Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

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!"

Friday, January 7, 2011

The ABCs of Coming Out

Well it's finally done. I have completed my first book. This has been a work in progress for a couple of years now and the process is now complete. I'm pretty active in community and I have met many wonderful individuals on my journey. Unfortunately I have heard far too many coming out horror stories along the way. My friend Raymond shared with me how his family kicked him out of the house and refused to have any communication with him after his church [he was Jehovah's Witness] excommunicated him. My friend Paul told me how his father beat him mercilessly after learning he had a crush on another boy. I've heard countless tales of people that have lost their jobs because they were gay.

I wrote this book because of those stories. I don't want another individual to have to endure the pain and suffering that can result from coming out. Coming out should not yield isolation and depression. Coming out should not make you want to take your life because of the shame or guilt. On the contrary, it should bring you closer to friends and family; and it should give you a sense of freedom and pride. Coming out should be a personal revelation that allows you to walk in truth knowing that you are being honest with who you are.

For those that have doubts or fears about diclosing your sexual orientation, The ABCs of Coming Out offers advice on how to prepare for the conversation, things you need to know prior to disclosure, and possible consequences (and ways to avoid them) following disclosure.

Coming out was one of the greatest things I have ever done. It is only because of coming out that I have been able to enjoy fifteen years with my wonderful partner. I have a terrific relationship with my friends and family based on trust and mutual respect. And I am able to navigate through this world (at work, in church, and through the community) with the knowledge that I don't have to lie about or hide who I am.

I want my LGBT brothers and sisters to experience the same joy that coming out has done for me. My hope is that this book could be used as a vessel to get to that place where you are comfortable enough and strong enough to speak your truth. Coming out is freedom and I want everyone within the same-gender loving community to experience this freedom.

To purchase the ABCs of Coming Out please go here. The ABCs is also is available at Changing Hands Bookstore (6428 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe AZ 85283) and at Off Chute Too (4115 N. 7th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85013).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Marsha Ambrosius - Far Away

Wow!!! That's all I can say is wow. Has anyone else seen the new video by Marsha Ambrosius. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE watch it above. Ambrosius (formerly one half of the British neo-soul duet Floetry) just made one of the most powerful videos I've seen in a mighty long while. "Far Away" is Marsha's way of lending her voice to bring attention to LGBT bullying and suicides.

In my last post I spoke about LGBT artists that we need to support, but apparently you don't have to be a member of the gay community to make a profound musical statement that can help gay and lesbian individuals. Marsha proves this in the "Far Away" video which is part public service announcement, part love story but all beautiful, soulful and spellbinding.

I've loved Marsha Ambrosius for years. I loved her in Floetry and even had the wonderful opportunity to see her in concert twice. I was wondering what would become of that angelic voice once the group went defunct. Well it's great to learn that she is still on the music scene writing wonderful songs for other artists (she has penned hits for Michael Jackson, Alicia Keys and Jazmine Sullivan) and working on her own solo project.

Her first single from her upcoming project was "I Hope She Cheats on You." I played it so much my friends had to host an intervention. The song was catchy and fun and had a nice hook. Ambrosius totally surprised me by releasing this as her second single. I think its a risky choice because is running the chance of alienating some of her fans but she is sending a message that needs to be heard by all.

Kudos to Marsha Ambrosius. Loved you in Floetry. Loved your first single. I now worship you because of the video to your second single. And I can't wait to hear what your album sounds like. I will be in the store on week one to show my love. Late Nights and Early Mornings by Marsha Ambrosius will be in stores February 11.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Black and Gay in Music

Can an African-American recording artist be out and successful? That is the question. There are many phenomenally talented black gay singers and rappers who are out. Some started their rise to the top and then came out of the closet (i.e. Donnie, Tonex, or the artist seen in the video above Rahsaan Patterson). Some artists are out from the start (Tori Fixx or Meshell N'Degeochello) and attempt to launch their career without regard to the stigmas attached to being gay and being a person of color.

It appears to me that their are many that are buying into this notion that you can not be black & gay AND be creative, talented, successful and relevent. Teven Campbell had one of the most beautiful voices in the world but when the news about his sexuality made national news we never heard from him again.

Thank God that we are now witnessing an era of artists that are playing by their own rules. Meshell N’Degeochello continues to make wonderful music and continues to sale records. Tonex (now going by the name B. Slade) came out of the closet running and he hasn't slowed down since. He refuses to hide silently in the shadows like many of his former gospel colleages would like. Tori Fixx is setting the world on fire as an out black hip hop artist with alot to say and he is finding wonderful ways to say it. Billy Porter has the greatest voice ever. Nhojj is simply beautiful and he has a voice like an angel.

We as black gay individuals need to be supporting these individuals. Call your urban radio show and request for these artists to be played. Go to your local music store [if you still have one] and purchase one of their CDs. Or go to I-tunes or Amazon and legally purchase some of their songs. All of the individuals listed above are phenomenally gifted and are extremely smooth on the ears. Take some time to get to know them and their music.

Monday, January 3, 2011

AZ Grants Domestic Partner Benefits to Same-sex Couples

Today I was speaking to a friend who happens to work for the state of Arizona. He was really excited because the state has decided that it will grant same sex domestic partner benefits to its employees. I was floored. Could the state that seems to be moving the country backwards with regards to race relations be doing the right thing for the LGBT community?

Then the conversation continued and I was floored again. Apparently there are many people that work for the state that are angered by Arizona's new actions. It seems that although this priviledge is being extended to same gender loving couples that work for the state, heterosexual couples will not be allowed to take advantage of this benefit.

So now I'm torn. It this right or wrong? As a gay man who has been in a relationship with my partner for fifteen years I am thrilled to learn that this benefit will do a small part in granting us benefits we are not entitled to because we are not allowed to legally marry. But on the other hand is okay to deny straight couples a similar benefit? They do, afterall, have the ability to "tie the knot" if they really want the benefit.

I don't work for the state so the decision will not affect me one way or the other. I'm fortunate enough to work in the corporate world for an employer to recognizes and values its LGBT employees and really does promote and celebrate diversity. But I have many friends that are employed by Arizona. Some are going to love this new plan. Others are going to lose health care for their significan others because of this decision. So I'm looking for feedback from others, is this the right thing to do?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

RuPaul's Drag Race - Season 3

I can't wait for this to begin. Who knew Ru would come back and be as fierce as ever. I was hesitant about watching season one but I was hooked from the first episode. The right girls made it to the top and I would have been happy for Raven or Bebe to be crowned but it would be the diva from Cameroon (Bebe Zahara Benet) that took the title.

Season two was equally as thrilling. I must admit that I didn't really care for the other Tyra when the show began. If you've seen the show then you know, she was a bitch. But you can't deny the fact that she always looked phenomenal when they made it to the runway. She did deserve to win this season.

Now I can't wait to see what season 3 brings us.