Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Hate Continues

Former DC governor Marion Barry was on hand to speak at a rally opposing same-sex marriage held last Tuesday, April 28. The meeting was organized by Rev. Harry Jackson who is the first speaker you will see in the video below. I have to tell you the words I heard made me sick to my stomach. The video opens with the crowd singing we shall overcome which was a song sung often during the Civil Rights Movement. The song is supposed to offer words of encouragement and hope to an oppressed group of people. It's interesting that the song is now being used to oppress.

It was disturbing to me to see people I consider part of my community using language that compared me to thieves, liars and child molesters. One individual stated that sames-sex marriage should not be allowed for the same reasons incest and adult/ child marriages should not be allowed. The Rev. Jackson states that he doesn't preach hate, but all I hear coming out of his mouth is hate. I am not a person that is easily offended but this video had me fuming.

It's intersting also that Marion Barry was one of the speakers at this event when not that long ago he claimed to be an ally of the LGBT community. Maybe the lack of crack in his life is to blame for this wishy-washy behavior. But I think the most appalling thing to me are the consant "amens" I hear coming from the crowd in response to these words.
I wonder how these people responded when they learned of the 11 year old kids that took their lives because of anti-gay name calling and harrasment. They were probably saddened and concerned about the welfare of the mothers and wondered how things like that could happen. I wonder if they get that the actions they're taking are probably doing more damage to LGBT youth than any high school bully could do. My favorite line from the movie Prayers for Bobby was "be careful when you say amen." You never know who is listening.

Eat Dinner - Save A Life

Today we will be celebrating Dining Out for Life in Phoenix. Just in case you're unaware, Dining Out for Life is a way for everyone to play a part in the fight against HIV/ AIDS. Today there will be many restaurants around town that donate a portion of their revenue to various AIDS Service Organizations. All you have to do is go in and eat. That's it. That's all you have to do to be a soldier in the war on AIDS. That's all you have to do to help save lives.

So I'm encouraging everyone to find one of the participating restaurants and lip sync, I'm sorry I mean dine out for your life. You can find a list of participating restaurants here. Grab some friends (this is a good cause so you could even grab some people you don't like) and go out and have lunch or dinner and feel good about what you're doing for the community. Just a heads up - the percentage being donated various between restaurants. Some places will give 100% of their revenue from today. The others range from 25% and higher. If you want your dollar to go further, you can view the details of the participating restaurant to find out how much is being donated.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Life Without Parole for Killing Boyfriend

Last Friday a member of the gang the Latin Kings, Christian "King Joker" Almonte, was convicted of murder in the first degree for killing his boyfriend. Almonte who was 26, killed his 41 year old boyfriend Willie Escobar out of jealousy. Apparently Escobar was seeing other men. According to The Advocate, the two men had a secret relationship that has been going on for several years.

The jealous rage that Almonte went into following learning about his lover's infidelity caused him to stab his boyfriend 20 times with a kitchen knife. There were stab wounds in the heart, stomach, chest and back. Following the murder of his boyfriend, Almonte then stole his Toyota Camry and gave it to a friend. Almonte will serve life without possibility of parole for the murder of Escobar and he faces 12-15 years for motor vehicle theft that he will serve concurrently with his life sentence.

You Inspire me - Ade Banjoko

Last night I had the pleasure of celebrating with my dear friend Dr. Ade Banjoko. I've known Ade for several years now and last night she was celebrating her 60th birthday. Again I was reminded how well black folks age. I'm sorry Ade but for a 60 year old you're still pretty hot. Ade is one of those unique individuals that combines beauty and brains without conceit or elitism. She is a leader for the African-American community and a mentor for many in the LGBT community.

I met Ade in 2004 when I was volunteering with AIDS Project Arizona. I was doing my regular outreach duty - handing out condoms and HIV info at any venue I could get into that had black folks. Outside of Club Incognito she hit me up with a request. She told me she was a biology instructor for Chandler- Gilbert Community College and one of her classes was about to go into their studies of HIV. She asked if I could do a presentation on HIV and how the virus works in the body. I'm all about going anywhere that I'm invited if I'm able to address people about HIV/ AIDS, so I immediately said yes.

I've never shared this with Ade, so she'll be finding out with everyone that reads this - child, I didn't know a thing about how HIV really worked in the body. My job as an outreach person consisted of me telling people how not to get it. I knew that the virus often mutated and I knew the immune system did not know how to effectively eliminate it. That's pretty much all I knew. But I'm a pretty sharp cookie myself. I had all the resources I needed to put together a presentation. Within the span of a week a put together a college level presentation regarding HIV modes of transmission, cellular reproduction of the virus, the virus' lifecycle, etc. I was pretty impressed with what I put together and I was very pleased with how it went over for her class. I'm happy that I was presented with that challenge because you wouldn't believe how often I was able to put that information to use following that presentation.

Dr. Banjoko jokingly calls herself the dancing plant doctor and it's such a perfect title. Her studies at Arizona State University yielded her a BS in Botany and a PhD in Cell Biology. She was recognized by Soul Purpose Arizona at their In The Life Celebration for her excellence in education and she was honored at last year's Martin Luther King celebration for her continuous commitment in working with youth. She was also a member of the Kawambe Omowale African Drum and Dance Theatre (Arizona's premiere African dance company) and she studies belly dance. Hard to believe a person this active is a great grandmother.

Ade, you not only inspire me, you inspire so many people around you. I appreciate your spirit and brilliance and your authenticity. Keep walking in congruency, letting the life you live reflect the words you speak.

To see more pics from her celebration go here.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Pal and a Confidant - Bea Arthur Dies

Yesterday we lost an icon for the LGBT community. Bea Arthur is probably best known as Dorothy from the Golden Girls but her career goes back way before that show ever premiered. For black folks Good Times is one of those staple shows that many of us connect with and rever. But were you aware that Good Times was a spin off of Bea Arthur's phenomenally successful sitcom Maude. That's right, if there were no Maude there may not have been a Good Times.

The role that probably put her in the spotlight for gay men was her potrayal as Vera Charles in Mame. She was catty and witty and we loved it. In her role as Dorothy she was part of a stellar cast that had a special chemistry on camera that we repeatedly tuned in to see. Golden Girls was such a success that it's general format (four single women with very different personalities) would be benchmarked in many sitcoms that followed like Designing Women, Girlfriends and Sex & The City.

Though I'm sad to hear the news that she died peacefully in her sleep yesterday, I'm happy as I recall that she has brought me so many smiles and laughs in my life. Bea Arthur, you will be missed. Below is one of those funny moments that Bea will be remembered for.

