Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Monday, November 14, 2011

Positive and Promiscuous? Does this make you a criminal?

Last Friday, the man above was tried for a public health violation. Twenty-seven year old John Conway Hart of Raleigh, NC is accused of having sex with someone and not disclosing his HIV status. If found guilty he will face up to four months in prison and he will be subjected to a medical quarantine. The numbers of black gay men diagnosed with HIV continues to rise. Many are arguing that the potential for prosecution will deter many men from getting tested because knowledge that they are positive could lead to a criminal prosecution but ignorance of your status leaves you in the clear.

I'm personally really torn on this issue.  I have many friends that are positive and I know how difficult it is to disclose.  The social stigma associate with being positive has not disappeared.  Telling your potential sex partner that you have HIV could send him/ her screaming and running toward the door.

So how can we condemn the positive person that does not want to disclose his HIV status.  The fear of rejection is powerful and until you've walked in the shoes of a positive person you cannot judge him.

However, on the other hand, when a person repeatedly hooks up for sex and lies about his HIV status (when he knows that he is positive) and he chooses to not use condoms (putting his partner at risk for cero-conversion), how can I not see this person as a predator.

I must preface my opinion with this, I have a bit of a bias when it comes to this issue.  I have a very close friend that fell victim to this.  He and a person that will remain nameless started dating.  They became very serious and would eventually move in with each other.  They decided that they would build a loving, trusting, monogamous relationship.  My friend got tested for HIV because he was ready to move toward a relationship that did not include condoms. 

The person that shall remain nameless shared that he was tested also and that he too was negative.  We did not know at the time but this person had been knowingly living with HIV for several years and did not want anyone to know.  My friend would become positive as a result of this individual and his web of lies.

And guess what else was happening in this relationship?  Unnamed person also had a profile on Adam4Adam, Gay.com and several other men seeking men sites looking for bareback sex.  He was claiming that he was HIV negative on these sites.  This information would only come to the surface after my friend was diagnosed positive and several individuals from the community came forward and shared that they had had unprotected sex with unnamed person.

My thoughts immediately were that this person should be locked up for all eternity.  This man was deliberately trying to infect people.  There are no if, ands or buts about it.  I am convinced that he wanted to pass the virus on to as many people as he could.  Because of him, when I hear stories like this I think "send the bastard to jail!" 

I'm aware that these are distinctly different circumstances.  Occasionally having sex with someone and not disclosing your HIV status is not the same as seeking out unknowing victims, outright lying about your status and making the decision not to use protection.  One stems from fear and discomfort.  The other stems from revenge and hatred. 

So here is the problem as I see it.  Who gets to decide where we draw the line?  Who determines when one moves from victim to predator?  And when does personal accountability come into account?  If we all know how HIV and STDs are transmitted, then how can we really blame others when we become infected? 

But those are just my thoughts.  How do you feel?  Should HIV positive individuals be tried as criminals for having sex without disclosing their status?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Phoenix Rainbow Festival 2011

I'm sitting at home on a Monday evening trying to recover from the phenomenal weekend that just happened in Phoenix.  This weekend Phoenix would see the Rainbow Festival, AIDS Walk, and Black Party all go down within a matter of two days.  For now I'll just focus on the Rainbow Festival (details about other events to follow).  The Rainbow Festival was amazing.  The jump off happened at the downtown Heritage Square Park.

Why do I love the Rainbow Festival?  Much like Phoenix Gay Pride weekend, the Rainbow Festival is one of those rare times when many from the LGBT community come out and celebrate the richness and diversity of our community. So the event always turns into a bit of a reunion for me.  It's like a family barbeque, you get to see those friends that you haven't seen in a while come out and party for a moment. 

What made this year so special was that I was one of the Phoenix Pride "Creative Expressions Coming Out Stories" contest winners.  As a winner I was able to share my coming out story with those in attendance.  I chose to share my coming out story by way of a video (you can see the video here).  Others chose different "creative expressions" for sharing how they came out.  Erin Whitney shared her rainbow colored heart shaped tattoo located on the back of her neck.  Erin Clawson wrote a poem that summarized her coming out experience.  You can learn about all of the coming out contest winners here.

The highlight of the weekend was the performance by Bebe Zahara Benet.  Winner from season one of RuPaul's Drag Race.  Bebe was in town for the Black Party presented by the Men of Libra where she would be debutting her new single, Dirty Drums.  Before the party she made a pitstop by the Rainbow Festival to perform a couple of numbers.  It seemed the entire festival swooped over to the stage to see Bebe perform.  Phoenix showed Bebe the love she deserves.

We learned this weekend that Phoenix Pride has now acquire the Rainbow Festival.  So from this point forward this event will be sponsored, created and presented by Phoenix Pride.  I'm sure we will be seeing some changes to the festival in the future because of this change but one thing that Phoenix Pride has promised us, the Rainbow Festival is now and will always be a free events that is welcoming to the LGBT community and friends and family of the community.

If you weren't there this year hopefully I'll see you at the Rainbow Fest 2012.  See all my pics from the event here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Goodbye Don't Ask, Don't Tell!

The day has finally come.  It's official.  The days of Don't Ask, Don't Tell are officially behind us.  Today, September 20, marks the first day of the end of this policy that forced gay men and women in the military to stay closeted.   This policy ended the careers of many soldiers that were discovered to be gay.  This policy forced many men and women that wanted to serve their country not to enlist because they couldn't endure the homophobic environment.  And now on this most beautiful of days we wave goodbye to Don't Ask, Don't Tell. 

One of the most powerful quotes I've ever read was on the grave of a former officer that was kicked out of the military after he was outed.  It read, "The military gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one."  This sums up perfectly how most rational thinking people feel about the exclusion of gays from the military. 

I'm excited about this new era.  I'm pleased to see this day has come to pass.  And I'm elated for all of the same-gender loving men and women that are currently serving in the military.  They no longer have to fear that they will be discharged if it is discovered that they love someone of the same sex.

My first partner was a military man.  I have to admit this, it was his uniform that attracted me to him.  I was a senior history major at Troy University and this man would come to class every day in his Army fatigues.  I won't lie to you - I thought he was extremely hot.  I would have never imagined that he could possibly be gay.  I mean - he was a soldier.  I guess it goes without saying that I was very naive in college.  We would become study buddies and eventually would become lovers.  He was my first love.  He was my partner for almost two years and in college years this is a very long time.

Yes, my first love was a sargeant in the Army.  This sargeant shared with me his desire to be out.  He yearned so much to be able to hold my hand and walk across campus with me.  He wanted very badly to put a picture of me on his desk at work.  But he knew there would be serious consequences of making such a move.  Coming out would have yielded the end of his military career, the loss of his home and the end of his pursuit of his bachelors degree.  He would have lost everything he cared about and worked so hard for.

