Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Random Thoughts: How Many Blades Do We Need?

So I just saw this commercial for the new Schick Hydra. The Schick Hydra has five razor blades and a "breakthrough hydrating reservoir and built-in skin guards." I'll repeat that, five razor blades and a "breakthrough hydrating reservoir and built-in skin guards." What I really need to know is . . . when is this maddness going to end?

Five razors? Really? I remember the day when my razor had two blades and it worked just fine. Why is there this seemingly never ending race to increase the number of blades on a razor? When the three blades came I thought, that's kinda kewl. When the four blades came I remember thinking, "they're taking this a bit too far." But now FIVE blades. Not only are there five blades but there is also a "hydration reservoir" that ensures that your skin never dries out during a shave. Like the lather and the water you use while shaving won't do the job in that area. All this to give Schick another reason to charge $10.00 for a disposable razor.

I don't know about you but I'm not falling for this BS. If we stay on this path we will soon have a razor with 10 blades, a GPS system and a 5 mega-pixel camera. Why do we need all this for a simple shave. The single and double blade has been doing an amazing job for years so I think I'll stick with what's been working.

Happy Birthday One Voice Community

Over the weekend I went and checked out the 5 Year Anniversary celebration of the One Voice Community Center. I was at the grand opening those many moons ago when they initially opened their doors to create a safe space for members of the LGBT community. They have come a long way since then.

Five years ago the community center shared a space with the Alternatives, a gym/ health facility. Today, they are in their own building. Five years ago the community center depended on the help of volunteers to stay afloat. Today (although they still rely heavily on the work of volunteers) there is a functioning board and a staff of three that ensure the sustainability of the place. The evolution has been wonderful to watch and they are definitely moving in the right direction.

So I was glad to be able to attend the five year anniversary and I'm looking forward to what the next five years will bring. Below is my video that honors their journey . . .

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Harvey Milk Day Today

Today is a day that all in the LGBT community should pay attention to. It is Harvey Milk day and it is being celebrated on what would be his 80th birthday. Milk worked endlessly on behalf of equality for the LGBT community and who knows how much progress he would have made if his life were not taken from him all too soon. If you have never seen the phenomenal movie based on his life (starring Sean Penn and writen by Dustin Lance Black) you are doing yourself a disservice. So happy birthday to the man that gave his life working on the greater good for all gays, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals. Your work was not in vain and you will not be forgotten.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Cher

I don't care how much work she has had done, Cher simply looks amazing. And today the diva turns 54 years young. So today I just wanted to pay homage to the lady that can still roc da mic, work a stage and floss a Bob Mackie gown like nobody's business. I don't know when or how, she became such an icon for the LGBT community, but I do understand the why. She has stood the test of time and no matter why kind of obstacles are thrown her way she manages to stand tall and press on. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHER. I still believe in the love after love.

Monday, May 17, 2010

International Day Against Homophobia

Today is IDAHO (the International Day Against Homophobia). Although the principles of this day need to celebrated 365 days of the year, today has been chosen as one to bring attention to the psychological, physical and social harm that comes as a result of homophobia. If you are not aware of the damage being inflicted on the LGBT community every day then you clearly are not paying attention. And this hatred comes in so many different guises that often times when homophobia happens we may not even be aware of it.

Coretta Scott King stated that "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood."

The assumption by many is that homophobia is something only straight people are capable of doing and that it is usually carried out by one (or a few indviduals) against one (or a few) LGBT individuals. While this type of homophobia is very common, it does not get to wear the title exclusively. There are several types of homophobia - internal, horizontal, and institutionalized. All are damaging to the LGBT community and all need to end.

Internalized homophobia refers to negative feelings toward oneself because of homosexuality. Self-hatred, lowed self-esteem, and no value of self-worth all result from internalized homophobia. This severe discomfort with one's own sexual orientation is generally the result of years of social training. It can result from religious upbringings, misinformed communities or conservative parents. It is also the reason why we have such a high rate of suicide in the LGBT community.

Horizontal homophobia is hatred of others because of their homosexuality. As a result of internalized homophobia, horizonatal homophobia can come from straight individuals or same-gender loving folks. Horizontal homophobia can manifest itself in many ways including bullying, verbal assaults, physical violence and murder. And because we live in a hetero-priviledged world, many assume that these behaviours are okay. The reality is in many countries it is still okay to harass, beat and kill the faggot. In some African counties the rape of lesbians in order to make them straight is commonplace. And right here in America, hate crimes against the LGBT community have been on the rise for the last few years.

The final type of homophobia may be the worst form in that it seemingly gives the other types permission to exist. Institutionalized homophobia is the way in which governments, religions, businesses, and educational systems systematically discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Churches that vehemently label homosexuality as sinful or as an abomination fall in this catergory. So does governments that pass legislation that targets the LGBT community and strips them of their rights and their equality (i.e. Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act). When these institutions choose to exhibit forms of homophobia they are giving everyone that navigates within their sphere of influence permission to do the same. That is why I think this final form may the worse type of homophobia.

