Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Kehinde Wiley Exhibit Opening at Phoenix Art Museum

OMG!  I love me some KEHINDE WILEY.  Several years ago I was reading an article in The Advocate all about this phenomenal man and his art.  The article contained several images of his work and I remember falling more and more in love with each word I read.  As an African-American man, I was thrilled seeing his strong yet sensual images of young, black men.  Some embracing each other.  Some standing majestic and alone.  All were vibrant and mesmerizing.  As a black gay male I was excited to see a person of color featured in the magazine. 

Several months later I was walking through Phoenix Art Museum on a first Friday.  Imagine my surprise when I came across this fantastic painting that I distinctly remember seeing in the Advocate.  Wiley's work is unique and easily identifiable.  The patterns and brilliant colors that showcase beautiful black people make his pieces stand out in any gallery.  The piece in Phoenix Art Museum was/is my favorite picture by Wiley.  

I was a huge fan.  And then my admiration grew even more.  I started watching Lee Daniel's "Empire."  Fans of the show couldn't help but notice the exceptional artwork featured in the show.  I immediately recognized the artwork.  This was Wiley through and through.  The writing on the show was great.  The music on the show - off the chain.  The art - OMG!!!

And now I am extremely excited to announce that this fantastically talented man is coming to Phoenix Art Museum for an exhibit that will span several months.  Wiley will be in town on October 6 to deliver a lecture at Phoenix College about his work.  His exhibit at Phoenix Art Museum opens the following day and will remain through January 8, 2017.  If you're a lover of art - please do yourself a favor and check out the exhibit.  If you're a fan of Empire, please come out and listen to Wiley's lecture and learn more about the man. If you are LGBT (especially if you're an LGBT person of color), I encourage you come out and support this out and proud black same-gender loving individual and his work.  Hope to see you at the lecture or at the opening of the exhibit. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Guns, Violence and Peace: A Community Conversation

Tonight I attended "Guns, Violence & Peace: A Community Conversation."  The event was hosted at First Congregational UCC Phoenix and was a joint effort of the host church, ASU's Project Humanities, the Arizona Faith Network, and the several community leaders that participated.  The evening started with a presentation on the history of guns and the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Robert J. McWhirter is a certified specialist in Criminal Law and his opening presentation was an in-depth look into the evolution of guns in the U.S. and our relationship with them and with their regulation.  It was during this presentation that I learned I was a "hoplophobe."

Following his presentation there were break out sessions that looked at gun violence through various lenses.  Those presentations included:
*  Justice and Law Enforcement
*  Impact of Violence on School
*  Black Lives Matters
*  Mental Health Issues and Violence
*  Impact on the Hispanic/Latino Community

Each person in attendance spent twenty minutes in one session and then twenty minutes at the second session of their choosing. 

For my first session I chose "Mental Health Issues and Violence" facilitated by Terrina Picarello.  This was totally not what I was expecting it to be.  I have a friend with a history of mental illness that lost her life to a police officer.  I thought this session would explore our relationships with individuals with mental health issues and address how police officers should act when confronting obviously affected individuals. 

Instead we learned about how trauma affects the brain.  We learned how kids that grew up in homes with trauma are affected mentally.  Also we learned how soldiers and officers who see chaos, violence and even death on a daily basis are affected by this trauma.  This brain trauma affects how they behave and this should probably be addressed by police departments and by the military.

The second session I attended was Black Lives Matters (BLM) led by Reverend Reginald Walton who heads the local Phoenix chapter of the BLM movement.  Rev. Walton discussed biases and "othering."  He opened his session by stating "What happens here does NOT stay here."  We conversed about how attendees felt about BLM, how their peers felt about BLM, and what actions should be taken regarding BLM.  It was a very powerful conversation.

But then we closed the evening by having all presenters and all attendees gather for a final group discussion and integration.  It was then that I realized the powerful conversations being held in all of the break out sessions and I realized I wanted to be apart of all of these discussions.  Everyone in attendance spoke enthusiastically about what they learned in the opening lecture and in their break outs.  My only regret is that I felt I missed out by being limited to only two groups.

