Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Friday, December 31, 2010

Farewell 2010, Hello 2011

2010 has been a very interesting year with many wonderful highs and some very dreadful lows. As I begin my reflection on 2010 I'll start with the many wonderful things that I saw happen this year. First and foremost, I spent another 365 days with my beautiful, kind and generous husband. He is truly a blessing in my life. Chris Stevens I love you sooo much.

The home we share together was the result of a gift from some very special friends of ours. The Peace family (my in-laws) have been generous to a fault to my partner and I and we are forever in their debt. I constantly hear people talk about how generosity and kindess no longer exist. Well I'm here to tell you that there are people in this world that still have big hearts. There are people in this world that still do the right thing. And there are people in this world that will still give you the shirt off their back. I know some of those people.

This year I witnessed my mom turn 60 years old. I flew home and my brother and I organized a surprise party for her. Not only was I able to witness her celebration first hand, I was also able to reconnect with some members of my family that I haven't seen in years. I have a huge family. My mama is one of 16 kids and I still to this day don't know how my grandma kept a sane mind with that many kids running around the house. But I love them all - uncles, aunts, cousins, and 2nd cousins. And I won't even pretend like I know them all cause when you have 15 aunts and uncles it is very easy for you to lose track of how many cousins you actually have.

This year I also saw the completion of my first book - The ABCs of Coming Out. This was a big deal for me. I have several books I have been working on that have been floating about in my head over the past few years. However, since procrastination is my middle name, none of these projects ever came to past. Don't ask me how this one finally made it to paper but I'm extremely proud of it.

In an interesting turn of events I re-connected with my ex this year. Finding people from your past is one of the most powerful things about social networks. For some odd reason I decided to look him up on Facebook. We have not spoken to each other in over sixteen years and then suddenly there he was. I gave him a phone call and I'll be the first to admit this - the conversation was very surreal. I've only had two loves in my life and I've been with the second one for about fifteen years now. And although initally I was very nervous about speaking to him and several times had to question my motive for even making the contact, I am now happy that I did. The relationship did not end on good terms but the phone call was me extending the olive branch. I'm happy that the branch was accepted.

Unfortunately there are some moments of 2010 that I wish I could take back. I lost two friends this year. My friend Ted passed away this year. I met Ted through a really good friend Bernard. Ted was a beautiful man with a beautiful spirit. He was always laughing and he always had some kind words to share when you saw him. Although we lost him I know heaven gained another angel and I know he is dancing and laughing and smiling down on us right now.

Ivan was one of the very first members of my men's group UGIMA. Ivan was brilliant. He was one of those people you turned to when you needed answers to something. He was a wealth of resources and he did not mind sharing what he knew with anyone. There is an old proverb that basically says each death is like a library falling. As we say goodbye to Ivan I realize we've lost another library.

Also this year it seemed that LGBT suicides seemed to skyrocket. I honestly don't know if the numbers increased or if this is the first time the media actually gave us the information of the true numbers of kids that take their own lives. Whatever the case I was moved to tears to learn of the many individuals who are victims of bullying and violence. We will never know the burden these kids had to endure. I wrote this poem after reading one of the articles . .

Now I lay me down to die,
I pray the Lord my mom don't cry,
Should she find me when she awakes
but another day I could not take.

Now I lay this one last night,
Though some might say that this ain't right,
But I could not go another day,
Being beaten up because I'm gay.

My heart goes out to the family of all these kids. I won't pretend like I know what you're going through but I will say my heart and my prayers are with you.

I'm excited to look out at another year. I can't wait to experience the people, places and things that are revealed to me as the new year unfolds. What other faces from the past will I reconnect with? What amazing things will I personally accomplish this year? What's coming for my friends and family? I don't know about you but I am claiming peace, love and prosperity for 2011. Blessings to you and may your 2011 be all you want it to be.

Spotting someone on the Downlow?

I know there are people that are going to say I should be offended by this but this is hilarious. This is comedian Freddie B giving the Top 5 reasons your man or your homeboy is on the down low. When I first hit play I had to brace myself - I really did think this was something that was going to make me mad. But by the end of the clip I was rolling. Why - because you have to admit their is some truth to what he's saying. By the way Freddie B - you look kinda sexy doing the bunny hop (no homo)!

Please check out the video below and tell me what you think . . .

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I just watched this terrific clip about the return of ony of my all-time favorite shows, The Game. Please get into the video here. For those that think racism doesn't exist in Hollywood did you see the clip. The Game, which had ratings that rivaled those of the CW's Gossip Girl was cancelled. There were only two shows which I never missed each week and those were Girlfriends and The Game. Then out of the blue the network decided to cancel them. Initially I thought it was all about the bottom line. I thought it was the green that decided which shows would stay or go. So how is it that one of the highest watched shows on the CW got pulled?

It wasn't the green. It was the black!!! I'm convinced their is a conspiracy to kill off any quality, successful African-American programming. Lets review the trend. The Game - cancelled. Girlfriends - cancelled. Half & Half - cancelled. These were shows which were axed during their peak. And unlike Friends or Seinfeld where it was the decision of the show to call it quits, in these cases it was the decision of the network not to carry them any longer.

Thank God for BET for successfully ressurrecting The Game. The show is back with the same cast, the same writers and the same production team. And if things go well, the same audience will be back to support this wonderful program. I gave up cable some time ago, but this definetly makes me think about picking it up again.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day. This evening I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a celebration hosted by Grace Lutheran Church. It's almost midnight and I really need to get to bed so I won't have the opportunity to write more until tomorrow. But until then I wanted to share the video I pieced together inspired by tonight's fellowship.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The New Black

My personal role model and hero Bayard Rustin made the comment, "The barometer of where one is on human rights questions is no longer the black community, it's the gay community. Because it is the community which is most easily mistreated." However there are many within the African-American community that would not agree with Rustin's sentiments. Many black folks are offended by the efforts of the LGBT community to compare the contemporary gay rights struggle with the battle for African-American equality. As a member of both communities it is a question which I have pondered myself. As a historian I have to admit, there are definite parallels between the two communities.

Both communities have suffered from institutionalized (legal) inequality. For the African-American community it was separate but equal and Jim Crow laws. Black folks had to endure discrimination in the areas of housing, education and employment. As a black man or woman you had to sit on the back of the bus, enter a building through the back door and could not drink from a water fountain used by white people. For the LGBT community there is the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Don't Ask Don't Tell, and employment discrimination. Same gender loving people cannot marry or serve in the military and in many states can be fired just because of who they love.

Both communities have been victims of spiritual abuse. Religious leaders have used the Bible to keep gay folks and black folks as second class citizens unworthy of equality. Many have used the curse of Ham to justify slavery and the indentured servitude of black folks. It was said that the verse "cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall be his bretheren" was God's condemnation of black folks. His punishment was their eternal laboring to whites. For the LGBT community, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and the verse "man shall not lie with man as with woman" have been repeatedly used to turn gay folks into monsters and sinners. Interestingly enough, last week when I say Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (a play set in 1920s Chicago). In it they made the comment "God hates niggas." Nowadays I'm repeated bombarded with the notion that "God hates fags."

