But I guess it doesn't really matter. All that matters is that we celebrate the life we have while we have it. Because really - we may not have it tomorrow. So enjoy yourself and enjoy your friends and enjoy your family. None of these are promised tomorrow.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
But I guess it doesn't really matter. All that matters is that we celebrate the life we have while we have it. Because really - we may not have it tomorrow. So enjoy yourself and enjoy your friends and enjoy your family. None of these are promised tomorrow.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Word is out that yesterday Kelly Rowland was dropped from her label Columbia. Supposedly the reason they took this action was they decided that Kelly was "no longer comercially viable." Interesting enough this news comes just shortly after Kelly dropped Matthew Knowles (Beyonce's dad) as her manager. Coincidence - I don't think so.
Everyone that knows me knows that Kelly was always my favorite child of destiny. I thought she was more beautiful than Beyonce and I've always thought she had a better personality. I think they're both remarkably talented singers and oftentimes it was hard for me to distinguish between Kelly and Beyonce singing. But Kelly just had a bit more of a spark for me. And she didn't have that "I'm better than them" attitude that I always seemed to get from Ms. Knowles.
I'm hoping this news comes to be a blessing in disguise for Kelly. Maybe under new management and with a new label she'll finally get the attention she deserves. I'm a fan til the end and I'm hoping there is more great music in her future.
Last week at UGIMA our topic was homosexuality and hip hop. There were a couple of guess speakers for this meeting. One of our speakers was DJ Tsunami. DJ Tsunami is one of Arizona's premiere DJs. He has been featured at almost every gay club in Phoenix and last year he was named by AZ Central as one of the best djs in the Valley. Our other speaker was Steve Knight. Steve is the owner of Knight Sky Productions and has been responsible for brining many R&B and Hip Hop artist to Arizona with his entertainment production company.
The evening started with this simple question - "Is Hip-Hop Homophobic?" Tsunami was the first person to tackle the question. He's been involved in this industry for quite some time and he doesn't feel that Hip-Hop is anymore homophobic than any other genre of music. But he peeled back the onion a bit more and stated if we're going to examine these artist he will admit that the male Hip-Hop artist are a bit more homophobic than the female artists.
Steve shared something that was revealed in the controversial Hiding In Hip-Hop and probably wasn't a surprise to anyone in the room. There are many gay rappers, singers, athletes, etc. But realistically the entertainment industry is not one that takes kindly to artists coming out of the closet. So if you want to be successful it's probably in your best interest to keep your sexuality to your self.
This set the room on fire and as usual no one was shy about sharing their opinions. It's interesting that some of the artists that have the gay rumor following them are the one's that shout their homophobia the loudest. Lil Wayne was posted all over the internet kissing another man yet has some of the most homophobic lyrics we've heard in hip hop. To learn more go here My issue with closeted rappers is this - I understand that you may not sell as many records or sellout as many concerts if you come out of the closet. So if you feel you need to be on the DL to be successful, then by all means make your paper. But you do not have to then verbally attack, belittle, and alienate the LGBT community. Just shut the hell up.
We also addressed the growing number of openly gay hip-hop artists that are making there mark in the industry. Homo Hip-Hop artist Dead Lee (who by the way I think is very hot) is not one to hold his tongue about his sexuality. And Tori Fixx has some of the hottest dance tracks in the game and is one of the best producers out there. But unfortunately these artist still struggle at getting their works heard by the masses. Tsunami admitted that he is a DJ that is about playing good music and he does try to promote some of these artists by playing them in his sets. Unfortunately when he puts on a track that people don't recognize the dance floor seems to empty. So it's almost impossible for these artist to get some love - even at gay and lesbian clubs.
I don't think Hip Hop artists are the most homophobic out there (I think that title goes to reggae and dancehall artists) but I do believe they are towards the top of the list. Kanye West called himself and his industry on its homophobia. It was a bold move and it was definitely a great catalyst in starting this dialouge. But there are artists like Busta Rhymes that admits he is homophobic and makes no plans to change. Busta actually got in trouble for attacking a gay man in Miami in 2006. But when Busta's Break Ya Neck starts playing in the club gays and lesbians flock to the dance floor. WHY? Why would we support someone that publicy stated he hates us and physically attacked one of our community.
I know there are probably some big names in Hip-Hop that would like to come out and I can only hope that one day they gather the courage to be true to who they are. The LGBT community needs black celebrities to come out. I think they would be instrumental in changing the perception the Black community has about gay and lesbian issues. But if you're going to be closeted, please be closeted and quiet. Don't go bashing the community that you are secretly a part of. And to all LGBT people - please stop supporting those artist that publicly make it known that they don't support us!!!
