Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
So I wanted to take a moment to list my favorite top ten Black Gay Men on Film (my list of women will come later). These personalities are so vastly different – some are masculine and some feminine, some are totally out and some still struggle with their sexuality. There is an array of personalities represented.
Check out the list and give me your feedback.
Ten - Kyle on Get on the Bus. Isaiah Washington did a phenomenal job portraying this complicated, misunderstood brother in Spike Lee’s joint about a busload of men on their way to the Million Man March. He is oddly simultaneously comfortable and uncomfortable with his sexuality. He knows who he is (although he may not necessarily want everyone else to know). He is accompanied on the journey to DC with his ex-boyfriend who forces him to really examine his relationships and his priorities.
Nine – Calvin Owens on Greek. ABC Family gets kudos of points for this one. I love Calvin (Paul James) so much he was seriously going to be in the top three. The only reason I had to push him further down on the list was because his role on the show is not as significant as I would like it to be. Calvin is a twisted mix of nuts. He’s out to all of his frat brothers but he’s still uncomfortable being seen in public on a date. When confronted by a Christian friend that wants to de-gay him he is able to debunk him with a smile (and still remain friends). He is a simple guy enjoying college and his fraternity. Plus he’s hot. I love that he doesn’t allow his homosexuality to define him – it’s just a part of who he is. If you've never seen the show please check this YouTube clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_ORVSWqa7M&feature=related
Eight – Marcus on the DL Chronicles. There are many great characters on this series (and several not so great characters) but it’s Marcus that connects with me the most. I think it’s the hopeless romantic in me that draws me to this story. Marcus must decide between his love of his partner and his fear of being outed to his family. He and his partner are very cute together and it’s obvious to anyone watching that they’re very much in love. The acting is off the chain. Marcus is torn between the right thing to do and saving face. Now I won’t spoil the movie but I will say this about the ending – DAMN!!!
Seven – Antonio Fargas as Lindy in Car Wash. This movie gets two snaps up just for my favorite line of all time – “I’m more man than you’ll ever be and more woman than you’ll ever get.” Lindy works in an all male environment and has no problem sashaying around the car wash confident in his place in this world. Everyone (almost everyone) respects him for who he is. I must also add, Fargas will probably make my list of favorite actors (that list coming later) for this role and for his role in Next Stop, Greenwich Village.
Six – Taylor (Billy Porter) in Brokenheart’s Club: A Romantic Comedy. Not only is this one of my favorite characters, this is one of my all-time favorite movies. I swear I’ve seen it at least twenty times. Taylor likes to speak of his authority on gay coupling by beginning all of his sentences with, “As a person in a long term relationship . . .” But then his world comes crumbling down when – well, I’m not going to spoil the movie. Just go see it. I think I’m in love with this movie because it shows the power and value of friendships.
Five – Corey (Maurice Jamal) in Ski Trip. Corey is turning thirty and comes to the realization he has nothing positive happening in his life. He doesn’t have a man, he doesn’t have any money, and his attempt at launching his comic book has been tragically unsuccessful. He’s the classic pessimist – very woe is me. So his friends drag him away for the weekend on a ski trip. The drama that unfolds is all over the place. Pleasant. Depressing. Surprising. It’s a real rollercoaster.
Four – Perry in Brother to Brother. I’m in total agreement with j. brotherlove, “This is possibly the most important film I’ve seen in the past 10 years depicting black gay characters.” Anthony Mackie plays young Perry, a college student that works at the front desk of a shelter which includes as a resident Richard Bruce Nugent, a noted writer from of the Harlem Renaissance. The film’s ability to both entertain us and educate us is remarkable. This movie deals with some very real issues – family exile following coming out, gay bashing, questioning/ straight men, aging in the gay community. It’s powerful but not preachy. And it is a must have for all gay persons of color. http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1808534476/trailer
Three – Holiday Heart. Kudos, kudos, kudos for Holiday Heart. When a friend told me to see a movie with Ving Rhames playing a drag queen I have to admit it raised an eyebrow. I’d just seen Rhames in Baby Boy and could not picture him and all his bulk in a dress. But I give props where they’re due – Ving is brilliant in this role. I think the name of this movie also. Holiday has the biggest heart in the world. Another favorite of mine, Alfre Woodard, also stars in this fantastic film. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3CYmdco5-M
Two – Spin City’s Carter Heywood. When I saw the first episode of Spin City I was blown away by this character played by Michael Boatman. I was instantly a fan of the show. Many may question my decision to place him this high on my list (and if you a problem with it – then make your own list). Carter ranks so high with me because I saw so much of myself in him. I’ve always been a politically active person. In Carter I saw a black gay man that reflected my morals, my activism, and my pride. He’s knows the importance of being out and working on behalf of the LGBT community. I was so impressed with Carter that he was almost my number one pick – but you know who that goes to. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bv1B2O9W8LQ
Drum roll please. Number One – NOAH. Thank you Patrik Ian-Polk for creating this show. On behalf of gay black men everywhere – thank you, thank you, thank you. When I heard that Viacom was working on a network (Logo) strictly for the LGBT community I have to admit I had no interest. I just imagined there would be tons of shows targeting gay white men. Then I heard about Noah’s Arc. I immediately called my cable company and requested this channel. And I never looked back.