Barack Attacks Homophobia at Holocaust Remembrance

There are people out there that actually believe the holocaust never happened (it's probably those same people that believe that we never walked on the moon and that slavery really wasn't that bad). The reality is 60 million Jews, 20 million Russians, and 10 million Christians were murdered, slaughtered, raped, burnt and humiliated by the Nazis. And this just happened about sixty years ago. Gay men were frequently condemned to Nazi concentration camps (oddly enough lesbians were not because women were not considered any type of threat). This was where the pink triangle that you will sometimes see used as a symbol for the LGBT community was developed. Gay men were marked by the pink triangle they had to wear. It was a way for those at any concentration camp to know why an individual was there. If you were gay - you wore the pink triangle.

When General Eisenhower discovered the autrocities that were happening he demanded that it all be recordered. Why? In his words, "To collect as much proof, films, testimonies, because the day will come when some son of a bitch will say that this never happened." Eisenhower was able to end the war and free those individuals that survived the tortures of the Nazis. Jews could return home. Christians could return home. But what about the gay men? Well although they were released from the concentration camps, homosexuality was still illegal post World War II. So they were forced to live in fear and silence before the war, during the war, and unlike all others that were freed they had to continue living in fear and silence after the war.

Last Thursday, President Barack Obama spoke at the National Holocaust Museum's Day of Remembrance. In his speech he condemned hatred in any form. He spoke against racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism and xenophobia. In Obama's words, hatred "diminished us all." In the United Kingdom, they just removed the holocaust from all textbooks because it offended Muslims who believe the holocaust never happened. I think I'll close with this, sometimes people just need to be offended. We cannot deny the truth just appease a group of people that are living in ignorance.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

GREAT SHORT FILMS - PLEASE WATCH

Short Films

If you're like me then you're very disappointed with the representation of black LGBT individuals on televison right now because there are none. There will be no second season of the DL Chronicles. There has been no action on the rumored third season of Noah's Arc. We had RuPaul's Drag Race, it was good but it was brief. Now there is nothing. But don't fret my pet. Help is on the way. Until we start to appear on the small screen again, please take a moment to enjoy one of these terrific short films featuring black LGBT characters. You can watch them in their entirety below. I think you'll enjoy.
Once the movie starts you can click on the bottom right box on the image to play full screen.

SARANG SONG

More great videos from DowneTV on DowneLink.com, the biggest gay social network

TRIPLE MINORITY


More great videos from DowneTV on DowneLink.com, the biggest gay social network


FUNCTIONAL DESIGN

More great videos from DowneTV on DowneLink.com, the biggest gay social network

Prison Relationships - Husband and Manwife

I know we all know about it. It is one of those taboo topics that many people don't like to discuss. - men having sex with other men in prison. Many of these men identify as straight and will resume there heterosexual activities upon being released from prison. But while on lock down these men have to make due with what's available. It's what is often referred to as "situational homosexuality." It's not that the person having sex with another man prefers having sex with another man. It's just that the only sexual options available to him are other men.

Although we know it happens, it's something we seldom hear discussed by the people who are actually in prison. That's why the video below is a rare find. The two men consider themselves in prison to be husband and wife. Not sure who the person was that coerced these two individuals to tell their stories to the camera, but they must have very charismatic. Anywho, take a peek (and thanks to the Wandering Caravan for making me aware of this).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Akasha Harding - Homeless and Transgender

This is an interesting interview with trans individual Akasha Harding. Akasha now resides at Atlanta's largest homeless shelter and they are requiring her to "present as male" in order to stay. If she were to dress in female clothing she would be forced to leave.

Being honest, I don't know enough from this to form an opinion. Most shelters I know are either or (it's a men's homeless shelter or a women's homeless shelter). If Akasha identifies as female should she stay at a female homeless shelter? Or would she also be turned away from that facility? I'm also torn because I was raised to believe that beggars can't be choosers. If you need a place to stay and there are guidelines you mush adhere to stay there, why should an exception be made for you.
Don't get it twisted, I'm definitely an ally of the trans community and I know that most facilities do NOT know how to appropriately address the needs of this community. We're lucky in Phoenix to have a place like This Is HOW, a halfway house for the trans community. Unfortunately it is the only place of its kind in the country. Maybe now that they're forced with this issue, this shelter will develop some type of policy to address this community.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Finding Me Review

My copy of Finding Me showed up today (it was just released on Tuesday). I've been anxiously looking forward to this since I first heard about it. I have to admit I'm very pleased with my purchase. The storyline is terrific, the star of the movie is very easy on the eyes, and the movie addresses issues that we really need to discuss as a community. Self hatred and confusion by those young and gay, homophobia in the black community, and dating in the same gender loving community are just some of the topics touched on.

There are so few black LGBT images on film that I'm all about supporting all that is out there. Finding Me is a terrific film that everyone should support. There are many moments where I laughed out loud. There are also times when I thought the story that was being told was my story. I think all black gay men will see themselves in this movie.

There is music by and a brief cameo by out gay artist Nhojj. There is lots of terrific eye candy through out. You will not be disappointed with this movie. It can currently be purchased through Amazon or TLA.

Nigerian Granted Asylum in Canada

Norbert Okoli of Nigeria has been granted permission to remain in Canada. He made a plea to the Canadian Refugee and Immigration board to allow him to stay because he feared what would happen should he be forced to return home. Prior to fleeing Nigeria, Okoli was beaten and harrassed and forced to have sex with a women in an effort to rehabilitate him of his homosexuality. Okoli first moved to Canada in 2005 using a fake French passport. It may have helped his case when he showed the deciding board in Canada the scars he received on his biceps, abdomen, thighs and back from his harassers in Nigeria. His initial request for asylum was denied but this second appeal has been approved.

Top Homos In Uganda?

In the April 19 issue of the The Red Pepper, a tabloid from Uganda, the paper maliciously generated a list of the "Top Homos in Uganda." In the country which is extremely homophobic this paper has created this list which includes names, places of employment, home residents, and names of boyfriends or girlfriends of the people listed.

The purpose of this list according to the article is to expose "Uganda’s shameless men and unabashed women that have deliberately exported the western evils to our dear and sacred society."

I haven't heard if anyone has been targeted because of the list but I'd be surprised if not. I'm sure I just have heard the results yet. This list was created to generate an environment of hatred and fear to put people in a mob mentality. This list was created so that everyone on it would become a victim. I pray for the individuals on the list. May they be okay and escape the persecution that the writers of this article wanted.

Do Not Pass Go - Go Directly to Jail

The jury hearing the trial of Allan Andrade, the man accused of the murder of Angie Zapata, wasted no time at all in deliberations. Following the trial it took them only two hours to come back with a verdict of guilty. The trial ended yesterday and friends and family of Zapata and members of the LGBT community are rejoicing in the finding.

