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 "...it'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.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Atlanta Black Pride 2005

I am in Atlanta and having a blast. Will blog about it when I get home. Here's a little "Flava" of what's to come. Shem hotep from Hotlanta!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Same Sex Marriage Rallies in Madrid

This past weekend, I met Alum for dinner. We have exchanged emails recently, but since he was back in the area of the University, this gave us an opportunity to have a face to face meeting. He is truly a cool young man and it is at his urging that I write this entry. I should have done it some time ago actually, but it is never too late. During the course course of conversation, broiled tilapia and reminescences about our experiences at University, I indicated that I was in Spain during the rallies for and against same sex marriage this summer (the Spanish Parliament passed the law permitted the marriages). This led to his idea that I should write about it on this blog. Alum also made a comment that will be the subject of another blog. Great minds really stimulate and play off of each other. There were two rallies in Madrid in June on the same day, one supporting same sex marriages and the other opposing them. As I googled to find articles to add to this blog about them, I am totally amazed at the volume of articles about the rally opposing same sex marriages and the lack of articles about the much bigger rally to support same sex marriages. Did all of the reporters go only where the Church wanted them to go and report? I took the subway from central Madrid to Plaza de Castilla where the pro-rally was taking place. The crush of folks on the subway was awesome but nothing compared to the jam packed bodies that spilled over in the Plaza and the surrounding neighborhoods blocking road traffic on major arteries and creating a far bigger mass of people than what one would see say in Times Square at New Years' eve. I mean the wall of people made it nearly impossible to move in any direction and estimates of more than a million people festooned in rainbow colored outfits, body paints, and banners understates the enormity of it all. Believe me when I tell you, there were chests and breasts, bikinis and weenies to satisfy anyone's craving and the crush of the mob brought it all up close and personal (whew it is hot in here). I won't go into details about the eye candy, but there was one whom I connected with (and he with me) that I could write poetry about. Anyway, just take my word for it, it was the kind of European experience that I am definitely going back to uh explore.

Contrast that rally with the much smaller anti- same sex rally in the area known as Sol near my hotel. I had to walk through part of this rally when I came back on the subway. I had no problem passing through the crowd. Their estimates of one million are usually downsized by the media to anywhere from 150,000 to 600,000. I think that includes inflatables. Yet, the news coverage and internet sites give this rally almost unlimited coverage and makes it appear that it was the only thing happening in Madrid before the enactment of the same sex law. Now come on people work with me here. If the greatest sentiment was anti same sex marriage, do you think the politicians even Spanish ones would have enacted this law? No, it looks like the people's voice carried the day in the Parliament even though the minority view has monopolized the media reports and created one-sided reporting. Now, that couldn't happen in America, could it? So, as your on-the-spot reporter (though decidedly late), let me report that the supporters of same sex marriage in Spain demonstrated a tremendous show of public support for enactment of legislation crucial to their pursuit of happiness, and that Fratman1906 was on the scene. Shem hotep! (Photos by yours truly).