele. A student and practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, she is executive director of the Village Health Foundation, and has been a tireless advocate to spread awareness of AIDS/HIV issues. Numerous others advocates were also honored

It is the hope of Hamilton and the principles behind Better Brothers of LA that events like these will lead to the start of more then “a one dimensional view” of the Black LGBTQ community. Plans are on the way for programs to promote financial literary within the community, and a scholarship fund, for starters.

We look forward to seeing you next year!!!”

This ceremony comes at a pivotal time. As noted by event publicist Wyllisa R. Bennett, mainstream storylines like the plot of hit television series “Empire” actively include issues like homophobia in their regular episodes. One of the speakers, the Rev. Mark E. Whitlock, Jr. of Christ Our Redeemer A.M.E. Church in Irvine, mentioned the current controversy circulating around Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law. Pro or con, interest in gay and civil rights is at an all-time high.

For more information on Better Brothers of LA visit website: http://www.betterbrothersla.com/