Andrade killed Zapata after learning that she was transgender. He approached her in her apartment after previously having had sex with her and asked her if she was a man or a woman. When she responded with, "I'm all woman" he grabbed her genitals and discovered the truth. He then grabbed a fire extinguisher and struck her twice in the head. He stated to the police he thought he had "killed it." When she started making noises and tried to sit up he realized that she wasn't dead. So he bashed her again in the head with the fire extinguisher and grabbed everything in the apartment that could connect him with Zapata.

I know that people can react violently when learning about the true identity of a sexual partner when that partner is transgender. I'm not saying it's okay I'm just saying that I know that transpanic is a real thing. But real or not, no person needs to die because of this. Andrade's actions were deplorable, they were fueled by hate and they will have consequences. The crime was tried as a hate crime would add an additional 18 months to his sentencing, but he's been sentenced to life in prison.

WTF - Alabama Praised Ms. California

It's true, I am Southern born and Southern bred because my home was in Alabama. But when I hear news like this I'm reminded why I left. Apparently, a Republican from Montgomery, Jay Love, introduced a resolution to the Alabama House of Representatives to praise Ms. California for her answer in the Ms. U.S.A. pageant.

In case you've been living under a rock and didn't hear about this, during the pageant last Saturday night, judge Perez Hilton asked Ms. California a question about what states should do now that four states allow gay marriage. In her answer to the question, Ms. California basically said in her United States, marriage would be between a man and a woman. There were several boos from the audience following her answer. Some people think it was this answer that cost her the title.

The Alabama House actually passed the resolution. REALLY. Why is something this trivial and irrelevent beingd discussed in the Alabama Congress. Do they not have anything more important to do?

But seriously this entire thing sickens me. Yes I was disappointed by her answer, but come on people, this is a beauty pageant. These contestants didn't get to this point because of their smarts. But even more disturbing than her answer was Perez Hilton's reponse to her answer. Have you seen his post on YouTube, you can watch it here. Why does she have to be a bitch and a cunt just because she doesn't agree with you. That was petty and immature in my opinion showed more ignorance than Ms. California.

And now this action by Alabama that basically says that the state is endorsing intolerance and homophobia. Aren't these people being paid to make important decisions and pass legislation that will help people? What is the point of this resolution?

Michelle Obama Attends John Berry Swearing In

Okay - so I have a huge gay crush on the FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) Michelle Obama. She is poised, elegant, and charismatic. And today she attended the swearing in of John Berry, the openly gay man that is now the director of the Office of Personnel Management. He will be running an office that was once known for identifying and firing individuals for being homosexual. I'm excited to see that her commitment to be an ally of the LGBT community continue.

I'm also excited to see openly gay individuals continue to be placed in positions of influence within the Obama administration. It's nice to see him recognize and honor members of our community. Now if we can only get him to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act. But I understand, I guess we have to start with small steps. Congratulations John Berry.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Another 11 Year Old Takes His Life

Just last week we lost 11 year old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover who took his own life because of the constant name calling and harassment he received at school. He was regularly teased and called gay. Now less ten days later we've lost someone else. In Atlanta, Jaheim Herrara took his life the very same way (by hanging himself) for the very same reason (he could no longer take the taunting, the harassment or the name calling).

Last Friday was the National Day of Silence which is a day set aside where students bring awareness to anti-gay bulling and harassment. It coincidentally would have also have been the birthday of Carl Walker-Hoover. And now here we go again. We've lost another life to this idiotic behavior that many teachers and school administrators usually ignore. School bullying is never okay and for people to ignore this is an endorsement of the action.

Last night at my men's group UGIMA our topic was taboos. Having just celebrated gay pride here in Phoenix last weekend we talked about how just being gay was taboo not that long ago. It seems we've come so far. We're no longer considered to have a psychological disorder for being gay. We have the right to get married in four states (and more states have pending legislation). Gay themed movies, shows and LGBT characters are now mainstream. So sometimes I'm fooled into feeling that we've made it over. Then something like this happens and I'm reminded that this issue is still taboo. People are still uncomfortable with being labeled homosexual. And we still have young people dying because of this label.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Unforgettable Pride Moments - Number One

I love me some gay pride. I'm talking about "and I am telling you I'm not going" kinda love. My first gay pride ever was in Birmingham, AL. That was interesting. There were only a few hundred people. There was a parade and festivities at a park (like most gay prides). But what was funny was there were camera crews there and it was fun the see some of the guys in the parade trying to dodge the journalists. They were proud enough to walk in the parade but afraid of being outed on the news.

That moment was life changing for me. Sure there were some that were slightly closeted, but for the most part I was surrounded by people that were out, proud and unashamed of who they were. It was fabulous. So now I'm a pride junkie. Be it gay pride or black gay pride - it's all good.

As diverse as the LGBT community is, Pride is that occasion where we put aside our differences as celebrate as a unified group. Even though sometimes it seems that Pride weekend is THE only time were united, I will continue to cherish the reconnecting with old friends, the meeting of new friends, the parade, the dancing, the performers, the food, and the drinks. Yes, it is still important for us to be proud 365 days of the year. But I will always have partying at pride as the most fabulous moments of celebration within the LGBT community.
Please check out video from Phoenix 2009 Gay Pride. Hope you enjoy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

National Day of Silence

Today is the National Day of Silence. It is a day set aside by students to use their voice (or their lack of voices) as a statement against anti-gay name calling, bullying and harrasment. It was this harassment that caused Carl Walker-Hoover to take his own life last week at only 11 years old. It's this harassment that causes many LGBT youth run away from home or to drop out of school. No one wants to be in an environment where they feel unwanted and threatened. Hopefully schools will take a listen. Hopefully parents will take a listen.

James - Why Gay Pride is Important



We recorded this video on the night of the Healing Racism event at Phoenix College. The topic for the evening was The rainbow and race: exploring how race impacts our understanding of sexual orientation. I've known James for a few months and I asked him the question, "Why is gay pride important to you?"

Nate - Why Gay Pride is Important



Nate is a former member of Valley One in Ten. He is also the very first person I asked to be a part of my video series "Why Is Gay Pride Important to You?" Please check out his answer.

Unforgettable Pride Moment Number Two

Every February we celebrate Black history month. And every February I attend numerous Black history month celebrations and brunches and award ceremonies. And sadly at none of these occassions do I hear about the contributions or successes of LGBT African-Americans. When we look at the accomplished works of phenomenal people like James Baldwin, Alvin Ailey, Langston Hughes or Octavia Butler, it's disappointing that they are not receiving the recgonition they deserve.

And then the In the Life Celebration was born. The brain child of phenomenal women Donna McHenry and the project of her organization Soul Purpose Arizona. The In the Life Celebration was created to honor those LGBT African-Americans in history that have helped change to world but are continuously overlooked in other Black history month celebrations. There is a display that showcases our role models. There are workshops that address issues relevent to the African-American LGBT community. And finally there is an awards ceremony that recognizes those members of the community that still live up to the standards put on us by Hughes, Ailey and Butler.

