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How to Claim Your Power with Emil Wilbekin

  November 18, 2021  |    #Live Fabulously

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Emil Wilbekin

Afraid of being out at work? Hear how Emil Wilbekin blazed trails for LGBTQ people of color in print media as the first out, gay editor-in-chief of a hip-hop magazine. For help blazing your own trial, get the free  7-Step Credit Card Debt Slasher here.

Emil Wilbekin on claiming your superpower

“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 the 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.

Emil Wilbekin on Queer Money®

How to tap into your superpower

Do you know your inherent superpower as a gay man?

Emil Wilbekin is a journalist and media executive. He’s the former editor-in-chief at Vibe Magazine and editor-at-large at Essence Magazine. He was also the guest of Queer Money® episode #37, Modern Renaissance Man.

On this episode, Wilbekin inspired us with his story of seeing challenges in his life, some including being gay, as opportunities and using those opportunities to fuel his success. And successful he is.

Emil Wilbekin was born in Cincinnati OH in 1967. He loved stories and his love of stories drew him to 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 editor-in-chief of Vibe and working with the likes of Lenny Kravitz, Mary J. Blige, Lil’ Kim and Puff Daddy.

He says about being offered the editor-in-chief position and knowing that being out and gay would pose unique challenges, “It was one of those moments where I realized that I had to live my truth. I had to be authentic and I was definitely going to push boundaries and be out and gay and kinda just see what happens. And that’s what I did.”

Emil’s story is inspiring because he was able to reach the zenith of the publishing world as an out gay man and do so in the hip hop genre.

This is a superpower every gay man has. We’ve all had to learn to navigate a world that doesn’t accept us and then succeed in that world. This is something for which we rarely give ourselves enough credit.

The lesson is that if we can survive childhood and school bullies if we can make it to adulthood being responsible, caring men, contributing to the world, we’re a success. And if we did all that once, we could do it again.

This is why we’re passionate about helping gay men do more and be more. Just think of the positive changes we could bring to the world if more of us stepped out and stepped up.

Emil’s own life is mirroring this sentiment, too. After his time at Vibe and Essence, Emil has worked for Lebron James, launched World of Wilbekin (WOW!), in which he helps us live “authentically through art, culture, fashion, style, photography, video, and beautiful prose,” and launched Native Son.

We expect we’ll see more from Emil. What can we expect from you?

Watch more on how to claim your gay superpower:

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5 Building Blocks of a Happy Gay Life

Get more tools to claim your power like Emil Wilbekin:

We’re David and John Auten-Schneider, the Debt Free Guys ( and hosts of the Queer Money® podcast. We help queer people (and allies) live fabulously not fabulously broke by helping them 1) pay off credit card debt, 2) become part- or full-time entrepreneurs and 3) save and invest for retirement.

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