Friday, March 27, 2009
If you didn't watch the first season (and I'm hoping there are additional seasons) of RuPaul's Drag Race then you missed out on some truly entertaining TV. The shows premises was part America's Next Top Model and part Project Runway but all good. The season started with nine drag queens all vying for the title of America's Next Drag Superstar. Each week the contestants were presented with variuos challenges that put their creative drag juices to the test.
The two people that scored the lowest in the challenge would be in the bottom two for the week and each week those two individuals would have to, "Lipsinc for your life." It was fierce. And they were always told, "And don't fuck it up."
I knew early on that Bebe Zahara Benet was the person they had best look out for. Every week during the challenges I'd be watching Bebe and thinking if she don't pull it together soon she ain't gonna make it. Then the challenge would come to its end and we'd see what each wanna be drag superstar came up with.
Every single time Ms. Zahara Benet blew me away. Towards the end I was beginning to think - her trying to look clueless is just a strategy. There is no way she was that dazed and confused during the challenge but when the results were presented she would have the monsterously fierce outfits and makeup. Apparently she amazed RuPaul also because she walked away with the title.
So congratulations to Ms. Benet. You truly deserve it. I hope to see you on your tour as you cross the nation as America's Next Drag Superstar.And by the way, if you missed any episodes or if you want to rewatch the entire season, you can catch the entire season here
Pride is almost upon us and once again the Men of Libra are getting ready to set it off. Every October they bring us The Black Party. Well for the first time, and just in time for Pride, they are serving us with The White Party. They haven't disappointed with anything they've done up to this point so I have a feeling that once again - they will be doing the most. Hope to see you there.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Last night's vigil marked four years since the murder and unfortunately this vicious crime still remains unsolved. The crowd that gathered in Cieloto park to remember Maurice consisted of his family, friends, concerned members of the LGBT community, Phoenix police (including the LGBT liasion for the department Tambra Williams) and some members of the mayor's office. The turnout was impressive and it was nice to see that he has not been forgotten.
Turns out the plan was to march from the park and travel three blocks to the actual spot where Maurice was shot. Being led by Maurice's sister Michelle, all in attendance lit their candles and we started marching. Several people were arm in arm. Some people marched single file. But for everyone this was a very somber and surreal moment. As we marched Marcus started singing Hero by Mariah Carey. Slowly the family joined in and soon most people walking were singing. This was the moment that I lost it.
If you're unfamiliar with the lyrics, the song starts, "There's a hero, if you look into your heart, you don't have to be afraid of who you are . . ." That first lined summed up Maurice. He was a person unafraid and unashamed of who he was. Yes he was wearing a dress when he was killed but everyone in attendance that knew Maurice attested to how he was always genuine and authentic and never afraid to be himself. So when that line was sung goosebumps sprung up all over my body.
How fitting it was that as we approached the site where Maurice was killed someone driving by slowed down his truck and yelled "FAGGOTS!" out his window. But I'm no longer surprised at the level of ignorance people can stoop to these days. So I wasn't even phased by the incident. I only hoped that the family wasn't bothered by it either. Everyone formed a circle around the actual site. Maurice's mom said a prayer. Some people presented flowers. And Marcus again repeated his vow that justice will be served one day. The only condolensces I could give to the family was that even if these people never go to court justice may still be served. Sometimes the judgement we face isn't delivered to us in the judicial system.
My heart goes out to this family and I pray that one day they find the justice they are seeking. I also pray that the senseless violence that begat this unfortunate event comes to an end one day. Maurice, you are missed and you will never be forgotten.
To see additional photos from the vigil please go here .
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Okay - so it's no secret that I've always found Julian Bond very sexxy. But I've always wondered what the President of the NAACP felt about homophobia and civil rigts for the LGBT community. I was pleased to learn a few years ago that he is sternly against homophobia and views the struggle for LGBT equality a civl right that he happily adopts as a cause he embraces as one of his own.
Bond promises, "At the NAACP we pledge to do our part," when talking about the fight for the right to marry. He spoke about Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, and about how taking action can lead people to change their minds.
I loved the story he shares about a friend of Coretta that wanted her to become an ally of the LGBT community in our fight for equality. In doing so he would have to come out to his friend of 20 years and he was hesitant in doing so. But he placed the phone call and Coretta responded with, "Just let me know what you need me to do." But people still wonder why I encourage all my friends to live their lives openly and honestly. It's because sometimes just by being true to who you are you can shape the way people feel about our community.