I wish my sargeant would have been able to come out.  He eventually did.  He would in time leave the military just for his own mental sanity.  He could not remain in an culture that did not allow him the freedom of expression to love whom he pleased.   I was thrilled that he decided to follow his heart and made this decision that allowed him to be his authentic self. 

So as we celebrate this day of freedom I think about my first love and how different his life would have been if he were able to be out in the military.  I think about all those talented military men that put their lives on the line for their country but were discharged just because they loved someone of the same gender.  I think about all that gay men and women that still served but lived in fear that one day their "secret" would be revealed. 

I personally want to thank all gay men and women that have served past and present for their contributions to our country.  Whether you were discharged because you were outed or whether you successfully served without being disclosed, I appreciate everything you've done in paving the way for this day to happen.

Only time will tell what happens next but I'm eagerly looking forward to what tomorrow brings!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Is It That Hard Out There for Black Actors?

Today while I was watching my usual Sunday night Fox line-up, I saw a new commercial for Verizon Wireless. Nothing too exciting about the commerical really. It starts with three Verizon store employees shutting down and exiting the store and . . . hold up, wait, is that Flex Alexander playing one of the Verizon employees?

You can see the commerical below . . .

I was seriously thrown for a loop. That was Flex Alexander. Flex was the star of One on One which ran for five years on UPN. He was a marvelous stand up commediane. He even starred as Michael Jackson in a VHI movie.  He was one of the actors that many within the Black community looked up to because, well, he had "made it."  In this commercial he doesn't even have a speaking part.

After seeing this commercial, I immediately had a flash back of last Christmas when I saw T. C. Carson (Living Single's Kyle Barker) singing in a T. J. Maxx commercial.

Yes - that was Kyle Barker singing in that commercial. He wasn't even the main actor in the commercial.

I had mixed emotions while watching both of these. Should I be excited because atleast these men that I looked up to are still working and booking gigs? Or should I see these as an example of the struggles of black folks trying to survive in an industry that has not been kind to them?

To both of these men I say, "make your paper boo!"  I ain't made at cha.  Although it is discouraging to see them have to take parts that are so minimal (I would even go so far as to say far beneath them), I do understand that we're living in a tough economy and bills still have to be made.  So instead sitting on their pride and turning down roles, these men are still getting out there and making money.

I'm looking forward to seeing both these men in their glory again.  I still have much respect for them. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Adore Carlease Burke

Carlease Burke just got her big break.  According to The Advocate, Burke just landed a role on the upcoming season of the popular Showtime series Shameless.  You may recognize Carlease from her picture.  She is no newby to Hollywood.  She has appeared in countless roles both on the big screen and small screen including Get Shorty, In Her Shoes, Grey's Anatomy and Heroes. 

Burke will be joining an amazing cast as she becomes part of the Shameless family.  The Showtime series includes veteran actor William H. Macy, Joan Cusack, and Emmy Rossum.  Burke who is an out lesbian will be playing Roberta who is described as a foulmouthed and eccentric lesbian.  She will be the love interest of Monica Gallagher (the ex-wife of William H. Macy's character on the show).  

I love the fact that she is in reality an out African-American lesbian.  And I love the fact that she will be portraying a lesbian on a popular TV show.  Lord knows we need more representation of positive black same-gender loving people on the screen.  But above all this, I love the fact that Burke is an advocate for the LGBT community.  According to the Advocate, "Burke is involved with a variety of LGBT organizations, including the Los Angeles–based Women on a Roll and Cornerstone Outreach." 

According to Burke, “One would think that of all people, the black community as a whole would be more understanding and supportive of civil rights and the equality of all people. The only way we are going to make huge strides is when we have the support of straight black people and our churches. Our heterosexual friends and family members need to stick up for us and be proud of their LGBT relatives, who include doctors, teachers, coworkers, police officers.”  She goes on and says, "Black churches have some obligation to advocate for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community, especially since it preaches that God is love and created us all in his image."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Homophobia in Professional Sports

Tomorrow night at UGIMA (United Gay Informed Men of African-descent) we will be visited by Hairat Agbaje of the Phoenix Suns/ Phoenix Mercury who will talk with us about the exciting upcoming season of the Mighty Mercury and fill us in on the various opportunities that are available if you’re interested in attending any games.

Following Agbaje’s presentation we will immediately go into our topic for the evening – homophobia in professional sports. The recent array of mixed messages were receiving from the NBA has created an interesting dialogue that is happening around the country. What role can LGBT individuals have in professional sports? Do you have be closeted to be successful? When homophobia rears its ugly head - should a league address it or ignore it and pretend like it doesn't exist?

Kobe Bryant was recently fined 100,000 for using a homophobic slur on the same day that Grant Hill was creating a public service announcement that painted the NBA as an LGBT inclusive organization. Several days later Joakim Noah would make the same homophobic slur in a game.

A few years ago the very first NBA player would come out as openly gay. Shortly after retirement and on the verge of releasing his autobiography, John Amaechi announced to the world that he was a gay man. Tim Hardaway’s reaction was swift and point blank. Hardaway’s reply to Amaechi was “You know, I hate gay people, so let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."

Please join us as we address homophobia in the arena of professional sports. Would the decision to come out for an athlete be career suicide? Do sports organizations (i.e. NBA, WNBA, NFL, Major League Baseball) have a responsibility to support out LGBT individuals? Is it okay for a transgender individual to compete in an all female sport? These questions have many searching for answers that have political correctness and empathy for all involved.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Big Freedia - The Queen of Bounce

I'm still celebrating Pride Month and Black Music Month.  I love being black and gay.  And love celebrating everything that emcompasses both, celebrates both, and elevates both.  If you are a fan of bounce music then you need to know about the "sissy" artists that are taking this genre to the next level.  Bounce music a.k.a. Booty Music is a product of th Dirty South.  It originated in New Orleans and some of the biggest names in Hip Hop made it to the top with Bounce Music.

Meet Big Freedia . . .

Big Freedia and other sissy artists like Sissy Noby and Katey Red are claiming their spot in the world of Bounce Music. Having grown up in the South myself I know how deeply rooted this music is. It's wonderful to now see LGBT artists picking up the mic and putting their own unique twist on this phenomenon. There's something wonderful happening in New Orleans and nobody down there cares that these artists are gay. Their music is great and people are just enjoying what they're hearing and not spending any time focused on the sexual orientation of the artist.

I swear I can't hear this music without bobbing my head and shaking my ass.  And that's a good thing.  Unfortunately we still have a whole lotta people hating on Bounce music.  It's often referred to as Ghetto and I gonna assume that supposed to be a bad thing (cause there are some great things that come out of the ghetto).  If you look at the videos you will find lots of girls scantily dressed and dancing prevocatively but seriously isn't that something that we condemn on each new generation.  I will continue to support Bounce music.  Now that I've discovered Big Freedia and other same gender loving artists within this genre of music I will love it even more.

