Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas to All

Here's hoping that you and your loved ones will have the Merriest Christmas and a Happy New Year. I am spending the holidays in the NYC area and may not blog frequently for the next 10 days. I will do an occasional post as the opportunity arises. There is so much to do here, and I intend to take full advantage including spending a little time with No4real4real this week. I have already spent 2 nights with Maxim in the DC area and look forward to stopping in there on New Year's day on my way home. Looks as though I won't get to see THE COLOR PURPLE on Broadway as I had hoped (sold out until January), so I am going to try for RENT.

Shem hotep!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Fire Week/Weekend in DC - A Forty Year Old Secret Is Resurrected (Part II)

On Saturday, I met Kelley for coffee at Starbucks. We have fraternal connections as well as roots in the same part of our home state. Turns out we know some folks in common that I had just as soon not had to remember. During our casual conversation and lattes, he mentioned the name of the church that he had grown up in. Well, even the church name holds memories for me that I had tried to bury long ago. As a kid growing up, I was real active in my church and attended church conventions in nearby towns. As you younger generations have read, there were no motels/hotels for black folks to stay in during the 60's. Instead, members of the church would host conference participants. When I was 12, I attended a Sunday school convention and was assigned to stay with a church family composed of 3 brothers and a sister (all of whom were in their late 40's to early 60's in age). None had ever married and they lived in the home built by their parents at the beginning of the 20th century. When Kelley told me the name of his church, a forty year old memory that I have continually kept quiet about found its way into words. Last month, only Maxim had ever heard me mention something had happened to me as a child, and I was very general leaving out a lot. I told Kelley that some members of his church had molested me, and he was able to name them right away. Shock.

Since, sex and especially homosexuality had NEVER been discussed in my home or community within earshot of us kids, I was as dumb as a concrete block. Boy, did I get educated, confused and shamed real fast. Bottom line is I was molested those 2 nights by two of the three brothers. I managed to avoid penetration, but everything else was done including oral sex, fondling, french kissing (you get the picture). My tears had no effect on them. In looking back, the oldest brother who didn't touch me was in his 60's and had probably had enough youngsters. The other two had twin beds in the same room, and I was required to go back and forth from one bed to another. I never was given a bed to sleep in alone. They kept close to me at church and made sure to buy me things at the stores after the church meetings ended each day.

The sister had a young girl who they had "taken in" sleeping with her. Looking back, I still see Brenda's sad, downcast eyes as she climbed the stairs each night to go sleep in that room. They had also "raised" a boy from the community who left home and cut off all contact with them. I could understand why he would do that. Later, I would understand their concern was not so much for his welfare as it was for whether he would tell the world what they had probably done to him as well.

I learned from Kelley that all of the brothers are dead now. The sister is well into her nineties. I am in a way, grateful to Kelley for being there and bringing this to the surface. Each time I have thought about it, I have been depressed and pushed the memories away. It has been a private hell. Perhaps now the healing begins.

In part III, I will blog about my visit to a DC church that welcomes and affirms single gender loving folks. Shem hotep.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Another Family Member

In July, I wrote about MySon2 who died of AIDS in July 2003. You never seem to recover from these losses, and hardly a day goes by that I don't miss him. His journey from knowing that he was HIV+ to dying of AIDS was 3 short years. I know people are living longer now HIV/AIDS through the use of some very powerful drugs. I also have met through blogging friends who use alternative medicines, treatments and meditation to control the effects of the disease.

Last weekend, a family member whom I am closest to was admitted to the hospital for extreme exhaustion. The early diagnosis was kidney failure and anemia. Of course, more blood work was required to find out the causes of these two events in his body. The answer is back, and he is HIV+.

He is strong and in otherwise good health, so the prognosis is encouraging. He reads my blog, so when he is released from the hospital and gets around to catching up, I want you to know - I LOVE YOU, CUZ and I got your back.

Shem hotep.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Fire Week/Weekend in DC

I had meetings that took me to the District for several days last week and kept me there through the weekend. Well, just as I had good times in ATL and NYC, DC was not to be left out of the running. The first night was meet up night with Maxim (we hung out in ATL and DC, too). We used dinner at Café Salsa in Old Town Alexandria as our place to catch up on everything that may have happened to/with our friends since the NYC trip. Of course, we didn’t miss the opportunity to observe some of the hot Latino waiters in the restaurant. In fact, the vision of the wait staff combined with the Puerto Rican piononas (beef picadillo wrapped in sweet plaintains) and several glasses of sangria that rivaled my experience in Spain put this eatery on my list of “definitely go again.” That’s my own special rating system for restaurants – those on the “go again” list are 3 stars or better. Since the night temps were bit frigid, we called it a night early, especially knowing that would not be the case on Thursday night.

Now Thursday night reminded me of my undergraduate days when the weekend began on Thursday and ended on Tuesday (every week). Wednesdays were the day off from partying. Tandy joined Maxim and me for Ben’s Chili Bowl on U St. in NW before we headed to Busboy And Poets to catch my friend, Tim’m West’s Front Porch 1st anniversary celebration. If you caught my blog last week, you know that a fire destroyed Tim’m’s usual space at Café Mawonaj. Being the resourceful person that he is (we Duke men know how to handle business – lol), he turned to Bus Boys and Poets and secured the stage for his show. We arrived during open mic and heard the spoken word on loss of friends to AIDS. This was especially significant since it was also World AIDS Day. Tim’m came from his heart with his spoken words from past published works and from his blog. Complementing the show and complimenting the life work of Tim’m was a performance by Monica McIntyre accompanied by her sister Marcia. Monica is an accomplished cellist while Marcia commands the audience attention with her mastery of the classical violin. Together, these two women cover the full range of emotion as told through their music. The most touching moments of the evening came with Monica’s unexpected dramatization of a young women learning from her doctor that the health issues she is experiencing is a result of her having contracted the AIDS virus. You felt the devastation, hurt and betrayal in her characterization of the black female victim whose supposedly monogamous relationship turns out not to have been so monogamous. Monica indicated this was the first time she decided to perform this soliloquy. I encourage her to continue to perform and refine this piece because the message is so vital. If you get an opportunity to catch her in Philly or some other venue, I recommend her to you.
From Bus Boys and Poets, we headed downtown to the Bachelor’s Mill on 8th St. in SE. In addition to having a reasonable cover charge - $5 – the boys in there, were as hot as any I saw in NYC or Atlanta Pride 2005. The music was raging, the energy level high, and for the first time, I was in a club where I could dance, enjoy every minute of it, and not wish the track would end so I could leave the floor. Not only that, I met two guys right off from my home state. It’s a shame that we must leave the Bible Belt in order to have the true freedom to fully develop as loving human beings. Anyway, Rocky and Will did just that and the self-assuredness they have developed was evident. Dance floor downstairs, bar and lounge upstairs, outside secluded area upstairs, and heavy drinks (no watered down stuff here) makes for a highly rated evening in DC (and that's just on Thursday). We left around 2 am when the club closed. Tandy is well known and liked in the DC circuit although he had been away from the scene for a minute while pursuing a love interest. So leaving was made difficult by the number of guys who wanted to holla and renew old acquaintances. In addition, Maxim has more than a few friends some of whom are eager to renew and pursue a relationship with him (he really is a phyne 23 yo who knows it - don't let that go to your head when you read this).

Next entry about "A Fire/Weekend in DC" will talk about a 40 year old secret came out on Saturday.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Domestic Abuse and Violence in Gay Relationships (Part IV)

This final entry concludes the interview with Libra03. Remember, if you're a victim, seek help. If you're an abuser, seek help.

