Monday, August 29, 2005

Down For Whatever by Frederick Smith

This weekend I had the pleasure of reading the debut novel of Frederick Smith titled "Down For Whatever." I have had it since it became available and actually received it in late June from the bookseller. But that's not my point today. I can tell you unequivocably that if you have not read Down for Whatever then what are you waiting for? A personal invitation from Frederick Smith? (Well you can get that from him at the Outwrite Bookstore in ATL during Labor Day Weekend Pride).

Momentarily, let's set aside the gay theme that will inevitably form the plot of a novel in gay literature. That's a given, and we'll come back to that. In order to have a book that stands out from the rest, you got to have a hook. E. Lynn Harris did it by showing a non-effeminate gay character (my perception of Winston) evolving and discovering his true nature while in the very traditional worlds of Law School (Invisible Life) and corporatedom (Just As I Am). Now, there's the hook. His characters were not seedy characters sliding around in back alleys engaging in meaningless sexual encounters. They were college educated, professional, and engaging. That was a new hook.

Rashid Darden gave Adrian a hook in Lazarus by setting his character on a predominately white college campus, making him a campus activist, and having him pledge a well known symbol of black manhood - the sacrosanct black fraternity (clutch the pearls, what next? The pulpit? lol).

Now Frederick Smith sets his seminal work along a theme that sociologists and demographers are already pointing out to the discomfort of majority White America, that is the new emerging minority/majority is brown/black. So what happens when black and brown characters begin to explore their commonalities. Just what you will find in Down For Whatever. That racial stereotypes can be vastly different from the reality that comes from association and interaction. Frederick takes two Black single gay males and two Latino sgm, mix them together along with their friends, companions, families and significant others and produces a storyline that everyone ought to read as a blueprint for the present and future of black/brown relationships. Inevitably, his characters grow into a deeper understanding of each other just as Americans of all races and ethnicities must continue to understand each other and grow into respecting culture and sexuality.

Then finally, add back into the mix the ups and downs of living the gay life as a professional, as an individual who is one step away from homelessness, or as one who is on the "down low" whatever that may mean (sorry Keith). Frederick Smith helps each of his readers to see a little of themselves in each character as they progress toward finding a more fulfilling self-identity. Down For Whatever may at times seem like a Reality Show in print, but then again, the everyday, mundane lives of many of us are in fact Reality Shows, aren't they? Buy it, read it. Shem hotep!

BTW, I took this novel with me to the gym on 2 nights and both times exceeded my usual running and biking distance because the novel is so compelling. Thanks Frederick for making my body healthier with DFW ;-)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Reflections from the Sauna

There is nothing like a little heat in a sauna to clear the mind and help you to focus. Last week, I was dripping like an athlete (my family knowing how un-athletic I am would laugh at that) in the sauna at the gym and pondering how/why I came to writing a blog, reading gay literature, emailing guys in the life and anticipating going to my first Pride event. Here is what I learned about myself. My life has always revolved around family. In the last 2 years, I have lost 2 people who were close to me -MyOtherMom and Myson2. MyOtherMom was taken by cancer this year, and Myson2 by AIDS in 2003. Now these were two of the closest people to me in the world. MyOtherMom treated me like her own son, anticipated my needs, catered to me, spoiled me, you name it. She never asked why I didn't remarry, but I'm sure in her heart she knew but didn't judge, criticize or reject me. She was my rock after Momma died (also of cancer) and helped ease the pain of losing someone so close. But now, there is a big void. I find myself having to fill that void and I am doing so through new friends in a life that I should have been a part of years ago, but did not. This is not going to be a long entry. I will say to my new friends whom I have met through this blog - thanks for your emails, your IM's, your conversations, etc. Forgive me if I make mistakes as I am just learning the rules. I'll see you around.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Then They Came for Me

This entry should be read in conjunction with the announcement that follows from the National Black Justice Coalition. I hope it will set the tone for why you should come and participate.

Then They Came for Me
Stephen F. Rohde, Esq.

First they came for the Muslims, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Muslim.

