Want to find your chosen family? Maybe you should start a picnic. In any case, that’s what The Black Bear Brotherhood does. This week, We’re checking in with the community social group and sharing our other culture picks: LGBTQ+ safe spaces, a young sculptor’s masterpiece, a Black-owned food hall, notable new books and more. 

If you already know your stuff, test yourself with our new mini-quiz. If you can identify the Detroit mystery spot, email samya@outliermedia.org to win the best prize of all… a shoutout. Keep reading for all our culture and community shoutouts of the week. 

More than a picnic

At a potluck hosted by The Black Bear Brotherhood (BBB), you can smell the food before you get there. There’s lasagna and fried chicken. You know an open bar is part of the party, too, even if you can’t smell it. Music is bumping from the speakers, and about 30 plus-size Black men are hanging out, chatting, eating, dancing.

And unless you are a queer Black man of size in Detroit, you’ll have to do what we just did and imagine what the potluck smells, sounds and feels like. Allies are welcome into the brotherhood, but not at the potlucks.

The Black Bear Brotherhood designates its potlucks as a safe space for plus-size queer men of color. BBB is a social collective for Black gay, bisexual, same-gender loving and gender nonconforming men of size and their allies.

“There’s always people of color or people who are left out of things,” BBB Detroit co-director Damon Percy said. “Especially Black men larger than the (typical) athlete or model. They just get discarded.”

This week, we chatted with a few of the men who turned an informal dinner party into an organization that spans four cities and fosters a sense of belonging. Read the story.

Other LGBTQ+ safe social spaces 

Lesbian Social Detroit is a 21+ pop-up event series for queer women that promotes Black- and women-owned businesses. “We’re kind of increasing our presence, to where we aren’t just hiding in bars in the neighborhoods,” founder Chelcea Stowers told us last year. “We’re actually in the city, just living and enjoying ourselves. We’re starting to pretty much just live our truth.”

Kofi House in Highland Park makes space for queer women and girls through inclusive, all-ages programmingAdam’s Apple and Gigi’s Detroit are LGBTQ+ neighborhood bars on West Warren Avenue… Soho is a casual lounge and gay bar located in Ferndale… Temple Bar is an old-school tavern bar on Cass Avenue that’s LGBTQ+-friendly… See more recommendations and reflections on the importance of welcoming spaces. (Kofi House on Facebook, Outlier Media, Them, Adam’s Apple, Gigi’s Detroit, Soho, Temple Bar)

What to eat x nine

Whatcha Wanna Eat, Detroit’s first Black-owned food hall, received a warm welcome on Detroit’s westside after some viral social media attention. The food hall features nine vendors: Detroit Wild Pit, Borderline Tacos + Things, Poon’s Hibachi Grill, Crazy Burger, Your Perfect Blend Smoothie Shop, Delectabowl, Heavenly Chicken & Waffles, Life is Sweetz, and Wing Fellas.

Husband-and-wife founding duo Bobby and Gena Bailey said none of the vendors are alike, giving customers a variety of options. The hall is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon-6 p.m. on Sundays. (Whatcha Wanna Eat, Eater Detroit)

Made here

Detroit sculptor Austen Brantley, 27, is set to complete what he calls his “first masterpiece” by Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with an unveiling planned for the holiday in Montgomery, Alabama. The piece, titled “Power in the Struggle,” begins with a towering fist clenched in the Black Power salute. Surrounding the fist are smaller statues of two naked men standing guard over the fist.

“I want them to be angelic, I want them to be heroes, but I also want them to have this kind of pain in their eyes,” Brantley told Metro Times about the two men in the piece. “Because it’s not easy to be Black in this country.”

Find his “Boy Holds Flower” sculpture at the East Canfield Pavillion park, and his sculpture honoring Tuskegee Airman Alexander Jefferson will be installed in Rouge Park this November. (Austen Brantley, Metro Times, Detroit Free Press, Michigan Advance)

The immigrant experience on the page

Author Curtis Chin’s newest book “Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant” is set to be released in October. The memoir — which is based on his upbringing in his family’s Chinese restaurant, Chung’s, in the 1980s — delves into the social and political forces that shaped Chin’s experience as a gay, first-generation Chinese American in Detroit.

“It’s a love letter to Detroit,” Chin told BridgeDetroit.

Book cover with “Dear” and “Born” on two separate lines in 3D, purple and blue gradient block letters with pink and orange shadow stretch across a blue sky with mid-1900s postcard image of a factory below. “Stories” and “Ghassan Zeineddine” appear under the title. “‘Hilarious and heartbreaking.... These are wonderful stories from an exciting new name in Arab American literature.’ —Omar El Akkad.”
New release “Dearborn” by Ghassan Zeineddine. Image credit: Via Tin House

We’re only two stories into Lebanese American author Ghassan Zeineddine’s newly released short story collection “Dearborn,” but we’re hooked. Zeineddine, who teaches writing at Oberlin College after a stint at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, told Michigan Radio moving to the city was the first time in his life he felt he belonged to a place. On the page, it’s a city stuffed with characters who feel both familiar and totally original.

Want a taste? Read the short story “Speedoman,” set in a public pool with shifting collective narrators and equal parts riveting, hilarious and nostalgic. (Hachette Book Group, BridgeDetroit, Tin House, Michigan Radio, TriQuarterly)

Test your local knowledge

We’re trying something new here at Detour! Every week, we’ll share a puzzling snap of a Detroit gem. If you know the location, email samya@outliermedia.org for bragging rights! 

Detail of a building made of beige stone and red brick. The storefront window has white chalk writing: “We’re open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Coffee, Breakfast, Smoothies, Lunch, Latte, Cold Brew. Event space available for rent.” Black bike racks and a bench are on the sidewalk.
Hint: This cozy spot is located on Dexter Avenue. Photo credit: SaMya Overall

Correction: An earlier version of this story described Brantley’s studio instead of his latest piece. Two small women statues are not part of “Power in the Struggle.”

SaMya (she/her) believes in empowering and encouraging minority voices through local journalism because journalism is a service to the community, not vice versa. She loves Campus Martius, especially during holiday time with the bright lights and snow.