Community conversations like this need to happen more frequently and they should be attended by larger crowds.  But unfortunately, most people do not want to address those controversial issues like race, police brutality, and violence in our schools.  But lack of conversations allow us to continue to have a lack of action.  So for this reason I want to say kudos to the organizations and the host church for making tonight happen.  I think everyone there walked away with a bit of inspiration and a bit of hope. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

2016 NCC (National Capital Cities) Pageant

Sunday evening, July 24, 2016, I attended the Ms. NCC (National Capital Cities) pageant held at The Rock.  Pageant founder, organizer, and promotor, Bruce Williams (aka Jalissa Andrea Michaels - The Patti Labelle of Arizona) was on site adding another successful pageant to her resume.  The evening was filled with some fierce contestants and a host of fabulous entertainers.

Stepping down from her reign as Ms Black NCC was Regina Gazelle (personal friend of The J Spot) and all around awesome individual.  The four contestants vying for a crown included BeyoncĂ© Black, Ki Ki Andrews, Shania Sky, and Demi LeRay. 

The contestants had to make their way through the standard items associated with pageants.  Sports wear, evening gown, talent competition and on-stage question.  These girls brought their A game.  They all wanted a title and they wanted it bad.  Hems were tucked, shoes were polished, and wigs were snatched to the Gods.

Many moons ago I was a title holder in the system.  I was Mr. Southern Regional 1998.  It is great to see that the system is still tack and is not slowing down.  Kudos to the new title holders, and thank you to the previous title holders who spectacularly represented during their reign.

Some pics of the event are available below.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Congratulations Karen and Treasure

I would like to extend the sincerest and most heartfelt congratulations to my friends Treasure and Karen.  Following some extensive work on self, preparation for career, and goal setting - Karen has now officially finished the Phoenix Women's Resource Center KickStart program.  And following months of coursework and research - Karen received a certificate for her accomplishments.

The evening was a celebration of women.  The president of the organization, Susan Burman, talked about the purpose of the organization and how it serves women by equipping them with the tools to be successful.   Women received their completion certificates for their completed works and several women received full ride scholarships for college. 

The keynote speaker was an individual by the name of Susan White.  She was the recipient of the ThriveOn! program certificate.  Susan came to the Women's Resource Center a victim of domestic abuse.  She was broken and she was uncertain about her future.  However, as she spoke tonight you could hear confidence in her voice and see resilience in her smile.

I was honored to be invited to the event.  The women were encouraged to bring their support circles to witness tonight's festivities.  It was a pleasure as I watched Treasure and Karen cross the room, shake hands with the program coordinator, and receive their respective certificates.  Looking at these two ladies I'm reminded that with the love of your partner, the support of family, and the encouragement of friends, you can accomplish anything.  Congrats and kudos.

Monday, May 16, 2016

And The Winner of RuPaul's Drag Race Is . . .

Congratulations to the latest winner from RuPaul’s Drag Race – Bob The Drag Queen.  I have been #TeamBob from the very beginning but as I was watching tonight’s finale, I honestly had no idea which queen RuPaul would choose to continue her legacy.  I am a fan of all the girls in the top three so I was a bit perplexed about which direction she would go when deciding who would get the crown.
Kim Chi has been fabulous this season.  Beautiful.  Humble.  Creative.  RuPaul always has a diverse cast so it was not a surprise to see an Asian queen on the show.  It was great to see this Korean cast member who embraced her ethnicity and frequently included culturally relevant fashion and make-up in her performances.  Although I have adored her through the season, I did have one reservation regarding her winning this competition.  Kim Chi shared that she has never revealed to her mother that she is a drag queen.  I do wonder how this message would be received by the masses.  I think the winner of this competition should be someone that is comfortable enough in their skin to share their fabulousness and their realness with everyone important in their lives. 
Naomi Smalls is beautiful.  I’ll admit, I was not a fan of hers in the beginning.  I initially perceived her as arrogant and obnoxious.  But then she humbled herself.  I believe people have the ability to change and  I believe in second chances.   I saw her evolve into someone nice, reserved and helpful and I was pleased to see this transformation.  While I admit I was leaning toward Bob The Drag Queen as the winner, I did feel her energy was very similar to Bianca Del Rio’s.  Naomi is young, fierce, and very fashion forward.  For these reasons I thought she could very well win the crown.
I must admit, it was such a pleasure to see Chi Chi DeVayne on the stage again.  She made it to the top four and was finally forced to “sashay away.”  But I was pulling for her to actually be in the finale.  She is a Southern girl – like myself.  She was definitely an underdog in this competition, so I was so thrilled to see her make it that far.  There were self-doubt and self-esteem issues with her in the beginning, but you see her gaining confidence with each week.  Her positive energy becomes absolutely contagious toward the end.  It sounds like her career, post RuPaul’s Drag Race, is really taking off.
Bob The Drag Queen – you’re fantastically funny.  You’ve been an advocate for the LGBT community by getting arrested while protesting for marriage equality.  You’ve got rhythm and can hold it down on the dance floor.   For me, you snatched the title in Snatch Game with your Carol Channing and your Uzo Aduba.  I do feel you are the best candidate from this season and you are deserving of tonight’s victory.  Congratulations to you on winning the title, the $100,000 and the favor of all of America. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