Both communities had to go through their own process to develop self-acceptance, self-love and even self-pride. Up until the civil rights movement there were many blacks that suffered from lowered self-esteem, lack of self-worth and even some self hatred. Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X were essential in shifting the black mentality towards one that accepted that black is beautiful, black is intelligent and black is worhty of equality. The LGBT community too had to have a paradigm shift in its overall mentality. Same gender loving folks felt the need to exist as an invisible community and were labeled as having a mental disorder. Then during the revolutionary days of the 60s (a time when we saw women fighting for equality, the sexual revolution, and the anti-war struggle) we suddenly saw an emergence of a gay identity. Groups were popping up that refused to be silent about their sexuality. And then Stonewall happened which was the catalyst for greater gay visibility and activism, forcing the LGBT agenda to a national campaign.

"Say it loud, I'm black and I'm proud" was the mantra James Brown used to spread to the word to the world (black folks and white folks)that it was okay to accept and to love brown skinned folks. "I'm here, I'm queer, get used to it" was the phrased screamed at many gay parades to relay to the masses that same gender loving folks were out of the closet, in the streets and ready to fight for their equality.

The primary reason many black folks are quick to reprimand the gay community for the comparison is because they don't think it is fair to liken the struggles of black folks with the struggles of gay folks. Many don't think you can compare slavery, Jim Crow and lynchings to marriage equality and openly serving in the military. Well if you look at things that simplistically then I would have to agree, the comparison just isn't there. But things are never really that simple. We are still looking at a civil rights issue and I would even argue, we are still looking at a human rights issue.

Gay folks are still being killed just for being gay. There is no denying it. It is STILL happening today. And as long as we continue to deny the LGBT community the equality it deserves then we are telling people it is okay to treat this community as different, inferior and less than. People will continue to verbally harrass LGBT folks. People will continue to physically, mentally and spiritually abuse LGBT folks. And people will continue to kill LGBT folks. And no I am not exaggerating. Mattew Shephard was not the first nor was he the last person killed in this country for being gay.

For me this is bigger than comparing who has the worst story to tell. For me this is about "injustice anywhere." As a member of both communities I have to admit both sides have atrocities they can claim. Having studied both histories again I will say there are definite parallels between the two communities. But I won't get bogged down with the who had it worse debate. I will take pride in knowing their are black civil rights leaders that are a brilliant enough to be LGBT allies in the current struggle. And their are LGBT leaders that are bright enough to see that the gay community is indeed a rainbow and is strongest when it acknowledges and embraces all of its members.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Yesterday I went and saw Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom based on the life of blues legend Gertrude Pridgett (aka Ma Rainey). I remember seeing the show once back in college. It was a student production and it must have been very forgettable because I had forgotten almost everything about this remarkable story. Ma Rainey was my kinda girl. Boldly black and unapolagetically lesbian. Nicknamed “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey was one of those aggressive women that demanded respect and never allowed herself to be intimidated by anyone regardless of gender, color, or status. Women like her oftentimes earn an unwarranted nickname [rhymes with witch] for behavior that would be rewarded if she were a man.

Gender bias aside, the most prominent notion that repeated in my head as I drove home after the show was how much we have progressed with regards to race and how much we have regressed when it comes to sexuality. For Ma Rainey her sexuality was not an issue. She openly flaunted her love of women. In the play all the boys in the band knew she was same gender loving. In fact, after a new guy in the band started flirting with one of the ladies in Rainey’s entourage he was warned, “boy what are you doing, that’s Ma’s girl!” Ma Rainey would even eventually record some lesbian anthems like Prove It On Me and Bull Dykers Dream.

How is it that in the 1920s homophobia was not an issue for Ma Rainey? Today we are repeatedly reminded how homosexuality and homosexuals are detrimental to the world (i.e. Prop 8 and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell). However almost a century ago Rainey was out, proud and phenomenally successful. Today we have celebrities that refuse to come out because it could end their career but 100 years ago Rainey Ma Rainey told her studios when, where, how and what they would record.

I loved watching this woman on stage. She bowed down to no one. Even though her manager and the studio owner tried to “handle” her they were unsuccessful. And although there was no homophobia evident in this production the racial climate of the era came across loud and clear. This was the golden age of Jim Crow. Black men and women were subject to legal discrimination in the areas of housing, education and employment. I think some of the stories shared by the bandsmen on stage made many in the predominately white audience uncomfortable. Truth be told, most of the stories shared on stage made ME uncomfortable.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is filled with witty writing, thought provoking narratives and phenomenal music and if you ever have the opportunity to see it then you should defintely check it out. I won’t spoil the story by giving you the ending. But I will say this, when you meet an angry Black man please understand this – he probably has a reason for being angry.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

One interesting thing about the holidays for many in the LGBT community, it either brings you great joy or outrageous, uncontrollable depression. Oftentimes that joy or pain we feel is a direct reflection of our relationships with friends and family. Because the holidays are a time to appreciate and fellowship with those individuals closest to you [friends and family], the absence of these people from your life could trigger a holiday that is probably best described in that great song by The Emotions, "What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas?" As much as I love this song I'll be the first to admit it, it is horrifically sad.

So what do you do when the holidays hit and you have no one significant to share special time with? When you're not near family and have no established friends [and let's be realists - for many it is hard to let down your walls and build trusting relationships with others] how do you avoid the dreaded lonely holiday blues?

Well here's the wonderful thing, there are several things you can do to stay out of this slump. One thing you could easily do (and actually feel very good about upon completion) is spend some time volunteering for worthwhile charities or organizations. Trust me, during the holiday season, there will be plenty of places where you could lend a hand. Homeless shelters, churches and food pantries are just some of the places where you could probably have a terrific impact. With the feel good sensation you will have after volunteering you won't have anytime to be depressed.

One possible option you may consider if you don't have people inviting you over for the holidays is to throw your own damn party. Believe me, during the holidays, you are not the only one walking around wondering how you are going to spend your time. There are others in this same boat. Opening the doors of your home to others [colleages and co-workers] would save you and others from the holidays blues.

One of the most productive things you may want to do during this season (especially in this economy) is pick up a part time job. Seasonal work is the perfect way to occupy your time, meet new people and simultaneously tackle any debt you may have accrued during this era of worldwide financial trouble. If you're sharing your time between two different employers you won't have time to feel sorry for yourself.

And please remember the "avoid the blues basics." First, please stay away from sad, depressing music. During the holidays this stuff is going to be everywhere. If you're not careful, just listening to the radio could bring about a burst of tears. Second, misery loves company. Stay away from already depressed, already negative people. They will enjoy seeing you feel as bad as they do. And finally do not be afraid to seek help. If you are not able to shake your depression yourself then see a professional. Therapy does wonders so please do not think that needing one is a sign of weakness or craziness. It is a sign of self-awareness and courage when you can take the steps needed to take care of and protect yourself.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day

Did you know that there was once a time when African-Americans were not allowed to serve alongside other soldiers in the Air Force? There was this belief (based on nothing) that the brain of black men was smaller than the brain of white men and that we did not have the mental capacity needed to pilot aircrafts or handle sophisticated military artillary. My undergraduate degree was in history and I still have to admit that college was mindblowing. There are so many "facts" I learned in high school that were just out right lies. And there are oh so many things that are interestingly enough omitted from the books.

In college I was able to learn about the not so pretty side of American history. Prior to my undergraduate studies I was never taught about the Tuskegee Experiment, the treatment of Asian-Americans during WWII, or the truth about the history of Native Americans.

