Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

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 ending.  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.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dancer Dudley Williams Dies at Age 76

I am a huge fan of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.  I am late with this news, but apparently four days ago, an elite dancer from the troupe, Mr. Dudley Williams passed away at his home in Manhattan at the age of 76.  Although no cause of death has been given, it has been said that there is nothing suspicious about it. 

Dudley was born and raised in New York City and became interested in dancing while very young.  He was waiting on his uncle who was taking voice lessons at a local art school and there Dudley witnessed one of the school's dance classes.  He immediately fell in love with the art of movement.  At the age of 12 he began training with Sheldon Hoskins school in Harlem and from there he would go on to train at New York's High School for the Performing Arts.  After graduation in 1958 he received a scholarship to Julliard.

Dudley performed with many illustrious dance companies including those of May McDonnell, Donald McKayle, Talley Beatty, and Marthat Graham.  Then in 1964 he joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater where he would showcase his talent with spectacular solo dances and dynamic performances with the troupe.

To see the wonderful tribute the New York Times did for this dancer, please go here.

And to see one of his terrrific performance, please see the video below.  Rest in peace and rest in power Dudley Williams.  The world will miss your talent.

The Prancing Elites Promote HIV Testing

I am really enjoying this first season of The Prancing Elites Project.  I'm not aware of how they are doing as far as ratings go, but I really hope people are tuning in and getting to know this fantastic group of young men that "just want to dance."

The dance troupe is made up of Kentrell (the captain), Adrian, Jerel, Kareem, and Timothy; and I must say I am loving them and I am loving the show. Maybe I'm biased because I am a native of Alabama and the Prancing Elites live in the bay city Mobile.  Maybe I'm biased because I used to do Jay-sette routines when I first came out and would go to the clubs or would go to house parties.  Or maybe it's just a great show with a fun and adorable cast  that are fun to watch week after week.

Several weeks ago Kareem got sick and was unable to perform with the elites; and he would not open up about what was happening.  He just simply stated, "I'm going through some personal stuff." As the show continued his health only got worse.  Then last week he finally revealed to the guys that he tested positive to HIV.  Upon his revelation, he was embraced with love and support.  After the tears, the elites shared that they loved him no matter what and that they would always be available to help him get through whatever he was going through. 

On tonight's episode of The Prancing Elites Project, the group decided to hold an event to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS.  They partnered with an AIDS Service Organization in Alabama and jointly sponsored the "Dancerama, No More Drama, Get TESTED, Tell Your Mama!" HIV Awareness event. I could tell from angles of the cameras that there were not many people in attendance of the event.  But as a person that has been hosting community events for years, I know that you're not always going to get the number of people you want.  And knowing the homophobia and AIDS probia that exists in Alabama, I can imagine that not many people wanted to attend knowing there was a great chance they would be broadcast on national television.

The truth is, if there event encouraged just one person to get tested and know their status then the event was a success.  I wish continued success to the Prancing Elites and I pray that Kareem gets tied into the services he needs to help him live long and healthy after his cero-conversion.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the elites bring me next week.  

Blackesque: The QueErotic Music Tour

Blackesque, The QueErotic Music Tour is coming to Phoenix tomorrow night (Monday, June 8).  As a Black same-gender loving man, I believe in supporting all creative efforts by other members of my community.  As a resident of Phoenix, we rarely receive visits like this so I feel compelled to break my old man curfew and see the men and women (and trans folk if applicable) that make up this interesting troupe.  

Knowing nothing about the tour, the artists, or the history of Blackesque, I took a stroll through the Facebook invite I received. I found a burlesque performance that looked simultaneously exciting and frightening.  I found a hip hop artist flowing on par with the best rappers in the game.  And I found a girl and her guitar, fantastically strumming away on the strings and singing with a soulful and phenomenal voice.  These were just clips (running anywhere from 15 through 30 seconds), but I imagine they only want to give a snippet of what they offer in an effort to entice you to come and see the full performance in person.

