Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Thursday, June 18, 2015

My Thoughts on Rachel Dolezal

I know I'm several days late on speaking on the Rachel Dolezal story, but  I usually like to process things for a while before I speak on them.  I will admit I feel a bit confused by the story.  Why in the world would a white women chose to identify as African-American?  She obviously did NOT do it for any type of advantage.  Being black in this country does nothing to get you ahead in anything. 

Bur for some reason, here is a lady that identifies as black (even still) and chooses to immerse herself in black culture, black life, black academia, black institutions.  She was moving along just perfectly in her little world until her parents threw her under the bus.  This is the part that just seems so strange to me.  Parents are supposed to love, nurture and support their children.  These parents saw an opportunity to out their child and grabbed that chance to shame and embarrass her before the world.  REALLY?!?

The thing I'm most confused about has nothing to do with Rachel.  It has everything to do with most people's reactions to this story.  I get being curious.  I get bewilderment.  I get lack of understanding.  What I don't get is the anger that's being thrown her way.  So what if she identifies as black!  She has a doctorate in African-American studies.  She attended Howard University.  She is [was] president of the NAACP.  For some reason she has an affinity with and a connection to black folks. I don't know why, but she does.  

And it's not like she hi-jacked her black identity and did nothing with it.  Her doctorate in African-American studies is a tremendous accomplishment.  I'm sorry, but it is.  And apparently, she was very successful in her role as President of the Spokane NAACP chapter.  She did not idly hold her seat.  She was an active member of the black community in Spokane and did a lot for the community.  Now I have not researched her contributions to the community, this just seems to be the sentiment coming from blacks in Spokane that know her. 

So while I do not get where she's coming from, I still cannot say that she has generated any type of hostile feelings in me. I'm sorry but I ain't mad at cha.  It's an interesting story but I do not feel it is deserving of all the attention it is receiving.  I probably isn't even deserving of my simple little write-up.  But I had to share my two cents.  And there you have it.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dancer Dudley Williams Dies at Age 76

I am a huge fan of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.  I am late with this news, but apparently four days ago, an elite dancer from the troupe, Mr. Dudley Williams passed away at his home in Manhattan at the age of 76.  Although no cause of death has been given, it has been said that there is nothing suspicious about it. 

Dudley was born and raised in New York City and became interested in dancing while very young.  He was waiting on his uncle who was taking voice lessons at a local art school and there Dudley witnessed one of the school's dance classes.  He immediately fell in love with the art of movement.  At the age of 12 he began training with Sheldon Hoskins school in Harlem and from there he would go on to train at New York's High School for the Performing Arts.  After graduation in 1958 he received a scholarship to Julliard.

Dudley performed with many illustrious dance companies including those of May McDonnell, Donald McKayle, Talley Beatty, and Marthat Graham.  Then in 1964 he joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater where he would showcase his talent with spectacular solo dances and dynamic performances with the troupe.

To see the wonderful tribute the New York Times did for this dancer, please go here.

And to see one of his terrrific performance, please see the video below.  Rest in peace and rest in power Dudley Williams.  The world will miss your talent.

The Prancing Elites Promote HIV Testing

I am really enjoying this first season of The Prancing Elites Project.  I'm not aware of how they are doing as far as ratings go, but I really hope people are tuning in and getting to know this fantastic group of young men that "just want to dance."

The dance troupe is made up of Kentrell (the captain), Adrian, Jerel, Kareem, and Timothy; and I must say I am loving them and I am loving the show. Maybe I'm biased because I am a native of Alabama and the Prancing Elites live in the bay city Mobile.  Maybe I'm biased because I used to do Jay-sette routines when I first came out and would go to the clubs or would go to house parties.  Or maybe it's just a great show with a fun and adorable cast  that are fun to watch week after week.

Several weeks ago Kareem got sick and was unable to perform with the elites; and he would not open up about what was happening.  He just simply stated, "I'm going through some personal stuff." As the show continued his health only got worse.  Then last week he finally revealed to the guys that he tested positive to HIV.  Upon his revelation, he was embraced with love and support.  After the tears, the elites shared that they loved him no matter what and that they would always be available to help him get through whatever he was going through. 

On tonight's episode of The Prancing Elites Project, the group decided to hold an event to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS.  They partnered with an AIDS Service Organization in Alabama and jointly sponsored the "Dancerama, No More Drama, Get TESTED, Tell Your Mama!" HIV Awareness event. I could tell from angles of the cameras that there were not many people in attendance of the event.  But as a person that has been hosting community events for years, I know that you're not always going to get the number of people you want.  And knowing the homophobia and AIDS probia that exists in Alabama, I can imagine that not many people wanted to attend knowing there was a great chance they would be broadcast on national television.

