Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Saturday, December 31, 2016

10 Most Interesting People of 2016

10.  AMANDLA STENBERG.  I'll be the first to admit that Amandla Stenberg never crossed my radar until she came out.  She starred in Colombiana and if I'm being honest I don't recall anyone but Zoe Saldano and her exceptional performance in this. Also she starred in The Hunger, which I have never seen and actually have no desire to see.  She has been getting quite a bit of notice since she came out.  Initially she came out as bisexual. Then later she would later self identity as "non-binary" and as an "intersectional feminist."    A winner of the Ms. Foundation "Woman of the Year" award, Stenberg stated "Bisexual is a word I am not attached to, it implies a dichotomy that doesn't take into account trans people.  So maybe pansexual is more accurate for me."  

I am noticing more and more millennials and younger individuals rejecting labels and embracing a more fluid sexuality and I am loving it.  Amandla's position on sexuality is not unique, it is shared by other peers of hers, but it is still not commonplace.  And being in the public eye and boldy professing this earns her a spot on interesting people for this year.

9.  TITUS BURGESS.  Is effimiphobia still a thing or have we finally moved beyond that? Burgess' phenomenal break out role as Titus Andromedon on Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt has been just beautiful to behold.  If you're a fan of the show, can you see his face and not want to scream "PINOT NOIR?" And if you're not a fan of the show just look it up on YouTube.  His song Pinot Noir is an ode to black penis. 

Since his success on the show he has gone on to actually launch his own real line of Pinot Noir wine and he was wrapped shooting of Season 3 of Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt.  In season 2, Titus went off and found himself a boyfriend.  I  am looking forward to seeing how this relationship will unfold in the upcoming season.  Also, Titus has an amazing voice (but you won't know it by listening to Pinot Noir - that one is just for fun, it is not a showcase of talent).  So I am also looking forward to hearing him exercise his vocal chops as well.


Produced by Whoopi Goldburg and Whoop/ Ho Productions, this show embraced a beautiful all trans cast and made an effort to help all of them break into the modelling world.  There were several familiar faces on the show.  Isis King was a contestant on Tyra Bank's America's Next Top Model. She came out as trans on that show.  Female to male model Laith Ashley almost broke the internet when his shirtless pic went viral and the entire world refused to believe a man this beautiful could have been born female.  And Tyra Allure Ross had gained a tiny bit of notoriety when she began modeling in the 90s in New York, but her career was short lived when tea about her trans identity started to spill around the community.  I must admit, I would probably love anything that addresses issues of transphobia and tackles the many issues these individuals encounter on a daily basis.

7.  LEE DANIELS.  Season 3 of Empire continues to keep its audience on the edge of its seats.  Jamal Lyons (Jussie Smollet) is one of the few black gay characters we see on TV nowadays.  And Cookie (Taraji P Henson) still steals the show every single time she comes on screen.  But just when we were wondering if Daniel's TV success would be limited to just Empire, we got a glimpse of his next project, Star.  Although the series won't officially launch until 2017, the pilot of the show aired already and I'll be the first to say, I'm already hooked.  With established star power like Queen Latifah, Benjamim Bratt, and  Lenny Kravitz on the roster; and the three young triple threats that are  leading the series, this looks to be another Lee Daniels project that is going to having the kids gagging for more.  I still love Empire.  I'm already in love with Star and I've only seen one episode.  Now, let's wait and see what Mr. Daniels has next in store for us.

6. KEHINDE WILEY.  Never before have I seen an artist I have been this excited about.  Perhaps it's because his work depicts black folks in noble and extraordinary poses.  Perhaps it's because he is openly gay and and successful so I see him as a role model for myself and many other young LGBT people of color.  Primarily, I'm excited about him because his work is just spectacular.  It is just a privilege to see his art up close.  And fortunately for me, Phoenix Art Museum decided to exhibit his work as a part of their artist series this year.  The exhibit is currently still in the city and I'll be the first to admit I have made several trips to see it.  The exhibit is beyond exceptional. It contains small, gold stained pieces inspired by his studies in Russia, massive paintings that can encompass an entire wall, breath taking stained glass works, and some simply beautiful sculptured pieces.  Wiley visited Phoenix for the kick-off of the exhibit and to deliver a lecture at Phoenix College where he discussed his college studies, his post collegiate art studies abroad, and the inspiration for his various projects.  I will remember both the lecture and the exhibit for years to come.