Fratman1906: Let's shift gears. Have you ever been a victim of abuse or violence?
Libra03: I dont know if i would say I was a victim, but me and my first fought once
Fratman1906: How and why did that happen?
Libra03: Jealousy my behalf.....funny thing is that we wasn’t even together at the time...just living together
Fratman1906: What led to the fight?
Libra03: Well, we didn’t have the healthiest relationship. It was my first gay relationship so I knew nothing aside from all that what led to the fight was that he was sneaky to me, and I never trusted him.
Fratman1906: And when you got into the fight, did you leave each other after that?
Libra03: I became like almost obsessive with jealousy, but yes we broke up.
Fratman1906: What did you learn from that episode?
Libra03: We have incidents prior to this one though, usually with me hitting him. It was unhealthy and there really was no point. Funny thing is that I viewed it as a fight between to males at the time. Now I see it differently.
Fratman1906: It was still violence within a domestic/romantic relationship.
Libra03: yes...and it was because I didn’t know how to direct my anger and frustration with him.
Fratman1906: There doesn't necessarily have to be one stronger and one weaker person in domestic violence situations. Both may be equally yoked, but physical or mental abuse is still problematic. Is this the person whom you pushed through a window?
Libra03: Yes, during our last fight that happened. It was my actions that started it but he hit me first. The thing is at the time I looked at it as we are both males and it was self defense. I think most people look at it that way and that is why they remain in those situations
Fratman1906: You said this was your first gay relationship. How long had you entertained the idea of hooking up with another male? Were you out? How long?
Libra03: I wasn’t out....I always knew i was interested in guys....I met him when i was 21, and this happened over the span of 2-3 years.
Fratman1906: Did this have any effect on your subsequent relationships, especially involving long term partners?
Libra03: If anything it helped me for the better. I can remember Friend and me getting into an argument one night, and it could have escalated to a fight.
Fratman1906: Did your previous experience help you to pull back?
Libra03: did. I was not interested in fighting him, but he told me later that he felt as if he wanted to fight me.
Fratman1906: Why do you think he felt that way?
Libra03: He was really angry and intoxicated. Something happened prior to that he didn’t like. He doesn’t like to feel controlled and I think that is the way he felt with me sometimes. Not that i tried to control him, but it came off that way
Fratman1906: Do you think Friend is comfortable with his sexual orientation or still coming to grips?
Libra03: I think he is way more comfortable since he was with me. I think he will agree that I made him more comfortable with himself
Fratman1906: Having witnessed Jason & JM along with your own experience, what advice would you give SGL couples and is there anything else you want to add?
Libra03: That no matter if its a male/male or female/female or male/female relationship that violence between partners is still domestic violence. Its no different just because you are the same sex and ceteris paribus; it is still domestic violence. In this type pf situation the healthiest thing for you to do is remove yourself from it because I think that the level violence is worst in gay relationships than hetero relationships. I don’t have the reason why but I would surely like to find out why.

Shem hotep!

Friday, December 02, 2005

World AIDS Day - December 1, 2005

Forever in my heart. I miss you guys:

Thomas J.
Richard C.
Robert F.

The world can never be the same because you left us much too soon.
With great sadness,
Your friend forever.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tim'm West Celebrates the 1st Anniversary of the Front Porch at Busboys and Poets in DC

Live in the DC/MD/VA area? Or are you going to be in the District on Thursday Dec. 1 (like me)? Then come hear/see/experience one of the best hip-hop artist around as Tim'm West celebrates the 1st anniversary of the "Front Porch." Tim'm has been recognized by everyone from Keith Boykin to Newsweek magazine for his fantastic talent. Normally held on the first Thursday of each month at Cafe Mawonaj in DC, the show will take place instead at Busboys and Poets.

Here are details followed by a word from Tim'm:

December 1 , 2005
Front Porch at BusBoys and Poets
Celebrate Our 1st Anniversary Show!
As Tim'm presents "The Front Porch"
family, flow, friends, funk
Busboys and Poets
14th and V Streets, NW
(near U Street Metro/Green Line)
Washington, DC
9pm FREE!!!!
December (World AIDS Day)
Monica McIntyre (Philly) with Marcia McIntyre
Ayanna Muhammad (Chicago)

Monica McIntyre is a talented cellist, vocalist, and lyricist who started playing the cello at the age of 7. Ms. McIntyre is originally from Hyattsville, MD where she studied classical cello for 11 years. Monica came to Philadelphia, PA to study Fashion Design at Drexel University. Her debut album Blusolaz was released in October 2003. Monica has performed at The Black Women's Art Festival 2003, Philadelphia Fringe Festival 2003, Soul Sista's Jukejoint GA 2004, The Philadelphia Underground Music Phestival (PUMP) 2004 and Women Against Abuse 2005. She was also featured in BInformed Magazine 2004, The Writer Blocks 2004, Philadelphia Arts Writers (PAW) 2004, MagnaPhone Magazine 2004 and The City Paper, PA 2004. Look out for Abuse, Monica McIntyre's newest project to be released in the Fall of 2005. She will be joined on December 1st, by her sister violinist Marcia McIntyre!

Ayanna Muhammad is a Chicago native who has become very active in the LGBT community. She is a model, actress, dancer, writer and performance artist who uses her talents as a platform to entertain and inform. In her latest and dearest venture as a spoken word artist, Ayanna has traveled the country sharing her words and experiences with her national LGBT family. As an educator, she has worked with groups of gay, lesbian and trans teens building a network of resources and providing safe spaces and activities. Her students have volunteered with HIV/AIDS organizations doing community education/ outreach projects and providing direct services to HIV/AIDS positive patients and their families. This spring, Ayanna’s first collection of poetry, Raw Sugar, will be published with a national tour scheduled for the summer of 2006. Ayanna is a member of a lesbian performance group, POW-WOW Poets, in Chicago.

And now an open letter to you from Tim'm:

Dear Front Porch Family,

Spirit moves in remarkable ways. Something was bugging me while teaching at school on Tuesday and I came home earlier than normal with a fatigue I couldn't explain. Soon after arriving home, I started getting word from several sources that Café Mawonaj, the site where I've been holding the monthly soul/spoken word/hip hop showcase "The Front Porch", experienced a fire over Thanksgiving weekend, leaving the equipment and kitchen damaged and the space, generally uninhabitable (details at the very end of this message). Please show them your support as they try to rebuild their space in a community that much needs their presence and sense of awareness.

I immediately thought about the relevance of celebrating one-year of the "Front Porch", a safe space where people embrace the intimacy and fellowship of "family", friends, and sharing, much like I grew up experiencing as a kid on Arkansas front porches. I thought about the Ayanna Muhammad and Monica McIntyre traveling from Chicago and Philadelphia, respectively to honor one-year of this tradition. The show would have to go on. Being a pretty resourceful guy who has performed in a variety of venues in DC, I thought about alternative locations in the NW area that would be just a few minutes away, in the event that people don't get this notice and have to rely on signs posted at Mawonaj.

I called Andy Shallal, owner of Busboys and Poets, who I had the good fortune to meet on several occasions during poetry or literary events there. Busboys and Poets seems an ideal space for the event because of their teaching and activist bookstore, their excellent restaurant, as well as their dedicated space called the "Langston Room", named after Langston Hughes, who himself was a busboy and a poet while he lived in DC. The Langston room has been a inspirational repository for cutting edge performance, film, and literary showcases. Andy Shallal was incredibly understanding and sympathetic to the crisis at hand and permitted me to advertise our move to Busboys and Poets for the December Anniversary event!!! We begin the event at 9 pm rather than the usual 8 pm, so it is important that people get there promptly. The space is open so you are even encouraged to eat or grab a bite at the usual 8 pm and enter the space as soon as it becomes available. This will undoubtedly mean a shortened open-mic session, but you'll certainly have an opportunity to hear Chicago's Ayanna Muhammad, Philly's Monica McIntyre (who will again be joined by her sister, Marcia), and your host, that Tim'm guy. December 1st is also World AIDS Day, so I've asked that the features bring at least a piece of work that honors the occasion and our commitment to the cause beyond this date.