And again, this type of homophobia (institutionalized) not only comes from heterosexuals in positions of power. I personally know of several church leaders that preach about the sins of homosexuality and secretly live down-low lives, sleeping with the same gender everytime the opportunity arises. And in the documentary Outrage, there are several politicians outed that repeatedly pass anti-gay legislation but frequently have same-gender sex.

None of these types of homophobia will come to an end immediately, but if we contintue to bring awareness to them hopefully we will see a trend on the side of reduction. Days like today can help in that trend. So please find out if your city is doing something for IDAHO. If not, maybe you can be the one to do something. Start with the man in the mirror.

Random Thoughts: Sharing Too Much

Yesterday I went through the Taco Bell drive-thru just to pick me up a number two combo. As I pulled up to the window I gave my usual greeting to the cashier, "How's your day going?" I was assaulted with this wave of info that everyone would consider TMI. This person decided to share with me that she has been having a horrible week after discovering her boyfriend has been cheating on her, she is fighting with her sister and a co-worker is out to get her.

I could maybe see sharing this much if you've been overwhelmed with this all at once. But this person didn't say this all happened yesterday, this was something she's been going through over the course of the week. She has had time to process all of this.

Maybe it's my own fault. See by asking this question to a total stranger that I don't know (this was not my usual Taco Bell) and will hopefully never see again, I opened the door for this intimate relationship that this person felt compelled to established with me. I started this by being polite. But am I asking too much for expecting the quintisential "just fine" or "so far so good." If you're having a bad day its okay to deliver a "well I'm here" answer without going into sharing all of these personal experiences.

I don't want to come off as selfish or conceited. I don't want you to think that I'm not concerned about others. Its just that sometimes the info people share with me makes me a bit uncomfortable and I don't like being put in that situation. After giving this info to me, what do you expect me to do with it? My interaction with this cashier would last probably 2-3 minutes. Should I be empathetic or sympathetic? Should I try to offer advice? The time I had to interact with this person would not have allowed for me to do that. And who's to say that either of these reactions would have been desired. So why unload all of this stuff on me. It's true that misery loves company and I really think this person wanted me to wallow in her misery with her. But I refuse. I didn't react to her comments. I thanked her for my burrito and soda and drove away.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wanda Sykes Show Cancelled

I have to admit, this does not come as a surprise. As much as I love Wanda Sykes, I must admit it was difficult watching this show. When the show started I was sooo excited because it seemed as if Wanda finally had a format that would allow her to be the brilliantly funny comedienne that we're extremely fond of. In the beginning I blew off the challenges as start-up woes. I figured the show was just trying to find its niche. But unfortunately that niche was never developed. I found myself repeatedly tuning in to a show that was just not that good. I don't know how much influence Wanda had in the direction of the show or if she had any creative input on the writing, but there was just something about the show that just was not working. I just could not force myself to watch this show (although I so wanted to).

My decision to stop watching the show has no bearing on my opinion of Sykes as an artist. I still consider her the funniest person on the planet right now. Her last stand up special, I'ma Be Me is the funniest thing to hit televsion since Dave Chappelle. Her advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community continues to amaze me. She is smart and beautiful. I pray that she continues to be relative and "hot" in an industry where you're only as good as your last project.

Congrats to Latifah and Jeanette

Queen Latifah and her "trainer" Jeanette Jenkins have purchased a home together in L.A. You know I love the Queen. I love her as a rapper, as the star of a sitcom, as a jazz singer, and as Big Mama and the one in charge of the girls in Chicago. I love her as the star or the co-star on the big screen. No matter what the Queen touches it turns to gold. So I'm excited to learn that the Queen is taking this big step and has found a place that she and her "trainer" can call home.

I don't care if the Queen ever does come out of the closet. I will always support her. Something about this relationship is working if she is choosing to make a home with this lady and for me that is wonderful news. Their new Hollywood home cost them $1.4 million and pics of the place can be seen below.

Phoenix Gay Pride Recap

So I never posted anything about this year's Phoenix Pride festival and it is time for me to remedy that. This year marked the 30 year anniversary of Phoenix Pride and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was actually in the parade this year which was both terrific and disappointing. Let's face it, it's always great being in a parade. It's fun being the center of attention and prancing down the street waving at everyone. So why was it disappointing? Well, I'm a photographer. I enjoy watching (and capturing on film) the entire parade. Being in the parade you're just not able to do that. I'll try to avoid being in the parade next year. But until then, please enjoy these images that I captured at this years festival.

Also, for a review of last year's parade go here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Most Racist State Ever?