So with today being Veteran's Day, I think this is the perfect time to honor and reflect upon a phenomenal group of soldiers - The Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the U.S. During WWII these distinguished airmen were subject to harsh racism both inside and outside of the military. They trained at Tuskegee Institute and upon completion of their training they were not allowed to integrate into other Air Force units. However, these pilots still wanted to serve their country.

As WWII developed and their services were needed overseas they would eventually be deployed as bomber escorts. It was their duty to protect US bombers. As the bombers made their way behind enemy lines, escorts would fly alongside them to fight off any attack made on the bomber. It was their defense of the bomber that would pull any enemy attacker away so the bomber could successfully drop its bomb on its destined target. Initially many of the white bomber pilots verbally expressed their distrust, dislike and offense to seeing black bomber escorts arrive to aid them in their offense.

In an ironic twist the Tuskegee Airmen would become the only unit in the war to earn the distinct honor of never losing a bomber to enemy fire. Those white pilots that initally expressed their disdain towards their African-American peers would soon come to pray that the escort they receive would be the Tuskegee Airmen. The success of the Tuskegee Airmen would open the doors for racial integration in many different areas of the military.
I love hearing the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. No matter how many times I hear it I am inspired by it. I encourage anyone that has not seen the movie based on their story to go out and pick it up and watch it. It'd wonderful. During my graduate studies in history I actually visited the Tuskegee Institute and met some of the Tuskegee Airmen. I was awestruck being ble to sit and dialogue with living history.

So Happy Veteran's Day to all and a hearty thank you to all veterans - black, white, straight, gay, male, female, young and all. Thank you to my brothers Jeff and Mark Green who served in the U.S. Army. Thank you to my uncle Billy Welch for serving in the U.S. Air Force. Thank you to my father in law Lee Stevens and my brother in law David Peace for their service. And special thank you to all LGBT veterans who must serve in silence. I do not take this day for granted and I do appreciate all you do and all you have done.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's Janet Damn It!!!

If you know me you know I love me some Janet. If you have not yet, please check out her phenomenal performance in Tyler Perry's latest project For Colored Girls. Janet has always been vocal about her support and love of the LGBT community. And that's why the LGBT community is vocal about our love and support of her. We do love our divas and Janet is one diva that has the beauty, talent, charisma and relevence to constantly stay in forefront of the media's attention.

I went and saw For Colored Girls on opening night. I'm just gonna say it - this has already become my favorite Tyler Perry film. Loved it! Loved it! Loved it. But I'll be the first to warn you, this ain't no real good feel good kinda movie. This movie is deep and dark and will make you question your own breaking point. The full title of the stage play this is based on is For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Isn't Enough. Once you see this movie you'll understand the title. Sometimes people go through things where they feel their only option is suicide.

Many LGBT youth can identify with this feeling. The suicide rate for LGBT kids has always been unbelievable high but the recent number of suicides is taking this country into crisis mode. So I am not surprised that Janey, while on the talk show circuit promoting the new movie, schooled Larry King on The Trevor Project [the 24 hour hotline that provides an ear for LGBT kids in crisit]. If it were possible this video would make me love even more.

Monday, November 8, 2010

For Colored Girls

So I went and saw Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls on opening night. I was hesitant as I purchased my ticket. Many that previewed the film were very harsh in their critiques. However, in spite of the words of the critics, I opted to make my way out to the theater last Friday. I had to, it is not that often you get to see this many phenomenal black actresses in one project. Loretta Divine, Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson and Phylicia Rashad are the quintessential in African-American elite. And the new generation of divas represented by the likes of Kerry Washington, Aniki Noni Rose and Thandi Newton are holding their own in this project also.

I was very interested in seeing how Tyler would translate the poems from For Colored Girls into a motion picture. Can you really catch the attention of the audience when the characters routinely break into monologue? Well the answer is a resounding and unequivocal yes.

Everyone's performance was brilliant. The only difficult thing now is deciding who's performance was the most powerful. Kimberly Elise who endures more than any mother should? Thandi Newton who endures more than any child should? Aniki Noni Rose whose innocence is taken?

This will definely be going in my library once released on dvd. And when I encounter those that have not seen it yet I will take them by hand, make them take a seat, and tell them we can discuss this after you've seen it (cause you will want to discuss it after you've seen it).
Please go and support this film if you have not seen it yet. It is wonderful. I don't think you will be disappointed.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why Does It Hurt So Bad?

I am still feeling the pain of the election. I am not ashamed to admit that I was a tad bit optimistic. I really had this tickle in my stomach encouraging me and tell me that it was possible for Arizona to do the right think and rid itself of that idiot at the head of the state. Well low and behold here I sit several days later still dumbfounded that Jan Brewer will retain her seat as governor. I guess I should not be surprised. Arizona was, is and probably always will be a red state.

So why am I still in a stupor? Why am I now ready to pack my bags and get the hell up out of this godforsaken state? Why did this election hurt soooo badly? I've been reflecting on my feelings as of late and trying to determine why this election actually meant so much to me. Why would this election have the ability to determine if I would indeed stay in this state or not.

I really don't think its the fact that Jan Brewer is the governor that is the actual catalyst (well not directly). It is the meaning behind the fact that Brewer is governor. Jan Brewer remaining in the capital building means that most of the individuals in this state agree with her. Jan Brewer being governor means that majority of this state is either racist, homophobic or just plain dumb (or atleast it appears that way).

Now I'm really involved in the community. I know alot of people. And most of the people I know don't subscribe to any of the adjectives mentioned above. Most of the people I've come to know are great people. So I'm unsure as to whether I have been unconsciously surrounding myself with like minded people or that people are just being kind to my face (and they're ready to strip me of my rights behind my back). I really don't know what it is.

If we had rid ourselves of Brewer as governor I would have had some affirmation that there is hope for this place I call home. But alas it was not meant to be. There she sits and I'm brokenhearted. Prop 102 several years ago was an attack on the LGBT community and it passed. HB 1070 was an attack on the Latino community and it passed. This is the state that has taken away the right to teach ethnic studies in school. This is the state that allows individuals to carry guns in bars. And this is the state that is now trying to take citizenship away from individuals that are born in this country.

Booker T. Washington stated in his book Up From Slavery that you should "caste your buckets where you stand." By that he meant that you should take a stand where you are and fight for the changes you would like to see. I was very moved by those words when I read them almost twenty years ago. It has been the motto I've lived by for quite some time. But those words from Washington are being replaced by the words of Tina Turner, "I don't care whose wrong or right, I don't really want to fignt no more." I can't do it anymore. Why should I stay in a place where I'm not wanted?

Will I eventually come out of this depression? Hopefully. But the reality is that this election was a wake up call. This election gave me a reflection into the true mindset of many of the individuals around me. However, I refuse to assimilate. So what do I now?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ricky Martin New Single:The Best Thing About Me

Ricky Martin is getting ready to release a new single entitled The Best Thing About Me Is You. It features Joss Stone on the English version (the Spanish version features Natalia Jimenez). Don't get too excited, he has dedicated this song to me. I know, I know, I know what you're thinking - "but Ricky Martin doesn't even know you." That's okay - he's been singing sweet nothings to me for years even though he is unaware of my existance. And if all his previous songs were dedicated to me then why should this one be any different.