Check out more Big Freedia here . . .

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

LGBT Month and Black Music Month - What Should You Do?

Most people within the LGBT community are aware that June is Gay Pride month.  Many people are unaware of this but June is also Black music month.  Do these celebrations have to be done exclusive of each other?  No, I don't think so.  This is the perfect opportunity for us to focus on the interesting intersections where these two different paths collide.
There are two documentaries that immediately come to mind that allow one to enjoy African-American music and simulatenously vast in the same-gender loving experience.  Pick Up the Mic and U People are two wonderful films that I encourage everyone to check out.


Pick Up the Mic is fantastic. It is a film that explores the world of gay hip-hop. Yes I said it. GAY. HIP HOP. Two words that many assume should never go together. What I find so spectacular about the film is its ability to touch on so many issues that are universal to the LGBT experience. This film touches on trans issues, LGBT youth suicide, and social stigma. But the primary reason you should watch this film is for the amazing music these individuals are creating.

U People

What can I say - this film was simply unbelievable. A group of black same-gender loving women came together at a brownstone in Brooklyn to shoot a music video. What came of this was a documentary that everyone should see. This documentary is the result of magical moment that just so happened to be captured on film. These beautiful, creative, successful women came together to shoot a video for Hanifah Walidah and some brilliant person decided to capture the entire experience on film. The result is an interesting kalieascope of characters and stories and relationships that is a must see.

To all - Happy Pride Month and Happy Black Music month. Please take the time to pick up a copy of either or both of these films. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Basketball Player Comes Out

I thought National Coming Out Day happened in October. This is the third big coming out story this week and it's only Tuesday. First, the President of the Phoenix Suns comes out. Then CNN host Don Lemmon comes out. Now - former Villanova basketball player, Will Sheridan, comes out of the closet. I feel like the sun is shining just a little bit brighter today.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy Birthday B-Slade

He has one ofthe greatest voices I've ever heard come out of a man. I remember the first time I ever heard the name "Tonex." I was watching Showtime at the Apollo. If you've ever seen the show you know it doesn't come on 'til like midnight. Anywho, someone introduced this young, new brother that was making waves in the gospel community. This man with long, flowing locks stepped up to the mic and started singing, "you are my personal Jesus . . ."

To say I was floored would be an understatement. This man could sang like nobody's business. I was so amazed by his voice that I immediately got up off the sofa, got dressed and went to the nearest 24 hour Walmart with the hopes that they might be carrying the CD by the phenomenal young man I had just witnessed.

Imagine the joy I felt when I learned that Tonex (after several very successful gospel albums) came out of the closet. To the shock of many within the faith community, after professing he was homosexual he refused to walk away from the Lord. Tonex stated he would continue to praise His name. Tonex would not let other people deny him God.

I loved this. I have to admit (growing up in Alabama which is in the heart of the Bible Belt) I was repeated told that homosexuality was an abomination. I realized I was gay at a very young age so imagine the identity issues I had when I realized I was the person my pastor was referring to.

It took me a long time to come to the conclusion that God loved me unconditionally. Being Gay is how God made me and I refuse to deny who I am just to make others comfortable. So I enjoy seeing others who are comfortable in who they are and do not allow themselves to be defined by others. Tonex is one of those individuals.

Now going my the name B. Slade in an effort to reach a new demographic, this man is still making phenomenal music. B. Slade is gay. B. Slade loves God. And because of these things B. Slade is a hero to me.

Today, May 16, is B. Slade's birthday so I want to scream loudly - Happy Birthday B. Slade. I admire you and I wish you many more years of success.

Below is Tonex singing one of my all time favorite songs . . . Restoration.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Lesbian Couple Wants Dream Wedding

So I just  read this terrific article over at The Advocate.  Theresa Thacker and Heather Thomason are competing in the Crate and Barrel Ultimate Dream Wedding contest.  I was just too excited to learn about this African-American same-gender loving couple being out and proud and putting themselves out there like this.  The two currently reside in Douglasville, Georgia and get this - combined they are the parents of fourteen (14) kids. 

The reason they decided to enter the competition was simple.  They love each other very much and would like to get married in April 2012, the second year anniversary from the date that they met.  However, the job of being parents to 14 can be very expensive and they do not have the money to have their dream wedding.

The two met online and Theresa (the mom of nine adoptive kids) just knew Heather would runaway screaming when she learned about the number of kids she had.  On the contrary Heather would prove to be more supportive that Theresa ever expected.  According to Theresa, “Heather takes care of me and ensures I don't lose sight of the fact that I am more than a mom of nine kids.”

Please cast your vote for the two of them to have their dream wedding here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Kobe Bryant Homophobic?

Kobe Bryant is being hit with a $100,000 fine for making a homophobic slur. Is this right? I don't like the guy, I really don't. But when I heard about this big of a fine being imposed I almost had sympathy for him. Then I watched the video.

I don't know if Kobe is homophobic or not. I do not believe the slur used in this instance was being used in a homophobic manner. I think he was angry (he does have a short temper)and I think he resorted to inappropriate words to act out his anger.

Should he be fined this large amount for his short fuse? Absolutely. Everybody knows that words have power and actions have consequences. What Kobe did (if ignored by the NBA) would have sent out the message that its okay to use this word in times of anger. And the bottom line is this - its never okay to use this word.

It's also a weird issue of timing for the NBA. As the video below points out, this happens on the same day that that the league is trying to create the message that the NBA is a "gay friendly" place. If they had not taken action against Kobe, the video done by Grant Hill would have been made in vain.

So Kobe - watch your mouth. And know that when your act out, get angry, or go unchecked, there will be consequences and repurcussions. And at this moment the consequence is $100,000 out of your pocket.

Dear Mama . . .

Happy Birthday to my mom, Ms. Linda Louis Green. Today my mom turns 61. Not sure if I've ever shared the story of how I came out to my mom. Picture it - Frisco City, Alabama, 1995. I was at home visiting with my mom. I would be home for several days and she was making a list of things she wanted me to do while she would be at work the next day. Mama had met my boyfriend several days earlier but I had not yet disclosed the nature of the relationship I had with this guy. I only introduced him as "my friend."

As we were sitting at the kitchen table my mom started making a list of my next day duties. She started with, "first I want you to pay the light bill and if you could then go and pay my cable bill."

At this point I interrupted with, "I need to give Eddie a phone call."

Her response, "Who is Eddie?"

I replied, "He's the guy you meet a couple of days ago."

My mom continues, "Oh okay . . . I need you to go by the bank and make a deposit for me. Put this money in my checkings account and put this in my savings."

So I interrupted again, "Mama, Eddie and I have been dating for about a year now."

Her reply, "Who is Eddie?"

