Dennis Carney is the founder and Chair of Black Connection, a UK Wide Social Network for Black Queer Men aged 50+, formed in 2020, in response to the Covid19 pandemic as a way of staying socially connected. He co-founded Let’ Rap, the pioneering support group for Black Gay men, over 30 years ago, in 1990. It was created to be a safe space where Black Gay men could meet and discuss real concerns affecting their lives.
Dennis was Chair of BLGC (Black Lesbian & Gay Centre Project), in the mid 80’s. He has also been the Chair of Stonewall Housing Association, a board member of Big Up, Blackliners, and Chair of the Black Gay Men’s Advisory Group (BGMAG). He was also an official spokesperson for Amnesty International during the ‘Stop Murder Music Campaign’, which eventually ended Dancehall artists ability to create, perform or profit from homophobic ‘Murder Music’, globally.
He has appeared in the Channel 4 documentaries ‘Black OUT’, ‘Reggae, Trainers & The Olympics’, Veronica McKenzie’s documentary ‘Under Your Nose and very briefly in Marlon Riggs’s groundbreaking film ‘Tongues Untied’. He also appears in recent TV documentaries ‘Positive’ (Sky TV) about HIV in the 80’s/90’s & “Moments That Shaped Black Queer Britain (BET) about Black Queer life in the 80’s/90’s.
Dennis Carney also works as a freelance staff trainer, designing and delivering training events for the Department of Trade & Industry, Islington Mind, Social Care Institute for Excellence, NASUWT (The Teachers’ Union), and London Borough of Tower Hamlets, among many other satisfied clients.
Mr. Carney is a part-time lecturer at London’s City Lit, delivering short courses on Equality & Diversity, Groupwork, LGBT Equality, Gestalt and facilitates personal development groups for counselling students. He is also a long-standing member of the Leadership Team of the Black, African & Asian Therapy Network (baatn.org.uk).
Dennis lives in Brixton, South London, and in 2003 and 2006 he received Black LGBT Community Awards recognizing his contributions to raising the profile of Black LGBTQ communities in the UK.
Dennis Carney’s interview
What do you love about your house?
Ooh, gosh, that’s a good question. I think the thing I love about my home more than anything else is the location. I live right in the heart of Brixton, the Black capital of Europe. It’s a really good location, a three-minute walk to the tube station. You’ve got a street market, a theatre round the corner and Black Cultural Archive Museum right in front of my place, a multiscreen cinema, loads of restaurants, shops, TK Maxx, H&M, and many more. It’s all on my doorstep. I think that’s the main reason I’ve been living here as long as I have. I’ve been living here for 28 years. Another reason why I like my place is the fact that there are lots of Black people living in the neighborhood.
That’s interesting. And then what is your favorite place in the house?
I guess that has to be my bedroom because it’s in my attic. It’s got sloping ceilings and so I think looks a bit unusual. And also, very quiet because it is at the top of the house and it’s got skylights in it, which means that I can grow houseplants in there very, very successfully because the room gets a lot of daylight. There are about 10 to 15 plants in my bedroom and it’s beginning to look a bit like a jungle. I love it.
It is indeed unusual. What motivated you to list your spare room on Airbnb?
Well, it was two things, really. It was a friend I once knew who was homeless and needed somewhere to stay. He kept pestering me about it and I caved in and rented my spare bedroom to him. Nightmare! I just thought to myself, you know what? I can’t do this anymore. I’m too old to be sharing my space. And then a friend of mine who used to let his place via Airbnb said, Dennis, why don’t you explore doing that? So, I thought, okay, then. So, I did. And yeah, that’s the main reason why I listed it on Airbnb.
So how do you juggle between work and hosting people?
I’ve learned over the years that while hosting, it’s important that I make time for myself so I try hard not to do any check-in before 5 p.m. I also work part-time, so I’ve set Airbnb in such a way that it works around me rather than me working around it. So, during the day I can go to the gym and at the same time prepare for the next guest rather than rushing because at the beginning I allowed people to check-in at any time, which was ridiculous. So, now Airbnb works around me.
Describe a home in one sentence.
“My home definitely reflects who I am because it’s full of great memories and beautiful houseplants.”