Ricky Martin came out of the closet last March, although in my mind we've been sleeping together for about five years now. He's now stated that his creativity has been really unleashed since coming out and he is preparing for a new album that should be released in early 2011. He has leaked a snippet of the new single and the artwork that will accompany it upon release.

I'm really pleased to hear this. I was under the impression that his coming out signaled the end of his recording career. I know he came out following his becoming a parent. Similar to Clay Aiken, he felt there was no way he could be a parent if he were not true to himself and to those around him. So he had to admit to the world that he is gay. For this I say kudos.

I'm excited that I have more Ricky Martin music to look forward to. And it makes me a bit more happy to be looking forward to an album by an out Ricky Martin. Please get into a sampe of the song here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The President's message to LGBT Youth

The President recently created his own video to be added to the It Gets Better campaign. I still love the fact that we have a Black president. I also still love the fact that we have a president that claims to be an ally of the LGBT community. However, I feel that his actions need to start aligning themselves a bit more with his statements. By creating this video he is doing just that. BUT, I feel with the recent action to appeal the recent decision that ended Don't Ask, Don't Tell, I again have to ask myself "Whose side you really on?" I'm so confused.
His message of LGBT youth can be found below.
Like all of you, I was shocked and saddened by the deaths of several young people who were bullied and taunted for being gay, and who ultimately took their own lives. As a parent of two daughters, it breaks my heart. It’s something that just shouldn’t happen in this country.

We’ve got to dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage – that it’s some inevitable part of growing up. It’s not. We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe forall of our kids. And to every young person out there you need to know that if you’re in trouble, there are caring adults who can help.

I don’t know what it’s like to be picked on for being gay. But I do know what it’s like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don’t belong. It’s tough. And for a lot of kids, the sense of being alone or apart – I know can just wear on you. And when you’re teased or bullied, it can seem like somehow you brought it on yourself – for being different, or for not fitting in with everybody else.

But what I want to say is this. You are not alone. You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t do anything to deserve being bullied. And there is a whole world waiting for you, filled with possibilities. There are people out there who love you and care about you just the way you are. And so, if you ever feel like because of bullying, because of what people are saying, that you’re getting down on yourself, you’ve got to make sure to reach out to people you trust. Whether it’s your parents, teachers, folks that you know care about you just the way you are. You’ve got to reach out to them, don’t feel like you’re in this by yourself.

The other thing you need to know is, things will get better. And more than that, with time you’re going to see that your differences are a source of pride and a source of strength. You’ll look back on the struggles you’ve faced with compassion and wisdom. And that’s not just going to serve you, but it will help you get involved and make this country a better place.
It will mean that you’ll be more likely to help fight discrimination – not just against LGBT Americans, but discrimination in all its forms. It means you’ll be more likely to understand personally and deeply why it’s so important that as adults we set an example in our own lives and that we treat everybody with respect. That we are able to see the world through other people’s eyes and stand in their shoes – that we never lose sight of what binds us together.

As a nation we’re founded on the belief that all of us are equal and each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness; to make the most of our talents; to speak our minds; to not fit in; most of all, to be true to ourselves. That’s the freedom that enriches all of us. That’s what America is all about. And every day, it gets better.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

End of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Last week a federal judge out of California demanded the end of all military dischrages based on a person's sexual orientation. This basically means that we are now seeing an end of the twelve year Don't Ask, Don't Tell era. Soldiers and soldierettes, at least for a moment, no longer have to worry about investigations regarding their sexuality or discharges for being gay following years of devoted and loyal, hard work. This is great news isn't it? You would think. I thought it was great news until I learned that the Obama administration now says that the decision to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell should come from Congress.

Am I hearing this correctly? The President has always labeled himself an ally of the LGBT community (although many argue that he has not done anything to help our cause on the most important issues). Now that something has been done by this judge from California, will the President leave it alone and let the decision stand. Or will there be a push to get Congress to do more.

This judge has done more for the LGBT community with the stroke of a pen than President has done during his entire two year tenure. And it's saddening when I think that Barack had the power to do this himself. The president has (had) the power to sign an executive order that could have ended all military discharges that fell under DADT and he never did it.

I read somewhere [sorry this is from recollection and I can't site the article] that someone in Iraq was asked what this would mean for soldiers currently serving in the war. His response was basically that he didn't think anyone overseas knew about the decision. And even if they did, there were priorities like fighting the war and staying alive that trumped any decision to now come out while serving.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Moorehouse and Men in Dresses

Last fall, Moorehouse College found itself in a bit of controversy when it announced a new dress code. The all-male institution of higher learning modified its dress code to prohibit its men from wearing female garments and make-up. Recently, Vibe magazine sat down to talk with one the Moorehouse men that triggered this dress code alteration.

Diamond Martin Pulin was a member of a group of students that called themselves the "Plastics." The Moorehouse Vice President of Student Services actually came out and made a statement specifically about the policy change and the group of men it was targeting. “We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men.”

Since the whirlwind of hysteria surrounding the dresscode change, Pulin has since left Moorehouse and become a student of American InterContinenal University where is fashion marketing and design. According to him, "Moorehouse wasn't ready for me. “I’m about freedom of expression. I’m about being whomever you truly are inside. I came to Morehouse because of all the historical leaders that attended and impacted the world so heavily. You know, I really wanted to follow in their footsteps. I don’t think Morehouse believes that someone like me—someone who wears heels and dresses—can uphold that reputation. But they’re wrong.”
Personally I'm torn on this decision by Moorehouse. I do understand students wanting to express their creative side and they may not want to conform to generic, mundane [straight] standards forced upon them by a dress code that some may consider oppresive. However, Moorehouse is a school with a rich history of developing leaders that traces it's long history of success back to 1867. And though their policy may offend some, it is a policy that is reflected in most corporate offices. So is it wrong to demand its students to adhere to standards they will have to comply with when they enter the business world?

Please get into the full Vibe article here. And please give me your feedback. Is Moorehouse right or wrong in with their dress code?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Phoenix Pride Presents: Out Day at the Zoo

Today's Out Day at the Zoo was phenomenal. Phoenix Pride hosted an essay contest and received hundreds of submissions but only six individuals were honored with the opportunity to share their coming out stories. Also, celebrities ANT (Celebrity Fit Club and Last Comic Standing) and Heather Matarazzo (The Princess Diaries and The L Word) were present and they shared their coming out stories.

The entire day was an emotional one. Prior to attending the Out Day event, I was joined at the zoo by my sister & brother-in-law and my niece. Lisa, David and I walked around the Phoenix Zoo while little Olivia oowed and awwed at the giraffes, the pink flamingos and the elephants. I haven't seen my niece in several weeks so it was a thrill to be able to spend a little time with them. We parted ways as I headed in to hear coming out stories and they took Olivia off to play in the pool. I'll tell you why I mention this later.

Coming out stories (well atleast the ones I heard today) are powerful, empowering and inspiring. I heard the story of a lady whose mom took her own life because she could not bear the thought of raising a same-gender loving child. I heard the story of transgender individual whose already difficult struggle of self-acceptance was manifested into a whirlwind of craziness. Her decision to transition genders was disclosed to all of her family without her permission by her vindictive ex-wife. I heard the story of a gender fluid individual that struggled with self identifying and shared that coming out will be a lifetime endeavor for her.