I keep thinking one day this girl is going to slow down, but OH NO!  I swear every year she just does more and more.  I have been a fan of RuPaul's Drag Race since it started.  Every season she gives me more and more drag queens that I become fans of.  But the things she has done with Drag Race go beyond just the show and they are amazing.  Drag Race has parlayed into music videos from Ru, more music CDs from Ru, successful music careers and drag careers from many of the contestants and two seasons of Drag Race All-Stars. Also, she would go on to create RuPaul's Gay For Pay Game Show, and become a judge on Skin Wars.  And she still manages to find time to make cameos in shows like The Real O'Neals, Happy Endings, and The Muppets.  Let's face it, Ru is the hardest working man in Hollywood, and she ain't slowing down no time soon.


Phoenix Mercury star Britney Griner was one member of the U.S. Olympic Women's basketball team. They would defeat Spain's women's team for the gold. Caster Semenya is a South African Middle Distance Runner.  She is the 2016 Gold Medalist in the 800 meters event.  Nicola Adams is a British boxer.  She is the first woman to win an Olympic boxing title.  She is the 2012 and 2016 Gold Medal recipient in the Women's flyweight division.  These were just some of the examples of the brilliant women and men from across the world that stood out and proud as they waved their rainbow flags simultaneously as they waved the flags from their respective countries while participating in this years Olympics.  For all of these out athletes (and those closeted athletes who still fear disclosure) I salute you.


I can't say this repeatedly enough or loudly enough, I love Todrick Hall!  I may be twenty years his senior but I'm impressed by drive, I admire his courage and I am simply in awe of his creativity.  For a kid who was eliminated pretty early on when he attempted American Idol, I have to say, I think it was in his best interest not to move any further on that show.  His popularity took off several years ago thanks to his YouTube videos.  In 2015 we saw him with his own show on MTV.  But 2016 he has shined more than ever before.  His video Straight Outta Oz was released to YouTube and I swear I watched about twenty times.  So many parts just felt autobiographical for me.  And then I learned he would replace Tony Award winning Billy Porter (another fave of mine) as Lola in Broadway's Kinky Boots. This kid is just fierceless.

2.  TARRELL ALVIN MCCRANEY.  Moonlight was hands down the best thing in cinema this year and probably the best thing we've seen since Y2K [I may exaggerating a bit based on personal bias].   This film is based on a play written by McArthur Genius Grant award winner, Tarrell Alvin McCraney.  His play was entitled In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.

The big screen adaptation was written and directed by Barry Jenkins.  This epic movie tells the story of a young black gay man.  His childhood, adolescent years and young adulthood all unfold before us in the movie.  But here is where the appeal of this movie gets a bit odd.  I wanted to see the film because I too identify as a black gay man.  But the audience lining up to see this in the theater goes far beyond just black gay men.  It reaches further than just members of the LGBT community.  There is an energy about this project that is attracting white, black, straight and gay.  For some reason, all races, genders and sexual orientation have been drawn to it like a moth to a flame.  It has been nominated for countless awards but I can't wait to see how it does at the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.


June 12 of this year we witnessed the worst homeland massacre and terrorist attack since 9/11.  A single gunman went in Club Pulse and murdered 49 people and injured an additional 53. In a club that had one way in and one way out, the men and women that died that night had no options for safety when the bullets began to spray around the club.  So many frightful and sad stories emerged. Like the story of the one guy that called his mom and told her "I'm going to die tonight."  And the story of the one girl that said she only survived because she laid in the middle of a bunch of other bodies and played dead herself.

It was amazing the way the entire country rallied together following this tragedy.  Candlelight vigils were held in virtually every major city.  The push to make this an all inclusive healing was obvious. There was a definite effort to make sure that all Orlando related events included all faiths so as to minimize any national divide that could result.  The nation was already suffering from a  major case of Islamophobia.  Many wanted to make sure this tragedy did not drive us to the brinks of a religious civil war.

I must say, it was great to see the country suddenly concerned about the welfare and safety of the LGBT community.  The reality is, this was not the first time a massacre like this happened in a gay club.  In 1973 the Upstairs Lounge (a gay bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans) fell prey to an arson attack leaving 32 gay men dead.  Folks celebrated the killing of gay folks then.  And some folks said, following Orlando, that not enough people died at Club Pulse.  But there are way more allies on our side now than there were in '73.  And I would argue that our journey as a community (same gender loving folks and our allies) are headed in the right direction.  We organized quickly following Orlando showing the power in numbers and the strength of community.

Club Pulse dealt us a huge blow.  But we're still here at the end of 2016.  Still standing.  Still organizing. Still marching. Still dancing. Still helping.  Still serving.  And we will not be stopped. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love it!