Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

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?


LdqBabe said...

Jason Green, you inspire me.
To know that indeed the Black LGBT movement is going to open new doors.
To know that their are young brothers and sisters with your eyes wide open.
~Blessings to you.

Anonymous said...

Jason, The fear that you describe, the invisibility that seems to continue to emerge and the imbalance between what can be and what is, often places us in the Black LGBT community in a state of choosing to BE out in the community versus IN the shadows of the community. I think a large component of the challenge is understanding and embracing a different perspective of BEING OPENLY GAY AND PROUD.

For me, the challenge is not from the entertainers, athletes...but from everyday persons who see connections between what they value and what they do. Gay identity, gay comfort, gay connections are more about our ability to see that who we are and what we do are strong connections that create comfort. Sometimes it is a one-on-one experience where who we are is understood and accepted by all those lives we touch. Sometimes it is about the things that we do, where people see that there is no difference between us and those who are straight. Sometimes it is about STEPPING OUTSIDE THE NORM and others valuing the courageous acts and thoughts....BUT IT SEEMS THAT DOING AND BEING BLACK AND GAY OUTSIDE OF THE PARTYING, DANCING, and defining what Black Gay is outside of the stereotypes might make the difference in our being invisible...Just a thought. Lloyd