In the midst of the stories of isolation and disappointment, there were also the stories from our youth that give me hope. There was the story from young Donald Smith who was encouraged to come out thanks to having an out and proud gay mayor. He now serves his community by mentoring others. I also heard the story of a high school kid that is so comfortable with his sexuality that he doesn't care about acceptance from his peers. As we are just on the eve of a crisis of LGBT teen suicides, it was encouraging to hear stories like these.

I have to thank ANT and Heather, our on hand celebrities for being out and proud and sharing their stories. ANT said it best, "Our visibility is our greatest strength. If we are not seen we are insignificant. If we are seen we are significant." It is easier for people to hate what they do not know. So I applaud celebrities that come out of the celluloid closet and live their truth. Those that come out know that it could put their careers in jeopardy but they do so because living an authentic life is better than living a life full of lies.

At the end of the day I had to reflect on my journey since coming out. I have family that accepts me and loves me for who I am - gay and all. When I came out to my mom she told me, "if you're happy then I'm happy for you." I reflected on trek around the zoo earlier today with niece Olivia who loves her gay uncles. I love the fact that she is growing up in an environment where she is learning to love and accept and not hate and prejudge. I reflected on my own personal journey of self acceptance and I relish in the fact that the out person I am today is so much happier than the closeted person I was years ago.
I'm out in every aspect of my life - on the job, to my family, and to my church (when I do go). I'm here to tell you that being out is a wonderful thing. And I'm speaking from experience. Out is freedom. And that's what I want for all my LGBT brothers and sisters. So here's to freedom. For those that have not gotten there yet, I wish you well on your journey. Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day and if you have not taken that step yet this may be your chance. Take that step.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New Fave Song: Waiting All My Life

I am really really LOVING this song. Thank you to LOLDarian.com for bringing it to our attention. We need to hear messages like this more often in our music . . .

Monday, October 4, 2010

First Mr Gay AZ U S of A: George "Geo" Johnson

It's official - we now have a Mr. Gay Arizona US of A. Last night at BS West five individuals competed for the honor. But the person walking away the victor was George Johnson, known to many of his friends simply as Geo. The competition was fierce and all of the contestants brought their "A" game. There were three categories: interview, club wear and talent. The only two categories available for the public to view were the later two.

The night was filled with entertainment from some of the greatest drag performers in town. There were many familiar faces in the crowd cheering on their favorite contestants. But at the end of the night there could only be one winner. As the judges began to announce the winners of each category a hush fell on the room. "The winner of the interview competition - contestant number two, George." Applause filled the place. Then came "and the winner of the club wear competition, contestant number two, George." Thought he would not take the talent segment, most of the room knew just after these first two announcements that he had already captured the title.

Congratulations to our first ever Mr. Gay Arizona US of A. I know that you will represent us well at the national competition.
In a surprise announcement last night from the current Mr. Gay US of A (Simba) who was in town to oversee the competition, because of the level of talent he witnessed, Arizona will be the first state to send three contestants to the national competition. So congratulations to all three contestants that will be representing Arizona.
Though he did not take the talent segment I still think his talent number may have been a favorite of many in the room. Take a look at the picture above and you be the judge. The number was well choreographed and it showcased the awesome figures of George and his backup dancers. It was sensual and exciting and it had a whole lot of people up on their feet screaming for more.

AIDS Walk 2010

Did you know that although Black folks make up only 12% of the US population, we are half of all new HIV infections. Something about that just ain't right. How is it possible that black folks (straight and gay) can be such a small part of the country but such a large part of HIV? Something needs to be done about that.

Sunday morning Phoenix came together to once again take steps (literally) to eradicate HIV. The AIDS walk was attended by thousands. Some that walked are living with the virus. Some that walked did so in support of lost loved ones. Everyone that walked have been affected by this disease.

I have lost family (my uncle) and countless friends to this disease. It breaks my heart everytime some tells me they have been infected. Because of my volunteer efforts in the field of HIV/AIDS people oftentimes disclose their status to me. Trust me, I know it is an honor for someone to have enough trust and respect in me to share this and I will never betray that trust. And though I know that HIV is not the life threatening disease it once was, it does still yield health complications, emotional and mental health concerns and an unwavering social stigma that won't go away. So my heart still goes out to the newly infected and I want them to know that 1) it gets easier and 2) you've still go a friend in me.

The Phoenix AIDS was (as it usually is) a powerful and spiritual experience. I always leave it empowered and encouraged. Though we have not found a cure yet, AIDS Walk has pledged to be here every year until there is one. Here's hoping we see the end of AIDS Walk very soon. Please check out my video of the event below . . .

Wisdom From The West

Saturday evening I was thrilled to be able to attend a lecture by the phenomenally brilliant Dr. Cornel West. His visit to Phoenix was strictly to address SB 1070, the Arizona Immigration Law that has the entire country focused on our state. In a standing room only auditorium at North High School, Dr. West spoke on how important it is for everyone to stand in solidarity with our Latino brothers and sisters in ending this dispicable law. He also assured the progressive constituents of Arizona that inspite of the image the media is painting, we are in the right and we have many allies around the country cheering for us and ready to come to Arizona and stand with us in this fight.

Dr. West's ability to inspire an audience while simultaneously infusing references to George Clinton and the P Funk, Sly and the Family Stone, and other R&B greats is amazing. At the end of his lecture as everyone stood to their feet in applause I wasn't sure if I should take my notes and exit or light a blunt and pass it. The man just has a way with words.

Considering my feelings towards Arizona as of late, this was inspirational news for me, a guy that is growing sick of living here. When I hear things like 70% of the state is in favor of the immigration law or that governor Jan Brewer is the likely person to win November's election, it makes me want to pack my bags and get the hell up out of here. Did his words make me change my mind and want to stay . . . well no, they didn't have that kind of power. But none the less, they were still inspiring.

One of the most amazing parts of the evening for me happened almost at the conclusion of the event. Each member of the panel gave their closing statements and Mr. West was the last to speak. He spoke of the importance of all communities of color to come together to fight for inclusion and equality. He then opened his comment to include the LGBT community. He spoke of the homophobia of this country that has recently caused several teenagers to take their own lives. After hearing that I knew I had to go and meet him when this was over. I felt compelled to thank him as a member of the same-gender loving community for that sentiment. He said this in a room full of black and brown people that needed to hear this.

Dr. West once said, "You can't lead the people if you don't love the people. And you can't save the people if you don't serve the people." Cornell is a man that loves the people (all people) and serves the people. He and the panel of individuals that spoke Saturday did a phenomenal job debunking all the lies were hearing from the media. I have a feeling this will not be our last time seeing him. He promised he would return with others to help us carry out this fight.

Rainbow Festival Was A Blast

In spite of the god awful Phoenix heat, I still managed to throughly enjoy myself at this weekend's Rainbow Festival. It was the perfect way to roll in LGBT history month. There are some friends that I have that only get to see twice a year (once at Pride and then again Rainbow Fest). Please enjoy some of the pics from the day . . .

Saturday, October 2, 2010

LGBT History Month Jump's Off

October is LGBT History Month and for Phoenix, AZ it started with a bang. This weekend the city will be hosting it's annual Rainbow Festival, a two day celebration downtown marked with vendors, entertainment, and lots of gay folks (it's like a mini Pride). Well, as a jump off to the weekend, The Men of Libra hosted a party at the new Club Sutra.

