“It’s not about being comfortable. It’s about the discomfort and finding your way through the discomfort,” says Emil Wilbekin, journalist, editor and multimedia guru. To call Emil Wilbekin a gay man today in these times is not the same as calling him a gay man in 1990s in the world of hip-hop. That’s thanks to Wilbekin’s courage and the courage of others like him.
We invited Emil Wilbekin onto Queer Money to talk about how he worked up the courage and overcame the challenges of being an editor for hip-hop’s Vibe Magazine at a time and place when it wasn’t necessarily okay to be gay.
The Story of Emil Wilbekin
Wilbekin shares his story of seeing challenges as opportunities and using those opportunities to fuel his success. Emil Wilbekin was born in Cincinnati OH in 1967. He loved stories and his love of stories pulled him into journalism. He tells us how he went from Cincinnati OH to Columbia University to a founding editor of Quincy Jones’ Vibe Magazine in 1993. Despite his small town background and his sexual orientation, by 1999, Wilbekin was the chief editor with the likes of Lenny Kravitz in one ear and Puff Daddy in the other both vying for Vibe’s cover.
After a career that took him from working for Vibe to working for Essence to working for LeBron James, Emil Wilbekin is not done setting the bar for gay men. He shares his current work with the World of Wilbekin (WOW!) in which he helps us live “authentically through art, culture, fashion, style, photography, video, and beautiful prose.” Wilbekin talks about his #NativeSon movement and his first of many Native Son Awards that kicked off last November to celebrate the achievements of black men in activism, media, and entertainment.
More about Emil Wilbekin and #NativeSon
To learn more about #NativeSon, don’t miss the #NativeSon Town Hall on February 15, 2017. More information can be found on Wilbekin’s WOW Tumblr feed.