Here are some pics from our evening in the park.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
My final problem with this article is the continuing need for some to force people out of the closet. Let's be real - coming out of the closet is not a simple thing. Sometimes people have to weigh the stakes. And for Will and Jada there is a lot to lose. I'll be the first to admit that we're in dire need of a high profile African-American celebrity to come out as gay or lesbian. There are some great potentials on the horizon (in addition to Will and Jada). Queen Latifah and Diddy are just some names that come to mind.
The backlash that accompanies coming out can be horrific. Will and Jada both have stellar careers. Could Will still demand tweny million a movie if he admitted he were homosexual? Would people still fill up the theaters for his opening weekends if they knew he were gay? So if those are the consequences - what is his motivation for coming out?
Friday, October 17, 2008
On Saturday there will be a pool party and the official Black Party. And Sunday will be a barbecue in the park. Since the first party by the Men of Libra 5 years ago, I've only missed one year (and that was not by choice, I was just out of town when it happened). But I'm definitely looking forward to this weekend. There is sure to be lots of fun and lots of new faces.
Please visit the official website for all the upcoming events and all the details . . . http://www.theblackpartyaz.com/index.html Hopefully I'll see you there.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
But there is a reason for this day. Everyone is not at my level of comfort with their homosexuality. There are many in the LGBT community that disclose discreetly. Only some family members know or only one person on the job knows (or so they think). Let me be the first to tell you - if one person on the job knows, they probably all know. People can't seem to keep their mouth closed about this kind of thing.
I have three separate coming out stories that were significant to me. Telling my mom, telling my twin brother, and telling my best friend. Let me first mention, I didn't come out to myself until I was eighteen. It was during my freshman year at college (with the support of some really close friends) that I finally was able to admit to myself I was sexually attracted to men.
The conversation with my mom was probably the most difficult. This was the most difficult because the consequences were most severe. Rejection from my mom would have devastated me. I was very fortunate. I still remember my mom's words, "If you're happy then I'm happy for you." I have to tell you (at least this is how it was for me), once Mama knows, the rest of the world doesn't matter.
Telling my twin brother was simple (but intersting). Crazy thing about twins, they do know you very well. We were the only two at home one day and we were watching the talk show Jenny Jones. Just before a commercial break they made the annoucement, "If you have a twin brother that you'd like to tell that you're gay or that you're a drag queen, call us and you can be a guest on our show." That's when my brother looked at me and said, "I think you need to get that number." Sounded like he was ready to hear it to me. So I confirmed his suspicions.
Telling my best friend was also interesting. Victor and I had been very close friends since elementary school. We were almost inseparable during high school. I was probably closer to him than I was to my twin. However we ended up going to different schools for college. So one weekend I get a visit from him. During this visit he starts to tell me about how much he had been partying in Atlanta. Now he didn't know that I'd discovered the punk clubs in Hot-lanta too. I pretended to be naive and asked what spots he'd been going to. He basically came out to me without knowing it (or maybe that was his way of coming out to me). Whatever the case, I soon admitted I'd been to all the same spots and came out to him also.
It's the early coming out moments that are difficult. Once you have a few under your belt it gets easier and easier. Hopefully you use (or used) this day to come out or helped someone come out.
For me, I love hearing coming out stories. If you have any interesting coming out stories please share them in the comments section. If know any coming out stories that went terribly wrong or that went surprisingly well, please share them.
Looking forward to hearing from you and Happy Coming Out Day.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
The countless over-priced booths all looked as though a rainbow had just exploded over Heritage Park and sprayed spectrum colored paint everywhere. You could buy rainbow bracelets, necklaces, rings, socks, bikini briefs - if you could adorn it, you could buy it. And I loved it. Of course I had to purchase another pair of unneeded but fashionable pair of sunglasses (they were too cute to pass up - damn the economic crisis, they made me look fierce).