I ask that you spread the word to as many as you know about the change in location. Upon your arrival, I also encourage you to let the staff at Busboys and Poets know how grateful you are that they've opened their doors to us. I had already pitched moving the "Front Porch" to their space, but they couldn't, at the time, secure every first Thursday. Perhaps a strong show of support can help them reconsider that decision-- help them realize that there's no other space like the "Front Porch" (anywhere) and that supporting and preserving it, in a space committed to activist arts and education, is a match made in heaven.

Thank you for your indulgence, and I look forward to celebrating one year of the "Front Porch" at Busboys and Poets with you on Thursday evening!

Tim'm T. West

And from the Fratman1906, shem hotep!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Domestic Abuse and Violence in Gay Relationships (Part III)

Earlier, I provided entries on this topic from discussions with friends who have been victims of domestic partner violence within gay relationships. You have heard from Maxim and Tandy. Now hear the interview of a young man who observed violence between his friends and was involved in incidents of his own.

Fratman1906: Hello Libra03. Thanks for agreeing to talk with blog readers and me on this serious topic. As you know, I have posted on this previously after talking with some victims. You bring a different perspective, and I hope that your forthrightness will educate some folks who may be suffering right now and need a little push in the right direction. We have talked about domestic abuse. Let's start with your observations from having to go to an emergency room to be with someone who has been a victim. Tell us about that.
Libra03: It was weird to be an outsider looking in at this; it was almost like a dream. I knew that the two of them had a violent relationship but I didn’t know it was that serious. It all began over the two of them messing with the same boy.
Fratman1906: Did you know they were messing with the same boy? How did they find out about each other?
Libra03: I didn’t know that...well here it is.... the one who is more my friend is named Jason and has this friend from VA that he calls his little gay son, and who comes up from time to time. Apparently one time he came up and the two of them had a sexual encounter. Jason has a live in lover that he is off and on with named JM who found out about Jason and his buddy and in return decided he was going to get even and hook up with the friend as well.
Fratman1906: Did JM and Jason have fights b4?
Libra03: Of course but nothing of this severity that I’m aware of.
Fratman1906: Was one pretty much dominant over the other? That is was one constantly a victim and the other an abuser?
Libra03: No, both were equally as bad. Well, it all came out and the drama began. It was August, the night of Brooklyn pride and also JM's birthday
Fratman1906: How did the violence begin? Were they fairly even in size or was one much bigger than the other?
Libra03: Equal in size. Jason is a little shorter but overall equal. Jason promised JM that he was going to ruin his birthday. It all began with arguing in the club. Jason wore this t-shirt that read something like “I mess with only the best” or something like that. The two of them were arguing outside and in the club; mix that with drinks and it’s a mess. JM is also the person who throws parties at this nightclub called The City. Jason called the police and said that they were selling drugs in there and that it was over the allowed capacity. The cops came and closed the party. No one knew what had happened except me because I was there when he had called.
Fratman1906: Go on.
Libra03: So now party over...we were supposed to go over to their house in Brooklyn for more partying...Jason and JM house. While we were on our way there, we get a call asking where we were and I that is when all of the fighting began at the house. When we pulled up, there was an ambulance sitting out front with the back doors open. Then my buddy and I walkover there because he noticed a pair of timberlands outside the ambulance. We find Jason bleeding from his head. It was a mess...blood all over his clothes and everything. I was in awe and immediately asked what happened. He said that JM and his two friends came to the house and jumped him. So, we went to the hospital and he was given a staple in his head.
Fratman1906: Was this fight one of several physical fights that they had had aside from arguments?
Libra03: Yes.... but nothing of that severity; that was over the top. Apparently, JM came home, John had people over there, and the door was locked. He was upset about that and he told everyone to get out his house. Actually, JM’s two friend are the ones who told Johns friends to leave. When they left, John went to get his shoes to leave as well but John and JM got into it, and the fight began. Then John and JM's friends started fighting. Believe it or not, the two are still living together and I am sure still involved.
Fratman1906: That was going to be one of my questions, if they were together now.Libra03: Yep...they have a really nice place in Harlem but they have torn it up from all the fighting--holes in the walls and broken doors

To Be Continued As Libra03 tells of his own domestic violence...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Albuquerque Pride Logo Contest - Need Your Vote

Fellow blogger, Kenneth Winfrey, has submitted his logo design for the Albuquerque Pride 2006 Logo Contest. Voting is open to every one. He needs your vote (you don't have to live in New Mexico to vote). Let's help him by voting. Click his design at the right to go to the voting page. Shem hotep.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Failure of the Black Church

by Rev. Renee McCoy
"The Church must seriously work to develop ways of ministering to Black Lesbians and Gays, or else it must stop preaching an all accepting, all liberating gospel and calling itself a church. The good news of the gospel is that God's love is for all people unconditionally. "

I couldn't agree more. In NC, the NC General Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church took positions to deny affiliation to churches that accept openly gay members. They ignore the message of love preached by Jesus Christ in the New Testament and rely heavily on the Old Testament instead. As one minister so aptly points out, Christ never spoke on homosexuality.

Now, let's have conversation on this one. I am not trying to "expose homophobic ministers," but rather to have a true dialogue on the biblical interpretations that underly the homophobic rationale for exclusion and condemnation. Shem hotep.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I know that I need to finish the post about my weekend in NYC. I had a small disaster at my condo last week when the toilet tank cracked (stop laughing) and pumped water all day throughout my condo. The insurance company had everything removed and stored in a "Pack-Rat" in my parking lot. I have been living like an itinerant for several days with neighbors and friends. My DSL will be back up this weekend. Meanwhile, this dial-up is too slow for my blogging needs. Stay tuned. Happy Thanksgiving and shem hotep!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Beyond a "Wicked" Weekend

We got a later start than planned on Saturday. That translated to trying to get into NYC to see the Broadway play, "Wicked," about 30 minutes after start time. Nonetheless, we settled into our seats and watched a very good performance. Go see it if you haven't already. It will definitely make you see the good/bad witches of Oz in a different light. Now anyone who knows me knows that I like to eat. So, we headed up to Harlem to hit Sylvia's Restaurant on Malcolm X Blvd. I recommend the smothered pork chops everytime. I can't seem to get around to trying anything else on the menu because I am so hooked on these tender, succulent chops that make you wanna suck the bone - (oops, is that a double entendre?).

Then it was on to Chi-Chiz to meet up with Maxim's new friend, Palmer. I really like the atmosphere and company of Chi-Chiz because I wasn't the oldest one there :-) And the easy interaction of young and old, hip hop and old school, was really refreshing.

From Chi-chiz, we head up to X El on W. 16th St. This is a very different mix compared to the Octagon. The interracial crowd is made up of straight and gay couples in an upscale atmosphere. There is a lot of dressing in black going on here. The music pumps but there is no room to dance. It is a good place to meet friends, have drinks and plan where to next.

After X L, I drop Maxim and Palmer at a crib in NJ and head back to my hotel. At 3:30 am, I am counting on getting a few hours sleep before heading back to NC. That was until I got this phone call in the parking lot and ...

Monday, November 14, 2005

A "Wicked" weekend in Oz! I need some rest.

Finally, something to blog about. This past weekend. Whew. I figure from reading my fellow bloggers that life in the community can be pretty interesting in some areas of the country. Well, as many times as I have been to NYC, I have not had one quite as adventurous (for me) as this one. First, it was a holiday weekend because of Veterans Day (VD) which gave me an extra day to travel. I usually try to do something predictably enjoyable such as taking in a play. The lucky winner for me was "Wicked" on Broadway.

