Activist & Public Health & HIV Specialist in Africa: Cary Alan Johnson

Cary Alan Johnson petting his dog
Cary Alan Johnson is an author, activist, and Africanist. Raised in Brooklyn and currently living in Central Africa, he is the founder of several organizations, including the Black Heart Collective, gay Men of African Descent, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. He is currently the country director for Population Services International in Burundi.

In this episode, you will learn the following:

  1. How has Cary Alan Johnson’s experiences as an African American and a Peace Corps volunteer in the Congo shaped his commitment to service?
  2. Capacity building for government and local affairs in impoverished nations.
  3. Coming of age as a black man during the AIDS crisis as featured in his novel, Desire Lines.

Cary’s website:

Cary’s novel:
Desire Lines on Amazon

Cary on Social Media

Cary on Social Media
Instagram: @johnsondesirelines
Facebook: caryalanjohnson

More About Cary

Cary Alan Johnson is an author, activist, and Africanist raised in Brooklyn. He has a Bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College and a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University. A long-time innovator in national and international queer politics and cultural activism, he was involved in several ground-breaking organizations, including the Blackheart Collective, Gay Men of African Descent, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Cary was a founder of Other Countries, the Black gay arts collective that published three volumes of poetry, prose, and visual art by Black gay men in the 80s and 90s. His short stories, poetry and essays have appeared in several anthologies and literary journals including Agni, RFD, Classic Gay Love Poems, Joseph Beam’s Brother to Brother and E. Lynn Harris’ Freedom in this Village. A public health and HIV specialist with experience living and working in Guinea, Haiti, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe, Cary has worked for the United Nations, Amnesty International, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. He is currently the country director for Population Services International in Burundi.

About Desire Lines

In Desire Lines, a Black teenager growing up gay in Brooklyn is captivated by a vision of life on the other side of the river, where the sparkle and glitter of Manhattan beckon. Coming into adulthood, he finds himself living in a five-floor walk-up in Hell’s Kitchen just as the AIDS epidemic is hitting the city. We follow him and his group of friends as they experience the first wave of illness and death, and then accompany him on a two-year journey to Zaire, Central Africa, where he must confront corruption and homophobia in new and unexpected ways. Back in New York, he and his best friend-a biracial straight woman-try to find their place in a rapidly changing and increasingly perilous city that threatens to destroy first their friendship, and then the narrator himself.
At once graphic, intimate, and harrowing, Desire Lines is a roller coaster journey through gay New York in the 1980s–the sex, the drugs, and the trauma of AIDS–a moment marked equally by dramatic devastation and the fierce determination to survive.

About Population Services International

Population Services International (PSI) is a nonprofit global health organization with programs targeting malaria, child survival, HIV, and reproductive health. PSI provides products, clinical services and behavior change communications for the health of people in high-need populations.

The organization employs more than 250 U.S. staff, more than 150 overseas expatriate staff and 8,000 local PSI affiliate staff. Major donors include the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands; the Global Fund, United Nations agencies, private foundations, corporations and individuals. It is a member of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of over 400 major companies and NGOs that advocates for a larger International Affairs Budget, which funds American diplomatic and development efforts abroad.

Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsPodcast AddictCastBoxOvercastAmazon MusiciHeartRadio

Buy Me a Coffee

Looking for positivity within our community, then listen to Queer We Are. The podcast where you’ll hear some of the most interesting and successful LGBTQ+ people share uplifting stories, including their definition of success, how they achieved it, and what they learned along the way. Guests include celebrities, activists, politicians, athletes, and many more.
If you’ve been looking for both fun and inspiration, now you know where to find us because Queer We Are.