My Night With Michael Sam

I have been looking forward to the Phoenix 2016 HRC Gala for quite some time now.  When it was announced that the keynote speaker would be the one and only Mr. Michael Sam, I got so excited I just wanted to just spit.  As much as I admire him for his courage and his tenacity for coming out prior to the NFL draft, my heart goes out to him.  Since his coming out announcement and his draft to the Missouri Rams, he has lived his life under a microscope.  His accomplishments, as well as all of his downfalls, disappointments, and failures would be available for all the public to witness, chastise, and vilify.

The entire LGBT community longed for him to be successful with the Rams.  He was literally going to “change the game” as it relates to same-gender loving folks.  We needed him to play not just well, but exceptionally well.  We were ready to hold him up as an example for what all LGBT athletes could do – live your life authentically and honestly and still be able to make it as a professional in whatever sport you chose.

And then he was cut from the Rams.  You could almost hear the collective gasp from the gay community.  And then came the announcement that he would be playing with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League.  Though it’s not the NFL, we were still excited just to hear that he would still be playing the sport he loved.  And then we heard that he would be leaving the league and the reason cited was “concerns with his mental health.”

It was at that moment that I realized the tremendous pressure being placed on his shoulders.  Michael Sam was carrying the hopes and dreams of the entire LGBT community.  And let’s be real, this kind of pressure can be exhausting.  When you carry the weight of an entire community, it can become too much of a burden to bear.

Although he may not be playing professionally anymore, I was still excited to meet the man that wanted to live his life authentically.  I know many that attended the event were there for the same reason as me.  They wanted to meet the man that told his truth.

I assumed Sam would be kept out of sight until it was time for him to take the stage.  However, early in the evening, during the silent auction, he made his entrance.  He marched into the room with a smile and charm that made him easily approachable.  Everyone’s cell phones came out and there were selfies abound.  You could tell Sam did not mind the attention.  He took time to greet everyone with firm hand shakes, hugs, kisses on the cheek, and for several ladies - the distinguished kiss to the back of the hand. 

When he eventually took the stage, he shared a very powerful story about his youth.  He grew up as part of a very big family.  He talked about how most of his siblings did NOT like him.  He was either picked on or totally ignored by most of his family.  He grew up not feeling at home in his own home.  Most of brothers had a reputation for being rowdy and for  constantly being in trouble.  When many in his hometown saw him and his siblings, it was commonplace for them to hear, “there goes those damn Sams!”  For others in his family that wore this like a badge of honor, but for Michael, it was a source of embarrassment.

Michael talked candidly about his upbringing, about that night of the draft and that infamous kiss, and about living his life as an out gay man playing professional football.  He has quite the story to tell, even though his time on the field was short lived.

I’m a black gay man and I sit in awe at other black men that pursue their passions while living their lives out and proud.  So my night with Michael Sam was exceptional.  I thanked him for his honesty.  We hugged.  I noticed how nice he smelled.  And then I enjoyed an evening of great food, fun music, and amazing people.  For me, this was my first HRC Gala.  Thanks to Michael Sam, it was a night I won’t soon forget.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Arizona Black Theater Troupe presents Black Nativity!

Do yourself a favor, please go and check out the current running Black Nativity, being presented by Arizona Black Theater Troupe.  The entire show was terrific but there were definitely some stand out performances for me.

No doubt, the best song of the evening was the closing number.  Tyra Young's "His Blood Still Works" will make you forget you're in the theater and make you think you're back in the church. I swear it was so good I wanted to throw my shoe at her.  

The show took some liberties in the second set.  Following intermission, Roosevelt Watts II incorporated some of his spoken word into the production.  Let me tell you, I've seen Black Nativity numerous times.  But when he spoke I turned to my neighbor and said, "He wrote those words."  I could tell from his delivery that he gave birth to  that narrative.  Poignant and powerful, the words he shared turned Black Nativity into a story you will feel like you're watching for the very first time.

