It’s officially Pride month and in celebration of Black gay and queer excellence, the legendary Emil Wilbekin presented the 2023 annual Native Son Awards show, hosted by Don Lemon and sponsored by Cadillac, and Gilead Sciences.

The organization that’s known for championing and empowering queer men of color, came together at the IAC building in New York City to honor a mass group of artists, influencers and tastemakers who are trailblazing their chosen industries.

We are honoring the mavericks in our community who have used their platforms to shine a light on our brilliance and beauty at a time when we are under attack at the intersection of our Blackness and our Queerness,” expressed Wilbekin.

The host of the evening and former CNN Journalist, Don Lemon made quite an entrance in an all white double-breasted suit. Perhaps there could not have been a better time to uplift and acknowledge Lemon who has served in the media industry for over 25+ years.

He spoke to the 520 anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation introduced in state legislations across the country that target the gay community. In addition to ‘book bans’ that are often rooted in anti-blackness, transphobia, and queer phobia.

Lemon expressed,

There’s a consequential power we have when we tell our stories on our own terms.

And there are many people doing everything they can to silence us

But we will not allow them to succeed.

It does not matter how many bills they introduce.

We cannot and will not be legislated out of existence.

Honorees of the evening included the youngest Black playwright in Broadway history, Jordan E. Cooper who has reached critical acclaimed for his play, “Ain’t No Mo,” and P-Valley star, Nicco Annan.

Renowned filmmaker Patrick-Ian Polk who created the dynamic Black gay TV series, “Noah Arc,” was also recognized for his incredible contributions to television. Along with Jason Bolden and Adair Curtis, who are the stars of the hit Netflix TV series, “Styling Hollywood.”

Celebrity stylist, Ty Hunter who is the mastermind behind some of Beyonce’s most fierce looks, and Billy Porter’s avant-garde style, also attended the Native Son Awards show and exuded confidence and power with a leather-on-leather ensemble and bold accessories.

“The community is filled with creatives, a lot of passion, a lot of fight, a lot of love, it’s filled with talented individuals that for a very long time have had to fight for their acceptance, and their freedom,” said Corey, the Leader of the Iconic International house of St. Laurent. “Many people don’t see a lot of things LGBTQ so therefore we have to continue to fight for our rights to be seen, heard and respected.”

Bolden and Curtis weren’t the only dynamic duo, as filmmakers Elegance Bratton and Chester Algernal Gordon who created “The Inspection” featuring Gabrielle Union, and Jeremy Pope also made a sartorial debut in Prada and Esenshel.

The event which had over 300 attendees was captivating, uplifting and unforgettable. Founder Emil Wilbekin explained,

“Native Son, the movement community and platform was built for a time like this. Tonight  — during Pride Month and on the eve of Juneteenth, we show our resilience and resistance through unapologetic representation.”

Check out more celebrities and stars of the evening that were in attendance at the Native Son Awards below.


George M. Johnson

Kidd Ken

Prince Derek Doll

Lady Kenyatta Taiste, Don Lemon, Yannick Lebrun and Taj Tsonga