Kenyon Farrow is an award-winning writer, activist and strategist. Whether serving on a board, staff member, or rank-and-file organizer, Kenyon has spent the last 17 years working in social movements on campaigns and projects large and small, community-based, national and global in scope.
Issues of criminalization and mass imprisonment have been central to his work. He was a member and staff organizer with Critical Resistance for several years, all the while also volunteering as an adult ally when FIERCE! was in it’s early years organizing against the gentrification and criminalization of queer youth in NYC. In addition, Kenyon helped to launch a national network, Project UNSHACKLE in 2008–one of the first of its kind to bridge the gap of AIDS activists and prison activists, which helped build much of the relationships upon which much of the national work around HIV criminalization now organized by the Positive Justice Project through the Center for HIV Law & Policy.
Kenyon is probably best known for his work organizing for racial and economic justice issues in the LGBT community, often underfunded and unpopular work in the midst of the various national and state campaigns for marriage equality. As the former executive director of Queers for Economic Justice, Kenyon worked on a movement-building project to strengthen the connections of grassroots LGBTQ organizations to national racial and economic justice policy issues. But his relationships with QEJ spanned six years, from first being a volunteer shelter project facilitator, helping to draft the Beyond Marriage statement, and also serving on the board.
In addition to his work at QEJ, Kenyon worked on several projects that organized Black LGBT communities in NYC including an anti-homophobia social marketing campaign that’s been re-produced in several cities, working for community accountability around a string of homicides and assaults on Black gay men in the mid 2000s, and also organized a faith-based project to bring together Black LGBT faith leaders and organizers in NYC, called the Revival Initiative, which was the basis for the NYC organization LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent.
But until there is a cure and vaccine that’s affordable and accessible to all, much of Kenyon’s work has turned specifically to working both domestically and internationally to seeing the end of the AIDS epidemic. While HIV/AIDS has been a thread connecting all of his work, he’s worked with Housing Works, NYS Black Gay Network, National Gay & Lesbian Taskforce Policy Institute, and the US & Global Health Policy Director for Treatment Action Group (TAG).
While at TAG, Kenyon published a qualitative research project exploring the role of community mobilization in the US HIV response in 9 US cities. as well as helping to craft a national strategy to end stockouts of TB drugs, which eventually was made a priority in fighting drug resistant TB in the US by the Obama Administration. His work behind the scenes on Governor Cuomo’s NYS End AIDS 2020 plan elicited two important policy wins Farrow directly advocated for: new funding to expand LGBT youth housing options, minors seeking HIV or reproductive care maintaining their privacy, even if they’re on their parents’ insurance. He lead TAG’s work to partner with four jurisdictions in the south to develop “end the epidemic” campaigns to expand the impact of that work in the most impacted part of the nation.
He is currently the Senior Editor with TheBody.com, where he provides editorial direction over theBody.com and TheBodyPro.com, and is developing a new website on sexual health for people aged 30 and under.
Kenyon’s writing has always been a parallel outlet for his activism. He is the co-editor of Letters from Young Activists: Today’s Rebels Speak Out. His work has appeared in the anthologies Spirited: Affirming the Soul of Black Lesbian and Gay Identity, Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Same-Sex Marriage, For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Still Not Enough, We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America, and the forthcoming Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call. His work has also appeared in publications such as the Atlantic, the Huffington Post, TheGrio, Colorlines, POZ, the American Prospect, and AlterNet. He’s currently working on a essay collection entitled Black In A Rainbow World.
Kenyon was named one of Out magazine’s Out 100 for 2008, the Advocate magazine’s “40 Under 40” LGBT Leaders in the United States for 2010, one of Black Entertainment Television’s “Modern Black History Heroes” for 2011, received the Community Activist award at Chicago Black Pride’s Esteem Awards in 2013, given the 2016 Sexual Freedom Award by the Woodhull Institute, and was an honoree of Black, Gifted & Whole in 2017.
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and a longtime Brooklyn, NYC resident, he currently lives in Newark, NJ.
To read more of Kenyon’s writing, please visit the Selected Writings page.