LGBTQ Youth Advocate Receives MOCHA Award

Ed BrockenbroughThe MOCHA Center honored Ed Brockenbrough, an assistant professor of teaching and curriculum at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education, with the Heart of MOCHA Award in August. Brockenbrough was recognized for his work with and impact on LGBTQ youth locally.

MOCHA, initially founded as the Men of Color Health Awareness in 1996, is a non-profit HIV/AIDS prevention agency that serves communities of color in Rochester and Buffalo, N.Y. MOCHA’s mission is to improve health and wellness in communities of color and their families through intervention and service with an emphasis on LGBTQ programming.

The Heart of MOCHA Award was created to recognize individuals within the community who have been active partners in MOCHA’s efforts to bringing high quality programming to LGBTQ youth of color.

This past year, Brockenbrough has become a familiar face to MOCHA’s youth. He volunteered his time serving as a guest facilitator for MOCHA’s MPowerment Thursday, a weekly workshop that provides LGBTQ youth of color a safe space to explore a multitude of issues related to their experiences as people from marginalized communities. Topics covered during these sessions ranged from gay marriage and homophobia in hip hop music to internalized racism and transphobia among LGBTQ people of color. Brockenbrough also has attended other MOCHA sessions as an observer and participated on a panel that shared life and career experiences of black gay professionals with MOCHA’s youth.

“In the eyes of the youth, Ed is an ally as well as a symbol of what their futures could hold,” says Melissa Middlebrook, senior health education specialist at MOCHA who currently runs all of the youth programs at the Rochester site. “He touches on pertinent topics that fully engage the heart, mind, and soul for our youth, and for that MOCHA is extremely appreciative. He creates a safe space for youth to discover themselves and examine the LGBTQ community.”

Making his mark in LGBTQ communities, Brockenbrough currently serves as a board member of the Black Gay Research Group, a collective of scholars, service providers, and activists from across the country who are committed to disseminating work produced by and about black gay men. He previously co-chaired the New York Chapter of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, a nonprofit organization committed to eradicating homophobia in schools, and served on the board of the Education Justice Coalition, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization committed to creating safe educational opportunities for LGBTQ youth.

Brockenbrough currently directs the Urban Teaching and Leadership (UTL) Program, a Warner School initiative in partnership with the Rochester City School District that prepares urban teachers with a commitment to social justice. Brockenbrough, who serves as a bridge between future educators and the LGBTQ youth of color experience, has brought his UTL students in to learn from MOCHA’s youth and how the organization can serve as a valuable resource to these soon-to-be new teachers preparing to begin their careers in the Rochester City School District.

Middlebrook says Brockenbrough has changed the culture of MOCHA and validated the experience of MOCHA’s youth.

“Ed has the ability to enter a room full of youth and lead them to find their voice,” she adds. “He is truly a divine gift not only to our youth, but also to his graduate students.”

Brockenbrough’s involvement with MOCHA does not end here. During the upcoming year, he hopes to conduct an ethnographic study, along with doctoral student Tomás Boatwright, on how MOCHA addresses the educational needs of LGBTQ youth of color in Rochester so that schools can eventually learn from the organization’s work.

Contact: Theresa Danylak
(585) 275-0777

Tags: Edward Brockenbrough, LGBTQ youth, Urban Teaching and Leadership Program (UTL)