I first learned of this one through lunch with my fellow blogger No4real4real last summer (thanks and a great big hug on this one to you). Since Labor Day weekend was already taken up with 2005 Atlanta Black Pride, the earlier I could go was VD. Most times I do these alone or with family. This time, I invited Maxim who luckily had the same holiday off from his job. We hooked up Friday and hit the Big Apple on Friday night. I need to digress a moment to tell you that Maxim knows the NY-NJ area well and took me to a little greasy eatery in West Orange called "Jimmy Buff's" that turned out to have some of the best sausage and potatoes in pizza pocket bread that I have tried (pocket bread? Yeah, that's what I said - lol).

Ok, after a quick "ho-nap" at the hotel, we headed to Christopher St. around midnight. Our first stop was at this gay bar called "The Hangar" where we met up with Maxim's college roommate, Reader. Reader is a transplanted Brooklynite who is actually from my part of the Old North State. He will 'read' you and tell you quickly about what he sees in you even when, as Maxim points out, "it ain't pretty." We also wait for Maxim's new interest, Palmer, who will be joining us throughout the weekend. Palmer comes in with Jazzi.

From The Hangar, we all headed up to the Octagon Club on West 33rd St in Manhattan. If you are looking for 20s to 30s year old hot boys who know how to party, this is a spot for you. The music was non-stop hip-hop and the models/dancers were off the chain. Those boys knew how to work it and, in the words of James Earl Hardy, they were JOOD. Since this was my first time (hell yeah, I'm a late bloomer), I pretty much watched the scene. Next time, lawdy- lawdy, I intend to party! Shortly after 5 am, we call an intermission to our activities. Btw, the best time to travel through the Holland tunnel is 5:30 am. No traffic at all, no back ups. We were alone. And I thought NYC was the city that never sleeps. Ha.

Anyway, I gotta do some other things right now, so I will continue with a part 2 about Saturday night, Chi-Chiz and X L Bar & Lounge. Shem hotep!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

America's High Tech "Invisible Man"

By Tyrone D. Taborn
You may not have heard of Dr. Mark Dean. And you aren't alone. But almost everything in your life has been affected by his work. See, Dr. Mark Dean is a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is in theNational Hall of Inventors. He has more than 30 patents pending. He is a vice president with IBM. Oh, yeah. And he is also the architect of the modern-day personal computer. Dr. Dean holds three of the original nine patents on the computer that all PCs are based upon. And, Dr. Mark Dean is an African American.So how is it that we can celebrate the 20th anniversary of the IBM personal computer without reading or hearing a single word about him? Given all of the pressure mass media are under about negative portrayals of African Americans on television and in print, you would think it would be a slam dunk to highlight someone like Dr. Dean.Somehow, though, we have managed to miss the shot. History is cruel when it comes to telling the stories of African Americans. Dr. Dean isn't the first Black inventor to be overlooked. Consider John Stanard, inventor of the refrigerator, George Sampson, creator of the clothes dryer, Alexander Miles and his elevator, Lewis Latimer and the electric lamp. All of these inventors share two things:One, they changed the landscape of our society; and, two, society relegated them to the footnotes of history. Hopefully, Dr. Mark Deanwon't go away as quietly as they did. He certainly shouldn't. Dr. Dean helped start a Digital Revolution that created people like Microsoft's Bill Gates and Dell Computer's Michael Dell. Millions of jobs in information technology can be traced back directly to Dr. Dean.More important, stories like Dr. Mark Dean's should serve as inspiration for African-American children. Already victims of the "Digital Divide" and failing school systems, young, Black kids might embrace technology with more enthusiasm if they knew someone like Dr. Dean already was leading the way.Although technically Dr. Dean can't be credited with creating thecomputer -- that is left to Alan Turing, a pioneering 20th-century English mathematician, widely considered to be the father of modern computer science -- Dr. Dean rightly deserves to take a bow for the machine we use today. The computer really wasn't practical for home or small business use until he came along, leading a team that developed theinterior architecture (ISA systems bus) that enables multiple devices, such as modems and printers, to be connected to personal computers.In other words, because of Dr. Dean, the PC became a part of our daily lives For most of us, changing the face of society would have been enough. But not for Dr. Dean. Still in his early forties, he has a lot of inventing left in him.He recently made history again by leading the design team responsible for creating the first 1-gigahertz processor chip. It's just another huge step in making computers faster and smaller. As the world congratulates itself for the new Digital Age brought on by the personal computer, we need to guarantee that the African-American story is part of the hoopla surrounding the most stunning technological advance the world has ever seen. We cannot afford to let Dr. Mark Dean become a footnote in history. He is well worth his own history book.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

And The Beat Goes On.

Ok. I know I haven't really blogged about anything exciting in a while, but that's the way life is for us baby boomers. Not a whole lot happens that is exciting in any way. So, for what little bit is going on, here are my recommendations:

1. If you haven't seen Tyler Perry's production (up close and in person), go see it if it is in your area. My ex and I went last week to see it and I laughed until my jaws hurt. This show was Medea Goes to Jail and it was one hilarious show. At times, even Perry gets to laughing at himself as Medea and has to catch his breath. On the serious side, Tyler is a gifted actor and a great humanitarian. He is donating $1 million to his hometown of New Orleans for Katrina relief.

2. This weekend I am going to see "Men Cry In the Dark" being performed at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. I will blog about it after the show. Stay tuned.

3. Y'all know by now that I am an absolute fan of my frat, Rashid Darden. If you haven't read Lazarus, then what are you waiting on? You won' t be disappointed. Help a brother out, here. This is his first novel and there is more to come.

4. Then read Down For Whatever by Frederick Smith. I did, and I am glad I did. Not only that, I had the opportunity and pleasure of meeting Fred in ATL during Pride (I still have a high from Atlanta Pride and can't wait for next year). Fred is down to earth, and I am hoping to get my alma mater to sponsor him for a book reading/signing in the near future.

5. Coming up, Maxim and I are going to see "Wicked" in NYC during the Veterans Day weekend. No4real4real told me about this play during our meeting in CT this summer, and since I am a Broadway junkie, I began making plans to get back to NYC and see it. Now is the time.

6. Speaking of No4real4real, he has been having some difficulties of late. Stop by his blog and show some love. He is one cool dude who will not let stumbling blocks get in his way. As he says on occasion, "He stomps with the big dogs." Holla at him.

7. Another blogger whom I consider to be really sharp on many issues is Kenneth Winfrey. He is self-employed (so give him some business), but if you keep up with Keith Boykin's website, Kenneth is a frequent (and eloquent) poster. Agree or disagree, you cannot take away from the intellectual prowess of this brother. Just look for the long responses to identify his observations (I am sure he will respond to this comment - "wink"). He also posts on Keith's blog and has started several interesting threads.

Ok. This got longer than I intended, but this is the word for now. Shem hotep.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Bridge Builder

To those who are struggling or have struggled to articulate the cause of justice for L/G/B/T/Q men/women, I commend this poem (and especially to Keith Boykin - thanks for all that you do):
The Bridge Builder

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide --
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?"
The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pit-fall be,
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."

by Will Allen Dromgoole

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Romeo and Romeo Get Equal Treatment in Kansas

(Kansas Justice Marla Luckert should be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court instead of Harriet Miers, IMHO)
Kansas high court rejects harsher treatment of gay sex

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas cannot punish illegal underage sex more severely if it involves homosexual conduct, the state's highest court ruled unanimously Friday in a case watched by national groups on both sides of the gay rights debate.

The Supreme Court said in a unanimous ruling that a law that specified such harsher treatment and led to a 17-year prison sentence for an 18-year-old defendant "suggests animus toward teenagers who engage in homosexual sex."

"Moral disapproval of a group cannot be a legitimate state interest," said Justice Marla Luckert, writing for the high court.

The defendant, Matthew R. Limon, has been behind bars since he was convicted in 2000 of performing a sex act on a 14-year-old boy. Had one of them been a girl, the state's "Romeo and Juliet" law would have dictated a maximum sentence of 15 months.