For me it was a please to be on the Soul Purpose committee and help plan this special event. One of the pleasures was working with some of the most intelligent and creative and charming black gay folks I've had the pleasure of knowing. Babe Caylor, William Clark, Mark NuChurch, Treasure, Angel, Jacqui and Sharicka were just the best group of people to work with. And I was very proud of the event we putting together. For this reason, creating and attening the In the Life Celebration makes for number two on my unforgettable pride moments list.

Unforgettable Pride Moment Number Three

In 1998 we witnessed two of the most tragic, incomprehensible, senseless acts I've had the misfortune to learn about. The murders of Matthew Shephard and James Byrd happened within months of each other. The common thread between these two events is that they were both fueled by hatred. The hatred was aimed at the individual, it was aimed at the communities these individuals belonged to.

Matthew Shepard was killed because he was gay. He met two individuals in a bar and he thought he could trust them. He was ruthlessly beaten and left for dead in a field. James Byrd was on his way home and ran into three people that he knew. They offered him a ride. These three individuals beat him, chained him by the legs and tied him to the back of their pick and dragged his lifeless body until he was decapited.

The public outcry was extreme and these events catipulted the passing of hate crime legislation to hopefully deter incidents like these from happening again. The candlelight vigil held in Phoenix honored and remembered both Matthew Shephard and James Byrd. It was one of the few times I've noticed the LGBT community honor something that was not totally inclusive of LGBT. Usually if there is nothing gay about it then we don't care about it. For the above reason, the Matthew Shephard/ James Byrd canlelight vigil comes in at number three on my list of unforgettable pride moments. You can see more photos from this special night here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Unforgettable Pride Moments - Number Four

I don't know if you've ever lost someone to AIDS but I have. I've lost family members and friends to this disease. It's interesting when you live in two different communities (I recognize that I am a member of the LGBT community and I am simultaneously a member of the African-American community). What's devastating is when both communities you're a part of are being torn apart by this virus.

Shortly after I arrived in Arizona I learned that the AIDS quilt (or part of the AIDS quilt) would be on display at the state's capital. Pieces of the memorial quilt from Washington D.C. would be transferred here. This was also an opportunity for local people that have lost someone to create their own quilt and add it to the memorial quilt.

I did not know the amount of pomp and circumstance involved with displaying the AIDS quilt. There is a ritual involved in the presenting, the unfolding and refolding. While in attendance several people spoke about those they have lost and presented their blankets. It was one saddest, surrealest, intimate and powerful experiences I've ever been apart of. This was a special moment in time that was very special to me and I loved being apart of that moment.

Sadly, ten years later, we are still dying from this disease. In the U.S., someone is infected with HIV every nine & a half minutes. But I'm glad to have witnessed this powerful moment acknowledging those we lost. For this reason, experiencing the AIDS quilt at the Arizona state capital is number four on my list of unforgettable pride moments. See more pics of this amazing event here.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Town Mourns and a Mother Reacts

Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover was the 11 year old kid that took his own life last week after months of bullying and anti-gay slurs from classmates. Unfortunately his cries for help went unheard from his schools administration (inspite of repeated calls from his mom to the school asking them to intervene). Learn more about the story here.

Now Carl's mom is speaking out against homophobia and against bullying and against schools that do nothing to put an end to this implorable behaviour. The school involved (New Leadership Charter School of Springfield, Massachussetts) initially refused to make any comment about the incident. That's the part that infuriated me the most. There should have been an apology to this mother from the school the moment this story came out.

Ironically, Carl's birthday is this Friday, April 17 which is also the National Day of Silence. The day was generated to bring attention to anti-gay name calling, bullying and harrassment in schools. I know we want to tell our kids, "sticks and stones may break our bones but names will never hurt us." Well the truth is that names do hurt. Words can cut as deep as a knife. And it's when were young and impressionable and only want to fit in that names hurt the worse. So encourage everyone (because we all have a realm of influence so use your power) to beware of the words you use because you could be hurting someone and not even be ware of it.

But I'm not justifying the reaction of this school or the actions of these bullies because they were aware of what they were doing and should be ashamed of the catastrophy they've caused. Wanda Sykes made the PSA almost seven months ago, before she came out, and I think it is very befitting for this moment. Check it out here.

Rev. Stout - Why Gay Pride is Important



Rev. Patrick Stout has been a pillar for the Phoenix LGBT community for as long as I can remember. He is the founder of the Community Church of Hope which I place I often go to when I need a spiritual uplifting or when I need to fellowship with other LGBT people of faith. His words are always encouraging and motivating.

Unforgettable Pride Moments - Number Five

Since my move to Phoenix I have surrounded myself with a circle of amazing friends. They've become so close to me that they've been adopted as family. These are people that accept me for who I am without question or ridicule. These are people that have made my stay in Phoenix a complete joy. Even in the summers when the sun is beating us down with unbearable 120 degree weather, I still don't mind living in this city I now call home.

I don't think it was a conscience decision to make my circle as diverse as possible, but I have noticed that these people I surround myself with are all very different. My friends are black, white, yellow and brown. They are straight and gay and bisexual and transgender. They are native to the U.S. and they come from the Ukraine and from Africa and from Jamaica and from London. They are young and they are old. And I'm enriched by everything they bring into my life.

Because they allow me to live my life authentically they are next on my list. Hanging out with and enjoying my friends is an ongoing always pleasant occasion. So the company of my friends is my unforgettable (and hopefully neverending) pride moment number five. See more pics of my friends here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More Trans Violence?

I'm saddened to announce another senseless killing of another member of our community. Imaje Devera (born Jimmy Ali McCollough) was found just after midnight on April 14 near Club Emages in Fayetteville, NC. The police department is not releasing much information due to the "sensitive nature of the case." They did share that Imaje was stabbed and that the case is being investigated as a hate crime.

Her body was found near a popular gay club called Club Emages. However, it's still not understood why she may have been in that area because the club was not open on the night her body was found. Some sources have stated that she been involved in prostitution and that may be reason she was in the area.


I'm hoping the police of Fayetteville give this case the attention it deserves and not just push it aside as someone that got what they deserved (which sadly enough happens way too often). Let's hope the person that committed this is found soon and is justly persecuted.


Its frightening but it seems to me that were losing more and more of our own everyday. Maybe things haven't changed much at all and I'm just more aware of all the death since I started blogging. Whatever the case, this constant loss of life for members of the LGBT community must come to an end.