Then they came to detain immigrants indefinitely solely upon the certification of the Attorney General, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't an immigrant.

Then they came to eavesdrop on suspects consulting with their attorneys, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a suspect.

Then they came to prosecute non-citizens before secret military commissions, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a non-citizen.

Then they came to enter homes and offices for unannounced "sneak and peek" searches, and I didn't speak up because I had nothing to hide.

Then they came to reinstate Cointelpro and resume the infiltration and surveillance of domestic religious and political groups, and I didn't speak up because I had stopped participating in any groups.

Then they came for anyone who objected to government policy because it aided the terrorists and gave ammunition to America's enemies, and I didn't speak up because...... I didn't speak up.

Then they came for me....... and by that time no one was left to speak up.

A Public Service Announcement - National Black Justice Coalition Summit

This is not another Pride celebration, but is instead an event that you can take pride in and become involved in a substantive grassroots movement to insure the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters. (See agenda) And in case you don't know, Keith Boykin is President of the Board. Given the current atmosphere of homophobia and religious conservatism in the black community, don't wait until they come for you. Be involved! Shem hotep!

Tying The Wisdom Knot:
Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil Rights Group Discusses State of the Nation Washington, DC 2005

On September 21-23, 2005 the National Black Justice Coalition will host its first Black Leaders Summit. The title of the Summit is "Tying the Widsom Knot: Bringing Together Our Leaders to Strategize for the Future."

The Summit will begin with a Welcome Reception on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 6:00 pm and is hosted by Service Employees International Union.

The following two-days of workshops and plenary sessions will focus on a range of policy issues of significance to Black SGL/LGBT communities including strategies to combat homophobia and HIV/AIDS, the upcoming marriage battles and how to win fairness for same-sex families. Additional topics include the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act and sessions on how to build local voter registration and get-out-the vote campaigns. The plenary sessions include: roundtable discussion and open dialogue with the chief executives of the nation’s leading LGBT organizations; a panel of top African American political strategists to discuss the politics and LGBT civil rights and marriage; and a Prayer Breakfast with important progressive religious activists and ministers to discuss homosexuality and the church . The Summit will end with a gala awards dinner with a special appearance by the NBJC Ensemble Gospel Choir and Broadway veteran and recording artist Billy Porter.

Confirmed speakers include elected officials from Palm Springs, California, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts and Wisconsin. Organizational leaders representing NAACP, SEIU, Black AIDS Institute, HRC, Freedom to Marry, GLAAD, Victory Fund, PFLAG, Equality Maryland, Equality Florida, Showtime, Viacomm and many others will also participate as both panelists and attendees.

“Black America stands at an important cross roads,” said NBJC Executive Director and CEO, H. Alexander Robinson. “...voices of bigotry are on the rise and all too often they are disguised as saviors of the Black family. Our families, Black same gender loving families, are being caught in the middle. This Summit is about breaking the silence and finding our collective national voice.”
"The Leaders Summit is an excellent opportunity for NBJC to gather some of the best and brightest minds in the lgbt community. We want to establish an open dialogue between LGBT organizations, elected officials and our African American brothers and sisters." We expect this event to be very beneficial as we develop our strategic goals for the upcoming months, said Ray Daniels, NBJC Communications Director."

The Summit is free, but requires pre-registration for all participants. For more information visit or call 202-349-3755.

Hotel Reservations may be made by calling the Washington Court Hotel directly at 800-321-3010.

Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this. Tell-a-friend!
If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for National Black Justice Coalition.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

B'day weekend in NYC

It was a weekend for me to celebrate my birthday. I am rapidly becoming a creature of custom by spending my birthday weekend in NYC. There is something about "Gotham City" that seems to irresistably draw me like a candlefly to a flame. I did the usual play (off-broadway this year), dinner (Sylvia's in Harlem), and this year I added in several visits to Greenwich Village and other sites of interest. Met some interesting folks, renewed some old family relationships and got my feet wet in the Atlantic Ocean at Jacob RIIS Beach. Since I am flying solo these days, I was in a hurry to see, taste and experience NYC in about 36 hours including sleeping time. This trip was much like appetizers ( a little taste of this, a little taste of that). Next time I will focus on quality and not quantity.