Ebony Green, you're version of "Oh Holy Night" had me in tears.  I loved every syllable.  I've got four words for you.  INTONATION.  PHONATION.  ACCURACY.  And PITCH (sorry I had a flashback to watching Lean on Me over the weekend).  Everything about that song was perfect.  I've seen Ebony perform several times and this was the first time I got to hear her falsetto.  And it was faboulous.  The control in her voice is amazing.

If I have any criticism of this show, it may be that I didn't get enough of George Johnson.  GEORGE, where did you come from?!?  Following the show, several of my friends kept comparing him to Luther Vandross.  Don't get it twisted, he is prominently featured in this production.  But his vocal strength just leaves you wanting more.  

And finally, to Miss Nancy Taylor.  I simply love your voice.  You have an elegance about you when you stand center stage.  Every thing you did was awesome.  But - your "Go Tell It On the Mountain" was simply divine.  

Trust me, if you're not in the holiday spirit yet, BTT's Black Nativity will get you there.  Do yourself a favor, and go out and support this production.  It only runs until December 20.  If you would like to learn more about Arizona Black Theater Troupe, or if you are already ready to purchase your tickets, please visit there website.  Trust me, you won't be disappointed.  You can find them online at http://new-wp.blacktheatretroupe.org

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ten Documentaries All Same Gender Loving Black Folks Must See

The documentary is an interesting film genre.  To be done properly it must find that perfect balance between entertaining and educational.  It's a bit difficult to get it right.  That being said, there are so few documentaries that focus on same-gender loving African-Americans.  Usually whenever I hear of one, I rush to get my hands on it.  All of the films on this list are a part of my library.  I have seen them all.  This is just my opinion of ten great documentaries that focus on black LGBT folks.  I would love to hear your thoughts on what I got right (what titles on this list do you love) and what I got wrong (what titles did I omit that should be included). 

10.  Just Between Us:  For a film that includes some of the biggest movers and shakers in the black same-gender loving community, this documentary is almost unheard of by most African-American LGBT folks.  It addresses such diverse issues as HIV/AIDS, coming out, and living on the down-low, and the roster of names represented in the film includes the likes of Maurice Jamal, Bobby Blake, Faith Trimel, and Sharon Bridgforth.  Creative minds and community organizers answer questions that look  at how we’ve evolved, current issues impacting us, and where are we headed as a people.  This documentary honestly should be much higher on the list.  The only reason it is listed at number ten is because it is almost impossible to get your hands on it.  It is currently listed as unavailable on Amazon.   

9. Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story:  Anyone paying attention to the recent trend of athletes coming out should have noticed that the majority of names seem to be African-American.  This year in baseball there was David Denson.  Also recently there has been Derek Gordon and Jason Collins in basketball,  and Michael Sam in football.  But as we develop the list of black same-gender loving athletes, let’s not forget the incredible boxer and world record holder Emile Griffith.  His story has been captured in the documentary Ring of Fire.  In it we learn about his rise to the top as a boxer, his career defining fight with Paris “The Kid” Benet, and his struggle with his sexuality.  Griffith is quoted as saying, “I kill a man and most forgive me, I love a man and many say this makes me an evil person.”

8. ENDGAME: HIV in Black America – Let’s be honest, African-Americans are the new face of HIV/AIDS.  We still make up half of all new infections even though we are a mere 12 percent of the U.S. population.  We are disproportionately infected and affected by this disease.  But for some reason, this continues to be a topic that we are uncomfortable addressing.  There is constant finger pointing and passing of blame.  But it is time that we move beyond determining who is at fault and get to the business of getting people tested, getting those positive connected to services, and finding a way to stop the transmission of the virus.  ENDGAME brings awareness to this taboo issue that most would like to continue to disregard.  It forces us to address the elephant in the room.

7. Jumping The Broom: The New Covenant – Several years (long before marriage equality was a reality in the U.S.), I had friends that  didn’t think the right to get married was something black same-gender loving folks was concerned with.  Then slowly but surely, a few states began to do the right thing and grant marriage equality to it's gay and lesbian constituents.  In more than a few of those states, the first same sex couple to get married was a black couple.  This trend proved to me that not only was marriage equality an issue for our community, it was a priority.  This incredible documentary by Debra Wilson focuses on four different same-sex couples, each in long-term relationships, all with the desire to get married and legally spend the remainder of their years together.    