Monday, April 13, 2009

PHOENIX PRIDE - ALMOST HERE



Please check out the video above. It's just a collection of LGBT moments that I've been proud of. Moments like the grand opening of the One Voice Community Center or attending the In The Life Celebratoin or hosting the Black AIDS Awareness Day Program. There are also just fun moments like throwing a birthday party for a friend or attending the wedding of a couple ready to commit themselves to each other. Phoenix Gay Pride will be here this weekend and I hope your ready for it. And I hope you're attending. SEE YOU THERE!!!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Regina - Why Is Gay Pride Important?



Regina Gazelle is one of those individuals I think about when I think about gay pride. She lives her life as a proud trans woman 365 days of the year. Just over two years ago she embarked upon a mission that would put Phoenix on the map for trans issues. She opened the first all transgender halfway house in the country, This Is H.O.W. Her never ending work yielded her the distinguished honor of Woman of the Year from Echo Magazine.

Julie - Why is Gay Pride Important?



Julie is a part of the team at Equality Arizona. She, as well as the entire Equality Arizona staff, is on the forefront of the fight for LGBT equality, specifically here in Arizona. I met her for the first time when we both joined Soulforce when they visited Arizona in their cross country Marriage Equality busride. Her energy was amazing and I loved her immediately.

HAPPY EASTER

Even if you don't believe in the resurrection, I hope you do realize that Jesus was real. He died because he believed that through the sacrifice of his life our lives would be better. There is no greater love than that. So today I am going to rejoice in the fact that Jesus lived so that I may live.

There are people that try to deny me Christ. I've been told that as a homosexual I don't have a place in the Kingom of God. Well, I'll wait for God to tell me that. Because you see, in the Bible that I read Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. And I'm so tired of hearing about the book of Leviticus. The whole, "man shal not lie with man" argument is just so tired. If anyone has studied Leviticus then they would know that nearly all the laws of this book just no longer apply. If we are to apply these laws then we would also have to adhere to the following laws from this same book:
Leviticus 11:7 - This law states that its a sin to eat pork.

Leviticus 11:9 - This law makes catfish and shellfish an abomination.

Leviticus 19:19 - There is a double whammy in this one. This one says you cannot wear clothing of mixed fabrics and you cannot plant a garden with more than one type of crop. And my favorite . . .

Leviticus 19:27 - This one condemns me to hell for shaving my beard.

See I don't have an issue with Christ. It's Christians that I tend to have an issue with. Jesus and I know each other very well. We get along swimmingly. If some of the Christians I know were more Christ like, things would be fine. They need to take the time to sweep around there own front door instead of trying to sweep around mine. But instead they keep telling me how they think I should live my life. But today is a day of celebration, not a day for me to digress about my issues with some Christians.

I'll just close with this, me and my house gonna serve the Lord. And we don't need anybody to tell us what kind of relationship we should have with our maker. It's Easter ya'll. HAPPY EASTER to everyone. Eat lots of eggs. Have a wonderful Easter dinner. And I hope your wearing a brand new Easter dress just for todays festivities. I know I am.

Unforgettable Pride Moments - Number Six

Since the passing of Prop 102 in Arizona and more importantly Prop 8 in California, the people of this state have been rallying, and candlelight vigiling, and marching unlike anything I've ever seen before. Several new organizations have emerged in the Valley. And I swear I've received a Facebook invititation to some event atleast twice a week since the election happened last November.

I'm proud to see such a tremendous response to this slap in the face. It's great to know that we as a community will not sit idly by and wait for others to one day recognize we deserve equality. We are standing up and demanding the rights we deserve.
As a man that is in a long term relationship (my partner and I have been together for twelve years) I too would like the right to our relationship being recognized by all states and by the federal government. It is very exciting to see the things happening in Vermont and New York and Iowa. Those progressive states are definetely setting a precedent that one day all states will have to follow. But this fight we must endure until that day happens is thrilling to watch.

So for these reasons, Arizona's LGBT (and allies) standing up for marriage equality makes number six on my list of unforgettable pride moments. To see some photos from some of the events from around town go here.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Luis - Why is Pride Important




If you looked up the word activist in the dictionary you'd find a picture of this guy. Luis Garcia is one of the founder's of HERO (Human & Equal Rights Organizers). I met him when he was a writer for Echo Magazine. Now I've learned that he dropped his name in the hat to run for a state seat in the Arizona House of Representatives in 2010. He is one of the most involved men I know when it comes to gay and lesbian issues.

Unforgettable Pride Moment Number Seven

Casa de Cristo hosts there Fall Festival every year on Halloween night. It is a festival that is not only enjoyed by the LGBT community, it is inclusive of all families and friends that live around the church. The church provides food, fun and festivities for FREE to all that attend.

I first heard of there Fall Festival last year when I received an invite from Pastor Ronnie Pigg. Now Halloween is probably my favorie holiday of the year so I usually have several things on my calendar for the day. But I really do adore Pastor Ronnie and I couldn't turn down his invite. So although I had two other parties to attend that night I figured I would make a brief appearance.

Turns out my appearance wouldn't be as brief as I thought it would be. Let me first say that you can not walk on this campus and not feel overly welcomed. Every member of the church greets you with a smile and a "thanks for coming." The Friends of God band perform all night. And I lost track of the number of hot dogs and cotton candy I digested. And there were lots of games for the kids. This event is phenomenal and all in attendance have a great time.

For all these reasons the Casa de Cristo Fall Festival is number seven on my list of unforgettable pride moments. To see pics from the event, please go here.

Colin Powell - I Would Support DADT Repeal



Colin Powell thinks that the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell ban on gays should be re-evaluated. The above interview was done earliesr this month. He won't come out and make a judgement and say right now that it should be repealed, he's just saying that it should be reviewed. But he did go on to say that should Congress decide to repeal the law he would support the repeal. He plays the part of the politician very well. He won't come out and say he supports the repeal but he won't say he opposed the repeal either. I'm just gonna take this as one in our favor.

Black Gay Men Catch HIV Too!

This week the Obama administration announced plans to launch a new campaign designed to remind Americans that HIV/ AIDS is still around. The apparent complacency that resides in far too many has caused us to no longer be concerned about the risks that are still present regarding infection. For some reason we don't think that HIV is a problem anymore. Well the truth is there are 56,000 new infections in the US every year. Translation - someone gets infected with HIV every nine and a half minutes.

While I'm pleased that the new administration is making this needed campaign. And I'm thrilled that they are committing 45 million dollars to this effort. I am a bit unsettled by the key players involved in creating this campaign. While there are black organizations that will be partners in the campaign; there are no black organizations that have an understanding of black gay or bisexual men that are involved.

Some of the black organizations on board include the NAACP, 100 Black Men of America, and the Congressional Black Caucus. But realistically, none of the groups know how to outreach to black gay men. Additional, some black organizations that should have a place at the table (ie the National Black Justice Coalition and the Black AIDS Institute) are not involved. Both of these national organizations currently have strong ties within the Black LGBT communties. However neither organization has been invited. I personally have a problem with that. While the organizers say that there will be more partners invited to come on board, I'm wondering why these agencies were invovled initially.