First, Saturday night was my opportunity to head up to the House of Latex at the Roseland Ballroom and check out the scenery for the 2005 Latex Ball. Thanks for the tip Frank. Since the crowd was considerably younger than the birthday boy, I chose not to cross the street and get my feelings hurt. Good eye candy though. Ah, the younger days!

The play was "Joy" at the Actors' Playhouse in the west village. I probably would have chosen a different play and venue except I was curious about Ben Curtis (the Dell Dude) appearing in a gay performance. Okay, okay. He appeared to really get into the role of being the dumb gay lover of the professor. Other than that, it was so-so. Try to find bargain tickets if you go. The more interesting part of the theater visit was the computer assigned the only 2 black males in the theater to adjoining seats. He was tall, chocolate with a throaty bass voice that really got my interest during the first act. But any potential was lost during act 2. During intermission, he went outside and must have smoked a pack of Marlboros. Also, the throaty bass voice turned into a bass countrified laugh in Act 2 that was definitely a turn off. By the time he got around to rubbing his leg against mine, I just wanted him to move - Ewww! Anyway, Sunday evening at Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem. This is not my first time, but I have never experience the long wait line mentioned in several restaurant reviews, and the soul food cooking reminds me of Mama's table. The fried catfish, collards and pickled beets (shut up, I love 'em) washed down with Mimosa was definitely the high point of the trip. And hey, it wasn't as exciting as Keith's birthday bash, but you slow down as you get older ;-). Why, if I was 40 again ..... Happy Birthday Keith .

So, what was the best part of the weekend? Well, on the way home I got a call from Cuz whom I had not heard from in a minute. He is the one family member that I count on the most. In fact, he and I will be turning out ATL at the Labor Day Black Gay Pride. Are you going to be there? You'll find me taking a turn at the table with Rashid Darden in the Black Pride Marketplace. And if you haven't read his novel, Lazarus, BUY THE BOOK! Shem hotep!!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Coretta Scott King said to suffer stroke!

ATLANTA (AP) - Coretta Scott King is mostly paralyzed on the right side of her body and faces a long, difficult recovery from a stroke, but she managed to say a few words Friday, her doctor said.
Dr. Maggie Mermin, King's personal physician, said that the 78-year-old widow of Martin Luther King Jr. is unable to walk and has been mostly unable to speak since the stroke Tuesday in the left side of her brain, which controls speech functions. read more>>>

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Today Is My Birthday and ...

During my 53 years…

Eleven Presidents have occupied the White House
The U. S. Supreme Court outlawed segregation in public schools
My Momma and I were put off a train and forced to walk in the dark back to the train station during segregation of public transportation
I drank from water fountains marked “Colored” and bought food out of the back kitchen door of White-owned restaurants
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated
2 men molested me when I was eleven
Malcolm X was assassinated
A war raged in Vietnam
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a Dream” speech
Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated
The NC National Guard peppered Scott Hall with bullets during student unrest at NC A & T State University in Greensboro, NC
Rioting began between patrons and police at Stonewall Inn in NYC
I survived a lot of nasty tasting home remedies for colds, and anything else that ails ya
I was the first Black student from my hometown (and all Black high school) admitted to Duke University (it was a big deal back then)
I was first in my family to join a Black Fraternity
I was the first in my family to get a graduate degree
I have owned 17 cars and 2 motorcycles
Ken Reeves, the first openly gay African American City Council member, was elected mayor of Cambridge by his fellow City Councilors.
I began a weblog that discusses many issues including gay issues but mainly to begin a journey
I lost someone very close to me to AIDS
I have worked enough years that I can retire at any time from my job
I lost 62 lbs. in the last year through diet and exercise (and Hell no, I ain’t sick)
I have met many good bloggers online and/or in person – yo Rashid, no4real4real, jerzeefinest, chosen brotha, Torrid Wind, Keith Boykin, Tim’m West, and all the other great ones!

