Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This Is H.O.W. Fundraiser a Success

Ya'll know I love me some Regina Gazelle. So last Sunday I made certain that I went to Apollo's for her fundraiser for the This Is H.O.W. house. Let me tell you, the event was amazing. There was a brunch, a fashion show, various performances throughout the day, a silent auction, raffles - you name it, she did it.

If you don't know about This Is H.O.W. then let me fill you in. H.O.W. is a house Regina developed for the Phoenix transgendered community. The shelter serves as a place to help those members of this community that are in need. So those that may be dealing with substance addictions, homelessness, etc. there is a person (Regina) and a place (H.O.W.) they can turn two. This is only the second facility in the country that serves this often overlooked community. Now wonder Regina is the recipient of the Echo magazine Woman of the Year Award and the Soul Purpose AZ Award for Activism. She is a phenomenal woman doing some amazing things.

AGA Couture presented some amazing fashions during the event. I've known Alex Garcia (the man behind AGA) for some years but never realized how amazing a designer he was. The clothes were fierce. There was food catered by Bosch Party Services which was also fabulous. Michelle and Cindy did a great job with presentation, which is important during catering. But most importantly, the food was delicious. My favorite was the spinich/ strawberry salad. To top it all off, I was able to see some of my favorite divas perform. Regina's array of talent included Sable St. James, Sashe, and Big Booty Judy.

Here are some pics of the event . . .

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Look Who's Talking

The much awaited book Hiding in Hip Hop is already creating a fury of buzz. The book by Terrance Dean is billed as the gay tell-all that should reveal who's gay and/or on the downlow in the uber macho hip-hop community. I don't know about you, but I'd love to know who's on that list. The book is set to hit shelves next month.

There are some names that come to mind that may or may not be on the list by Dean. Diddy? Will Smith? Queen Latifah? Not sure if he plans to name names or just drop hints (he'll probably do the later), but this should prove to be an interesting book nonetheless.
Like Kanye West says, "Hip Hop is the opposite of gay." I must comend Kanye for making the effort to speak about the need to end homophobic attitudes, but his words fell on deaf ears. You have artist like Busta Rhymes that says he can't condone the lifestyle.
I must also make mention the underground movement of Homo Hip Hop. There are some amazing artist like Tori Fixx and Deadlee that are doing there thing in a genre that has not been accepting. But can they ever be mainstream? Will they ever sell millions? I would hope that one day their ability to sell will be based on their talent and not on their sexual orientation.
So if you want to be successful in this genre, you do have to be closeted. Does Terrance Dean have the right to tell all? I don't know if I agree with pushing people out of the closet, but I will still be buying this book when it comes out.

Gays Welcomed at DNC

Leah Daughtry, chief of staff for the Democratic National Convention, says she (and other top officials in the DNC) would like to see an increase in the number of LGBT attendees at this year's convention in Denver. Daughtry extended this invitation at the National Black Justice Coalition convention last weekend.

“We made a commitment . . . that we wanted to do something different,” she said. “We wanted to make sure, make a way so that people from various communities, and particularly the GLBT community, would have a seat at the table, would have a voice, would have a vote when we nominate our president of the United States.”

Daughtry has historically not been a friend of the gay community. She has opposed a request for a quota on representation and at one point Stonewall Democrats requested her removal because of her homophobic actions. Not sure what may have triggered her new attitude and I won't offer my assumptions. Let's just be content with the fact that she has changed her actions.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Seek and Ye Shall Find - A Must See

Seek and Ye Shall Find is a two night only performance happening at The Prism Theatre, 920 E University Drive Tempe, AZ 85281. The performances are tonight and tomorrow night.

After learning the description of this performance, I feel like I must share this with everyone. Two important things to know. 1) It's free. 2) It's about being black and gay [my two favorite things in the world]. This production is a one man show written by and starring Sentell Harper. The description . . . "Armed with a Barista's Apron and microphone, Harper presents a series of coffee house tales about being Black and gay in a cream and sugar world."

My friend Bill saw the production tonight and this was his response to me . . .
Drop everything. I know you was suppose to have dinner with your moma on Friday (or whatever) but tell her you gotta cancel so you can go to this play. Sentel Harper is absolutely brilliant. The play is about several very different black gay men, played by Sentel, and each hates the other. The black gay characters, you know the Fem, the loud, the Down Low black gay men all hate the characteristics of other gay men because they represent what they hate about themselves. YOU MUST GO SEE IT.

I'm sold. I'll be there. Hopefully I'll see you there too.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Disappearing Acts

Last year was a very exciting time for those black and gay. The visibility of our community seemed to brighten with each passing day. We were on television and in movies. We had publications and organzations that specifically addressed our unique needs. We witnessed the coming out of important and influential athletes and entertainers. I was thrilled with the evolution of the African-American LGBT community. But as I look around, I'm beginning to wonder what's happening. I was beginning to think the invisible life was a thing of the past. As I look at where we're heading, it appears we are going in the wrong direction. As a person that does not want to be an invisible man, I feel I must speak out about what I'm seeing.

Up until early 2007 things were great. Our images on both the big and small screen were at an all time high. For the first time in history, most of these images were positive ones. Not that there have been no positive images, it's just that they were few and far between. With Noah's Arc we had the first television show that focused on the lives of gay black individuals. We had some amazing movies like Brother To Brother and Ski Trip that were stories about us. We were no longer on the sidelines. We were front and center. For a community that has been invisible for so long, finally seeing yourself mirrored on televsion or in theathers is transcending.
As a card carrying out black man, I made certain I had my subscription to Clik magazine and my downloads of Pulse magazine (published by Gay Men of African Descent). These kept me in the know about issues affecting our community. By paying attention to the advertising they also kept me in the know about who was supporting our community. I for one want to support those that support us.