Black gay men still get infected with HIV. Black gay men are still dying from AIDS. So why do organizations that can reach Black gay and bisexual men not have a place at the table. I'm hoping this problem is resolved very soon. Learn more about this story here.

The Storm Is Passing Over



This PSA created by the National Organization or Marriage with probably piss of some members of the LGBT community, and rightfully so. It's basically lies and propaganda made to scare people. Their agenda is to misinform those unknowing individuals into rejecting the idea of marriage equality for gays and lesbians. But I just don't have the energy to be as angry at this as I probably should be.

Maybe one of the reasons I'm not that angry is I have this stupid grin on my face. I have to thank those guys over at one of my favorite sites BlogActive for showcasing some video responses to the above that just had me laughing my ass off. I'm sorry but it's true - we are just way more creative than they are. Please check one of the videos here or here. Very entertaining.

Friday, April 10, 2009

AfterElton Hot 100 List

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Today AfterElton.com opened up the polls for nominations for their Hot 100 List. So you are invited to list the five hottest celebrities you fantasize about for the list. I have been (probably like many others) not always impressed by the list because there have traditionally been very few men of color that have been included. But I think AfterElton has been listening to its audience because they've kinda switched up the nomination process this year.

Not only are you invited to list your choice of the five hottest men alive. But there are three additional catergories you can nominate to this year. This year you can vote specifically on the hottest men of color, the hottest out gay men and the hottest men over forty. I'm impressed by this. You don't have to be yound and white to be sexxy. I was totally serious earlier when I sad I consider Julian Bond to be one of the hottest men around.

So if you want to nominate someone please go here, and if you want to vote specifically for the men of color category go here.

The guys above (Lenny Kravitz, Boris Kodjoe, Michael Ealy, Tyrese, and Will Smith) are my fave five. Lenny Kravitz with or without dreads is sooo fucking hot. Pardon my exclamation - just no other way to say that. Boris Kodjoe - you know you've touched yourself think about him. Michael Ealy - yes, I'd rob the cradle for that one. Beautiful eyes, sexy smile. Tyrese - I've been in love with him since his debut CD dropped. The cover was in black and white and he had on this wife beater. And finally Will Smith. He's just pretty. Just pretty honey. So who's on your list?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bill - Why Gay Pride Is Important

I've known Bill for a few years now and he is just one of the coolest people I know. Bill is one of the members of my men's group UGIMA (United Gay Informed Men of Arizona) and I always look forward to what he has to share with us each week. He seems to be very insightful for someone so young.

STILL LOSING OUR YOUNG

On Monday, April 6, Sirdeaner L. Walker found her 11 year old son dead. Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover took his own life because he was tired of the harassment he was receiving at school. He came home that evening and took an extension cord, tied it around his neck and took his own life. A victim of school bullying, he was repeatedly called gay and teased about the way he dressed. And although he was a boy scout and played football and basketball, it did not stop the tormenting.

Carl's mother is rightfully sickened and sadded at New Leadership Charter School because she repeatedly called the school and asked them to intervene and end the harassment her son was receiving. She said the school was unresponsive.

Now I don't know if Carl was gay or not (at 11 years old he may not have even known if he were gay or not) but bullying from peers in our schools is unacceptable. And what's even more unacceptable are teachers and school administration that turn a deaf ear to the cries of help from those that need their help. Their omission in intervening is an endorsement of the behavior.

It's no wonder LGBT youth have such high rates of suicide. They feel they have no alternatives. Shame on the school for doing nothing. My condolences to out to this mom and this family.

Trans Inclusion in New Hampshire?

Yesterday, in a surprising vote in the New Hampshire House of Representative, a vote was passed that would extend antidiscrimination protections to transgender individuals. I say the vote was surprising because they just voted on this issue last month and it was voted down. The change happened after a very passionate appeal by house speaker Terie Norelli. The bill passed by just one vote, 188-187. Now it will go before the Senate.

With all the progressive things happening in the New England area, it's sounding more and more like this is the area of the country I should be living in. They are doing more everyday to extend to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders the same rights all others have. So it's very tempting to relocate to a place where my partner and I will be welcomed.
OOooh - that's right - it snows up there. Can't do it. Yes - Vermont, New York, New Hampshire are the kewl place to be right now if you're LGB or T. And what sucks is that my partner is from New Hampshire and sooo wants to move back to that area. And as much as I love him, I can't bring myself to handle the cold and the snow.

But still - way to go New Hamshire. A step in the right direction has been taken. Let's see if the senate follows.

New York Governor Wants Same-Sex Marriage

No - the governor of New York is not gay (stop reading into the headline). He is just smart enough to realize to same gender loving couples deserve the same rights and privileges as all other couples. And though his support of equal rights of the LGBT community is not new, he just announced that he will be re-introducing legislation that will permit gay and lesbian couples the same right to marry that straight couples now have in the state. According to the Advocate, the governor will introduce the legislation on April 28, on their annual gay right's lobby day.

Governor David Paterson is one of only two African-American governors in the US (the other is Deval Patrick of Massachusetts). Interestingly enough, these governors are probably the strongest allies we have of all governors in our quest for marriage equality. Both are pushing to allow it in their states.

So kudos to both these men for their courage in fighting for our equality. I'm looking forward to seeing what happening in New York in April aftet Paterson's legislation is introduced. A similar bill was proposed in 2007 but it stalled in the Senate. We'll find out soon if the winds of change occur.

Babe - Why Gay Pride Is Important

Babe is one the most influential members of the Arizona LGBT community I've ever met (and I don't think she realizes how much of an influence she is on everyone she meets). She has a passion for mentoring our youth and has been recognized by our governor for all the volunteer work she does in shaping the hearts and minds of our next generation.

Unforgettable Pride Moments - Number Eight

The Homo Revolution Tour was a tour that showcased gay hip-hop artists. Until this phenomenal group came to town I'd never really thought about hip-hop artists being gay and out. There have always been rumors about the sexual orientation of some of our more famous rappers (ie Queen Latifah, Will Smith, DaBrat and even Nelly) but an out gay rapper was just something I thought could not be real. Then I saw the documentary Pick Up The Mic and it totally changed the image I had regarding hip-hop artists and sexuality.

Pic Up the Mic tells the story of several hip-hop artists that are working hard at their craft but are not hiding their sexual orientation. These guys (and gals) were out and proud but working in an industry that historically doesn't take to kindly to those of the homosexual pursasion. So imagine my excitement when I learned that some of the guys in the film were going on tour and one of their stops would be Phoenix, Arizonoa (yes were the 5th largest country in the nation but we gets no love yall - so this stop was a surprise to me).