Again I say, "He's the guy you met a couple of days ago"

My mom, "Oh okay . . . and then I need you to go to the Post Office.

Me, "Mama did you hear what I just said. Me and Eddie are a couple."

Mama, "Yeah - okay."

Me, "Do you have anything to say."

Mama, "I don't know what to say. Are you happy? Cause if you're happy then I'm happy."

I remember this conversation so well because it had such a profound influence I how I would live my life. The unconditional love and support of family has a way of giving you immeasurable self-esteem. If she had expressed some disappointment of disapproval I'm not sure what I would have done. I do know this - once I had my mom's acceptance, I really didn't give a damn about what anyone else in the world thought about my being gay.

Mama - I am who am because of you. I love you and I pray that you're having a terrific birthday. I wish I could be there with you.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Last night I had an opportunity to the check out the Student of Color Organizing Conference here in Phoenix. Sponsored by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), this event was created for people of color that are LGBT high school students or allies. It was open for attendance by any student interested in becoming a community organizer. I naturally get excited about any event held for LGBT people of color and gave the local GLSEN a phone call to offer my assistance in anyway. Although I would not be apart of any of the training or learning of the day, I was able to participate in the best part, the closing dinner.

Yes, it was fun to walk in just as the food was being served but that was not why this was the best part. I say this was the best time because it was during the dinner that all the students that attended had an opportunity to share. Individuals around the room stood and shared what they learned during the event, what they will take away from the event, and what they will do now as a result of the event. All of the students on hand talked about how phenomenal the experience was. It was a pleasure for me to hear this because I’ll be the first to admit, I’d been getting a bit afraid of what the future holds for the LGBT community, specifically for LGBT communities of color. I was under the impression that the only thing young queer kids today are thinking about are Beyonce, fashion and serving attitude. Every time I think I hear something almost profound by one of the many youth I periodically encounter, it always seems to be followed by a “BITCH!”

I left the conference a bit more encouraged about the future of my community. These kids were smart, articulate, socially conscience and talented. Following the dinner the kids had a chance to take part in an “open mic” if they were so inclined to participate. Several kids shared their own poetry and one young kid braved the mic (inspite of his obvious nerves) and sang.

Following the dinner I had an opportunity to network with some of the folks of GLSEN (from the local chapter and from the national chapter), some phenomenal individuals from the ACLU and a couple of great folks from P-FLAG. It was great being able to hold real conversations about relevant issues. I always find it taxing when I'm trying to talk to someone and the only thing they're able to discuss at length is what's happening on Top Model or American Idol.

I’m riding on an emotional high following this conference. I personally want to thank the GLSEN organizers for creating a safe place for LGBT students of color. They enjoyed it and they learned a lot. lso I enjoyed it and I’m a bit more hopeful as a result.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Goodbye Shangela Laquifa Wadley

Okay - so I'm always a bit late when it comes to my RuPaul's Drag Race info. I don't actually get a chance to watch the show on the night it airs. I always go to the Logo website and catch up on the show a couple of days later. For season 3, I have seriously been pulling for my girl Shangela to go on and capture the title of America's Next Great Drag Queen. She was an underdog from the beginning. She has been doing drag for just over a year. When you look at her short tenure as a female impersonator and compare it to the experience of the other girls she was competing against, it was painfully obvious that a victory on her part would be nothing short of a miracle.

But I believe in miracles and I believed in Shangela. She has a terrific personality - hallelu. She was beautiful as a girl. And she seemed just determined enough to be able to pull it off. But there were just too many obstacles in her way. Having been involved in the drag game for such a short time she has not had time to perfect some of the crafts needed to be successful in the drag race.

Let's break it down. She was lacking in several very imporant areas. She never perfected applying make-up. That was probably her biggest falling. Putting on your face is the most important thing a boy in a dress needs to be able to do. It's not easy and it does take some time to develop this talent. She has not been doing this long enough to get it down pat.

Shangela was also not as handy with a needle and thread as some of the others girls in the contest. Now don't get it twisted, I was throughly blown away by some of the costumes and creations she was able to come up with on the show. But it did seem that her best designs were only possible because she had help from her friends on the show.

Finally, I don't think Shangela mastered one final drag queen basic. Wigs 101. A queen must be able to take a dollar store wig and magically transform it into a something even Repunzel would be envious of. But again she has not been doing this long enough to really compete with the Heathers in the house.

For a moment it did look like she was becoming like Skylar from the show Heroes. His power was stealing super powers from others. I thought Shangela had wonderful charisma. The reason she stayed around as long as she did was because she was able to "steal" ideas, help ( and probably a dress or two) from others on the show. But alas it was not meant to be. On this weeks show Shangela was once again in the bottom two and this time she had to sashay away. I bid you a fond farewell and I wish you much success.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Andrew Cooley: I Admire You

I just read this exciting story in The Advocate. Andrew Cooley was serving as deputy to the sheriff in Forrest County, Mississippi and was fired because of sexual orientation. Cooley, knowing that the basis of his termination was unjust and down right wrong, decided to fight back. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Cooley would embark on a legal battle with the hope of reclaiming his dignity and his job. And fortunately, because Cooley and the ACLU were on the side of justice and fairness, the Sheriff's department has decided to settle outside of court and reinstate Andrew in his role as deputy.

According to the article, "Cooley's was the first case of its kind in the state -wherein an employee sued a public body for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation." As a result of Cooley's action, the Forrest County Sheriff's department will be the first in the state to include a sexual orientation clause in its non-discriminatory policy.

The evolution of this case is very interesting. Cooley basically outed himself to the department when he called 911 last year. A victim of domestic violence from his then partner, he thought it would be safe to summon the police. The chief officer that responded to this initial 911 call told Cooley not to return to work until he spoke with his direct supervisor. He was fired the next day.

I just want to say kudos to Andrew for not sitting back and allowing this department to get away with discrminative behavior. It would have been very easy to sit back and do nothing. In fact many would have probably blamed themselves and thought it was okay to be terminated after being outed. Well it is not okay to be fired simply because you're gay. And everyone should feel safe going to the police when in jeopardy and there should be no fear of retaliation or undue recourse. Andrew Cooley, you are a role model for all of the LGBT community. I'm hoping we see more people standing up for themselves like you.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What Would Baldin Think of Same Sex Marriage

Interesting question posed by one of my favorite blogs. Son of Baldwin just delivered a terrific video of James Baldwin all rowled up at a question & answer session. If you take a moment to take a look at the clip you can't really understand what the question is that ws asked, but his answer is just James once again speaking power to truth. Thank you for the post and thank you for never forgetting Mr. Baldwin. You can get into the video here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Voice! Will It Be Bigger Than Idol?

