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In honor of Juneteenth 2024, meet The Normal Anomaly

In honor of Juneteenth 2024, meet The Normal Anomaly

<p>In honor of Juneteenth 2024, meet The Normal Anomaly</p>

This Black, queer-led organization is addressing the intersectional challenges their communities face, including HIV.

Every June provides us opportunities to create awareness, discussion, and action around the issues that affect some of our most marginalized communities. In addition to it being Pride month, which celebrates the LGBTQ+ community, we observe Juneteenth, the official national holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865. On June 27, we also observe National HIV Testing Day. These events intersect in a way that demands our attention and action, particularly for Black queer individuals who face unique and compounded challenges.

While these observances may seem like separate topics to many, if you take a step back you’ll see they are intrinsically connected. The systemic disparities that Black, brown, and queer communities face in this country have also led these groups to have the highest rates of HIV diagnoses. At this pivotal moment in our nation’s history, the demand for equality and justice for marginalized people has never been more crucial. That’s where The Normal Anomaly comes in.

The Normal Anomaly is Black, queer-led organization dedicated to reducing stigma and the spread of HIV within the Black queer community. This initiative began in 2016 in Houston, initially as a blog and safe space for real people to share their stories and seek support. Within 3 years, founder Ian L. Haddock had the organization working with Huffington Post, United States Conference on HIV/ AIDS (USCHA), and Prime Video. As the platform grew, Haddock had amassed a thriving team of nontraditional activists who together began to expand The Normal Anomaly even further.

In 2019, the group focused heavily on developing into an official organization. Through strategic planning, organizational infrastructure, and theory-based curriculum such as healing justice, harm reduction, and restorative justice trainings, they were able to become a fiscally sponsored organization focused on the digital storytelling of Black, queer-plus persons.

The, as the COVID pandemic took over in 2020, the group began to see that there were many more needs present in the communities they sought to serve. They also saw that not much attention was given to these communities in their area, and something needed to be done. The organization shifted its lens to creating change through advocacy, direct services, and technical assistance. As a result, the Positives Organizing, Wellness and Resilience (POWR) Project, Transgender Allyship Collective (TAC), and Project Liberate and Black Queer Plus: Center for Liberation were launched in 2021.

These days, The Normal Anomaly continues to serve their community by “eliminating barriers and creating new norms” through learning cohorts, development initiatives, HIV Testing, employment linkage, transportation, a thrift store, and more. Meet some of The Normal Anomaly's leaders below.

Ian L. Haddock, Founder of The Normal Anomaly

photo by Alex W

Ian L. Haddock (he/they/any pronouns used respectfully) serves as the founder and executive director of The Normal Anomaly Initiative. Ian has been privileged to work in communications with NASTAD, as president of Impulse Group Houston and as a Center for Disease Control HIV ambassador. Haddock has written for The Grio, Logo/NewNowNext, and The Statesman. With over 11 years both in front line and management experience in advocacy, nonprofits, and government, he brings a wealth of knowledge and innovation. Haddock has been awarded Trailblazer of the Year, Hometown Hero, and National Emerging Leader of the Year. When Haddock is not fighting for the most marginalized, you’ll find him luxuriating with tequila, rose’, or on a fashion or travel conquest.

​Joelle Bayaa-Uzuri Espeut, Director of Programming

photo by Alex W

Joelle Bayaa-Uzuri Espeut (she/her/hers), director of programming, oversees the ancillary programs of The Normal Anomaly Initiative, including P.O.W.R. (Positives Organizing Wellness and Resilience), T.A.C. (Transgender Ally Collective), and Project Liberate. Joelle’s social advocacy experience includes assisting with program planning and implementation as well as serving as communications manager for The Mahogany Project, Inc. since 2018. Aside from her work with the Mahogany Project, Joelle has worked with AIDS United, GLAAD, Gilead/Compass Initiative, and Emory University. She has also been awarded the Rising Star Phoenix Award in 2020. When Joelle is not fighting for liberation and social justice, you can catch her thrift shopping, blogging/writing, or being a plant mom.

Jordan J. Edwards, Program Director

photo by Alex W

Jordan J Edwards is a program director at the BQ+ Center for Liberation of The Normal Anomaly Initiative. Jordan serves the Black, queer-plus community by increasing opportunities for sustainable employment and linkage to care services for those living with HIV and those interested in PrEP. His first experience with HIV was when he watched a family member pass away of AIDS complications in early 2000, talked down a friend down from planning attempted suicide from receiving an HIV positive diagnosis, but the shift in his life changed once he got his HIV positive results in 2013. Jordan became a Heavy Hitter Pride ambassador in 2019, received an Emerging Leader award from AASOETF and Impulse Group Houston 2019. In 2021, he received the Phoenix Rising award from The Mahogany Project. He can be found in The Advocate, VoyageHouston, and Outsmart. Jordan spends most of his time being creative, gaming, in an animal shelter, and spending time with family and friends.

Rochelle "Shelley" Washington, Senior Program Manager

Pisces310 Photography

Rochelle "Shelley" Washington is the newest addition to the team, having officially joined in April as senior program manager after her participation in The Normal Anomaly’s 2024 Project Liberate program — a six-month intensive program designed to empower activists, nonprofit leaders, entrepreneurs, and small business owners to turn their ideas into action. During this time, Shelley went on to found Be Owt Ministries, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting financial literacy and resource allocation in underserved communities. As an avid faith leader, Shelley’s passion for empowering individuals to experience the Divine in their lives extends beyond her professional pursuits. She is known for her dedication to educating, equipping, and encouraging others, and says she's "excited to bring an expression of Black queer women and provide my skills, knowledge, and outlook in moving The Normal Anomaly Initiative forward in breaking barriers and creating new norms for our communities.”

To learn more about The Normal Anomaly Initiative, visit

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