I can't begin tell you how talented some of these guys are. Tori Fixx - what can I say. Young, energetic, handsome, nice, remarkable on the mic, phenomenal as a producer, salt of the earth kind of person. Everything he touches is amazing. That night I purchased his CD Code Red and it stayed on constant rotation in my house for about two months straight (maybe not straight, let's say two consecutive months - you know I can't do nothing straight).

Johnny Dangerous is one of the most outlandish characters I've ever met, but don't get it twisted - his music is HOT! HOT! HOT! DeadLee - thugged out latin brutha in a wife beater spitting gangsta lyrics. It may be one of the greatest shows I saw that year. I know a big part of my enthusiasm was just that it was terrific seeing these people doing their thang and being totally out, honest and open about who they are. Authenticity does it for me and everyone that performed that night was authentic. For all those reasons, attending the Homorevolution Tour is number eight on my list of unforgettable pride moments. You can see photos of the performances that night here.

And just an FYI - some of these guys will be back next week to celebrate gay pride with us. They will be performing at club Plazma on the night of Saturday, April 18. Hopefully I'll see you there.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Treasure - Why Is Gay Pride Important to You?

Treasure is one of the most active individuals I know. She works and she goes to school and still manages to be involved with several organizations around town. She's been involved with GLSEN and Soul Purpose Arizona. And just last night she shared with me that she wants to get involved with the AZ Black AIDS Task Force.

Unforgettable Pride Moments - Number Nine

Number nine on my list of unforgettable pride moments is marching for marriage equality with Soulforce. Soulforce went on a tour in 2006 with a pledge to do something about marriage equality. On each stop on their journey across the country they marched tirelessly (okay - some of them did grow tired) for the right of all LGBT people to be able to marry the person of their choice.

While in Arizona they walked for a total of 96 miles. There plan was to visit all the city halls in the Greater Phoenix area to talk with mayors and rally for our right to marry. They mapped out their course and their schedule online and invited people to join them. I joined Soulforce for the final few miles of their journey. I found them at the Phoenix City Hall where we were greeted by some members of the mayor's team (the mayor himself wasn't available) then we walked to the state capital ending their 96 mile pilgrimage.

As we walked across the lawn of the capital we all joined hands and someone started singing , "We Shall Overcome." The feeling that overcame me was surreal. The realization that I'm involved a civil rights struggle became more embedded in me at that moment.

This remarkable bunch of young people were all energetic and engaging and fighting for something they believed to be important. They are exceptional role models for everyone young and old and I was blessed to be apart of them if only for that moment. For these reason, my walk with Soulforce is number nine on my list of Unforgettable Pride Moments.

You can see more photos from the Soulforce visit to Arizona here

The Rainbow and Race

Last night we finally had the forum the Rainbow and Race at Phoenix College. This forum was a part of the Healing Racism series that has been going on for about four years now. These forums exist so that we can have an honest dialogue about racism and hopefully move beyond the boundaries that divide us.

Last night's forum was near and dear to me because it addressed race and sexual orientation. I realize that I am a citizen of two different villages. I am a citizen of a community of black folks. I'm also a citizen of the LGBT community. So as a black gay man it was terrific to have members of both of my villages come together to have this conversation.

Several people were able to address the audience and share our stories as members of the LGBT community and share how we thought race influenced us as members of this community. I really can appreciate the fact that one the people speaking was Cameron Lewis a white gay man. He was asked to speak from a position of priviledge. He spoke eloquently about his upbringing in the Pacific Northwest but then twisted the conversation of priviledge and asked those in attendence to ponder this, "Is marriage a ceremony of priviledge? Or is it something everyone should have the right to have?"

I was also on the agenda to share my story. So I talked about growing up as a gay black kid in the South. Then a great friend of mine, Donna McHenry, founder of Soul Purpose Arizona, spoke about her experiences as a black lesbian.

There were speakers on hand that addressed issues that ranged from civil rights vs. human rights, legal issues we face as a community, and mental and health concerns we need to address. Many of these speakers were dear friends of mine including Victoria Washington (self proclaimed geek and dynamic lawyer), Julie Roberts (Equality Arizona), RJ Shannon (ADHS Minority AIDS Coordinator) and Tambra Williams (LGBT liason for the Phoenix Police Department). So it was terrific to see these familiar faces in the room.

What I loved most about last nights forum (and all forums I've attended in the Healing Racism Series) is that following each section of speakers the audience was invited to turn to someone around them (preferably someone unknown) and have a conversation about the things they just heard. This is where the healing starts. It's after you're forced to address these topics and learn someone else's story that you may have a paradigm shift and be open to change. It's these turn to your neighbor conversations that are the most powerful part of the evening.

I was told that a video of the event will be available soon. If possible I will post it as soon as it is made ready.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rod Watkins - Why Is Gay Pride Important to You?

In my countdown to Phoenix's Gay Pride, which will be here very soon, I'm asking some friends why gay pride is important to them. The first person up is Rod Watkins. Rod is one of the Men of Libra which hosts some of the most extraordinary events for the African-American LGBT community in Phoenix. He is also a blogger who is a frequent contributer to the Urban Thought Collective

Unforgettable Pride Moments- Number Ten


I attended my first Transgender Day of Remembrance in 2007 and was so moved by the power of this event. But at the same time so disappointed by the number of people that I saw in attendance. This candlelight vigil/ remembrance ceremony enlighted me to something I wasn't aware of - transphobia, tranpanic and transviolence. The day of remembrance brings a spotlight to those members of the trans-community that have been murdered over the course of the year.

Being a member of the LGBT community, I'm aware that we are a group that often times forget about the existence of the T. But we can't sit idly by while our brothers and sisters are being killed while we do nothing. It's important for us to be inclusive of the trans community. It's important for us to show up at events about or sponsored by the trans community. And it's important for us to start tearing down the walls and having dialogue about what divides us as a community so we can address it and hopefully move beyond it.

When I attended again in 2008 I sadly learned that the number of murders was on the increase. Actually three members of the transgender community were killed just two days before the event was held.

This event was a learning experience for me. It also gave me an opportunity to befriend some terrific people that I would have never known had I not attended. It is an event that made me more of an activist for not only the LG and B but also the T community. For those reasons the Trangender Day of Remembrance is number ten on my list of Unforgettable Pride Moments.

See more photos from the Transgender Day of Remembrance 2007 here or 2008 here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Countdown to Pride

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Gay Pride in Phoenix will be on us before we know it. In case you didn't know, Arizona launches and shuts down the Pride Season with the first pride of the country happening in Phoenix and the final pride happening in Tucson. Gay Pride in Phoenix will jump off in two weeks (April 18 & 19) and it's one of the most exciting one's I've ever wanted to attend.