Why am I only now hearing about The Voice? Apparently The Voice will launch this fall on NBC and it is their attempt to jump on the bandwagon of singing competitions. I'm loving the idea behind this show. The celebrity judges include several of my favorites - pop diva Ms. Christina Aguilera, the new king of all funk Cee-Lo Green, one of the sexiest white men alive Adam Levine, and the country artist with the most intense eyes on the planet Blake Shelton

I'll admit I am a bit intrigued by the concept of the show. The judges will not get to see the contestants while they audition. They will have their backs to the performers as they sing and they must decide whether they like the contestant based on nothing but their voice. But is it just me, or do you find it interesting that these judges were picked to judge people based strictly on their singing abilities when . . . well just look at them in the pics I've included.

I already know I'll be watching this when it comes out. I mean seriously - Christina, Cee-Lo and Adam Levine on the same show. I really do love them and inspite of their images, these are really some of the most talented people in the music business. This is a must watch for the judges alone. So I'm pulling for this to be a success. X-tina has the greatest sets of pipes since pre-crack Whitney. I could listen to her all day but let's be serious, would she be as successful as she is if that golden voice did not come in such a beautiful package?

Cee-Lo Green (solo or with Gnarls Barkley) has been responsible for some of the funkiest and baddest music we've heard from anyone in a while. I was so pulling for The Song Also Known As Forget You to win Best Song on this years Academy Awards. His song Crazy was in such heavy rotation in my house that I almost left my husband. Really - I almost snapped. I had one of those, "if you play that song one mo' time" moments. But seriously the song was great.

Mr. Levine (as the lead singer of Maroon 5) has given me some of the most soulful music I've heard from a blue-eyed crooner in many a moon. But everytime I hear him sing I think about this picture on the left and I love him just that much more. So although he is talented, it is the way he looks that draws me and many of his fans back to his music over and over again. All of these judges (Blake Shelton included) have relied on their looks to help with their careers. And it is their looks that is going to help with the success of The Voice.

I do have my concerns about the show. It will be hosted by Carson Daily who can be funny at times (and can be not so funny at times). Also this show may be coming out at the wrong time. American Idol has already started and its already down to the thirteen finalists and everyone will soon be invested in that show. And I'm gonna be real - the hype surrounding Simon Cowell's X-Factor cannot be denied. All eyes (mine included) are wondering what Simon has up his sleeve.

I've always been a fan of singing competitions (I've been one since the days of Star Search) and I'm pulling for The Voice. But I'm also excited to see what X-Factor is going to bring. Thus far everything touched by Cee-Lo and Christina and Adam Levine have turned to gold for me so I think they could make something magical happen on this show. But the charm and charisma of these folks could cancel each other out and the show could be a big old flop. We'll know soon.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Better Days: A Tribute To All Grandmothers

A friend of mine just recently lost his grandmother. Jeremy (Jay) had been keeping me in the loop of his grandmother's health progress - from dementia to a cancer diagnosis to a transition to hospice. Then he dropped by my desk earlier this week to share with me that she passed away. Her failing health had already seemed to take its toll on him and it saddened me to learn that she had now been taken out of his life.

As I was driving to work today this song which I haven't heard in years came on the radio. The video above is that song, it is Better Days by Dianne Reeves. As it played I couldn't help but to think of Jay and the grief and loss he and his family are currently experiencing. The lyrics forced me to think of my own paternal grandmother who played such an important part in my growth and my development.

I am who I am today because of Lucy Pettaway-Green. She was beautiful and smart and determined and unyielding and relentless and witty. Since both my mom and dad worked, my twin brother and I were often left in the hands of this person who loved us and cared for us unconditionally (and we never minded it one bit). She would instill in us a love of God, respect for self, and tolerance and acceptance of all of our fellow man. She taught us the value of a good education and lived by the "it takes a village" mentalilty. Honesty and integrity were her redeeming qualities. I know my desire to live a truthful and authentic life is my effort to walk a path that would be acceptable in her eyes. My current moral compass is a direct result of the principles she ingrained in me.

So as I reflect on this song and my friend Jeremy and my own grandmother, I want to take a moment to acknowledge and thank all grandmothers (and grandfathers too) just in case you're unsure of the influence you're having. The world would be a darker more hostile place if you were not around to share your love and your wisdom and your humor and your time with those little ones who look up to you sooooo much. You probably are not ever aware of how important a role you're playing in creating our future parents, teachers and leaders.

Jeremy - you and your family are in my prayers. To everyone that has lost a grandparent, I hope with time your wounds have healed and you now only have fond, pleasant memories. And for those that are still blessed to have a grandparent in your life, please show them how much you appreciate them today because tomorrow is promised to no one.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tucson Artist Needs Our Support

An artist from Arizona is in need of our support to make her picture the winner of a National Geographic photo contest. The Exceptional Experiences contest is down to the final six contestants and Jamara Sky Knight is currently in second place. Let's do we what we can to put her over the top. You must log into the National Geographic site (found here) and you must create an account if you don't have one if you would like to vote. The registration is very simple and it is so worth the time to support this artist, this picture and this story.

Tamara currently lives in Tucson with her partner. Her picture Dust Dance was taken while in Tanzania. She made her trip to Africa to help children orphaned by the HIV/ AIDS epidemic. She received a grant, collected used cameras, and taught photography these kids infected and affected by this disease that is ravishing the entire African continent.

I personally fell in love with the picture the moment I saw it. Just take a look at the faces of the kids she's captured on film. Inspite of their circumstances, these children are filled with smiles. Inspiration and optimism bursts out of the image. I have cast my vote and I am asking if you would cast yours too for Jamara.

If you would like to see more pics from her visit, please go here. These images were on display at the University of Arizona. They're simply amazing.

Please visit here Facebook page dedicated to this contest here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I Heart Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris, Attorney General for the great state of California, has requested that the state immediately reinstate same-sex marriages. This requests comes on the heels of President Obama announcig that his administrationwill not be defending DOMA in the courts. The brief was filed today with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to Harris, “both by the United States Attorney General’s conclusion that classifications based on sexual orientation cannot survive constitutional scrutiny and by this Court’s certification order to the California Supreme Court, which seriously questions the Court’s jurisdiction to decide the merits of the case.”

Harris defended her action by stating that Prop 8 proponents will not suffer any harm or injury should gay couples be allowed to marry. According to the Advocate, Harris has been a long time champion of same-gender marriage equality.

In her plea to the court, she states, "For 845 days, Proposition 8 has denied equality under law to gay and lesbian couples,” Harris said in her statement. “Each and every one of those days, same-sex couples have been denied their right to convene loved ones and friends to celebrate marriages sanctioned and protected by California law. Each one of those days, loved ones have been lost, opportunities have been missed, and justice has been denied.”

You can read her full letter to the court here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Can You Pray the Gay Away?

Yesterday in Phoenix, a local chuch decided to do its part in ridding the world of gays and lesbians. The Church for the Nations partnered with Exodus Internation and held a conference to "cure" homosexuality. According to sources on site at the conference there were over a hundred people in attendance.