Well, it worked.  I will be there.  And hopefully the queer community of Phoenix will show up and support.  I specifically want to encourage LGBT people of color to come out and support these artists because it's so important that we promote and support our own.

Blackesque: The QueErotic Music Tour will happen tomorrow night at 7:00 PM at The Gallery, located at 1229 Grand Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85007.  You can learn more about the event by visiting their Facebook page here:

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Pop Artists Videos featuring Gay Couples

I am so in love with Jennifer Hudson's new video.  "I Still Love You" tells the story of a young gay couple getting ready for their wedding day.  The video opens with one partner calling his father and leaving a voice message, inviting him to the ceremony.  He states before hanging up the phone, "Inspite of everything, I still love you."  Powerful words that set the ground for a powerful video.

However, Jennifer Hudson is not the first mainstream, Top 40 artist to feature a gay couple in her video. As I watched her video, I started to think about other artists (specifically people of color artists) that have embraced the LGBTQ community. This is just a list of my top five favorite moments where gay love has been showcased in the video of pop artists.

5.  Murs is a rap artist, not a pop artist, but he still makes my list.  His video to "Animal Style" pre-dated Macklemore's "Same Love" and Frank Ocean's coming out.  I label him as one of the first within this genre  to help start the shift away from homophobia and transphobia towards one of inclusion.  More strides need to be made, but we have many great allies which include the likes of Jay Z, Russell Simmons, P. Diddy, and Will Smith.  Get into "Animal Style" below:

4.  Ricky Martin is getting hotter as he gets older.  Coming out has definitely agreed with him.  He continues to release great music.  His new stuff is very different from the "Shake Your Bon Bon" and "Living La Vida Loca" dance and sweat kind of songs.  This has more soul.  This tells a story.  This is more meaningful.  The song "Disparo al Corozon (Shot to the Heart) is from his latest, all Spanish album A Quien Quiera Escuchar.  The video features a newly married gay couple.

3.  Ashanti has evolved tremendously since she stepped on the scene.  In her latest project, Braveheart, I can hear how she has grown.  And in the video to "Never Should Have," I appreciate how the love of a gay couple is just one of several couples featured.  Seemingly showing that same gender love is no different from any other form of love.

2.  This is the video that inspired this list.  The song is just fabulous.  Poignant, catchy, dance-able. Jennifer Hudson has resonated with gay folks since her days on American Idol.  We really embraced her when she took on the role of Effie White in Dream Girls.  We loved her even more as Carrie's assistance in the Sex In the City movie.  Her vulnerability in dealing with the tragic loss of her family, her courage in publicly tackling her issues with weight, and let's not forget the fantastic voice have launched into the status of icon. And for releasing this wonderful video, Jennifer Hudson, I still love you.

 1.  As much as I love Ms. Hudson, I love the following song just a little bit more. Marsha Ambrosius' "Far Away" features a black gay couple and brings attention to suicide within the LGBT community.  I've been a fan of hers since she came on the scene as one half of the neo-soul duet Floetry.  I continued to support her in her solo endeavor.  This video served as a public service announcement, bringing awareness to homophobia and bullying against, and depression and low self-esteem within gay men.

Honorable mention to diva Toni Braxton.  This performance is from her 1998 Billboard Awards performance.  The video quality is not the greatest but it's the only version available on YouTube.  I remember my mouth hitting the floor watching this performance when it went from ballad to uptempo dance hit.  Featured front and center was a gay couple dancing.  The cameras tried hard to avoid the couple but Toni 's strategic placement (dead center) made this impossible to do.  This was very taboo for this time.

A big kudos to all of these artists.  I sincerely believe efforts like these play a significant part in shaping the public conscience and making the world a more friendly place for lesbians and gay folks. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Queen Latifah Becomes "Bessie" Smith on HBO

On May , HBO will premiere "Bessie" and I'm so excited I could just spit.  It will star Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith, the Empress of the Blues and one of the biggest artists to come out of the Harlem Renaissance.  It will also star Mo'Nique as MaRainey, aka "Mother of the Blue."