We have Black LGBT politicians (Denise Simmons, Rod Oden), athletes (John Ameachi, Sheryl Swoops) and singers (Rahsaan Patterson, Meshell N'Degeochello).

But what's next for us? We'll Noah's Arc has been cancelled. I'm finally starting to come out of my post Noah depression but it has been very difficult, I still have my bad days. Dirty Laundry hit theaters with a buzz you couldn't pay for and a cast Tyler Perry would envy. But it was pulled from several screens within days after its debut and was released on dvd just two months later. Clik magazine has announced it is shutting its doors. This current edition will be the final one. And when I visit GMAD's website for Pulse magazine, I'm greeted on their home page with a message that they have been struggling to keep their office space and are moving. They are going to share facilities with another agency. I don't know what that means for Pulse, but I can only image that it's not their priority at this moment.

So I'm now in a state of fear. Fear that our voices are being silenced. Fear that the height of our visibility is behind us. Fear that again we're becoming invisible.

I hope I'm just over-reacting. Maybe what I've witnessed are just isolated instances and this isn't a trend. But we only had one publication and it's gone. We only had on television show and it's gone. If you think I'm mistaken please correct me. But please share with me, what do you think of the state of the Black LGBT community?

Dining Out For Life

Okay - so there is no easier or better way of giving to a great cause than this. Thursday, April 24, 2008 is Dining Out for Life. All you have to do is go out and eat. Does it get any better? This is a national event that is celebrated in many cities, Phoenix included.

If you wondering how it works, various restaurants give back a portion of their proceeds that day to AIDS Service Organizations. Some restaurants go above and beyond the call of duty and give 100% of their revenue for they day. So if you've been wondering what you could do to give back (and if American Idol can give back then we all can) pick one of the many generous restaurants and have a night out on the town. Maybe I'll see you out during all of the festivities.

If you're wondering what restaurants are participating, please visit this link for the list.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Krysten Sinema Kills Anti-gay Legislation

The Protect Marriage Amendment recently showed its ugly head again in Arizona. This is not surprising. Several years ago, Arizona was the first state in the country to succesfully kill similar legislation from passing and becoming law (thank you to progressive organization like the Arizona Advocacy Network and the Clean Elections Institute and thanx to progressive lawmakes like Krysten Sinema this didn't happen).

We knew the fight wasn't over. If the right wasn't successful in the first round, they would come back to fight again. But the GOP wasn't ready for Krysten. Rep. Sinema was successful in adding language to the amendment that ensures it won't live to see the light of day. The language added by Sinema granted certain legal rights to domestic partners - something not desired by the conservative agenda.
Kudos to Krysten. Smart move.

Jackie Walker - You Inspire Me

Maybe it's not a national recognition, but Jackie Walker's induction into the Greater Knoxville Hall of Fame is well warranted and long overdue. Unfortunately, Walker isn't around to witness or receive it.

Jackie Walker was the first African-American football player in the Southeastern Conference to be named an all-American and the first to captain an SEC team. He still remains in NCAA record books for his interception touchdown record. His records on both the high school and college levels are phenomenal. But Walker had a problem. He was openly gay.

He was drafted to the San Francisco 49er's shortly after college but he was axed just before the season began. Many have concluded that it was his decision to live outside of the closet that led to expulsion from the team.

As he was dying of AIDS related complications in 2002, his brother promised that he would get Jackie into the Greater Knoxville Hall of Fame. It took some persistance, but his promise has finally been fulfilled. Although this award comes posthumously, it is still significant.

It is sad that times haven't change. I still don't think we're at a place where a professional athlete (specifically a male pro athlete) can come out and have a successful career. Kudos to Walker for being authentic and true to himself - inspite of the consequences. You are a role model for young LGBT athletes and a signal for why a change must come.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Soul Purpose at First Gay Pride

If you haven't heard of Soul Purpose AZ (SPAZ), it is the newest LGBT organization in Phoenix. It is here to give a voice and a presence for the African-American LGBT community. If you're not a member of this community it may be difficult to understand the need for a group like this. Similar organizations face accusations of segregation. There is the claim that we're trying to separate ourselves from the larger LGBT population and that is not the case.
Organizations like this exist because of the unique characteristics that exist for its members. LGBT African-Americans are individuals that live in two different communities - two communities that are not always mutually inclusive. Lets be real, there is a great deal of homophobia in the black community. Lets stay real, there is also much racism in the gay community. To have to live in both worlds offers challenges that are sometimes difficult to navigate. So it is great to identify and commune with other like individuals that live with these same challenges.

There is another interesting problem for black people in the Arizona (we only make up three percent of the state). So just finding black people at all is sometimes hard. You won't believe how often I'm approached by newly transplanted black folks needing to know where to go for church, where to go to get their hair done, and the big one - where to go just to find other black people. Now lets add the factor of homosexuality, black LGBT people in Phoenix that have not made that connection to other similar people often feel lost.

Enter Soul Purpose AZ. The tag line for the organization is - Black! Gay! and Present! This is their first appearance at a Pride celebration. They marched in the Phoenix Pride Parade chanting, dancing and passing out Skittles. It was fabulous.

If you would like to learn more about Soul Purpose AZ please visit www.myspace.com/soulpurposeaz or contact them at soulpurposeaz@gmail.com.