The most revolting thing I heard about this conference is the number of kids who were forced to attend. Now I don't want to condemn or express hatred towards these parents as I'm sure some of them are honestly confused about this and may actually have good intentions. Parents generally want whats best for their kids and let's be honest, when you take into account the social stigma (harassment & bullying) and institutional homophobia (legal employment discrimination, the federal Defense of Marriage Act) the world is not always friendly toward members of the LGBT community. I'm sure many parents (and actually many gay folks themselves) would choose to live a life free of discrimination and bias. Take away the gay and you take away something that many people are going to hate you for.

But we need to focus on two certain inalienable facts that this conference and all in the ex-gay movement tend to forget. First - homosexuality is not a choice. And second - Christ never condemned homosexuality. The organizers of Exodus Internation have made themselves the deciding factor on what is moral and right. They have created an agenda not generated on fact but rooted in their beliefs. Nothing wrong with that per say, the basic foundation of the church is living a life based on faith (evidence unseen). But here's the problem, and it's been the problem I've found repeatedly in institutions of faith, people are using their beliefs to preach hatred, spread intolerance and wreck lives.

I've been told since I was a kid that homosexuality is a sin. This "sin" is based on the one line in Leviticas that man shall not lie with man as with a woman. Jesus Christ himself never condemned nor ever spoke about homosexuality. His basic message was this, love God and love your fellow man. But for some reason preachers still resort to Leviticas. So I'm a bit confused. If I'm a sinner for my homosexuality, does that make people that wear polyesther sinners? Leviticas also states that men shall not wear clothes of mixed fabrics. Are people that eat shrimp sinners? Leviticas also states that men shall not eat shellfish. But I won't digress. The hypocrisy of the church will always astound me. I am however tired of the condemnation of the LGBT community especially since it is contributing to lowered self-esteem, questions about self-worth, issues with guilt and shame and tendencies toward suicide.

Luckily there were two local LGBT organizations on-site to protest the practices of this organization. Chris Hall of C.A.R.E. (Central Arizona Rainbow Equality) and Meg Sneed of H.E.R.O. (Human and Equality Rights Organizers) actually attended the conference while many of their parnters stood outside and protested. I want to commend these individuals for their actions. Those outside rallied about the ignorance of such and event and those inside gathered knowledge and tried to provide resources for those LGBT individuals that were there involuntarily.

I do know this, years of research by psychologist have determined two things about gay conversion practices. First and foremost, they don't work. Second, these practices can cause harm. Donnie McClurkin, probably one of the countries most famous ex-gays has stated that his desire to have sex with men has not gone away, but he no longer acts on them. Oh really Donnie, doesn't that mean that you're still a homosexual? A person that is cured from their homosexuality should no longer have attractions to the same gender. A person that refrains from having sex is abstinent not "cured." Theres a difference.

Gay is what I am. You can not get rid of my gayness just like you cannot get rid of my blackness, my height, or my brown eyes. I can purchase contact lenses and change my eye color, in essence hiding who I am, but the reality is this - I still have brown eyes. So you cannot pray the gay away. What should be done is embracing the person with unconditional love and encouragement and a support system that will allow him/ her to succeed inspite of the obstacles the world is going to throw at them.

My prayer for those young people struggling with homosexuality is this: May God grant you love. May God grant you self acceptance and peace. May God grant the world understanding of same-gender attraction. And may God rid the world of hatred.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

The OUTside of Relationships Season 1 Episode1: Falling

The OUTside of Relationships Myspace Video

I love Quincy and Deondray and it's obvious they love each other. Ithink they have words that need to be heard for Valentine's Day. The topic of this video was fallin in love and I think they're so exactly right on everything they say.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

10 Secrets for a Lasting Relationship

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching I figured I would do a special post for those in relationships, working towards a relationship, or desperately wondering why they’re not in a relationship. Last month marked fifteen fabulous years I’ve shared with my partner. I keep hearing from my single friends (and good God there are a lot of them) about how difficult it is to find and keep a mate. So on the eve of Valentine’s day I feel I need to offer this challenge to those struggling to find their “happily ever after.” Maybe the problem is you.

I keep hearing the same arguments over and over and over again: “He just wasn’t my type.” “The dating pool is so shallow here.” “All men are dogs.” It may be time to do some personal reflections because the problems do always lie externally. Remember, the only common denominator in all those bad relationships have been YOU! And I don’t want you to take this offensively. I am in no way trying to be judgmental or sarcastic. I am sincerely trying to offer helpful advice that could point you towards a relationship that is mutually beneficial, fun and long-lasting.

Unfortunately I’ve witnessed friends repeatedly make awful relationship decisions. Now I know what works for one person does not necessarily work for the next. But there are some truths that are just universal and I feel apply to almost all couples.

So below are some notes from me that I hope will help you in your quest for the love of your life. These are my laws of relationships that all should abide by. I hope you find them helpful.

Law 1. Relationships are not based on sex alone. I have quite a few friends that are meeting their “dates” on hook-up sites. Oftentimes they meet on Adam4Adam or Craigslist and their initial face-to-face contact is exclusively to have sex. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. It is important to have a healthy sexual release. But be a realist. Know that a hook up is just that - a hook up. And for those that really do enjoy courting and dating, in the beginning the sex usually is phenomenal. As time goes on, the limerace disappears and the sex may not happen as often. This is the normal progression of a relationship. This is not a sign that it is time to flee.

Law 2. There is no happily ever after. Far too often I have witnessed friends dismiss potential partners after just one disagreement. And usually it is over something petty, trivial or just plain stupid. I mean really – is it worth leaving someone great just because he/ she didn’t replace the roll of toilet paper. In all relationships there is going to be some discourse. The only way to stand the test of time will be to reflect on how you react in the rough times. I’m not saying you need to stay in an abusive relationship, but I am saying that you will never find someone you agree from now through eternity.

Law 3. If you were miserable before your relationship then you will be miserable in your relationship. Many people long for the perfect relationship because they think it will end whatever unhappiness or depression they are experiencing in their life. I have some really shocking news I have to share with you. You will never find happiness by looking for it outside of yourself. As much as I love Anita Baker’s You Bring Me Joy, that joy is only fulfilling if you already have self love. Having a special person in your life is not going to make you happy if you cannot make yourself happy. I hate to be the one that disappoints you but that’s just the way it is.

Law 4. The perfect mate does not exist. Don’t expect to change your partner into what you want them to be. Don’t think that with your help you can make him/ her into a better person. You must love and accept your partner as is – flaws and all. This is a tricky law because it is still very important that you know what your boundaries are. You cannot expect to love a person long term that doesn’t respect you and your boundaries. If smoking cigarettes is deal breaker for you then why in the world would you think can make a smoker “the one.” There is a difference between boundaries and preferences and people often mistake the two. Know your boundaries and if you enter into a relationship with a person that does not adhere to them that is more a bad reflection on you than on your mate. Your significant other will never live up to all the things that you want in a partner. Be able to love him/her as is.

