On Mother’s Day 2019, Mia Cooley, fondly known as “The Big Momma Mia” founded the Facebook group Black LGBTQ+ Moms and Parents, also known as xHood, as a virtual support group for Black moms, gender non-conforming and nonbinary parents and caregivers. Cooley established the group as an inclusive, safe space to find representation, chosen family, resources, and encouragement that is free from racism, homophobia and transphobia. Within a few years, xHood has racked up thousands of members, ranks in the top 1% of community groups, and even received funding, executive coaching, and resources from Meta (Facebook parent company) to further propel their mission.
Reflecting on xHood’s success, Cooley says, “Watching our evolution inspired me to bring our opportunity to connect to the next level. We deserved a space that would provide tailored resources to our community who are building and nurturing healthy and happy families. As Black and Queer folx we are the blueprint for chosen family, and non-heteronormative family dynamics, we deserved the main stage and I wanted to build it for us.”
Next, Cooley launched the Black Parent Pride Summit, a two-day conference, designed to provide resources, coaching and in-person connection. “I listened to what the members of our private community wanted, more touch points with one another and with the decision makers of the businesses behind our families. They wanted a chance to truly be heard and make meaningful connections for themselves and for their families” she says.
There will also be guidance for family planning, including resources “to successfully navigate their journeys to and through baby and walking through “non-traditional” and “unconventional” paths to family whether that be assisted reproduction, adoption, fostering, or the blending of families.” The conference will also address “legislation actively fighting against rights for people like us and families like ours. Our reproductive mortality rate is three times more than our white counterparts. There’s a disconnect between the roles that we play in our children’s lives and how we are recognized legally. Only 13 states provide legal protection to non-gestational parents, legally this means we are no one. This leaves us unprotected, isolated – and at worst the outcomes are lethal.”
Cooley is truly passionate about providing support for members to lean on in all phases of parenthood. She says, “We provide grants and facilitate fundraisers because parenting and building families in the way we must is not cheap. It is dedicated time, money and resources. We host baby showers for people who may be estranged from their families as a result of their queer identities. We provide photo shoots for families so that we can begin to see ourselves in media….and host information sessions with fertility clinics, donor banks, attorneys, insurance providers, financial planners and more. So that our members can get the answers they need from experts.”
For more information about xHood and tickets to the upcoming conference ($175 each), taking place on June 25th-27th, click here.