So since I was born 8/17/1952, that makes me…
35 years 9 months younger than Walter Cronkite, age 88
31 years 1 month younger than Nancy Reagan, age 84
28 years 2 months younger than George Herbert Bush, age 81
20 years 11 months younger than Barbara Walters, age 73
18 years 9 months younger than Larry King, age 71
12 years 6 months younger than Ted Koppel, age 65
9 years 1 month younger than Geraldo Rivera, age 6
26 years 1 month younger than George W. Bush, age 59
1 year 1 month younger than Jesse Ventura, age 54
3 years 2 months older than Bill Gates, age 49
8 years 0 months older than Cal Ripken Jr., age 44
13 years 10 months older than Mike Tyson, age 39
17 years 11 months older than Jennifer Lopez, age 35
23 years 4 months older than Tiger Woods, age 29
29 years 10 months older than Prince William, age 23

and I was:
49 years old at the time of the 9-11 attack on America
47 years old on the first day of Y2K
45 years old when Princess Diana was killed in a car crash
42 years old at the time of Oklahoma City bombing
41 years old when O. J. Simpson was charged with murder
40 years old at the time of the 93 bombing of the World Trade Center
38 years old when Operation Desert Storm began
37 years old during the fall of the Berlin Wall
33 years old when the space shuttle Challenger exploded
31 years old when Apple introduced the Macintosh
30 years old during Sally Ride's travel in space2
8 years old when Pres. Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, Jr.
27 years old at the time the Iran hostage crisis began2
3 years old on the U.S.'s bicentennial Fourth of July
21 years old when President Nixon left office
19 years old when Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace was shot
16 years old at the time the first man stepped on the moon
15 years old when Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated
12 years old during the Watts riot
11 years old at the time President Kennedy was assassinated
7 years old when Hawaii was admitted as 50th of the United States
5 years old when the Soviet satellite Sputnik 1 was launched
not yet 1 year old at the end of the Korean War

I am humbly grateful to all of you who read this blog and who take time to offer your take on my evolutionary journey. Shem hotep!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Conversation Continues - "Who Do You Love?"

My fellow blogger and friend (whom I admire greatly), no4real4real, posted an entry today that deserves continued discussion. I posted a comment but didn't want to take up all of his space since I do have this blog available, too. As you read his entry for August 16th titled "Who Do You Love?", no4real4real makes some really good points about self-acceptance and how it affects relationships with people around you. Since I don't have the poetic talents of no4real4real or Rashid Darden or Tim'm West, I have to rely on poetry created by others to illustrate my points (or find personal, spiritual guidance). There are two that I offer you that seem to have something for all occasions (like those boxes of cards my Momma used to buy), and here they are:

[IF] -- Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

This is the essence of self assurance wherein a balance is struck between you and the world around you. Then, you can walk into clubs and not be lonely, or worship in any church and not be disillusioned, or sit in the midst of homophobes and not feel threatened nor denigrated. I commend this poem to you. (Tomorrow is my birthday. I'll blog about it). Shem hotep!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!

These often quoted words only moderately describe the furious reaction of Terry McMillan to the revelation by her soon to be ex-husband, Jonathan Plummer. According to filings by Jonathan, Terry appears to have been "waiting to exhale" and is now a real fire breathing dragon.
If there is truly such a phenomena as the "Down Low," then here is a reason why bi-sexual males may be reluctant to discuss their sexual preference/orientation with their spouse/significant other. Jonathan's divorce declarations present some highly caustic accusations by Terry and may not be suitable for audiences under 50. So if you're thinking about coming out to your wife, significant other, girlfriend, etc., be sure you can either stomp with the big dogs or stay on the porch!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Those crazy inventions - Patent # 5,472,399

I think a picture is worth a thousand words, so I won't comment further on this marvelous invention, the APPARATUS FOR EXERCISING THE PENIS, that was patented by the U. S. Patent Office:

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

John H. Johnson, Publisher of Ebony/Jet Magazines, passes

John H. Johnson, 1918-2005, who brought the news to African-American households for more than 50 years as publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines has died at the age of 87. Born the grandson of slaves, he rose to international prominence with his publications, cosmetic lines, and fashion shows. Mr. Johnson's magazines were household 'must have' items for many of us who grew up in the 1950's and beyond. From the most eligible bachelors/bachelorettes to the most powerful black leaders of our times, Mr. Johnson gave us up close and personal access that helped to inform us and shape our views. He will be sadly missed by all Americans. Thank you John H. Johnson for a job well done. Rest in peace. Shem hotep!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Don't Ask; Don't Tell

This entry is inspired by Chosen Brotha's post on August 5th. Simple yet moving, it reminds us of the fragility of life, the effects of ill-advised national policies, and the tragic loss of lives including soldiers who work and fight to defend our countries even while living under the cloud of "don't ask, don't tell." As a former Army Reservist, Drill Sergeant and Infantry Officer, I still ache to see the loss of life in Iraq and other armed conflicts around the world. I have decided to share with you my perspective that was sent to Chosen Brotha on yesterday. "If you are near Andrews AFB, then you must really feel the tragedy of so manyAmericans returning home in coffins. Your photo was particularly poignant for me as I was an Army Reserve Drill Sgt. and Infantry Officer for 10 years. I saw poor training that would lead to mistakes and loss of lives. I have been out altogether now for 14 years, but I sometimes wonder if the training has improved. One of the problems was the training of soldiers took place in peacetime with no imminent threat of war. Thus, the soldiers and commanders did not do life or death training. I regret to say that the"touchy-feely" politically correct training going on(at least in 1991) when I left created vulnerable soldiers. Given the trend, I doubt if training has gotten better. " I am on my way to church now. I will offer a special prayer for all of those who continue to serve our country whether they are male or female, black or white or asian-american or hispanic american, or straight or gay. Shem hotep!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Speech by Keith Boykin

I am always fascinated by the remarks and thoughts of our brother, Keith Boykin. On August 4th, Keith delivered remarks to at the 2005 Black Gay Research Summit. In lieu of a blog or rant today, I commend to you his speech. Click the title of this post to read the excerpt. Practice safe sex this weekend and everyday. Shem hotep!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I.C.E. - A Public Service Announcement

Ok. From time to time, I may use this space to pass along some helpful tips. Here is one that I received this week that could save some lives. This is an easy, excellent and worthwhile safety tip that could save valuable time in an unfortunate situation. Please let's do this and spread
the word! Thanks!

Paramedics will turn to a victim's cell phone for clues to that person's identity. You can make their job much easier with a simple idea that they are trying to get everyone to adopt: I.C.E.
I.C.E. stands for In Case of Emergency. If you add an entry in the contacts list in your cell phone under I.C.E., with the name and phone no. of the person that the emergency services should call on your behalf, you can save them a lot of time and have your loved ones contacted quickly. It only takes a few moments of your time to do. Paramedics know what I.C.E. means and they look for it immediately. I.C.E. your cell phone NOW! Please pass this one along. It probably is a good idea to do this for your home phone as well.

Click the title of this blog entry for more information.

Shem hotep!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

This morning at the gym

There are 2 dudes, LooksandBody and GoodVibes, that I have been checking out at the gym every morning. Both have great bodies but one has the looks to go with the bod while the other is whatever. Anyway LooksandBody has started bringing LittleDude with him and they pay no one else any attention. That's cool because he is still good eye candy and helps increase my metabolism on the treadmill (I won't go into my fantasies, but it helps when you're running 7.5 miles an hour - lol). Now GoodVibes is a strange character. On the gym floor, we make eye contact but no conversation (he uses a personal trainer). He is a buff little guy and reminds me a lot of MySon2 (see previous blog). When he gets to the locker room, still no conversation and I get a reluctant hello if I speak first. But the strange thing is that if he and I are alone in the men's sauna, then he is chatty. Today we talked about his desire to spend a week at a spa. (I should tell him about the resort in Key West that would fulfill his needs). Again, once outside the door, he becomes distant. Damn, I hate this on again/off again shyt (thanks SmilingOnThaDL for this word - missing you already bro.). Shem hotep!