A little known fact, but the aspect of these individuals that perks my interest, is that Bessie Smith and MaRainey [along with several other blues singers from the Harlem Renaissance] were same gender loving.  As I look at the trailer above I realize that this film will resonate with members of the LGBT African-American community.  

Queen Latifah has never publicly come out, but the black SGL community has always celebrated her as one of our own.  Mo'Nique has always been an ally of the community and an advocate for HIV/AIDS issues.  Plus the film will feature Michael Kenneth Williams whose character Omar, from The Wire, introduced the world to the "homo thug."

If you not yet done so, please put May 16 on your calendar.  With the talent that will be on display in this project, I am sure Bessie will be a movie to remember.  Please check out the trailer below . . .

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Top 10 Greatest TV Moms

In honor of Mother's Day I thought I would take a moment to countdown the 10 greatest TV moms of all time.  I was raised by a phenomenal mother (Ms Linda Green) who had a little bit of all of these in here. Moms are there to nurture us and encourage us and with the love and support we grow up to believe that we can accomplish anything.  So in honor of Mothers Day, and in honor of my mom, here goes . . . 

10. Wanda McCullough from The Bernie Mac Show (played by Kellita Smith).  RIP Bernie Mac.  I can still hear him screaming "Waaaannnda."  Wanda was raising kids that weren't her own, a challenge that many modern moms share.  Although these kids were not biologically hers, she was amazing at being there to encourage and support and discipline when needed.  Kudos to Kellita Smith for making this stepmom so adorable.

9. Mabel Thomas from What's Happening (played by Mabel King).  Mabel Thomas was such a strong mom that when she disciplined Roger, I got scared.  She knew how to give you that look that would make you straighten up and act right without saying a word.  She was the epitome of the strong black single mom and she did is so well.

8. Aunt Esther from Sanford and Son (played by LaWanda Page).  Though technically not a mom, Aunt Esther still needed to go on this list.  When Lamont lost his mom, Esther seemed to step in and play the role of mom-pro-temp.  She was always there to protect Lamont from himself (and sometimes there to protect him from his dad) because he most definitely needed the guidance.

7. Helen Willis from The Jeffersons (played by Roxie Roker).  By the way, did you know this TV mom was also the real life mom of rocker Lenny Kravitz.  I know people may be wondering why Helen Willis and not the star of the show Weezy Jefferson, but Weezy worked my nerves.  It was always Helen that was the smart one, the nurturing one and the fun one.  Weezy was okay but for me, Helen was the best mom on the show.  

6. Harriet Winslow from Family Matters (played by JoMarie Payton).  I simply loved Harriet Winslow and the entire Winslow klan.  I think I loved Harriet because she was amazing in every role she played.  Loving wife, terrific mom, supportive sister and caring daughter-in-law.  In case you weren't paying attention she was the hub of the show and was amazing at it.
 5.Rochelle from Everybody Hates Chris (played by Tichina Arnold).  Of all the moms on this list Rochelle is probably the most similar to my mom (although my mom has characteristics of them all).  Rochelle loved her kids but she made sure she kept her kids in check.  I know the title was Everybody Hates Chris, but rest assured he knew Rochelle loved him by the way she treated him.

4. Mary Jenkins from 227 (played by Marla Gibbs).  Remember the theme song - "There's no place like home, with your family around you, you're never alone.  When you know that you're loved, you don't need to roam, cause there's no place like home."  Mary Jenkins was one of the best moms we ever saw on TV.  She always seemed to have the best advice for Brenda, even when Brenda didn't want to listen.  She loved her husband and she loved her neighborhood (I even think she kinda cared for Sandra Clark).  