The truth is, if there event encouraged just one person to get tested and know their status then the event was a success.  I wish continued success to the Prancing Elites and I pray that Kareem gets tied into the services he needs to help him live long and healthy after his cero-conversion.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the elites bring me next week.  

Blackesque: The QueErotic Music Tour

Blackesque, The QueErotic Music Tour is coming to Phoenix tomorrow night (Monday, June 8).  As a Black same-gender loving man, I believe in supporting all creative efforts by other members of my community.  As a resident of Phoenix, we rarely receive visits like this so I feel compelled to break my old man curfew and see the men and women (and trans folk if applicable) that make up this interesting troupe.  

Knowing nothing about the tour, the artists, or the history of Blackesque, I took a stroll through the Facebook invite I received. I found a burlesque performance that looked simultaneously exciting and frightening.  I found a hip hop artist flowing on par with the best rappers in the game.  And I found a girl and her guitar, fantastically strumming away on the strings and singing with a soulful and phenomenal voice.  These were just clips (running anywhere from 15 through 30 seconds), but I imagine they only want to give a snippet of what they offer in an effort to entice you to come and see the full performance in person.

Well, it worked.  I will be there.  And hopefully the queer community of Phoenix will show up and support.  I specifically want to encourage LGBT people of color to come out and support these artists because it's so important that we promote and support our own.

Blackesque: The QueErotic Music Tour will happen tomorrow night at 7:00 PM at The Gallery, located at 1229 Grand Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85007.  You can learn more about the event by visiting their Facebook page here:

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Pop Artists Videos featuring Gay Couples

I am so in love with Jennifer Hudson's new video.  "I Still Love You" tells the story of a young gay couple getting ready for their wedding day.  The video opens with one partner calling his father and leaving a voice message, inviting him to the ceremony.  He states before hanging up the phone, "Inspite of everything, I still love you."  Powerful words that set the ground for a powerful video.

However, Jennifer Hudson is not the first mainstream, Top 40 artist to feature a gay couple in her video. As I watched her video, I started to think about other artists (specifically people of color artists) that have embraced the LGBTQ community. This is just a list of my top five favorite moments where gay love has been showcased in the video of pop artists.

5.  Murs is a rap artist, not a pop artist, but he still makes my list.  His video to "Animal Style" pre-dated Macklemore's "Same Love" and Frank Ocean's coming out.  I label him as one of the first within this genre  to help start the shift away from homophobia and transphobia towards one of inclusion.  More strides need to be made, but we have many great allies which include the likes of Jay Z, Russell Simmons, P. Diddy, and Will Smith.  Get into "Animal Style" below:

4.  Ricky Martin is getting hotter as he gets older.  Coming out has definitely agreed with him.  He continues to release great music.  His new stuff is very different from the "Shake Your Bon Bon" and "Living La Vida Loca" dance and sweat kind of songs.  This has more soul.  This tells a story.  This is more meaningful.  The song "Disparo al Corozon (Shot to the Heart) is from his latest, all Spanish album A Quien Quiera Escuchar.  The video features a newly married gay couple.

3.  Ashanti has evolved tremendously since she stepped on the scene.  In her latest project, Braveheart, I can hear how she has grown.  And in the video to "Never Should Have," I appreciate how the love of a gay couple is just one of several couples featured.  Seemingly showing that same gender love is no different from any other form of love.

2.  This is the video that inspired this list.  The song is just fabulous.  Poignant, catchy, dance-able. Jennifer Hudson has resonated with gay folks since her days on American Idol.  We really embraced her when she took on the role of Effie White in Dream Girls.  We loved her even more as Carrie's assistance in the Sex In the City movie.  Her vulnerability in dealing with the tragic loss of her family, her courage in publicly tackling her issues with weight, and let's not forget the fantastic voice have launched into the status of icon. And for releasing this wonderful video, Jennifer Hudson, I still love you.

 1.  As much as I love Ms. Hudson, I love the following song just a little bit more. Marsha Ambrosius' "Far Away" features a black gay couple and brings attention to suicide within the LGBT community.  I've been a fan of hers since she came on the scene as one half of the neo-soul duet Floetry.  I continued to support her in her solo endeavor.  This video served as a public service announcement, bringing awareness to homophobia and bullying against, and depression and low self-esteem within gay men.

Honorable mention to diva Toni Braxton.  This performance is from her 1998 Billboard Awards performance.  The video quality is not the greatest but it's the only version available on YouTube.  I remember my mouth hitting the floor watching this performance when it went from ballad to uptempo dance hit.  Featured front and center was a gay couple dancing.  The cameras tried hard to avoid the couple but Toni 's strategic placement (dead center) made this impossible to do.  This was very taboo for this time.

A big kudos to all of these artists.  I sincerely believe efforts like these play a significant part in shaping the public conscience and making the world a more friendly place for lesbians and gay folks.