6. Tongues Untied (or any film by Marlon Riggs) -  Before there was Patrik Ian-Polk, Maurice Jamal, or Dee Rees, the only film maker creating projects that focused on gay and lesbian black folks was Marlon Riggs.  Tongues Untied.  Black Is . . . Black Ain’t.  Color Adjustment.  All of these films offer a unique perspective into the world of same-gender loving African-Americans, HIV positive African-Americans, African-Americans in the artistic sphere, and various other groups that, until Marlon, did not have a voice and were almost invisible.  A brilliant film maker and creative genius, Marlon died way too young from complications from HIV.

5. Call Me Kuchu – Focusing on homophobia in Uganda, following the creation of their “Kill the Gays” bill that garnered worldwide attention, Call Me Kuchu does a marvelous job showcasing the level of hatred and intolerance this country has toward gays and lesbians.  But this is not the only film that accomplishes this.  Stephen Amos’ Batty Man  spectacularly delves into homophobia in Jamaica and the U.K.  Dispatches:  Africa’s Last Taboo is another film that takes us to the continent of Africa and addresses how same-gender loving folks are treated.  What each of these films does very well is bring notice to how LGBT community members are treated in communities around the world.  And the conclusion I’m going to draw is that things ain’t pretty. 

4. James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket - One of the greatest voices of the African-American civil rights era, Baldwin's works include Notes of A Native Son, The Blacker the Berry, Giovanni’s Room, and The Fire Next Time.  In the Price of the Ticket, we get to see Baldwin talk about his activism in black equality in the 60s, his time living abroad, and his famous peers that would pop up on Saturday evenings just to drink and party with him.  A fantastic writer and an equally gifted orator, Baldwin was a much sought after speaker and would share the stage in debate with some of the greatest minds of the era including William F. Buckley and Malcolm X.  If you’re a fan of literature or a person interested in the history of the civil rights movement, this documentary is a must to add to your list.

3. Brother Outsider: The Bayard Rustin Story – This is the story of a man who until recently received none of the credit he deserved for spear heading and organizing the 1963 March on Washington, for bringing together the African-American community and the labor movement, and for instructing Dr. Marin Luther King Jr on the proper methods of non-violent, peaceful protests.  As an openly gay man, there were many African-American leaders that assumed that Rustin’s involvement with the movement would be detrimental to their efforts.  Thankfully Dr. King was smart enough to realize that Bayard’s skills as an activist and an organizer were not just a benefit of the movement, they were invaluable.

2. The New Black – This project by Yoruba Richen takes a look at the struggle for marriage equality in Maryland.  In what was a baited effort to bid the African-American community against the LGBT community, no one wanted to take into consideration there were folks that were members of both communities.  These individuals with dual citizenship refused to fall into the trap and took to the streets educating folks on the importance of marriage equality, registering voters, and exposing the opposers of equality for their bigotry and bias.

1. Paris Is Burning – Paris Is Burning is the first time the world was allowed a peek into the Harlem Ball Scene and into the Houses of which the scene is composed.  Before Madonna gave us “Vogue”, Jennie Livingston gave us Willi Ninja, Paris Dupree, Pepper LeBeija and Octavia St. Laurant.  It was unlike anything we had seen before and the world was captivated by it.  Before Paris Is Burning, no one knew what happened to these inner city kids that were kicked out of their homes for being gay.  They formed their own community.  Their own family.  And these familes [these houses] would compete against each other on the run way.  Following the release of this film, some of these individuals became household names.  And vogueing would become one of the biggest dance sensations of the nineties.

There are several documentaries that I would love to see but unfortunately either they have not been made available yet, or they are currently out of print. Bayou Maharajah and Al Nisa: Black Muslim Women in Atlanta's Gay Mecca look like they're going to be great, but they are not yet available for purchase. Hope you enjoyed the list and I hope you take the time to check out these films.  If there are titles out there that did not make the list, that I should be made aware of, please let me know.  

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Christian School Teaching Hate

This story is so disgusting it just makes me angry.  A 5 year-old girl has been kicked out of a private Christian school after the school learned that her parents were lesbians.   According to the Advocate, Mt. Erie Christian Academy summoned the parents to the school to talk with them, had a prayer with them, and then proceeded to tell them, "You guys don't fit the criteria, we don't condone homosexuality."  

The kid was not removed from the school because she was unruly.  She did not have any type of learning disability that would prevent her from performing in class.  There was no tuition they were unable to pay.  The kid was banned from attending because her parents were lesbians.

