At 45-years-old, Darnell Moore is coasting on blessings. For much of the last decade, Moore has been a formidable force in the movement for Black equality and LGBTQ+ liberation, while meticulously providing a blueprint for Black queer men to claim our freedom. With every media appearance, speaking engagement, article, or book, Moore continues to lay the foundation for a legacy that will be remembered and studied long after his work is completed in the physical. He is our ancestor’s wildest dream—living, breathing, teaching, learning, and thriving in the fullness of his badass Black, queer self.
Moore has experienced a sort-of meteoric rise over the last decade that has positioned him squarely in the focus of national and international media. With his long list of accomplishments: double master’s degrees in clinical counseling and theological studies, an award-winning memoir “No Ashes In The Fire,” the podcast “Being Seen,” countless print, digital, and television credits, and in his new role as Director of Inclusion for Content and Marketing at Netflix—one conversation with Moore about who he was in the first half of his life will reveal the success he’s currently enjoying was anything but guaranteed.
“I was one of those Black boys growing up who didn’t see myself living past 25,” said Moore.
A Camden, New Jersey native, now residing in Los Angeles, Moore tells The Reckoning that his twenties were the darkest period of his life.
“I was in undergrad for 5 1/2 years. My GPA was a 2.1. Part of that had to do with the fact that I was suffering through severe depression in undergrad, which had so much to do with me finally coming to terms with my queerness,” he said.
Moore says he somehow graduated from undergrad, but quickly found himself back in his hometown after struggling to land a decent job.
“I was hired by a Presbyterian Urban Youth Missionary Program in Camden—three to four blocks from where my mom lived,” said Moore.
The job paid him a weekly stipend of $30.
“Imagine being the first to go off to college from your family. The person that got voted most likely to succeed in 12th grade and 8th grade—you graduate from college and boomerang your ass right back to the place you left making $60 every two weeks,” said Moore. “It didn’t fit the sort of proverbial idea of the American Dream that so many of us are told we’re afforded to have,” he said.
Moore says he found himself raising his fist to God, but in hindsight, the experience shaped his career trajectory.
“It was in that period where it became clear to me that whatever work that I would end up doing, the work would have to have an impact on my people: Black folk, working poor folk—at the heart of whatever I say yes to if it’s not gonna bring equity and access to the people who I know need it I’m not gonna do it,” he said.
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