There were many faith based organizations (I remember when we used to call them churches) represented at various booths. It's great to see this new trend - people starting to realize that you can be gay and spiritual. Unfortunately these groups are in the minority. I did have the pleasure of running into one of my favorite members of the clergy, Rev. Charlotte Strayhorne of Casa de Christo Evangelical Church. Her feature in each issue of Echo magazine if my favorite reason for reading the mag.
The entertainment stage was great. My friend RJ Shannon kicked off the entertainment on the main stage. She is a great pianist and vocalist and I love hearing her sing. The DJ was terrific - I was able to shake a tail feather. And the drag kings and queens were all just fabulous. But what was most fun was just seeing the parade of people walking around laughing and talking and just having fun. The community was out and the community was happy. It was seeing the fellowship and the socializing that just did my heart good. I met a few new people and connected with some old ones.
To the organizers of the Rainbow Fest- great job and keep up the terrific work. The community not only appreciates it, the community needs it.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
The two of them reminded me so much of me and my partner. They've been together fifteen years. Chris and I have been together for twelve years. They're an inter-racial couple. Chris and I are an inter-racial couple. As Craig was reading his vows he expressed how he's been with Patrick for almost half of his life. The same is true for Chris and I.
So fifteen years later, the two of them finally have the opportunity to legally exchange vows and be recognized as a committed couple before the state of California. They were so excited to finally have this opportunity and I was excited to be apart of it.
Unfortunately that recognition they will receive in California will not be shared here in Arizona or in Texas. This drive by many to protect the sanctity of marriage has forced many states to pass constitutional amendments outlawing partnerships between same gender persons. I was very pleased when Arizona became the first state in the U.S. to defeat such a measure. But here we go again - it will be on the ballots again this November.
What is so disturbing is that passage of this amendment does absolutely nothing. Same-sex couples already can't get married here. Proposition 102 will amend the Arizona constitution to define marriage as strictly between a man and a woman. But gay and lesbian couples already can NOT marry here. It's like they're trying to pass this amendment out of spite. It just seems to me this is being done to force us back into the closet and to again live lives that are invisible.
There are also similar bills happening in California and Florida. If the bill is passed in California it will repeal the LGBT marriage rights the state approved earlier this year. This means that Craig and Patrick's ceremony would have been in vain.
Let's talk about this sanctity of marriage that will be destroyed if same-sex relationships are recognized (and remember Prop 102 will not recognize same-sex couples). Craig and Patrick have been together longer than anyone else I know their age. I don't know of any heterosexual couple in their 30s that have that much tenure in their relationship. And I know lots of straight couples. We're denied the right to marry but trainwrecks like Britney Spears can marry for less than 24 hours and then annul the partnership. We're the ones that will destroy marriage but Elizabeth Taylor can marry so many times that we lose count. Please - LGBT ceremonies can only help restore the institution of marriage that has been destroyed by years of divorces, annulments, extra-marital relations and domestic violence that has run rampant among hetersexual couples. I'm not saying we won't experience these same nuances, I'm just saying - the thing called marriage ain't as sacred as people make it out to be.
Congratulations to the happy couple. Craig and Patrick, you two are an inspiration for all couples (gay and straight). People just don't seem to stay together long nowadays and I'm happy that you two have stood the test of time.
The individuals in this slide show are just some of the invisible heroes I hold up as role models. All of them were accomplished in their fields. All were gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Not all were open (but you must ask the question - would they have been successful if they were open). If the slide show has ended, just click on the X in the top right corner to replay.
Individuals like Bayard Rustin, Audre Lorde, Langston Hughes and Octavia Butler should have a special place in the hearts of all LGBT people of color. Their successes were exceptional and we should hold them up as role models. Unfortunately their names are not commonplace and their stories continue to be told in part (if at all). The fact that one of the greatest organizers in the African-American Civil Rights Movement was a same-gender loving man is a story we should celebrate. The fact that the first science fiction writer to win the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant was a African-American lesbian is profound. These stories enrich our community.
I have a challenge for everyone this month. Find someone that you can hold up as a role model and learn their story. With the help of the Internet this homework assignment should very easy to do. Find an individual, learn his/ her story, and if you would - share that story with someone. You'd be surprised how little we know about our historical figures. You'd be surprised how often I hear, "What - you mean James Baldwin was gay?
Friday, October 3, 2008
Several years back my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Her battle with dementia was not too bad in the beginnnig, but if you know how the disease works, it progressively got worse. The decision was eventually made to place her in a nursing home. I know this is true of most diseases, but Alzheimer's is a disease that effects everyone in the family. I don't know if it's fortunate or unfortunate that I didn't see her in her later days. My mom would share stories with me about how she often didn't recognized any of her own kids. It has to be hard on you when you visit your own mom and she has no idea who she's talking to. I think I'm happy I didn't see her like that.