What I love about Bond is that he is not only beautiful, he's also brilliant. My favorite line from his speech was, "Gay and lesbian rights are not special rights in any way. It is not special to be free from discrimination. It is an ordinary universal entitlement of citizen."
Please take a moment to listen to the speech in its entirety. It will be well worth your time.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Last night our nation's 44th president, our nation's brilliant president, our nation's first African-American president paid a visit to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. During his time on the couch he talked about AIG and the economy, secret service as a candidate versus secret service as the president, and how his first 59 days in the White House are going. Surprisingly he didn't mention about what everybody in the world is talking about - Michelle Obama's arms. I mean that's what I've been waiting to hear.
He also jokingly compared Washington, D.C. to American Idol and said most people of the people trying to judge you think their Simon Cowell. He takes the criticism with a smile and keeps going. He stated to Jay, "It took us a while to get into this mess. It's going to take us time to get out of it." I know people don't want to hear that but the man is a realist. He isn't going to paint the picture we want to see - he is going to give us the truth.
The person that posted the video on YouTube is obviously not a fan of the President (and that's okay - thank you uploading the video anyway). So I do apoligize for the eye soar of a banner that surrounds the video as you watch it - but the inspite of this, it's totally worth seeing.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Twelve years ago today my partner Chris and I performed our committment ceremony in front of friends and family. We had our ceremony because we wanted those important to us to know we were serious about our relationship. We exchanged rings and vows and asked God to bless our union. Yes - that is us in the photos. What a difference a decade makes. According to about.com - the twelth year anniversary is the linen or pearl anniversary (so this morning I gave Chris a pearl necklace - LOL).
We held our ceremony in Alabama where gay marriage or civil unions isn't even on the radar. But we were not really concerned about recognition from the state. We were more concerned about recognition from our peers. So here we are twelve years later and I have to ask myself if I feel differently now?
I'm still very happy with Chris and I have no regrets about marrying him. But let's be real - it would be very nice to have all the rights and priviledges allotted to heterosexual married couples. And keeping it real - we've stayed together much longer than most of the straight couples I know. So I'm still confused as to how permitting us the right to marry will ruin the santity of marriage.
Hopefully one day (and I'm hoping that under Barack Obama that day will be soon) our union will be recognized not only by our friends and family but also by the state and federal government. Hopefully one day soon all those gay and lesbian couples I know that have been in committed, long-term relationships will be able to legally exchange vows. Time will only tell when things are going to change.
But until we see that change we can believe in - I want to say to Chris that the first dozen years have been great and I wouldn't want to do it with anyone else. I love you!
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Michael's story is an interesting read. He is a man that is about something. It's great to learn about the terrific things he's doing - his activism in DC and his writing. But at the same time it's disheartening to hear his history - learning of his parents reactions after his coming out at the age of sixteen. His mom eventually "came around" and he still does not have a relationship with his father. But I am a realist. This reaction unfortunately matches the reaction of many other partents that disown their gay or lesbian childen upon learning the truth about their sexual orientation.
Was he punked? Is he a punk? It's disturbing to me to know that this seemingly brilliant man bowed down like this. I was ashamed for him. I'm still ashamed for him.
Then today I read this interview that Steele provided for GQ magazine where he was asked about his thoughts regarding the LGBT community. From reading the article it sounds like his position parallels that of Barack Obama. No - he doesn't support same sex marriage but he does have gay friends and thinks they are entitled to some legislation that will protect us. Unlike Obama, he doesn't feel the executive office should have a hand in changing things.
He also goes on to say that he does not believe that homosexuality is a choice. I'm glad to hear this coming from the person that is the leader of the Republican party (atleast on paper anyway). Whenever he speaks he seems to almost win me over - but then he keeps talking. The GQ article was again making me a fan of Steele because it sounded initially like he was an ally to the LGBT community. Then he threw us under the bus regarding gay marriage with, "I believe that the states should have the opportunity to address that issue."
Then he totally disgusts me when he starts talking about Ann Coulter and his friend Rush Limbaugh. Regarding Coulter he says, " she’s got an edge to her — and it’s great." And what does he say about Limbaugh - "Rush is a bomb-thrower extraordinaire. And we need him. We need him because what he does is, he stimulates debate." WTF! Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the water . . .