3. Vivian Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (played by Janet Hubert).  I'm talking about the origiinal Aunt Viv, not that replacement Aunt Viv that just did not cut the mustard compared to smart and sassy, loving yet stern original that we grew to love.  It may sound odd but it's my reality, sometimes when Aunt Viv was talking with Will, I felt as if she were talking to me.  She made Will feel that in spite of his background, in spite of where he came from, he was just as good as everyone else in Bel Air.  She is the reason that I can talk with governors and senators and CEOs and not be intimidated by them.  She is reason why I can stand in front of a room and speak with confidence and authority.  She was inspiring and awesome.

2. Claire Huxtable from The Cosby Show (played by Phylicia Raschad).  Let the record show that I had a extremely difficult task narrowing down the top few slots of this list.  But I knew that Claire would have to be in the top two.  Beautiful, smart, articulate, strong, educated, successful, brilliant.  Claire Huxtable was supermom.  The Huxtable family was adored by all but it was this mom that kept the whole family together.  But as much as I love Claire, I must give the number one spot to . . . 

1. Florida Evans from Good Times (played by Esther Rolle).  DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! if Florida wasn't the greatest mom ever.  Family first and God fearing, Florida somehow always managed to keep her children (and her husband) principle centered.  The Evans family may have struggled paying the rent but you would swear that the family wanted for nothing.  Florida always made sure there was food on the table.  She always made sure that her husband felt like the man of the house.  And every episode I watched, although she never said it, you could feel her implying to her kids, "You is smart, you is kind, and you is important."  For her ability to make everything out of nothing, Florida Evans tops my list of greatest TV moms.

So there you have it.  Hope you like it and I would love your feedback.  Who else should have made the list?  And is there anyone on the list you feel should have been omitted?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I'm From Driftwood: Sharing Our Stories

I just discovered this series of videos on the LGBTQNation site. The series is called "I'm From Driftwood." It is just a simple series of normal, everyday lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals telling their stories. Each post lasts only several minutes, but the stories are powerful in their uniqueness. Everyone has a different story to tell and it's wonderful to hear these stories from queer folks from around the country. You can find all of the videos on their YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/user/ImFromDriftwood

I have to express my thanks to this site for truly showing the diversity of the LGBTQ community. Their are stories from people of color, their are stories from the trans community, their are even stories from our allies. The videos are all very touching and intimate and I invite you to do your self and favor and review them. I've shared a few of my favorites below . . .

In this first video, Angela Gabrielle Lewis is sharing her story. She identifies as trans. When she was a teenager, her mom kicked her out of the house when she read text messages from Angela's boyfriend. Mom was not going to allow that "lifestyle" in her house. However, Angela had a strong will and a determined mind. Although she struggles immediately she would eventually return to school, receive her diploma and get into college. A very inspiring story indeed.

The story below is hit me very hard because I can relate to Eric's story. I have been very fortunate. I have a family that is accepting of me and my partner. When I came out in college I had a support group of friends that were there for me and allowed me walk in my truth and were there to support me if ever there were coming out pains. I am now very comfortable with who I am and I'm out in every aspect of my life. Although I realize how blessed I am, I have too many friends that do not have a similar tale. I have friends that have been kicked out their church. I have friends that no longer talk their family. I have friends that live double lives because they fear that if they revealed their truth similar consequences would befall them.  

And the story below is of Shara Dae. A profound, important moment in her life happened when she was asked the question, "How do you identify?" She was initially taken aback and had to ask for clarity in what the question meant. Shara was being asked if she identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. It was first time she faced the question and in doing so faced herself. That same afternoon she would return to the home of a friend (someone she was hoping to develop an intimate relationship with)and her conversation was overheard by the friend's mom. Shara was then labeled the lesbian threat. Shara received a phone call that the entire neighborhood was at the home of Shara's friend discussing the fact she was a lesbian.  

 Thank you to LGBTQNation and to "I Am Driftwood" for these stories and for all of the terrific videos you have documented and archived.