Law 5. It is okay to have separate interests. My boo loves computer gaming. If he could he would marry his computer. I really don’t get it. I’ve tried playing World Of Warcraft and it held my interest for all of thirty seconds. I have an ungodly almost supernatural love of music. NeoSoul/ R&B. Hip-Hop. Pop. Even country. My partner could care less about new music Tuesdays but each week I have to check billboard.com to find out which artists are releasing something new. I don’t harass him about his computer time and he doesn’t bother me about my CD collection. And we have found a way to meet in the middle. I love all comic movies (X-Men, Fantastic 4, Spiderman, etc). Now we have discovered Comicon and we can both have our geek tendencies fed together at one event.

Law 6. Common Values are a Must. Different interests are one thing but different values are a totally separate subject. One thing I’ll agree with my old pastor on is this - “you must be equally yoked.” That means that the core values, principles and morals of one partner must be shared by the other. Let’s be real, a Christian and a crackhead trying to make it work just aren’t going to go the distance. A person that values monogamy is not going to last long term with a person that is interested in an open relationship. You must have a moral center equal to that of your partner.

Law 7. Don’t Always Take Advice From Your Friends. As much as I think this is a no brainer, this is really one of the biggest culprits in ending relationships. I want to know how is it that my friends, most of whom are single, feel they are equipped with the knowledge to save my relationship. Now if you’re talking to someone that is in a successful long term relationship and may actually know a little something about how to make one work, by all means listen. But oftentimes your friends speak from their own viewpoint. Just because they would react a certain way in a situation does not mean that is the way you should react in a relationship. Do what works for you and what feels right for you.

Law 8. Keep People Out of Your Business. For many this rule ties closely with the last rule (regarding your friends). You know how people say “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” That should apply to what happens between you and your partner also. If there is trouble in your home and you need external help, go to a professional. There is nothing wrong with seeing a couple’s counselor. But be weary of sharing all the intimate, personal details of your relationship with others close to you. The reality is people do not always have your best interest in mind. Misery really does love company.

Law 9. Allow your partner room to grow. As I stated earlier, Chris and I have been together for fifteen. I am not the same person I was fifteen years ago. He is not the same person he was fifteen years ago. Change is a necessary part of life and as your partner evolves you need to give them the space they need to become the person they are destined to be. With patience, love, acceptance, respect and communication, everyone involved can have personal development that helps (not hinders) the relationship.

Law 10. Don’t Take Your Partner For Granted. It takes two people to make a relationship (or three or more if you’re into that). The point is, you cannot always be “me” focused if you want your relationship to last long term. Sometimes you need to give your mate the attention they need. Do something to show your affection. You will be surprised at how far a spontaneous massage or breakfast in bed or an unexpected gift can go. Do something to show your partner that you care.

I hope this advice helps someone. These rules have worked for me and I really think if you apply them in your relationship they will work for you also. But I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know everything. So if you have any additional tidbits that can help someone in their relationship, please feel free to share.

My Fitness Journal

Over a week ago my significant other signed us up for a gym membership at Lifetime Fitness. I finally made it in to talk with the membership advisor Friday night. Chris didn't exaggerate - this gym really is amazing. This place is like the cadillac of gyms. Jason - my membership advisor signed me up for a health assessment today.

At 11:00 AM I walked into Lifetime Fitness ready to find out where I currently stand and what I need to do to accomplish my goals. As I drove over I had to ask myself, do I really need a professional to tell me how fat I am? But I proceeded anyway. There was some good news and some bad news. Turns out I weigh about twenty pounds less than I thought. I won't tell you how much I weight, I'll just say this, my scale at home only goes up to 250. That was the good news. The not so good news was that according to my results my body age is 47. My body age is almost a decade older than my real age.

So its time to put in some work. I have to get my body age to match (or beat) my real age. I know I can do better. I don't drink water, I mean at all. My daily fluids include soda and coffee. That ends effective immediately. I actually changed my diet over a week ago thanks to my friend Marla. She works with me and has helped me modify how much and what I eat. This was a recent change but lets see how long we can sustain it. And finally - it's time to get moving. I have a desk job so I get almost no physical activity in my life. It'll be up to me to take advantage of the equipment and the classes that Lifetime Fitness has.

I'm gonna need prayer and support and encouragement as I go forward. I know I have friends that will be rooting for me. My partner used to be physical trainer so I know I have what I need at home to keep me focused. So here we go . . .

Monday, February 7, 2011

National Black AIDS Awareness Day

In case you didn't know it, today (February 7) is National Black HIV/ AIDS Awareness Day. It is a day when many cities will host events that address HIV and its impact on the African-American community. For those that are unaware, Black folks only make up twelve percent of this country but we make up half of all new HIV cases. It is unfortunate but we are the new face of HIV for the U.S.

HIV is listed as the number one cause of death for African-Americans between the ages of 25 and 49. And the trend over the last few years has been toward an increase in numbers (not a decrease as we would like to see). Somehow we are missing the message. HIV, a preventable disease, is on the rise.

It is estimated that about twenty-five percent of those individuals that are HIV positive are unaware of their status. This means that they are unknowlingly contributing to the transmission of the virus. This is why it is so important for us to get tested. Knowing your status is the all important first step. Knowing your status means you get yourself the treatment you need if you are positive. Knowing your status means you respect yourself and your partners. And knowing your step means that you are doing your part to eliminate HIV transmission.

I still vividly remember my very first HIV test. It was 1993 and I was at the Pike County Health Department in Troy, Alabama. Looking back I had really not engaged in any risky behaviour at the time but during this period any sex was considered risky sex. In the early 90s there was no such thing as a rapid test. You had to wait two weeks before your results came back. Two very drooling weeks. Fourteen of the most painful, heart wrenching, mind numbing days of my life. When your two weeks were up you had to call the office to get your results. I had already heard how things would go. If all was well they would give you the results over the phone. However, if you were told you needed to come into the office, then this was a very bad sign.
Exactly two weeks later I called the clinic to find out my results. As my granny used to say, "I was nervous as a whore in church." I gave my name to the person that answered the phone and my heart stopped at her reply. "Jason, were going to need you to call us back tomorrow or come to the office tomorrow." I honestly didn't know how to respond to that. I couldn't think. All I could do was say "Okay." The following day I drove down to the office only to be told that "all is well. You're test came back negative." Turns out my results were not in yet on the first day that I called.
Almost two decades later and I have to say this disease has changed so much. The lifespan of individuals infected has changed. The resources available to positive individuals has changed. And the community affected has changed. However, for those individuals that still refuse to get tested and ignore all the data available about HIV - if you choose to remain ignorant, you will be infected/ affected exactly like those we lost in the 80s (back when we knew almost nothing). So I encourage to to get in the know to take care of yourself, your family and your friends.