I'm not generally a club person. Don't get it twisted, I can head bang with the best of them, but as you age your priorities seem to change and my need to hang out til the weeeee hours of the morning just doesn't appeal to me anymore. But in honor of the Rainbow Fest and LGBT History Month (and since Kevin of the Men of Libra is a very close friend of mine) I decided to brave the night and get this month started right.

Needless to say the night did not disappoint. The bar gave me the three things I needed in order to call it a good night - great drinks, good music and hot boys. Club Sutra (formerly Incognito) has a great vibe about it. It was all about dancing and having a good time, no inflated egos or wannabe socialites to destroy the energy of the place. And though I don't venture into the night life of Phoenix often, Sutra makes me want to increase my frequency just a little.

I'm looking forward to what the festivities of today will bring. My stint at Rainbow Fest will end early because I need to go see Cornel West speak at North High School. Though I love my partying, opportunities to see someone of the caliber of Mr. West don't come around that often.

So I'm off. Let's see what the day has in store . . . Oh by the way, click here to see more pics from last night and Happy LGBT History Month.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No More Down Low TV

Say what? Is this for real? This is the most exciting thing about the Fall television line up I've seen (right after No Ordinary Family). And though it may be online instead TV, I'm soooo looking forward to this. Now I don't think I have to tell you this but I'm gonna say it anyway, PLEASE SUPPORT THIS SHOW. It is made by us and for us and if we don't watch it then it will go away. Next year we'll still be sitting around crying "there's nothing out there for gay folks of color."

Well gay folks of color, here it is . . .

Keith Hamilton Cobb Comes Out

I'm surprised and excited and a bit puzzled about this announcement. I received an email from a friend (thanks Rod for keeping me in the loop) that Keith Hamilton Cobb has come out of the closet. Cobb is probably best known to most as the uber masculine Tyr Anasazi on the sci-fi series Andromeda. He is known to most readers of this blog as the boyfriend of the leading character in the second and final season of Logo's Noah's Arc. So as I'm doing a little background checking, I find the post from socybery.com (see it here) that makes this bold claim about Mr. Cobb. What's interesting to me is that the post is dated April 11 of this year.

My spider senses started tingling as I read this article. I'm wondering why was this written in April but I'm just learning about this five months later. I've narrowed this down to several possible assumptions. First, it could be that this bit of news (which I consider very interesting and almost juicy) is just untrue. The story could be fabricated. Or, it could be assumed that Cobb's star power has dimmed quite a bit and his relevence in Hollywood is just not there anymore. But even D list celebrities get media attention if their sexuality comes into question. And finally, it could just be that news about any thing black and gay is just not news for most. It is only interesting to others that are black AND gay.

I personally hope this is true. Lord knows we need more positive, affluent, and out members of the African-American community. As more black same gender loving people live authentic lives, and they live those lives openly, we will start to transition away from a culture of homophobia and intolerance and move toward being a community that is inclusive and loving. And I pray for the day when that happens.

Immigration Bill May Help LGBT Immigrants

According to The Advocate, a new bill that will be introduced to the Senate this week is expected to include help for some members of the LGBT community. According to news being shared from the office of Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the immigration bill that their senator is introducing will include language for same-gender loving individuals.

“We fully expect that the Menendez comprehensive immigration reform bill will be inclusive of the Uniting American Families Act,” said Steve Ralls, director of communications for the pro-LGBT Immigration Equality. UAFA would allow American citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for residency. “We have been in constant communication with Senator Menendez’s staff to ensure that the legislation will include lesbian and gay families,” Ralls added.

For me, this is very exciting news. I personally know several couples that have been in long term relationships where one of the partners is an immigrant. Now if these were straight couples this would not be an issue. They could get married and live happily ever after. Unfortunately as members of the LGBT community we are denied the right to marry and therefore are not afforded this luxury. As a result my friends have had to overcome some relationship burdening, legally taxing obstacles so that they can stay together. I don't think that's fair and I don't think that's constitutional.

So hopefully this bill will be LGBT inclusive and hopefully it will see its way to becoming law. If that happens I (and many of my friends) will release a collective sigh and dance a jig because it will definitely be a step in the right direction.

Re: Eddie Long

I just don't think I can add anything else to this . . .

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Noah's Song

Say what? Daryl Stephens (aka Noah) is now giving the singing thing a try. Thank you so much to Rod2.0 for bringing this interesting bit of news to our attention. According to Rod, Stephens has penned the lyrics, composed the music and sang on his first song "Envious Moon." For me Stephens can do no wrong. And after listening to his song I am still sticking with that sentiment. I really like it. Looking at the comments on Rods page I've noticed that there are already haters out there just all to eager to tear someone else down. When I hear one them compose and record a song then I'll give their opinion a second though but until then . . . kick rocks bitches. Daryl is a tremendous talent. Great actor, beautiful model, and tremendous advocaete for the LGBT community and the HIV community. Now he can add crooner to the resume. Get into the song here.
I've always stated how much I love the current mayor of New York, David Patterson. Now I have another reason to continue to name him greatest governor ever. Today Gov. Patterson signed into law the Dignity for All Students Law. The new law is an antibully bill aimed at making schools safe for students.

Gov. Patterson stated "Every student has the right to a safe and civil educational environment, but far too often young people are ruthlessly targeted by bullies. Bullying and harassment have disrupted the education of too many young people, and we in government have a responsibility to do our part to create learning environments that help our children prosper."

The law will not take effect until 2012 but once in action it will ban harassment and discrimination under several different classifications, including, but not limited to, the student's actual or perceived "race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex."

Hopefully the passage of this legislation will help make schools of New York a better place for LGBT kids. Last year we had two eleven year old kids take their own life to they would not have to endure anti-gay harrasment from their peers. Stories like that are disheartening but all too real and occur way too often. No child should have to suffer through situations like these and schools should do more to create an environment free of this behaviour. Laws like this will help.

Governor Patterson has a tremondous track record of doing things to help the LGBT community. Although some of his most tremendous efforts have proven unsuccesful (like his push to bring same-gender marriage to his state) you have to applaud his courage to bring unpopular issues to forefront of New York politics. Kudos to Patterson and kudos on this law.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Usher Attacked by Drag Quuens

Okay, so that may not be Usher, but you have to admit there is a passing resemblance to the R&B superstar. Celebrity status aside, this is still a remarkable story. Apparently several drag queens rushed into McDonalds and attacked the employees. Not to be outdone by a bunch of men in dresses, the Mickey Dee's employees decided they ain't going down like that. They decided to fight back like the ride or die kinda posse you've come expect from friends of Ronald McDonald. Blows were exchanged, mugs were drug, and one of the drag monsters was doused with a batch of french fry grease.

Now I'm am not one to condone violence. I'm a peace and love mellow kinda fellow. But I must say, this story is quite amusing to me. Child, I would have paid good money to be ring side for this Thrilla by Dragzilla, for this Hiccup at the Pick-up, for this Rabble Rouse at Ronald's House.