OMFG this makes my blood boil.  I am so sick of institutions like this that continue to preach and practice hate.  And don't get it twisted - this is hate.  This is not following God's word. This is at its core a school wallowing in bias, prejudice, and bigotry.  Behavior like this is not only not Christ-like, it should be illegal.  But because they fall under the categories of private and Christian, they can get away with whatever malicious, vile and evil actions they want.

I've said before and I'll say it again; institutionalized homophobia, spiritual abuse, and social stigma are the primary reason LGBT folks suffer from lowered self-esteem, low self-worth and they're why we either attempt suicide or live lives on the down-low and don't share who we are honestly and authentically.

But this kid isn't gay.  This kid is just fortunate enough to have two devoted mothers who love each other and care for their daughter and wanted her to attend a school that they thought would educate her, uplift her, and hopefully instill in her some values and morals.  Well let me be the first to say, the morals this school is teaching, I DON'T WANT!!!

F*CK this school.  And F*CK you if you think it's okay for schools to behave this way.  This is not of God and this is not Godly.  First Corinthians, Chapter 13 states, "love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always, perseveres."

YES!!! God is love.  What this school practices is HATE!!!  And it is so very difficult for me to sit back in silence after learning actions like this still continue to happen.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Rest In Peace: Sache VanCartier

I met Sache VanCartier (aka A.C.) many years ago, shortly after Chris and I first relocated to Phoenix.  Somehow I got involved with N.C.C. (National Capital Cities Pageantry System) and pageant owner Jalissa Andrea Michaels.  To be honest, I still don't remember how this came to be, I just remember that somehow they had me competing in the Mr. Southern Regional competition.   
Sache was a title holder in the N.C.C. system at the time. She would go on to earn several titles by the way, but at this time in the late 90s, we were both pretty new to this pageantry stuff.

I was a Mr. contestant and would frequently share the stage with the likes of Byron Lord and Sean Boone.  We were usually left to our own devices but occasionally the misters would be invited out to share the stage with the drag performers.  

It was a lot of fun and I met sooo many interesting folks during this time.  Sache was one of those folks.  I remember Sache as being approachable, friendly, warm, and always smiling.  She was soft spoken but charismatic.  She seemed shy but easy to engage.  Whenever I had to attend a show of NCC title holders, if Sache were there I always ended up talking with her most of the evening.  Though we never got really close, I remember how easy it was to have a conversation with her.

Life happened and my time attending drag shows decreased as I became more focused on career and school and  activism.  Then my time going to bars altogether disappeared.  One day I had to make a rather unpleasant trip downtown to court to deal with a ticket I had received.  While making my way through the lobby who did I run into, none other than AC.  He had mentioned to me previously that he worked in law enforcement [side note, never stereotype female impersonators, some of them work in the most difficult, most masculine jobs there are].  It was interesting to see him in this environment. We chatted about me seeing him for the first time in his uniform and he scolded me about not taking care of my car's registration.  And then we went our separate ways.    

Several years later I ran into him at a friends wedding.  I noticed he had lost a lot of weight and I complimented him on how good he was looking.  Being that we hadn't seen each other in years, we took a few moments in the back of the church to catch up with each other.  He asked about my partner Chris.  I asked him how was work going and how were his shows going.  It was a pleasant although brief exchange.

Then today I saw a post on FB that someone heard that Sache passed away.  I called a friend who verified what I had read was true.  Sache died last night after several years fighting cancer.  When I saw her she did not disclose this personal ordeal she was going through.  When I see people who've had a tremendous weight loss, I am never one to assume the worse.  I thought her weight loss was an achieved goal of her's.  But let's be honest, no one is going to reveal their personal health obstacles with an acquaintance they hadn't seen in years.  I know I wouldn't.

Nevertheless, it is still very saddening news for me to learn about the drag community's loss of Sache VanCartier.  Sache, you were always so nice to me and it was always a pleasure to be in your company.  Maya Angelou once said, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."  This is the reason I'm mourning this loss. It was always a pleasant feeling I had when I was with her.  It is indeed discouraging knowing that I will never again have one of those chance encounters 


On Friday evening I made it out to the theater with a group of friends to see the new Stonewall film.  I had already seen the trailer and I already knew about the boycotting, but I decided I wanted to see this for myself to form my own opinion.  Let me just say this, there is something to be said about going in to see a film with very low expectations.  When you’re not expecting the film to be good, then can you appreciate the few shining moments that unfold before you. 