The court said Limon should be resentenced within 30 days as if the law treated illegal gay sex and illegal straight sex the same, and it struck language from the law that resulted in the different treatment.

"We are very happy that Matthew will soon be getting out of prison. We are sorry there is no way to make up for the extra four years he spent in prison simply because he is gay," said Limon's attorney James Esseks, of the American Civil Liberties Union's Gay and Lesbian Rights Project.

National health groups and the National Association of Social workers had filed legal arguments supporting Limon's position. A conservative law group, Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, helped prepare written arguments from 25 legislators in support of the law.

Limon and the other boy, identified only as M.A.R., lived at a group home for the developmentally disabled. In court, an official described M.A.R. as mildly mentally retarded and Limon as functioning at a slightly higher level but not as an 18-year-old.

Limon's attorneys described the relationship with the younger boy as consensual and suggested that they were adolescents experimenting with sex.

Attorney General Phill Kline's office has described Limon as a predator, noting that he already has two similar offenses on his criminal record. Kline contended that such a behavior pattern warranted a tough sentence and that courts should leave sentencing policy to the Legislature.
His office had no immediate comment on the ruling.

Kansas law prohibits any sexual activity involving a person under 16, regardless of the context. The 1999 "Romeo and Juliet" law specifies short prison sentences or probation for sexual activity when an offender is under 19 and the age difference between participants is less than four years — but only for opposite-sex encounters.

A lower court had said the state could justify the harsher punishment as protecting children's traditional development, fighting disease or strengthening traditional values. Friday's ruline said the Kansas law was too broad to meet those goals.

"The statute inflicts immediate, continuing and real injuries that outrun and belie any legitimate justification that may be claimed for it," Luckert wrote.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Speech That Didn't Happen (But Is Loud and Clear)

(Keith Boykin was denied the promised opportunity to deliver the following speech at the Millions More March. I am reproducing it on this blog, as are other bloggers, so the contribution of the Same Gender Loving community is amplified and proclaimed. This is in no way intended to take away from Cleo Manago's speech, but rather to add to it.) Shem hotep

Remarks Prepared for Delivery at The Millions More March Saturday, October 15, 2005By Keith Boykin

Good Afternoon. Today I am honored to stand here at the Millions More Movement March as a representative of the National Black Justice Coalition, the country’s only national civil rights organization for Black lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people. The National Black Justice Coalition strongly supports the goals of the Millions More Movement for unity and inclusion of our entire community.

In February of this year, Minister Farrakhan and I participated in Tavis Smiley’s annual “State of The Black Union” event in Atlanta. During a press conference that day, Minister Farrakhan announced that women and gays would be encouraged to participate in today’s March. “The makeup will be our people, whoever we are,” he said. Then he added, “Male, female, gay, straight, light, dark, rich, poor, ignorant, wise. We are family. We will be coming together to discuss family business.”

After the press conference, I spoke to the Minister and I introduced myself. “Minister Farrakhan,” I said, while shaking his hand, “My name is Keith Boykin, and I am a Black gay man. And I want to thank you for your inclusive comments about gays in the Million Man March.” Without missing a beat, Minister Farrakhan responded to me with a long, warm embrace. “Brother, I love you,” he said as we hugged. “We are all part of the family. We are all part of the same community.” That was an historic moment.

Ten years ago, I joined more than a million of my brothers on this very location for the Million Man March. At that time, there were no openly gay, lesbian or bisexual speakers at that March. This time, however, I am able to speak here today as an openly gay man because of the courageous leadership of one man – Minister Louis Farrakhan. I publicly and honestly thank him and salute him for the invitation to speak. The diversity of speakers assembled here today is a powerful signal that we in the Black community will not allow ourselves to be divided by differences of opinion, religion, gender, class or sexual orientation ever again.

As Minister Farrakhan himself said in August, “we must not allow painful utterances of the past or present, based on sincere belief, or based on our ignorance, or based on our ideology or philosophy to cripple a movement that deserves and needs all of us—and, when I say all, I mean all of us.”

Earlier this week, two of my colleagues and I sat with Minister Farrakhan, his wife, his daughter, and his son, and with Rev. Willie Wilson, the executive director of this March. Minister Farrakhan said it was the first time he had ever sat down with a group of openly gay and lesbian African Americans. Let me be honest. It was an intense, passionate and candid meeting where both sides shared their pain and frustration with the other. At the end of the discussion, however, we made progress. We realized that there are no “both sides” of the table. There is only one side, and that is the side of justice.

So today I accept the olive branch offered by Minister Farrakhan and Rev. Wilson and offer an olive branch of my own. We acknowledge the hurt and pain that has been caused by both sides in our past conflicts, and we fully commit ourselves to heal the deep wounds that have hurt us. Thank you, Minster Farrakhan and Rev. Wilson for the love.

We have disagreed in the past and we may disagree in the future, but we all agree that we must move forward together. We all agree that we will not allow ourselves to be manipulated by the media to create divisions among us. We all agree that we are stronger together than we are apart. And we all agree that the struggle for the liberation of our people is more important than our individual differences of opinion.

Fifty years ago, Ralph Ellison wrote, "I am an invisible man. . . I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. . . . When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination -- indeed, everything and anything except me." Ralph Ellison was talking about the invisibility of the African American, but the same could be said of Black gays and lesbians.

When Dr. King spoke at the 1963 Civil Rights March, he called on one person, Bayard Rustin, a Black gay man, to organize that march. When Duke Ellington performed “Take The ‘A’ Train,” he called on one person, Billy Strayhorn, a Black gay man to serve as his composer. And when Black actors and directors put on performances of “A Raisin In The Sun,” they call on one person, Lorraine Hansberry, a Black bisexual playwright, to serve as their muse.
Black culture as we know it today would not exist without the words of James Baldwin, the poetry of Audre Lorde, or the choreography of Alvin Ailey. That is why I am here today – to honor their legacy.

But I am also here to honor the living heroes and sheroes of today. My good friend Phill Wilson likes to say that our people cannot love us if they do not know us. So I want you to know who we are. I want you to know the activist Angela Davis, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Author Alice Walker, the Grammy-nominated recording artist Me'Shell Ndege'Ocello, Editor-at-Large and former executive editor for ESSENCE magazine Linda Villarosa, and the former Adviser to New York Mayor David Dinkins, Dr. Marjorie Hilll.

And I want you to know the living male heroes. Men like New York City Council Member Phillip Reed, Former Mayor of Cambridge Ken Reeves, Mayor of Palm Springs Ron Oden, Bestselling Author E. Lynn Harris, and Harvard University Chaplain Rev. Peter Gomes.
And finally, I want you to know that we are your brothers and sons and fathers. We are your sisters and daughters and mothers. And we are your cousins and nieces and nephews as well. We cannot separate ourselves from the larger Black family because we are an integral part of the Black family. We raise our families, we send money to our nephews, and yes we sing in the choir as well.

The issues that affect Black gays and lesbians are issues that affect all Black people. Last year I sat in the living room of a young mother who had lost her child to violence in Newark, New Jersey. Her 15-year-old daughter, Sakia Gunn, was murdered because the killer thought she was gay. When black homosexuals and bisexuals are murdered, black heterosexual family members still have to bury their kin. What happens to Black gays and lesbians directly affects black straight people as well.

HIV and AIDS is the leading cause of death for young Black people, gay or straight. Forty-five million Americans do not have health insurance, and too many of this group are Black, gay or straight. Unemployment is still too high among Black people, gay or straight. We are all connected.

When Black people were forced to sit in the back of the bus, Black gay people were forced to sit in the back of the bus. When Black people could not vote, Black lesbians could not vote. And when Black people are beaten and abused by the police, Black bisexuals are beaten and abused by the police.