It is becoming more and more embarrassing to say that my home is the great state of Arizona. While we are still on the heels of our govenor signing into law the controversial and extremely racist HB1070 Immigration Law [the law which we all know targets the Hispanic community and gives our power hungry sheriff and his posse the ability to demand proof of citizenship of anyone], I just learned that yesterday our state has decided to ban all ethnic studies in schools. I was wondering if we go any further back into the Stone Ages and apparently the answer is yes. Effective December 31 of this year, it will now be illegal to teach classes "designed for students of a particular ethnic group, promote resentment or advocate ethnic solidarity over treating pupils as individuals."

Apparently the target of this bill were several Mexican studies courses that currently exist in Tucson's school system. These courses, which are attended by approximately 3% of the systems 55,000 students, are currently offered from elementary through high school and have an emphasis on Latino authors and history. According to Judy Burns, president of the Tucson district governing board, there are no intentions of ending the courses.

I would imagine that as a consequence, that means that there must also be an end to all Black history courses. As an African-American man I must admit that the time that I paid attention the most was when I was learning about brilliant and black inventors, when we discussed the civil rights struggle of the 60s, or when we tackled social justice issues that affected any minority group. But now it appears that my state wants to whitewash our classrooms and in an effort to please ignorant white folks. I say ignorant white folks because they all don't own the stupid gene, but it seems that many of them in power (at least in my state) have the gene and are waving their flag of ignorance very proudly.

Classes like this exist for several reasons. Black history courses, Latino history courses, women's history courses all exist because they spotlight certain demographics that we don't learn about in general survey courses. American history classes don't have time to paint a totally comprehensive view of society. So in them we don't learn about Jim Crowe or the Underground Railroad. General literature classes don't have time discuss all great writers and as a consequence many Black, female and Latino authors go unheard of.
And let's keep it real, classes like this exist not only because of the omission of facts related to these communities, but because of the lies that are being taught relative to these communities. Are we still teaching that Columbus discovered America? The America we live is has a history of killing and exiling Native peoples, stealing land and claiming ownership (east coast and west coast), enslaving groups of people for mandatory free labor (Black folks and Asian people) and we did it all in the name of "freedom." Now it seems that there is a deliberate attempt to erase these truths from the history books. Why? Because they can't handle the truth.

Truth is I've never actually claimed Arizona as my home. But it is my defacto home; I've lived here for just over a decade. I know all states have their issues. However, it seems that Arizona is spiralling out of control in its hatred and anger towards the Hispanic community. This state, which was the last state in the union to acknowledge the Martin Luther King holiday has a history of ignorance. But we should have learned from our past digressions. Keeping it real, brown skinned people inhabited this land long before white folks ever did, so I'm troubled by hostility. But now the rest of the US (and enlightened people of Arizona) have a reason to continue to protest and point fingers at our state. I thought our goal was to evolve, not devolve.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Finally Reading Hiding In Hip Hop

I know I'm two years late (this book came out in 2008) but I've finally gotten around to reading Hiding In Hip Hop. I was excited about this book when the fanfare about its release first started. Someone was finally going to reveal the hypocrisy of Hip Hop. This genre that is the epitome of homophobia is ridled with down-low men that have sex with other men. I was hoping for a tell all book that would drop names, places, dates and sexual positions.

I know that I repeatedly say that I'm against outing people but Hip Hop has historically not be a friend of ours, so I was okay with the outings that were going to happen. It's similarly to how I was okay with outings in the movie Outrage where anti-gay politicians were proven to be same-gender loving and their names were blasted for all of the world to see. I'm okay with people being closeted; but when you do things to harm the LGBT community and you're same-gender loving yourself, I have an issue with it and you need to be called on your hypocrisy.

Then I learned that would be no name dropping in the book and my interest went away. There would only be hints and innuendos. So I never picked up the book. But here we are two years later and the book finally landed in my lap. I've been devouring it for the past two days and I must admit, I'm very disappointed in myself for not reading this sooner.

The book is not so much a tell all about Hip Hop and Hollywood. It is more so the author's journey as he leads us through his youth, his struggle with self acceptance, his difficult in loving and being loved by his family, and his entry into and navigation of the curious and controversial world of down-low men. It just so happens that his world of down low men is an elite one filled with powerhouses from the world of entertainment. Although the hints of celebrities is indeed tittilating (you can't help but to assume you know exactly who he's talking about) it is the the personal testimonies and challenges that the writer endures that are the most revealing.

Hiding in Hip Hop does a terrific job in tackling many taboos of the LGBT community and the African-American community. In the very beginning he breaks it down. There is a reason that men are on the down-low. "Many of us are emotionally and mentally damaged from our religious upbringings, misinformed communities or conservative parents." I'm not saying that this justifies the behaviour; I'm just saying (and I've been saying for years) these men had help in getting into their closets. Terrance Dean does a fantastic job in weaving together a complicated story that involves the black church, HIV/AIDS, black fraternities, and the interesting (and mutually benefitting) relationship between homosexuality and Hip Hop. I think this is a must read for all - straight, gay, black and white.