Before I criticize this project, I have to admit, there were a few things that Roland Emerich got right. First, while the film was white-washed, just by taking a look at the movie poster, you can tell that it was not totally void of effeminate men and people of color.  While the star was a young, cis-gendered, white male, the movie did a great job celebrating the diverse cast of characters that made up Christopher Street and that frequented Stonewall.  I took joy in seeing black and brown, young and old, cross-dressers and transgender folk on the big screen.  While they were not the focus of the film, their characters were developed enough for us to see how complex they were, and how much of a community these individuals were to each other.  It’s just unfortunate that these characters took a back seat to “Danny” (Jeremy Irvine).

Also, in this film, we’re introduced to Marsha P. Johnson.  YAASSS!!!  Ms. Johnson was an integral figure in the story of Stonewall and an important character in the history of Christopher Street.  I thought Otoja Abit did a fantastic job bringing to life this legendary character known for her mothering spirit to the kids of this community and for her humility.  Having Marsha in the film was definitely something the film got right.

And finally, I have to appreciate the film for giving us a sense of how horrible it was to be a “sexual deviant” during this time.  Whether you were gay or lesbian or trans, it was horrible living during this time.  The constant fear of being arrested just for who you are had to exhausting and burdensome.  The tale did not end with an arrest; an arrest meant being outed as being gay.  Being outed meant losing your job and losing your social standing.  We were considered mentally ill and a threat to the general population.

Those are the things I loved about the film. But here is where the film majorly FAILED!!!  (Can I say SPOILER ALERT when this is all evident in the trailer?)  The film gives all the credit for Stonewall to the white kid.  It’s like Marsha P. Johnson, the kids of Christopher Street, the members of the Mattachine Society served no purpose.  All of these folks supposedly garnered all their inspiration, their rage, and their ability to fight back thanks to “Danny.” The film did give credit to Marsha as being the first to shove a cop but that moment did not start the riot. It was Danny that was the catalyst that started all the Stonewall patrons to get angry, it was Danny that excited everyone to start fighting back, and it was Danny who gets the credit for throwing the first brick.

This was not okay.  Stonewall was the most important moment in the history of LGBT civil rights in the United States.  The historical significance of this event can not be underestimated and should not be minimized and we should NOT re-invent the evening and give credit to someone that does not deserve it.  It is disrespectful and insulting to the actual heroes of that night. 

I walked away actually able to say that I enjoyed the film.  It is a period piece that does a great job capturing what it was like for queer and trans folks during this time.  I loved the fact that we got to see Marsha P. Johnson.  And I appreciated the fantastic cast of characters that added to the menagerie of this movie.  My only issue is that Danny gets so much credit for the Stonewall riot.  And let’s be real, if this film is about the riot, then who gets credit for the riot is a hugely important part of getting the film right.  And this just didn’t happen.  I’m  glad I went and saw it. But for those that are boycotting, I must tell you, you’re absolutely right, the film is a misrepresentation of history.  But honestly, what film ever is?!?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Reality of Gay Marriage - Gay Divorce

Yesterday an Arizona judge announced than an annulment will not be granted to Brittney Griner. And this announcement apparently pleases her former partner Glory Johnson who stated she was "thankful the annulment was rejected because an act of marriage did occur."  

Please don't think this article is at all aimed at Brittney or Glory.  I actually don't have a personal opinion about their relationship except to say that I feel sorry that it must play itself out in public.  I am a fan of both individuals and I wish them nothing but the best in resolving this current matter and in all of their future endeavors. 

This post is really just to bring awareness to the reality of gay and lesbian marriages - and that is gay and lesbian divorce.  I am still very excited about the Supreme Court's decision to end the Defense of Marriage Act and grant marriage equality to the LGBT community.  Since that decision was announced, thousands of same-gender loving couples have rushed to their county clerks offices, picked up their marriage licenses, and exchanged rings and vows.  

As the kids say now, YASSS!!!  I loved seeing the pics of married couples across the country finally being able to do what their hetero counterparts have taken for granted.  It fantastic that we're finally receiving the same rights and privileges that come with the institution of marriage.

However, before you rush out to marry your boyfriend or girlfriend, please take a moment to ask yourself if you are indeed ready for this very serious, very intimate, and supposedly very eternal ceremony.  Just because you can now get married does not mean you should go out and get married.  