We share the same goals and aspirations as the rest of the Black community, but none of us can accomplish those goals without unity and courage. We all need courage in our lives. It took courage for you to come here today. It took courage for Minister Farrakhan to invite me to speak today. And it will take courage to heal the wounds that have divided us for far too long.
In the timeless words of Audre Lorde, "When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision – then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." So I say to you today: Be strong, be proud, be courageous.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Without Coffee, watch out

That day was one of those days that didn't get off to a good start. I got out of bed late, didn't have time to go to they gym before going to work, and worse yet, didn't get my first cup of coffee before having to talk to anyone. The last is particularly bad news for folks because I am not even trying to be civil without caffeine in my system. I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON! I NEED COFFEE!!

Anyway, one of my staff (LaShandra) and her supervisor were waiting at my office door. LaShandra is upset that I talked to one of HER clients without consulting her first. Keep in mind that LaShandra reports indirectly to me and I have responsibility for ALL of the clients. Plus, the need to talk to the client arose after LaShandra had taken her azz home early on Friday afternoon.

My good friend Rashid often quotes a portion of the movie "Kill Bill" in situations like this that perfectly describes what happened next. Here is Lucy Liu's lines:

O-Ren Ishii: As your leader, I encourage you from time to time, but always in a respectful manner, to question my logic. If you're unconvinced a particular plan of action I've chosen is the wisest, tell me so. But allow me to convince you. And I promise you, right here and now, no subject will ever be taboo. Except the subject that was just under discussion. The price you pay for bringing up ___________as a negative is: I collect your fucking head. Just like this fucker here. Now if any of you sons of bitches got anything else to say, NOW'S THE FUCKING TIME! I didn't think so.

LaShandra stormed out of my office with tears and snot flying. I assumed she would go straight to my bosses office to complain about my cruel treatment which is just what she did. Well, guess what... the boss hadn't had his caffeine yet either. LaShandra got her head collected twice in 5 minutes time!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Black Men Need New Model of Masculinity

A new model of black masculinity is needed, one that prizes "softer" virtues of nurturing and negotiation and renounces misogyny and homophobia, says Duke University professor Mark Anthony Neal in his new book, "New Black Man."
Neal, a self-described "hip-hop intellectual" and "male feminist," is a scholar of popular culture. "New Black Man" is his fourth sole-author book.
"It's really trying to redefine the contours specifically of black masculinity, but really more broadly of masculinity in general in this country," Neal said in an interview. "I think the issue that complicates it for black men is racism and race in general."

A paradigm of the "strong black man" began to develop in the last century as a counter to prevailing stereotypes of black men as irresponsible or dangerous. It has emphasized family provision and defense of children and women -- all good and necessary, Neal says.
"I think there is this kind of stereotype, that if black men aren't this model of strength and vitality and hardness, then their masculinity is suspect," Neal said.

But, as enunciated during the civil-rights movement by Eldridge Cleaver in his influential autobiography "Soul on Ice," it also can carry side effects of homophobia, evident in Cleaver's disparagement of gay black author James Baldwin.

"Homophobia is seen as an issue that most affects gay folks," Neal said. "If gay folks don't speak out about it, there's never a conversation when it occurs," he said. "I'd like to think that homophobia is another attack on black humanity," he said. (Read more....)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Standing in the Gap with MY Frat Brother, Rashid Darden

This crap was emailed to my frat brother, Rashid Darden, who wrote about it on his web site. I am adding my two cents on this site as well. Here is what the asshole wrote to Rashid, and my comments to the writer follow:

"Let me start off by telling you, I'm glad you're a young positive brother doing your thing. Congrats and I wish you much success. My only concern is you using the image and the colors of Alpha Phi Alpha to market yourself. How are the two interconnected? There is already a stereotype of Alphas being gay, and obviously your work is perpetuating it. You didn't start it, I'm not postulating that you did, I just don't get why you don't use your talent and not have to "lean on the letters" to sell books. Is it marketing, do you think it brings you more fans, more controversy? I'm an Alpha, a raving, raging heterosexual and I'm sickened when people equate Alpha with gays. Our legacy is one of strong powerful black men, exceptional men, and we are being defamed. To each his own, I don't necessarily agree with homosexuality but, I don't think anybody can tell another person who they can or should love, but, this is ridiculous. Using the fraternity colors, using the colors in your pen name? Old gold and your novels are about homosexuals? This is out of pocket brother and I wonder if Tandy, Kelly, or any of the founders would approve of your violation of the crest. You can chuck this in your hate mail box, but, hate it is not. Be blessed brother and I hope you realize what you're doing."

First of all, Rashid is a talented, inspiring author who is going places with his writings without having to lean on Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., or any of his other affiliations. Instead, we need brothers like him to help lift our fraternity (and any other fraternity) out of the pit of ignorance and homophobia that is so truly disgusting. BROTHER Darden embodies our motto in everyway that was intended with the founding and history of OUR beloved fraternity. His "manly deeds" are exemplified in the daily role modeling that he does in his job; his "scholarship" is evidenced in his writings in undergraduate school, graduate school and his career (his knowledge of the history of black, greek fraternities shines in Lazarus - which you ought to read); and his love for "ALL mankind" is demonstrated by his involvement with greeks, with blacks, with gays, with undergrads, with bloggers, and even with fools like you whom he takes valuable time to write a response.

You dishonor the founders by attempting to divine their thoughts. Nevertheless, let's play your game for a moment. The founders were in an unfriendly environment that refused to acknowledge their existence in a fair and equitable way. Early 20th century colleges were exclusive rather than inclusive, homogeneous rather than diverse, and antagonistic to those who were different rather than nurturing. Given these conditions, the founders created an organization that supports rather than isolates, that includes people who differ from the majority rather than excludes them, that TRANSCENDS ALL!! The ideals of the founders have been distorted by your selfish, parochial, homophobic ideas of manhood imposed on not only A Phi A, but on other black greek fraternities that were founded to lift men up rather than to subjugate any of us. Yes, you would like for us to quietly stay in the closet, but guess what? It ain't happening anymore. Keith Boykin and Jasmyne Cannick wrote about black, homophobic preachers recently. Strong black, gay men and women will not be relegated to quiet invisible seats in America or in the black community. We are here, we have always been here, we helped build the black churches, banks, stores, neighborhoods, fraternities, sororities and schools. Get over it.

As you can tell from my blog name, I am Alpha and proudly so. I don't want anyone to make any mistake about the choice I made exactly 30 years ago. I was gay in 1975, I am gay in 2005, and I will be gay in 2025. I wear the Black and Gold when I want and where I want because I earned that right when "I crossed the burning sands." Now just who the hell gives you the right to criticize a brother who's bringing positive energy and LIGHT to your narrow, darkened view of greekdom. The fall season seems to be the favorite time of year for black, gay frat haters to emerge. Oddly, Rashid dealt with this same garbage last fall.

So let me sum this up for you. There are black, gay preachers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, Ques, Kappas, Sigmas, Iotas, bus drivers, rescue workers, fire fighters, hip hop artists, actors, salesmen, professors, cooks, housekeepers, professional football, basketball and tennis players, soldiers, newsmen, car salesmen, AUTHORS and thankfully MEN of the HOUSE OF ALPHA making significant contributions to this whack community. Now wake the hell up!

If you are going to question Rashid's logic, it should always be in a respectful manner (*wink* back, frat). My comment box is on. Bring it on. Shem hotep and '06!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

NCPride Weekend in the Triangle

There will be a final part IV entry on Domestic Violence soon. It is in production. Meanwhile, this past weekend was my first opportunity to see NC Pride in Durham, NC up close. Although there were several events planned, I watched the parade and hit the vendors on the east campus of Duke University. Perhaps I should have started with a lesser event like this first before moving on to Atlanta Pride. Atlanta set the bar extremely high and NCPride was a big disappointment.