Maxine Waters Pleas to Finds Lesbian

It is items like this that make me love Maxine Waters. Congresswoman Waters just wrote a letter to the US Dept. of Justice asking them to investigate the adult missing persons case of Mitrice Richardson. Richardson is a 25 year old African-American that came up missing in September of 2009. She was being held in custody by Agoura Hills Las Angeles Sheiff's Dept. for not paying a restaurant bill but was released that same night because of overcrowding in the jail. She was spotted briefly sitting on someone's front porch but has not been seen since.

The letter from Maxine Waters to the US Dept. of Justice comes after a similar plea to the FBI was declined with a statement of their policy to not investigate adult missing person's cases. My prayers go out to the family and friends of Mitrice and my kudos go out to Maxine Waters for taking action.

It was upon learning more about this young lady that made me want to post this article. For one, Mitrice is a lesbian. If I can bring any awareness, help or support to same-gender loving persons of color then I am going to do it. It's what this blog is all about. Also, she was an honor student graduating from Cal State Fullerton and preparing to go into a doctorate program. She was smart and beautiful and now she is missing in action.

What's unfortunate is that Mitrice has a history of mental illness. She suffers from untreated bipolar disorder. Also, there are individuals from the restaurant where Mitrice was arrested that said that she was in no condition to drive. The L.A. police totally dropped the ball on this one as they released Mitrice in the middle of the night (approximately 12:30 AM) without phone, money, identification or her car which was impounded that night.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Goodbye Darian!!!

Darian Aaron of LOLDarian has announced that he is bringing his blog to an end. It deeply saddens me to hear this news but I must confess that I understand. But I just want to publicly say Darian, you are an inspiration to many and your site will truly be missed.

I would visit your site often to learn about news important to LGBT individuals of color. I honestly feel you had the premiere site of black gay blogsmen. I wish you well on your future endeavors. When Keith Boykin announced he would be retiring his blog I was at a loss and wondered where would I turn to learn of news important to me (cause Lord knows I'm not going to receive it with mainstream media). You stepped up to the plate and didn't miss a beat. You carried the torch phenomenally for four years. Now it's time for you to pass that torch on to someone else.

Darian's goodbye seems to be just one more in a trend of black gay bloggers signing off on their sites. QueerKidOfColor, TheBrothaLuv, and Social and Political Thought are just a few of the sites that I used to enjoy that are now defunct. But maintaining a blog is a lot of hard work. It's generally done with no financial reward and significant sacrifices made in some area of your life. So to Darian (and to all the sites that I now miss) I enjoyed you tremendously while you were around and I hope that your talent, voice and energy are not vanishing from the horizon but transitioning to bigger and better things. Take care.

Pelosi: Obama Should Stop Discharges

In a message released March 30, 2010, Nancy Pelosi has made a pretty bold and progressive statement regarding Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It's brief and very to the point.

The Majority Leader and Speaker of the House had this to say, “We all look forward to the report on the review of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy by the Defense Department. In the meantime, the Administration should immediately place a moratorium on dismissals under this policy until the review has been completed and Congress has acted.”

It sounds redundant because many of us have been saying this for sometime now. The president has the power to stop all discharges until this matter is reviewed and an actual decision is made. And as much as I love our President, this is the one issue that has me wavering on my support for him.

Mr. President, sign the order. Stop the discharges. Do the right thing for our gay and lesbian solders.

Washington Weddings

There is an interesting article over at The Advocate about the array of marriages that happened a couple months ago in Washington,DC. Washington (aka Chocalate City) started to allow same-gender loving (sgl) couples the right to marry in March. The article tends to focus on the fact that much of the media coverage that seemed to trickle out of the district once marriages started seemed to pointed toward sgl couples of color.

This is not surprising to anyone familiar with the demographics of Washington. DC is about 55% African-American. So it should not be surprising that there would be black gay and lesbian couples that take advantage of this new right to marry.

I can however understand if this news does shock a few. Some people may be aware of the organized and adamant group of black clergymen from the DC area that protested same sex marriage. Those not in the know (or lacking common sense) could assume that the voices of these few reflected the attitude of the large African-American community. Unfortunately the ignorance of a small group is often times perceived as attitude of all. But that just ain't the case.

I love the progress that is being made in DC AND in the progressive states that have given same gender loving couples the rights they deserve. But I am disappointed that we have not seen a stronger push at the federal level for an end of DOMA. State by state passage is terrific. But the reality is that for many gay and lesbian individuals, we will never receive our rights until they are federally mandated. But until that day, I'll take even the small victories.