I'm still not sure what the Republican party is trying to pull by appointing him to his new role as head of the GOP. It's hard for me not to root for the intelligent, influential, successful black man. But listening to him speak I'm starting to question his intelligence. Regarding his position over the GOP, it'll take time to see if he actually has any influence. And I shutter to think about his success - because his success would be the GOPs success. So all I can do is sit back and see where this train derails - because there is a wreck a coming - I can feel it.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
10 - Joss Stone. One Friday night I was hanging out with my friend Brandon and he put in this CD from this new chick Joss Stone. The girl definitely had a voice. The track that did me in was her cover of the Joe Simon classic The Chokin' Kind. The next day I went out and bought that CD. She has since dropped 3 more CDs and all have been fabulous. Check out her skills here.
9 - Eva Cassidy. The first time I heard Eva Cassidy sing I was watching Smallville. All I remember is that at the end of the episode someone had died. As Clark was standing over the gravesite the song Time After Time started playing and the credits to the show started to roll. I was crying like a kid and I was thinking to myself, "Oh my god, who in the world is this woman with this amazing voice?" Luckily they listed Eva in the closing credits. She's phenomenal. Check her out here. Sadly as I was researching her I learned she was taken from us at a very young age. But before this songbird left us she managed to record many beautiful songs that will continue to be her legacy.
8 - Susan Tedischi. This is one bluesy white woman. She has a strong, raspy voice (kinda Janis Joplin- ish) and can pick a guitar like no one's business. One day I was working late in the office and I was the only person left. The silence was sickening and I noticed a CD player in the cubicle across from mine. It was my friend Raquel's and I knew she wouldn't mind so I hit play. The CD she had loaded was the best of the Grammy nominees from that particular year. I just hit play and went back to work. The CD was entertaining enough. Nothing I heard was exceptional until I heard Tedischi screaming, "It hurts, it hurts, it hurst so bad . . ." I played that song about 10 times in a row that night. Check it out here. I'm now the owner of 4 CDs by Susan Tedischi (and all are terrific).
7 - Norah Jones. When Norah burst on the scene in 2002 she was a breath of fresh air. For me it wasn't her talent that was surprising, it was her success that was surprising. She wasn't gimmicky. She wasn't trying to be sexy. It was just her and her piano and it was brilliant. After years of so many untalented people making it to the top of the charts, it was nice to see (and hear) something different yet pleasant. Check out her sultry voice here.
6 - Amy Winehouse. Yes, she's as nutty as can of Planters peanuts, but you can't deny her talent. She has a beatiful, beautiful voice (if you disagree make your own list). She wasn't a household name in the U.S. until the release of her sophomore CD Back to Black but I think her first album Frank was much better. I'm still hoping she can get off the drugs and get herself together. Check her out live here.
5 - Adele. She's another talent that rode over during the recent British invasion. She was on heavy rotation while I was working at the Virgin Megastore. First time I heard her singing I thought Amy Winehouse had unbeknownst to me released a new CD. So I ran to the counter to find out what I was listening to. Her CD is what I was hoping for in a new Winehouse CD. Love, love, love me some Adele. Hands down her best track is her cover of the Bob Dylan classic Make You Feel My Love. Get into it here.
4 - Taylor Dane. She has been one of the best ladies of soul for years. I'm a product of the 80s so I grew up loving her. Hits like Tell It to My Heart, I'll Be Your Shelter, and Don't Rush Me gave this young queer lots of wonderful stuff to groove to. Her dances songs were fabulous but it was her ballads that made me fall in love with her. Love Will Lead You Back is still one of my all-time favorite songs. Check it out here.
3 - Lisa Stansfield. Extremely underrated. She did get the love she deserved when she first came over our radios with Been Around the World. And she got made love from me (and all women around the world) when she released All Woman. But Lisa disappeared on us. But don't get it twisted. She is still one of the best neo-soul talents we've seen in years. The song here is fastly becoming my new favorite Stansfield song.
2 - Christina Aguilera. This list was not that difficult for me to create, but it was extremely hard for me to determine how I would rank each person on my list. It was painfully difficult for me to choose between my top two candidates. But the number two spot goes to Xtina. This girl can sang ya'll. But you know this already. She has proven she's got pipes over and over again. The little person with the big voice has blown us away singing like a pre-crack Whitney. Let's be real - it takes talent to be able to deliver on songs like Reflection, Beautiful and Voice Within. But for me she brings it home best when she teams up with Herbie Hancock on A Song for You. Get into the voice here.
And now, drumroll please . . .