Do some real soul searching as ask yourself if you are ready.  If you are ready, then ask yourself if your current partner is the person you want to spend the rest of your years with.  And please remember, eternal bliss is based on more than just sex.  Do you and your partner share similar values?  Are you aware of each others' personal situations (i.e. health, finances)?  Do you know more about each other than just where she shops and where he goes to the gym.

There are consequences to rushing into a marriage that you are not ready for and that consequence is divorce.  Divorces tend to get real ugly real fast.  This person that you thought you spend forever with is going to call you every name of the sun, accuse you of every unforgivable act there is, and attempt to punish you by taking as much away from you financially as possible. I'm not saying it's right or it's okay, I'm just saying that this is the normal routine when it comes to divorce.  

So please, before you get down on your knee and propose, make certain that you are indeed ready marriage.  I do not have a magic formula for determining   if you are ready, but take step back and make sure you're ready before you say "I do!"

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Vigil for Kandis Capri Wednesday, August 19

And we have yet again another trans-person killed.  There have not been many details released regarding the death of Kandis Capri.  But it worthy to note that the Phoenix Police Department is trying to make the gay and lesbian community aware of this death by way of the Phoenix LGBTQ Advisory Board.

This Wednesday, August 19, there will be a vigil for  Kandis to be held at the Downtown Phoenix Civic Space, located at 424 North Central Avenue.  The vigil will go from 7:00 - 9:00PM.  

For those that express their support and love of the transgender community by praising Caitlyn Jenner and applauding Laverne Cox, I ask that you show your support locally by coming down to this vigil and demanding an end to trans-violence and transphobia. 

And don't get it twisted, transphobia is not something reserved just for the straight community.  We have quite a few lesbian, gay and bi folks who have disdain, intolerance, and hatred aimed at trans folks.  

I took a moment to read some of the comments on the FB post announcing this vigil and I came across this, "How does this happen in Phoenix?"  I guess it's nice to know some people still see Phoenix as a place where violence against the LGBT community doesn't happen.  This person must be new to the city or totally unaware of what's been happening here.  Please check out some of the links below as a reminder of just how "welcoming" our city is for LGBT folks. [Let it be noted: I do not think our city is exceptionally violent toward our community.  I just think that homophobia and violence towards the LGBT community exists here as it does everywhere else].

Some examples of violence against our community include:



Some examples of murder against our community:


Phoenix has been home to it's fair share of violence against same gender loving folks. Hope to see some of you there at the vigil for Kandis Capri on Wednesday.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

My Thoughts on Rachel Dolezal

I know I'm several days late on speaking on the Rachel Dolezal story, but  I usually like to process things for a while before I speak on them.  I will admit I feel a bit confused by the story.  Why in the world would a white women chose to identify as African-American?  She obviously did NOT do it for any type of advantage.  Being black in this country does nothing to get you ahead in anything. 

Bur for some reason, here is a lady that identifies as black (even still) and chooses to immerse herself in black culture, black life, black academia, black institutions.  She was moving along just perfectly in her little world until her parents threw her under the bus.  This is the part that just seems so strange to me.  Parents are supposed to love, nurture and support their children.  These parents saw an opportunity to out their child and grabbed that chance to shame and embarrass her before the world.  REALLY?!?

The thing I'm most confused about has nothing to do with Rachel.  It has everything to do with most people's reactions to this story.  I get being curious.  I get bewilderment.  I get lack of understanding.  What I don't get is the anger that's being thrown her way.  So what if she identifies as black!  She has a doctorate in African-American studies.  She attended Howard University.  She is [was] president of the NAACP.  For some reason she has an affinity with and a connection to black folks. I don't know why, but she does.  

And it's not like she hi-jacked her black identity and did nothing with it.  Her doctorate in African-American studies is a tremendous accomplishment.  I'm sorry, but it is.  And apparently, she was very successful in her role as President of the Spokane NAACP chapter.  She did not idly hold her seat.  She was an active member of the black community in Spokane and did a lot for the community.  Now I have not researched her contributions to the community, this just seems to be the sentiment coming from blacks in Spokane that know her. 

So while I do not get where she's coming from, I still cannot say that she has generated any type of hostile feelings in me. I'm sorry but I ain't mad at cha.  It's an interesting story but I do not feel it is deserving of all the attention it is receiving.  I probably isn't even deserving of my simple little write-up.  But I had to share my two cents.  And there you have it.