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Ian L. Haddock Honored for LGBTQ Advocacy at The Normal Anomaly Initiative

Haddock advocates for Black queer-plus persons and aims to change problematic narratives.

Ian L. Haddock (Photo by Frank Hernandez for OutSmart magazine)

Activist Ian L. Haddock is a product of the University of Houston’s Graduate School of Social Work and serves as the founder and executive director of The Normal Anomaly Initiative. Having been homeless as an LGBTQ youth, he brings a unique perspective to his crucial advocacy work. That perspective caught the eye of GLAAD this year, and helped earn him and The Normal Anomaly Initiative a prestigious GLAAD Media Award.

“For World AIDS Day, The Jennifer Hudson Show had me on with Dafina Ward from Southern AIDS Coalition to talk about the importance of advocacy around HIV as it relates to any demographic,” says Haddock. His appearance on the talk show served to highlight his advocacy and support for the Black queer community. This powerful segment won the Outstanding Variety or Talk Show Episode Award at the 35th Annual GLAAD Media Awards event last month.

“The Normal Anomaly started in 2016 as a blog site,” explains Haddock “Then in 2018, we started moving towards a nonprofit organization, and we were fiscally sponsored by the Montrose Center.” The first grant that Normal Anomaly received was from the Southern AIDS Coalition. With support like this coming in, the initiative was empowered to better center Black queer-plus persons to overcome barriers and end stigma and problematic narratives surrounding them.

While they were planning their World AIDS Day episode, the team at The Jennifer Hudson Show reached out to Haddock to see if he and The Normal Anomaly Initiative would be a fit for what they were developing. “We had the conversation, and we had another conversation, and another conversation,” Haddock recalls, “and they ended up saying, ‘Hey, we want you on the show, along with Dafina.’ When they announced that I would be on the show with Dafina, it was like this homecoming of sorts where we could definitely vibe and synergize around the work.” And the rest, as they say, is history!

Haddock’s inspiration and goal for his advocacy comes from a desire to amplify the stories of those with marginalized identities. “I wanted to tell the stories of Black LGBT people,” he says. “GLAAD does a great job of amplifying stories, but we’re talking almost ten years ago when it wasn’t mainstream to talk about Black and LGBTQ issues.” However, Haddock didn’t want to tell stories from a place of sharing news, or ones that were centered on hopelessness and despair. “I wanted to tell our stories of joy, excitement, advancement, courage, and bravery,” he emphasizes.

With that as a guiding principle, The Normal Anomaly Initiative utilized their blog, expanded into digital video formats, filmed PSAs, and created content that can be found on streaming platforms like Prime Video. “In order to really make the impact that I wanted to, we had to change narratives, and that narrative change is a lot more actionable work,” says Haddock. “I have a team of eight people and we do direct services, advocacy, capacity building, research, and training across the Southern region and across the nation.”

Haddock’s love for writing and his keen ability to identify those who are deserving of being uplifted ensures the work of The Normal Anomaly Initiative achieves its goals. Yet, the roots of this organization go even deeper. “I don’t have an academic background. I don’t have a formal education,” he says. Haddock came out at a young age and endured homelessness because of that. “I don’t share that to be like, ‘Oh, that’s so sad’” he explains, “but it was the Black LGBTQ community that I found that really was able to curate, cultivate, and coach me to become who I am today. They were the family that I found and the family that chose me.”

Haddock has since reconnected with his biological family, but the embrace he received from the LGBTQ community at large, especially the Black LGBTQ community, planted the seeds that grew into The Normal Anomaly Initiative and its GLAAD Media Award.

The Normal Anomaly Initiative team at the Black Queer AF Music Festival. (l-r) James Drake, Brutas Dewayne, Ian L. Haddock, Joey Jackson-Streeter, Joelle Espeut, and Jordan Edwards. (Photo by Pisces 310 Photography)

“Winning the GLAAD award is really a testament to what community can do when community is able to lead,” Haddock says. “Although The Normal Anomaly is a small organization, we are a premier organization. When I talk about it, I’m talking about the fact that there are generations of queer people before me. There are generations of people who decided to defy the odds and to defy what people consider normal. Generations of anomalies that pushed against policy, religiosity and spirituality, that pushed against their parents, school systems, and really pushed to find a way that created the trail that I get to re-blaze.”

Winning a GLAAD Media Award gives The Normal Anomaly Initiative a larger platform and more notoriety, and this isn’t lost on Haddock. “What’s next is we’re going to end HIV. What’s next is we’re going to eliminate barriers for marginalized people. What’s next is The Normal Anomaly needs to be in each city, each country, and each continent,” Haddock emphasizes. “As a church queen would say, ‘All these things shall be added.’ So, whatever the things are—the accolades and uplifting of the platform, agreements, money, and all that—all these things shall be added.”

For Haddock, the additions keep coming because of the generous support The Normal Anomaly Initiative receives. “The Gilead Compass Initiative is doing some incredible work, and their embracing of what The Normal Anomaly is doing has really transformed us,” Haddock says. “They are our first and longest funder. Their financial investment and their investment in our human capital and our humanity is essential.” Other entities that Haddock points out as doing the work and helping uplift the work of The Normal Anomaly Initiative include OutSmart magazine and The Truth Project.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 11: (L-R) Ian Haddock, Jennifer Hudson, and Dafina Ward attend the 35th Annual GLAAD Media Awards New York on May 11, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for GLAAD)

Accolades like the GLAAD Media Award and recognition from other outside organizations also allow Haddock to, as he puts it, sit in his gift. “As a self-professed church queen, when I was little, I always knew that I had vision,” Haddock recalls. His friends pointed out that he always had big dreams and was a big thinker. That is what Haddock means by having vision. “I never really had language for that until I started really being able to sit in that gift and just say, ‘This is what I want to do. This is what I want to create.’”

That confidence is what gives Haddock the tenacity to reach his goals. “The tools come to me. The tools are attracted to me,” he notes. “The people that I need to know come into my area, or I go into theirs. I’ll figure this out because I want to do it. And that is a testament to just sitting in your gift. I’ve grown up a little bit, but for better or worse, I’m the same as I was when I started: a normal anomaly.”

For more info, visit normalanomaly.org.
Keep up with Ian L. Haddock on Instagram @ianlhaddock.

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David Clarke

David Clarke is a freelance writer contributing arts, entertainment, and culture stories to OutSmart.
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