I'm sure there was something said (or done) that excited this type of reaction from the queens in question. My spider-sense is telling me the McDonalds employees in this clip are not the victims they are pretending to be. People don't just respond in this manner without some type of catalyst. But it's still true that two wrongs don't make a right. But if you're gonna do wrong, make sure you have the manpower to back up whatevah it is you're gonna do. And it looks like these drag queens had the power they needed. I love it when queers bash back.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Soldiers For Love

Today I witnessed something amazing. The ten individuals that make up the 2010 Arizona Marriage Equality Walkers completed their journey of walking 98 miles across the state bringing awareness to the need to legalize LGBT relationships through marriage. Many people gathered at the Phoenix City Hall to honor the walkers and to complete the final mile of the journey with them. The last stretch of this phenomenal feat took those in attendance from city hall to the state capital.

Seeing the people in the streets, feeling the amazing sense of unity in the air and hearing the stories from the equality walkers made the day very surreal. Knowing that this walk comes on the heals of the repeal of Prop 8 gives me hope. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr., maybe one day we will see the arc of history swing towards justice.

My partner and I have been together for fourteen years and the state of Arizona (along with most of the states in our country) refuses to recognize our union. I don't know many straight couples that have endured the length of time we have yet we cannot swap rings or exchange vows legally. It is humiliating and disgracing but it is a fact. So as I bear witness to the phenomenal courage of these individuals I am simultaneously humbled and encouraged. They give me strength. As long as there are individuals like this around then the spirit of MLK lives on. As long as the equality walkers press forward with their mission the spirit of Bayard Rustin lives on. As long as there are people that take to the streets and refuse to be silent then the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives on.

I am grateful to have been in the midst of these individuals and I want them to know that they are role models for the LGBT community. If we are to one day see the light LGBT marriage equality, it will be because of people like this and the people that support them. Onward LGBT soldiers. Your work is not in vain.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mitrice Richardson Found Dead

Unfortunately the search is over for the Los Angelas lesbian, Mitrice Richardson, who has been missing for over a year. Mitrice made national headlines last year following her controversial release from the LAPD. Many have accused L.A. County of negligence because they released Richardson at night, without a cell phone and without a car. Mitrice has a history of mental illness and has suffered from bipolar disorder for several years. Some individuals that saw her on the evening of her arrest stated that she was not in a condition to drive and spoke about dazed and confused she was at the time of her arrest. She was arrested for not being able to pay for an $89 meal.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Mitrice. I was praying for a happy ending to this story. Mitrice Richardson was smart, beautiful and well-loved and the LGBT community, African-American community, and city of L.A. have lost a terrific spirit. Rest In Peace Ms. Richardson.

Damn Those Text Messages

First they got Chris Brown in trouble and now this. Ekeythia Dunston, a cop with the NYPD has been accused of shooting her girlfriend during a fight that happened because of a text message. Dunston (pictured on the right in the photo) claims she was acting in self defense from her partner that had attacked her with an iron. Her girlfriend attacked her with the iron after she read a text message that was "inappropriate." Dunston was viciously struck several times in the head with the iron and she managed to grab her police issued revolver and fire two shots at her five-year girlfriend Erica Leagall. Leagall was shot in the thigh and in the shoulder.

Both individuals were taken to the hospital. Dunston has been charged with assault and prosecutors are saying that Legall, who remains in stable condition in the hospital, will also be charged. Whats crazy is that these two have two kids together and the children were home when the fight occurred. A friend that was also at their home when everything happened has stated that Dunston did indeed fire to defend herself. Officer Dunston has been released from the hospital and has returned home.

Damn! Damn! Damn! I just don't get it. Is it because I don't text that often that I don't understand this? Is it because I don't pry through my partners texts or emails trying to find something "inappropriate" that I don't understand this? I know that love is the most powerful emotion we are capable of and it can cause us to do some crazy things. But if you ever get to point where you want to bash your lovers head open with an iron then you're at the point where you need to walk away from that relationship. Walk away for your own safety and sanity. Walk away to protect yourself. That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Derek J. - Hair Battle Spectacular

Ohhh Ms. Thing! That's all I have to say about this. Derek J., whom you may know from Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair or you may have seen on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, is apparently set to be a judge for a new show entitled Hair Battle Spectacular.

According to The Advocate, Derek J. will be "calling the shots as a sweet yet headstrong judge on the new show Hair Battle Spectacular (Oxygen, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time). The show is a condensed, weekly version of what would typically happen at the annual Bronner Bros. International Hair Show, where stylists go head to head in coming up with (onstage, by the way) the most whimsical, fantastical, and imaginative hair creations."

Derek sat down with The Advocate to talk about how he got into the hair industry, about the upcoming show, and about the tremendous amount of pressure they put on the first season's contestants. Fantasy hair competitions are something that stylists generally have weeks if not months to prepare for. The judges on Hair Battle Spectacular will be expecting the contestants to pull off some of the remarkable creations in a matter of hours.

I'm generally not a reality TV person but this actually appeals to me for some reason. I may be tuning in to see the chaos and craziness these individuals will have to endure to walk away as victor of the Hair Battle Spectacular. Sounds like fun.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Isiah Thomas Poses for NoH8

WOW is all I can say for the support from former NBA superstar Isiah Thomas and his son who just posed for the NoH8 campaign. The basketball legend had this to say about his support of same-gender marriage equality, "We posed for the NOH8 Campaign because we believe that all hate and discrimination is wrong." He went on to sayon Adam Bouska's website, "It is time for full equality and equal rights for everyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion, or gender."

Kudos to Thomas and his son for doing this. It's nice to know that all in the NBA are not homophobic. I know he doesn't actually play in the league anymore but I still believe that he is very influential. He recently return to New York where he where serve as a part-time consultant for the Knicks.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Ain't Mad At Cha

Many in the LGBT community are up in arms at The View. Ever since D.L. Hugley appeared on the show and he and Sherri Shepard went on a rampage about how downlow men are spreading the HIV virus among black women (see the clip here), there have been petitions, rants and demands aimed at the show. Everyone seems to want The View to apoligize for the misinformation that was shared that day. Since an apology or a retraction has yet to happen, GLAAD has taken it upon themselves to place a full page ad in Variety magazine demanding to have a conversation about the information that was shared that day.

Is it just me, or are there others that could give a rat's ass about what Sherri and D.L. had to say on the show. I mean really, these two individuals are comediennes. They are there for entertainment purposes only. Come on, Sherri has proven time and time again that she is not the smartest person on the planet. This was the lady that thought the world was flat. And though I do honestly think D.L. is a very smart guy, he is not an expert in the field of HIV.

The View is a show that has a group of people that share their opinions. They are not (nor have they ever been) experts in any specific area they're discussing. If the HIV discussion were being conducted by doctors or health care professionals and they shared information that was this misguided, then maybe I would have a reason to be upset. But I can not get angry over a couple of comics that just spoke what they believed.

And lets take a look at this belief that they have. They believe that downlow men are causing the rapid and disproportionate spread of HIV among straight Black women. They identified down low men as Black men that have wives and girlfriends but they are secretly sleeping with men also. The only real problem I have with this conversation is that this talk track would have you believe that Black men are the only ones capable of doing this. Truth is this behaviour is common among men of all ages, races, nationalities and religions. And while it has not been concluded that the down low phenomenon is the cause of the rise in HIV transmission, I'm sorry but it still plays an important part in the equation.

Do I think The View should apologize? No I don't. This is not the first time these individuals have spoken without being completely accurate with infomation. And trust me this won't be the last time.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Whoopi Defends Mel Gibson?