I have to add this one honorable mention. Duffy blew me away singing Syrup and Honey here. She didn't make the top ten list but if she keeps putting it down like this she may take someone out of there spot real soon. Keep and eye on this girl.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
I have to share this - I had the opportunity to speak with E. Lynn Harris a week prior to the awards show. I congratulated him on his nomination and wished him good luck in winning the award. He told me he was beginning to feel like the Susan Luchi of the NAACP. He's been nominated numerous times but has never actually won. He was really excited because for the first time he was nominated and Nikki Giovanni wasn't in the same category. I was excited for him because I felt this could have been his year. Sorry E - maybe next year.
Friday, March 6, 2009
So I'm flying down the freeway dodging the police because I'm not missing my opportunity to meet the man whose book, Invisible Life, changed my life. E was holding his booksigning at the Barnes & Nobles at Desert Ridge Mall. Now I've been to this mall once and that was about 5 years ago - so I really don't remember much about it. I pull into the parking lot and slowly drive through looking for the bookstore. You can only imagine my dismay when I don't see a Barnes & Nobles anywhere in sight. So I decide - it's just a mall, park the car and go in. Now remember it's raining in buckets (and who the hell in Phoenix carries an umbrella in there car). So I'm totally soaked by the time I reach the sidewalk.
I finally find Barnes & Nobles and the store looks empty. My heart drops. The booksigning was scheduled to start at 6:00 and it is now 6:40. I'm really late. My mind is racing - maybe its over already, maybe he cancelled because of the weather, why does life suck so much.
I'm dripping wet as I make my way to the cashier. Then I notice tons of different E. Lynn Harris books displayed on the counter. I'm hesitant to ask because I may not want the answer, "Where is the E. Lynn Harris booksigning happening?" The clerk smiles at me and points as she says, "He's in the center of the store, right on the other side those shelves."
Thats when I had my exhale moment. I hadn't missed him. He was still in the store. I grabbed my copy of his latest book from the counter and purchased it and headed in the direction she told me. I stopped and peaked around the corner just to make sure it was really him. IT WAS. Oh my God. It's E. Lynn Harris. IT'S E LYNN HARRIS. I've never been this excited meeting a celebrity before. But I can't walk up to this man acting crazy. I need to calm down before I make my entrance. So I take a deep breath and silently do my calming mantra - "get it together Chante, get it together."
Turns out it wasn't needed. E had just finished his question and answer session when I entered. He was now signing books and taking photos with anyone interested. And I must admit - he was genuinely nice. He was taking his time and personalizing all autographs. And he was posing with anyone that wanted a picture with him. Well you know I was one of those people. But remember - I'm dripping wet. E didn't care. He threw his arm around anyway and smiled and cheesed for the camera. So my love for E. Lynn Harris has grown even more - if that's possible.
I'm sincere when I say Invisible Life was life changing for me. Growing up in the rural South I didn't know it was okay to be gay, black and out. I thought at any given moment you could only be two of the three. My reality was limited only to what I had seen. Then I read E. Lynn Harris and my eyes were opened.
I just want to close by saying thank you to E . Lynn Harris. Thank you for writing great books. Thank you for telling the stories of black gay men - there are people that want and need to hear these. And thank you for being a tremendous host to your fans. You continue to inspire.
We also had Ms. Teen Black Arizona, Ms. Rozan Latham, address the crowd concerning HIV and youth. Let's not get it twisted - grown folks aren't the only ones getting infected. We need to be spreading the message about HIV prevention to everyone that may be at risk. We need to stop pretending like teen-agers are not having sex or experimenting with drugs. It's a reality we all must deal with. If we continue to be silent our young will continue to die.
And addressing the issue of HIV among women was one of my very favorite people from the city of Phoenix, Miasia Pasha. Miasia has been living with the virus for over almost a decade and she has refused to be a victim of it. She is an advocate for the HIV community as she volunteers her time on the Ryan White Planning Council and on the board of AAHHERC (African-American Hispanic Health Resource Center). She is present at any platform she is given to address this problem and I love her for that. Her visibility and her endurance are inspiring.
There were several awards given out during the night honoring those are taking exceptional steps in helping in this fight against HIV. I also had the opportunity that night to meet the current reigning Ms. Black Arizona, Brittanae' Perkins (she's my new BFF).
The night was FABULOUS! FABULOUS! FABULOUS! (Okay I may be a bit biased because I was part of the organizing committee). But it was still an exceptional evening.
Kudos to Patrik Ian-Polk for writing such a phenomenal movie and hats off to the cast for a terrific job.
If you have not been watching then do yourself a favor and check it out. You can go to logoonline.com to see the latest and greatest involving the show.