So what can I say good about it? Well, I got a chance to watch the parade with Perkins (not Marlin but there are similarities) and his partner, Slim. Perkins and I have been exchanging emails and had the opportunity to meet for dinner last Thursday night (I might give up the tea later on that one). The interesting part of that was the conversation between them as to whether Slim would be wearing a dress to church on Sunday. Remember that I am still a newbie to these conversations even though I have seen guys in drag before but have never known anyone by name until Saturday.

Ok. Moving on, my boy Maxim (Domestic Violence Part I) was in town and after several calls we hooked up at Sirens Lounge that was also giving away free Mimosa drinks to parade watchers. When I walked up, he was with 3 other folks including a guy in full drag (ok, now I have talked to one planning his wardrobe and talked to another wearing his - in the same day). I'm cool with that. Like no4real4real, I'm "on my way." Maxim had to leave town for a few hours, but we talked about going to Legends Saturday night. For those of you who are not from the Triangle, Legends is one of the must do clubs. I decided not to go, though, since I still understand that there is that age difference between me and several of you clubbers - lol. As it turns out, Maxim didn't go either, so I am glad I decided to hang out with these really fabulously hot twins on Saturday night.

Sunday afternoon was a great time for Maxim and me to get together for a late afternoon lunch at Ruby Tuesdays (get the crabcakes if you go there) and to serve up several people we knew in common. We had such a good time together that since he needed a ride back to DC, I offered to take him halfway to meet Callis who took him the rest of the way home. By the way, I met Callis at Atlanta Pride. He is hot, from my part of NC, and we are in several of the same organizations.

We parted company about 10 pm, but I can honestly say that spending time with Maxim and seeing Callis again made for a great weekend for me. Was it good for you? hehehehe.
Shem hotep!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Domestic Abuse and Violence in Gay Relationships - The Words of a Victim (Part III)

I have had some poignant responses to this entry. This one, I think, most clearly tells the story in the words of a victim. With his permission, I am posting it for you.

"I was the victim of violence in a past relationship. However, at first, I dismissed it all as "a fight between guys," not "some one-sided story you hear on Oprah." I think many gay men do this, and seem to accept these fights as almost routine. Is it because we are raised to believe that we only can't hit girls? I had moved to Philadelphia with my ex. We had known each other for only about a year. Our relationship progressed quickly as we had only known each other for a few months when we moved in together. We had a lot in common. We were also raised in the same neighborhood, so he wasn't a total stranger. We seemed to be drawn to the same higher spiritual truths and liked the same music. We shared clothes. Since we had the same prescription, we even shared glasses and contact lenses! (Hey, we were young...what can I say?) He traveled a lot for work. Since it was his job (that I found for him) that took us to Philly, I was pretty bored the first few months. I was looking for work and trying to make new friends. Soon, I found myself strangely attracted to a friendly clique of Puerto Rican fellas in South Philly. They spoke English but I barely understood a word they said in Spanish. They actually looked like my family to me, and they always made me feel at home. It was all plutonic, and I just felt safe with them. I didn't know it until then, but my ex didn't like Puerto Ricans. He could be prejudiced that way. He also couldn't believe that I wasn't cheating on him with one (or more) of these beautiful men. I later realized that he was bitter about an unrequited love affair with a PR man he knew. It also seemed obvious that he thought that I was more attractive than he, and assumed that everyone liked me as much as he did. He made an even more dangerous leap and assumed that I would respond in kind, objectifying me to the level of "boy toy" with no ability to discriminate with whom I keep company. He didn't trust them, or me. One evening, a day or so after my ex had returned from a long business trip, I told him that there was a party in S. Philly, that I was going, and that he was specifically invited. I felt that it was important to my maintaining friendships with them when he was away so much. He didn't want to go. He didn't want me to either. So, when I headed for the door, he hit me from behind with a large piece of metal that scratched me from the top of my head to the middle of my back. Still unemployed in a new city, and over-inundated with flowers and apologies, I actually stayed. Less than a year went by and he had taken yet another of many long trips. He had gotten impatient with my not working (even though I exhausted my savings to move us there.) So, I was working a full-time job during the day and teaching classes in the evenings. This time, I had several classes scheduled, and we weren't going to be able celebrate our reunion like we had. Yet, he wanted me to cancel starting a class that had been scheduled precariously around the schedules of very very busy people (...desperate for the material, and with money!). On the way out the door, again, this time he took my glasses and crushed them in his hands. I taught the class with no glasses and a broken heart. I knew what I had to do though. I slept on the stoop of a friend's house that night in February because she was inexplicably away that night. I couldn't drive, after all. He found me, and I went back with him to get my things. When he realized I was planning to leave, he put me through a plaster wall and fractured a rib. I stayed with my friend for several days, then found a room for rent (having put all my money in our household), and eventually found an apartment and went on with a very interesting life in Philly. I sat on a springy mattress in my room for rent and found myself face to face with my situation. As much as I had seen this on talk shows and in movies, I never thought it would happen to me. I also said the same thing many have said here. Statements like "'ll be the last thing he ever does." etc., rolled off my lips for years before I met him. Yet, being in love, and feeling that what we had that was good and so special, I talked myself into giving it another chance. The movie "What's Love Got to Do With It?" comes to mind because I too was too busy empathizing with him to realize that there was plenty of abuse between those fights. Feeling restricted; having interference in relationships outside the intimate one; being treated like a prized possession, rather than a man; and being made to feel that I wasn't carrying my weight in our lives were all subtle forms of abuse (especially when it was so untrue). I might also add that he was smaller than me. He was also the one that everyone called "sister-girl." He was clearly the feminine half of our relationship. So, it was true for me as well that the least expected party became the perpetrator. I agree that there was a sort of Napoleonic complex within him because of his aggressive disposition at times. Over the years, the fact that he had the same zodiac sign of an adult abuser from my own childhood made me think. This person was female (too... ), but she always made me feel like she needed me. My ex had painted himself the victim as well. They both took advantage of my empathy, but it is no surprise that I would have entered an abusive relationship in my adulthood after having suffered one as a child. Gay people especially endure tons of abuse and frequently get caught in patterns of with these kinds of relationships. I found my way out before it got to be a lifetime of it all. Yet, many do not. Even I am not sure if I'll ever really overcome the betrayal of having the person with whom I made love fracture bones and draw blood. I am not sure if I'll ever allow myself to be that "vulnerable" again."

I cannot add to this story. The words of the victim says it all. Interestingly, this article on the same topic by Dr. Kevin Wang was published in Pridesource on September 22, 2005. Very timely.

Shem hotep!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Domestic Abuse and Violence in Gay Relationships (Part II)

Abuse in relationships is any behavior or pattern of behavior used to coerce, dominate or isolate the other partner. It is the use of any form of power that is imposed by one partner over the other to maintain control within the relationship.

At 23 years old, Tandy’s life literally hung in the balance as he gazed fearfully in the eyes of his lover, his partner, and his benefactor who now held him suspended 71 stories above the ground. Only moments earlier, he had been sleeping next to this man who had alternately shown him love and passion mixed with jealousy and insecurity. How had he come to this frightening state of affairs? He was a recent college graduate from Historic University who had come out during his college years to a few friends. Along the way, he met Professional, a highly successful entrepreneur who offered him a glittering world of cars, access to money, a great apartment but most of all a committed relationship. In retrospect, Tandy realized there were early signs of trouble when Professional told him he would never hurt him physically, that it would be mentally if it came to that.