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE me some Whoopi Goldberg. Always have. Always will. I have a steadily growing hatred for Mr. Mel Gibson. I've heard for years that he was homophobic. My disapproval for him started then. My disapproval escalated to severe dislike with his anti-semetic rambling that happened several years ago. My dislike has now evolved into down right hatred towards this disrespectful, egotistical, down right nasty man. My current hatred stems from the conversation he recently had with his girlfriend where he repeatedly calls her a bitch and informs her it will be her own fault if she is "raped by a bunch of niggas" because of her provocative clothing. You can hear the conversation here.

As you listen to the conversation it is obvious that he is once again drunk off his ass. But I'm sorry, drunk off your ass still does not give you permission to speak and behave in a manner that is homophobic, racist or antisemetic. And I'm sorry but just because you do this when you're drunk you don't have the liberty to "take it back" once you sober up and realize what an ass you've made of yourself.

I think my feelings towards Mel will be unwavering for quite some time. He will not be easing over to my good side in the near future. And though I know my refusal to support him won't shatter his multi-million dollar empire [I'll be the first to admit the man is Hollywood gold] maybe if more people join in on the boycott he will learn that there are consequences to his stupidity.

But this post is really not about Mel Gibson. It's actually about my girl Whoopi Goldberg. Recently on The View Whoopi stated that Mel is a good friend of hers and she can speak to the fact that he is not racist. She adds, "an asshole - yes. But he's not racist. I've had him over at my house with my kids."

I've no doubt that Whoopi and Mel are good friends. However, it is still possible for friends of African-Americans to be racist. It is even possible for friends of gay folks to be homophobic. I know Whoopi felt obligated to stand up for the man that she has invited into her home when the coversation on The View shifted to his recent idiodic outburst. And I really don't fault her for the position she took. But I do question her for it. I know people that I am very comfortable with and would even use the label "friend" to describe them. But I have suspicion about how these individuals feel about the African-American population in general. These individuals may greet, smile and generally play nice with me, but that still may not change their perception of black folks. For some reason I think they see me as an exception to the norm. I tend to give everybody the benefit of the doubt. Until you act out and confirm your ignorance, I can only treat you as you treat me.

But here is the deal - once you confirm your stupidity or your ignorance, then I need to call you on it. My "friends" treat me well and I have much love and respect for them. And I'm not sure I will remove the label friend on a one time act of ignorance. I can inform them of what they did, how I perceived it and how it made me feel. They then have the option to learn from and change or continue to stay the same. Everyone can evolve and become better people.

We've seen with Mel's behavior that he is going to wallow in his place of ignorance. I don't see any effort to become a better person. Some of my friends may see me as an exception to norm and I feel this may be how Mel sees Whoopi. But truth is there is no exception to the norm. There is actually no norm. Bottom line is this - hatred towards most of my community is hatred towards me and all of my community. Mel may be friends with Whoopi. But Mel is a racist.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Man Ga-ga?

So would you wear this?

Friday, July 9, 2010

E Lynn Harris: Invisible Life & Lessons Learned

A couple of days ago I pulled Invisible Life off the shelf. I read this book in college (almost twenty years ago). Wow, it just doesn't seem that long ago that I was first introduced to this author that changed my life. I've said this before, prior to reading E. Lynn Harris I didn't know that it was possible to be black, gay and out. I thought only two out of the three were possible.

As I read it again these many years later I was reminded as to why I was struck so hard by this same-gender loving narrative. I came out while in college. So I was reading Invisible Life as a person that had only recently started to get comfortable with his sexuality. Harris touched on so many points that seemed to be directed specifically at me. In this book I witnessed someone write eloquently about living as a black, gay man.

As a product of the rural South I thought there were things I HAD to do as a part of being an adult. Growing up I received all those messages about heterosexual marriage and masculinity. In my mind I thought I would have to pursue this life, even if it meant lying to my wife, lying to my family and friends, and lying to myself.

Invisible Life forced a paradigm shift in my life. As I read this story about a lawyer torn between a relationship with the person that would make him happy (the man in his life) and the person that would make his life look good (the woman in his life), I reflected on the many lessons I learned from this novel.

Lesson 1 - First and foremost, it is important to live an authentic and honest life. Living a life that makes everyone else happy (but you're living a lie) is not fair to you or to those around you.

Lessson 2 - You really can't judge a book by it's cover. Many of the most masculine men on the planet can be same-gender loving. And some of the most effiminate of men can be straight.

Lesson 3 - HIV has no friends. Everyone and I mean everyone can catch it.

Lesson 4 - It is possible for black gay men to be successful and give back to both communities they are apart of.

Lesson 5 - Love is a powerful thing.

Lesson 6 - What you don't know CAN hurt you.

Lesson 7 - With faith, family and friends you can get through anything.

Lesson 8 - Haters are a part of life. People will hate you for your intellect, for the car you drive, for the clothes you wear or for the person you love.

Lesson 9 - You may never really know what a person is going though (no matter how close they are to you).

Lesson 10 - God loves me just as I am.

When I got the news that E. Lynn Harris had died I was stunned. I really didn't know how to react. I've read every single novel he's written. I know many men and women that were influenced by his books. I'm grateful that I had to opportunity to meet him and share with him how his words impacted my life. He was/ is an inspiration for men and women everywhere. I hope I'm living a life that would make him proud.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Divided We Fall

Tonight the LGBT community stood up on behalf of the Hispanic community in an effort to put an end to Senate Bill 1070. On the 41st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, organizers against SB 1070 have launched 30 Days of Protest. Over the course of the next month there will be countless protests, prayer vigils, and marches to bring awareness to this civil rights issue. Those in attendance seemed proud that it was the LGBT community that was chosen to kick off the start of these awareness days. For me, it was great to see both communities standing in soladarity.

Everyone I spoke with seemed to be in consensus about one thing. SB1070 is an issue that all communities need to be aware of and speaking out about. Although this bill targets the Latino community we all know that hate is hate, no matter the guise. And when it is witnessed all need to stand up and take action. Those that sit in silence give permission to injustice.

I know there are many within the LGBT community that believe that this is not our issue but I take issue with this position. I take issue with this for two reasons. First there are members of the LGBT community that are also members of the Hispanic community. To turn a blind eye to our brothers and sisters would be denying our own. But the primary reason this reasoning does not fly is simply this - hatred is hatred. Whether you are a member of the targeted community are not, we cannot sit idly by and allow this to happen. Trust me, this many people would not be boycotting our state (externally and internally) if they were not genuinely pissed off. And they have very good reason to be pissed off.

To put it plain and simple, SB1070 will be used to target and harass the Latino community. Undocumented Canadians, Asians, Europeans or Africans will have nothing to worry about. They will not be getting the question, "Where are your papers?" So I'm proud to see other communities recognize the wrong in the bill and take action to end it. United We Stand; Divided We Fall.

On hand this evening were some distinguished leaders from both the LGBT community and the Hispanic community. Tom Simployt was one of the first to speak and he recited one of my all time favorite poems, First They Came. I think it is only appropriate to end with those powerful words . . .

"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

and by that time no one was left to speak up."

The author of this poem is unknown but I will close with a question, "If we can not speak up for others, can we really expect others to speak up for us?"