So what am I looking forward to this year? Well, this year I will be walking in the parade with my men's group UGIMA (United Gay Informed Men of Arizona). We are less than a year old so this will be our first opportunity to participate. So I'm looking forward to sashaying down 3rd Street putting my pride on parade for the world to see.

Also, one of the main headliners for this year is the one and only Ms. Deborah Cox. Don't get me started - child I love me some Ms. Cox. I have every CD she's done. She is one of the best voices in the R&B game. Unfortunately I've never had a chance to see her perform live. So I'm really looking forward to seeing her on stage.


I also just found out that some of the guys from Homo Hip Hop revolution will be back in town for our weekend of rainbow festivities. Deadlee and Tori Fixx will be performing over at Plazma on that Saturday night and I there's no way I'll miss that show. Tori is one of my favorite artists ever.

There is just so much happening around town that I can't begin to list it all. Just know that I"m looking foward to what's coming. But before the weekend gets here I want to take the time to count down my favorite times celebrating with the Arizona LGBT community. Whether it's pride, protests or pageants I have some wonderful memories (and some very scary pictures) that I want to share. So each day (until Pride is upon us) I'll be counting down those memories.

So please check in each day and join me as I reminesce.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Legacy of a King

Forty-one years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. This devastating event angered a race of people and sombered an entire nation. But the accomplishments he achieved before he was taken away from us will always be remembered. But I sometimes feel that many people have shifted away from the principles he demonstrated and wanted everyone to adhere to.

Homophobia and racism are still a reality. Yes, I'll admit that we have come a long way from the atmosphere of hatred and intolerance that existed in the 50's and 60's in the heart of the civil rights struggle. But I think the reality is that there will always be people that judge me based solely on my race and my sexual orientation (both of which I had no control over).

But I don't want this to be a post that just observes those external members of the community and their perception of us. I have to take a long, hard look at what "we" are doing also. One of my favorite episodes of the Boondocks examines what would happen if Martin Luther King, Jr. were still living today. Would he be proud of what he sees? Reality check - maybe not.

Yes we have a Black man in the highest office in the land and a first lady that exemplifies intelligence, beauty, and charisma. Yes we have Black men and women running companies, patenting life changing devices, and excelling as the greatest athletes the world has seen. Yes we have some terrific stories to tell. But keeping it real - it ain't all good.

If King were alive today, what would he think of the horrifying number of black on black homocides, the alarming number of high school drop-outs, and the staggering amount of teen pregnancies? What would Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. think about our celebrities and our leadership? One of our most cherished pop artist brutally beats his girlfriend. Not just one but several of our hip-hop artists have been elevated in celebrity status because they had to serve time in prison.

Many people fought, bled and died for our right to vote and our right to have an education. And we take these rights for granted. Did these people die in vain? Of course not. Martin (and many others) died so that one day there would be a Barack Obama. Martin died so that we would have a place in tennis, golf, AND Nascar. Martin died so I would be able to obtain my Bachelor's degree and my MBA.

So on this anniversary of the day that we lost our King, let's please take some time to appreciate where we've come from and take some time to think about where we're going. Are you living a life King would be proud of?

Late Night with Wanda Sykes?

Could it be true? Is Wanda Sykes getting her own late night television show? I got a bit excited when I heard this leak from Fox (learn more here) but my enthusiasm dwindled a bit once I read the post.

I'd love to see Wanda five nights a week but that's not the plan. Fox is planning a Saturday night late night talk show featuring Wanda that may launch this fall or in January. Well, I'll take what I can get. One night a week is a good start.

I've always loved me some Wanda, even before she came out and became a soldier in the war for marriage equality. And speaking of marriage equality, in case you haven't heard, the state of Iowa's Supreme Court just unananimously decided that their ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. This makes it the third state in the nation that will allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. WAY TO GO IOWA! Now we just have to wait for the rest of the nation to catch up.

But back to Wanda, I think she's a comedic genius and hopefully her one night show (should it become a reality) will develop into something bigger. Maybe the five nights of Wanda I envisioned when I first read the headline. I can always dream . . .

Until you see her on her late night show, maybe the video below will settle your Wanda cravings. This is clip that made me fall in love with her:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Black LGBT Images in the Media



This is the one of the most amazing panel discussions I've seen in quite some time. The discussion was made possible by several organizations collaborating and making it happen. So first off let me say kudos to GLAAD, the National Black Justice Coalition, the Hollywood Chapter of the NAACP and the Screen Actors Guild for joining forces and bringing the phenomenal brainchild to fruition.

The discussed revolved around the media's depiction of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals on television and in film. The people at the table are the correct people at the table. Oh my God, I can't believe they brought all these influential, creative, innovative people together in one place. I'm loving it. The only face(s) missing were Patrik-Ian Polk or atleast one cast member of Noah's Arc.

I'm glad members of the audience made note that it would have been great if they could have had atleast one transgender member of the community join the panel. But the organizers did explain in the end that this panel was pulled together in the course of a week. So with the time it took to generate this group of people I'm impressed.

This is one of those videos I'll be making all of my friends watch. Thanx to GLAAD for posting the video.

The Rainbow and Race


Next Tuesday, April 7, 2009, the Healing Racism series which takes place on the campus of Phoenix College, will be presenting The Rainbow and Race: Understanding How Race and Culture Impact our Understanding of Sexual Orientation. I'm really looking forward to this forum where we will have more of an opportunity to discuss the interesting intersection of race and sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Being a member of any cultural group brings expectations -- expectations from family, community, and in some cases, church, to follow a certain code of conduct as established for generations. How, then, does someone who is gay live up to these set expectations? From the pressure to produce grandchildren in cultures who value large families, to the religious omnipresent, there are many challenges faced by the LGBT community. The Rainbow and Race forum will explore the topic of being gay in today's society and will address topics such as civil rights vs. human rights, the notion of choice, hate crimes, and health issues.

If you're available, please put some time aside and attend. But I will tell you - you may want to go ahead and RSVP now. Space is limited and I've heard that it is already starting to fill up. Please use the link below for registration:

I think this is a terrific time for this conversation to happen. We are still in the eve Tavis Smiley's State of Black America 2009 where there was no mention whatsoever of HIV/AIDS or the LGBT community. Seriously Tavis, how can you talk about Black America and not discuss HIV or AIDS? Also Tavis, am I not Black? Couldn't the concerns, questions, and fears of the Black LGBT community have some coverage in a dialogue about being black in America.

This omission was another effort to keep us invisible. But I refuse stay silent and I refuse to be passive. I also refuse to be divided. I am both gay and black and I can't separate the two. I can't go to my family reunion and not bring my partner of twelve years just so others are comfortable. I am as proud of my relationship as anyone else. I also can't go to gay pride and hide my race. My black just don't wash off. So if you are to accept me then you have to accept all of me. And if you can't bring yourself to do that then it's your issue not mine.