Get informed. Get involved. Get tested.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Learning Our History

Who says the future looks bleak for the LGBT community? My faith in the young people of our community is being affirmed more and more everyday. The teenagers in this video took the time to sit down with some more mature individuals from our community to learn their stories.

I think this video is sooo powerful. I love the fact that two different generations have come together to create such a beautiful and educational narrative about LGBT life. One of teens in this video said it perfectly. "There is no class on gay life so if you want to learn anything you have to go to the source."

Because the LGBT community was invisible for so long, now that there has been an emergence of gay culture, we do now need to document our history. We need to learn what it was like for our community members back when it was unlawful, immoral and even psychologically inappropriate to be same gender loving.

Great job to all involved in this project. Please continue to keep up the good work. More stuff like this is needed for the community.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

It's Our Anniversary

I met my partner fifteen years ago today. Wow - crazy huh? We don't really celebrate this as our anniversary. We actually celebrate March 15 as our anniversary as that was the date we had our committment ceremony. But I think the date we met is still an important milestone that needs to be remembered. So to Christopher James Stevens - Happy Day I Met You Anniversary!

Picture it. Troy Univeristy. 1996. Sigma Chi fraternity was having their rush week and this would be their first big party for the semester. I am a brother of Phi Beta Sigma fratnernity and had never attended a rush party for a predomintely white greek organization. I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. But I had a friend that wanted to pledge and he didn't want to go to the party alone. So (in an effort of support) off I went to attend a Sigma Chi party.

It was exactly what I was expecting. Lots of drinking. Lots of boy on girl action and stupid fraternity craziness. Being gay and not being a drunk - I ended up standing in the hallway all evening talking with the one Sigma Chi brother that seemed to be able to hold a real conversation. I had no clue whatsoever that this frat boy played on my team. I did not get that vibe from him. But nonetheless I still enjoyed spending most of the evening with him. Then the next day I got a phone call from him (which was weird considering I never gave him my phone number). Apparently he went to one of his brothers to find out who I came with, then he tracked down my buddy that waned to pledge and asked for my number. Although this projected some of his stalker tendencies, I was still a bit impressed. And here we are fifteen years later - still together.

I have to tell you this - I love being in a relationship with this man. I love coming home to a man that I find beautiful, kind, and intelligent. He is supportive - and this alone is a heavy burden as I am involved in so many different things. He is encouraging - I don't think I would have ever finished my first book if he wasn't always harrassing me with "how's your book coming?" And I really appreciate the fact that he is not demanding or high maintenance.

I won't pretend that every moment with him has been wonderful. As with any relationship, there is the good and the bad. But for some reason neither of us has gone running during the bad. I'm not really sure why that is. Many people I know end their "relationship" after the first argument. I've never really understood that because you will never find a person that you are in complete agreement with 100% of the time. If you do find this person - either you're masking your feelings or they are masking theirs. No two people will ever be on total accord.

I sometimes wonder if we're still together because we had great relationship role models. Chris' parents are still together. Lee and Carol Stevens are still very happily married after all these years and they really seem to like each others company. My parents, Linda and Eugene Green, were together until the day we lost my dad to lung cancer. I've seen them happy and I've seen then sad. I've seen them fighting and I've seen them make up. But no matter what - they were always there for each other. So we both grew up in homes where we witnessed successful relationships and we know that "happily ever after" doesn't really exist.

Looking back over the many years we've been together I can't help but think about that song by Paul Jones. The lyrics basically said, "I've had some good days. I've had some hills to climb. I've had some weary days and some sleepless nights. But when look around and I think things over, all of my good days outweigh my days so I won't complain."

My good days with Chris far outweigh the bad. I know we've had fights before but honestly they are so few and far between that they've become irrelevent. And I am not one of those people that tries to remember what happened in a fight so I can use it as a weapon later.

So at this moment, fifteen years after the day we met, I think I'll keep him. He makes me laugh which is very important. He's got my back no matter what and he's proved this over and over again. I can talk with him about anything (I'm very much an introvert so many of my conversations actually happen in my head -but when I need to talk he is there). And I still consider him one of the sexiest people I know.

So again to Chris - Happy Day I Met You Anniversary. I'm anxiously looking ahead for fifteen more great years.

Invisible Heroes: A Black History Month Program

The Invisible Heroes celebration will be a different type of Black History Month program in that the individuals recognized are ones we don't traditionally see in history books or at other Black History month events. Invisible Heroes will recognize several same-gender loving African-Americns for their accomplishments. For this first of its kind celebration (for Phoenix) - those individuals will include Emile Griffith, Octavia Butler, James Baldwin, Pat Parker, Bayard Rustin and Barbara Jordan.

It is unfortunate that the great works of many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) black folks went unnoticed because they were not successfully embraced by either community to which they belonged. Traditionally the black community has not accepted or embraced gay and lesbian folks. And racism within the LGBT community has seemingly produced a parallel affect by ignoring the contributions of its brown and black members.

But inspite of the odds the individuals being recognized did not allow racism or homophobia to stop their agenda. These individuals ignored the glass ceilings. These individuals kicked down closet doors. These individual pursued their dreams passionately and they deserve to be honored for making their mark in this world. All of their stories are inspirational.

This years event will honor a politician, a civil rights activist, a poet, an author and an athlete. Emile Griffith was one of the greatest boxers ever and would become a six time world champion. Octavia Butler has written countless science-fiction novels and was the first sci-fi writer to receive the McArthur Foundation Genius Grant. The contributions of James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin to the African-American civil rights movement are immeasurable (one would serve as the voice of this generation and the other would become a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr). The poetry of Pat Parker is radical, timeless, moving and motivational. And Barbara Jordan (one of the greatest orators ever) would become the first Black woman from the South elected to the U.S. Congress.

Why are these individuals invisible? Why are their stories not more commoplace? Are their achievements only significant to those other individuals that walk simultaneously between two different communities? Do you have to black AND gay to be inspired by them? These individuals should serve as heroes to all and hopefully the Invisible Heroes Celebration will shine some well deserved light on them.
The Invisible Heroes Celebration will be held at the One Voice Community Center (725 W. Indian School Road) in Phoenix, Arizona. It will be from 6:00 - 7:30 PM on Tuesday, February 1.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hell Yeah I'm Gay

I am so in love with this song. I'm not exactly sure who these girls are or where they came from but this song is off da hook. The hook is just so damn catchy. I've now watched it about six times in a row and now I'm forcing myself to walk away from the computer. But before I do I just have to say for all to know . . ."hell yeah I'm gay and I don't care what people say!"