More signs of trouble began to appear in the relationship. Tandy’s whereabouts had to be explained, meals had to be prepared just right, and then the physical abuse followed. Since Tandy was not out to his family and was several thousand miles away from his home, he was left to the mercy of his on again/off again partner. Professional became more controlling and even used the fact that Tandy was not out to his family as a means of threatening and controlling him (the mental abuse). Professional would roll out the phone number and address of Tandy’s family to show that he had the power to expose him and hopefully ruin his family ties and further isolating him. Not only that, he threatened to reveal the details of their sexual relationship in a fashion that would surely destroy Tandy’s parent’s image of their son.

Meanwhile, Tandy continued to try to make the relationship work. His own personality was submerged under the torment of his abuser. Life alternated between passion and violence. Beatings and lovemaking, sexual domination and being thrown out of the apartment turned into Tandy’s full-blown nightmare. Tandy was forced from the apartment on occasion and all of his possession thrown out into the hallway by Professional. Then Professional would retrieve them, fold them as though nothing had occurred and look to Tandy for forgiveness and forgetfulness. A carefully prepared meal to show his love for Professional was thrown in the floor and would lead to a beat down.

But nothing compares to knowing that you are literally at the point of death because of the person you love so deeply. With his feet dangling in mid-air, Tandy was held over the balcony of the apartment they shared by Professional whose abusive nature had now reached a peak. What better way to exert control than to show that Tandy’s very life was in his hands? Tandy was experiencing the ultimate humiliating experience, while Professional was exercising the ultimate display of power over his victim. They reconciled that night only to have the physical abuse continue with Professional violently kicking Tandy while cornered in a closet (yes, just like Maxim in Part I).

Tandy became one of the lucky ones. Realizing the destructive relationship that he had with Professional, he decided to escape. In the middle of the night, Tandy put all of his possessions in his SUV and drove across country, back to his parent’s home. The phone calls from Professional have stopped coming now. Tandy is one of the most mature friends that the Fratman1906 has met. His eyes still moisten as he tells his story, and his life is changed forever. But he is stronger, and he is one of the lucky ones because he is alive to tell his story. Not only that, he uses his real life experiences to guide his younger brothers in "the life" in hopes they will not have to endure the same experiences as he. Moreover, he is in a loving, affirming relationship with Dr.P.

I had planned two entries on this topic, Maxim’s story and Tandy’s story. But wait; what happens when you must accompany your friend to the emergency room after a violent abuser has victimized him. Part III will tell the story from Friend. If you have a story, comment on it here or take the poll and talk about it on Keith Boykin's board. Pay close attention to the entry by KennethWinfrey on September 21. Want to know more on this topic? Just click the title of this entry. If you are a victim or a perpetrator, seek help.

Shem hotep!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Domestic Abuse and Violence in Gay Relationships (Part I)

I will admit up front that having spent much of my life engaged in taking care of assorted family members, that I have not been totally aware of many of the issues affecting my gay brothers and sisters. In many ways, the last several months have been eye opening for me as I have read novels by black,gay authors, met gay bloggers, fraternity brothers, and alums, dialogued with others in “the life,” and attended my first Pride in Hotlanta (I am still on cloud nine after the best Labor Day experience ever). One of the first novels that I read was “Passion Marks” by Lee Hayes. This was an emotionally difficult novel for me to read because I have such strong feelings about victims in our society, and the idea of domestic abuse and violence within gay relationships was cultural shock to me. The stories in the paper are more along the lines of gay victims of heterosexual attacks, but I can’t recall many articles about gay domestic abuse, especially those leading to death. Well, I finally made it through “Passion Marks” but with a sense of sadness and bewilderment that anyone could allow himself (or herself) to suffer physical abuse over a period time and not just simply walk out the door. To further cope with this novel, I reminded myself that this was fiction and did not want to think beyond that comfortable conclusion that allowed me to move forward.

Well, fate has a way of preparing you for things to come. I recently had dinner with a new friend, Maxim, who in passing conversation mentioned a relationship that he ended after being hit by his partner. I was stunned. In less than 30 days, I had gone from reading about gay domestic abuse to sitting across the table from a real live person who experienced it. Although, I let the moment pass, I called him later and asked if we could follow up on his remark and he agreed. (I tell his story with his permission). I will only summarize that conversation here. His partner, BigGuy, grew jealous of Maxim’s relationship to other people. As a kind-hearted person, Maxim does little things to help make his friends’ lives easier and has many friends.. As a result, he is well liked by a number of people. BigGuy, however, was a suspicious and jealous partner. On one occasion, BigGuy found the phone number of one of Maxim’s acquaintances in his wallet. They argued, Maxim was asked to remove his things from Big uy’s space. It didn’t matter that BigGuy was the only man in Maxim’s life and that he loved him. Jealousy, poor self-esteem and the need to confine and control Maxim created a highly volatile situation. Then when Maxim went to the house to remove his things, BigGuy backed him into a closet, blocking his escape and then hit and kicked him. After the assault stopped, BigGuy kept him in the closet for more than 30 minutes afraid to let him go. Then came the usual ploy of abusers who try to make the victim believe that they were pushed to that point by the victims actions but it won’t happen again. It is the well-known cop out of physical abusers like BigGuy that it is somehow the victims fault, and that the physical violence shows how deeply he loved Maxim. Fortunately, Maxim got out of this situation and relationship but the damage is done. Some folks are not as lucky.

I am sure that some of you have stories as bad or worse than this. Like I said earlier, this is eye popping to me. If you click on the title of this article, it will take you to a web site with reading on Domestic Violence in Gay Couples. I am also starting a "Domestic Violence in Gay Relationships" poll on Keith Boykins’ bulletin board on this topic. If you are or have been a victim or seen abuse in gay relationships, let’s blog about it. It should not be swept under the rug. If you are a victim or abuser, let’s talk about it.

Maxim introduced me to Tandy who has an even more horrific story. With his permission I will tell you how he was the victim of continuous abuse and was nearly killed in the process. To be continued in Part II. Shem hotep!

There’s no one I entirely trust,
there’s nowhere to go
It’s as if I’m trapped in some crazy freak show.
I no longer care to decipher what this is about
All I want is a license to Get The Hell Out.
--Excerpt from "Faceless People"

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


If you didn't get to Atlanta Pride, all I can say is lawdy, lawdy. This sizzling, hot brother was personally autographing his calendar for a donation. I gladly donated and you can believe I will always know what day it is. Ngo was one of several "attractions" in the Marketplace and believe me, it was worth the shopping!! He also strolled the aisle for the fashion show. Check out malik m.l. williams entry on BrothaLove RantSpace (last photos). Shem hotep!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Darrell's Blog

Rather than cut/paste Darrell Diggins' predicament as a result of Hurricane Katrina, I encourage you to read it on his blog. Shem hotep!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Atlanta Black Pride 2005 (II)

The "Flava" men were the hottest items in the Marketplace. Not only did they take those shirts off (it was hot in the room - lol), but they autographed your copy of FlavaMen Magazine for you.

Of course Baby Boy was the hottest Flava man on the table. Yours truly got the signature and will not be selling it on Ebay (at least not right away).

If you haven't read "Down For Whatever" by Frederick Smith, then what are you waiting for. This novel is a must read for Blacks, Latinos, GLBTs, and anyone else who is in tune with our evolving relationships. The Fratman was getting his copy autographed.

When two authors get together, great things can happen. Frederick Smith, author of "Down For Whatever," helps fellow author Rashid Darden, author of Lazarus, in the Marketplace.

Rashid Darden delivers an excerpt from Lazarus at the Literary Cafe

The kick off opening ceremony really got people on their feet and kicking up.

Brent Dorian Carpenter, author of the "21st Century Chronicles of Thugg the Barbarian King," and Frederick Smith take a few moments for a photo op for the Fratman.

Our lesbian sistas were right in there with inspiring works in the Literary Cafe.

The authors in the Literary Cafe do the group photo for fans. There was a lot of talent concentrated in the group. Look for great sequels in LGBT literature that make a significant contribution to understanding LGBT lives, loves, tragedies, and triumphs.