A. Nzere Kwabena recognized as Pride Month Game Changers honoree

Executive director of LGBT Detroit honored for fostering inclusion, speaking out against stigmas

June 7th, 2023

DETROIT -- During the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, A. Nzere Kwabena turned tragedy into inspiration.  

“My friends were dying,” Kwabena said. “Our loved ones were dying. And when my best friend died in my arms, that’s when I devoted the rest of my life to make sure that nobody else would have to see the HIV/AIDS epidemic do that to another person.  

“I was very fortunate to find an opportunity that led me to do advocacy work and as a result, I have worked in this field for about 30 years.” 

Kwabena currently serves as the executive director of LGBT Detroit. He is the first of four Game Changers honorees that the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and Comerica Bank are celebrating during Pride Month throughout June.  

"For more than 30 years, A. Nzere Kwabena has harnessed personal tragedy and shared experiences to serve as a leader in supporting advocacy and education for the LGBT+ community," said Kevin Brown, director of community impact for Ilitch Sports + Entertainment. "As we celebrate Pride Month and the incredible individuals making a lasting impact, we're thrilled to honor him as a Game Changers honoree."

Founded in 1994, LGBT Detroit is a nonprofit organization that works to increase awareness of and support the LGBT+ community through education and advocacy efforts.  

“I am proud that the organization is rooted in this area, because Detroiters understand some things,” said Kwabena, who is a Detroit native. “They are fighters. And for decades, they have witnessed us fighting too. I know that we are borrowing all that energy to curate an environment where everyone can assist one another.” 

Guiding North America’s largest Black-founded and led LGBT+ non-profit can be difficult, according to Kwabena.  

“That’s one of the most difficult parts of this job, but it makes the work very interesting,” Kwabena said. “Homophobia is real. People could not be themselves for a large period of time without the risk of losing their home, job and social status.”  

Kwabena believes the “greatest impact” of LGBT Detroit has been its ability to make “this region safer” for marginalized groups.  

“When I was younger, the typical journey for a Midwesterner seeking freedom was to move from the Midwest,” Kwabena said. “We moved to our cultural ghettos. But I argue that you should be able to be yourself at home. LGBT Detroit has not only made that claim, but provides a space so you can prosper right here.”

LGBT Detroit is set to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2024. Kwabena acknowledged the upcoming anniversary celebration marks a significant milestone, but stresses the organization’s journey is far from complete.  

“We’ve had some successes, but history has taught us that a win is followed by a reaction,” Kwabena said. “The pendulum always swings back and forth. That is when we think about strategies because we don’t want to turn back time.” 

Kwabena said being recognized as a Game Changers honoree will call attention to the charitable endeavors of LGBT Detroit. 

“To be recognized is an honor,” Kwabena said. “And the format of how we’re being recognized does give opportunity for people to see our work. I’m very happy about this opportunity because it is very flattering.” 

For more information about LGBT Detroit, visit LGBTDetroit.org.