Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I hope you have great holiday with family and friends (or if you friends are your family both). I'll resume posting on Monday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

World Aids Day



December 1st is World AIDS Day, a day where people around the world come together to raise awareness about the devestation caused by the global AIDS epidemic. While many strides have been made since the epidemic first started in the early 80's, there's still a lot to do.


Ways to Get Involved:


1. GET TESTED


2. Encourage friends and family to get tested


3.Educated youself and others about AIDS and other STDs.


To find out how to get involved in other ways, visit http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/en/Get-Involved.

New Music Review: Kanye West "808's and Heartbreak"




To the average rap fan, it looks like Kanye West has lost his mind. After spending three albums establishing himself as a credible MC (although he's still no Rakim or Andre 3000 on the mic), Ye' ditched rhyming for singing, picked up an Auto-Tune, the current scourge of rap, and abandoned his College Dropout theme(for the uninitiated, this album was supposed to be Good Ass Job). Top all that off with his current Half-Pint glasses wearing, knatty suit and Captain Ahab beard look, and you have a recipe for a falling off of epic proportions.

If first single "Love Lockdown" was any indication, Late Registration this ain't. 808's and Heartbreak more than lives up to its title, as booming basslines collide with other-wordly samples and strings to provide a fresh canvas for West to spin tales of love drama and regret.

"My friend showed me pictures of his kids/And all I could show him were pictures of my cribs/ He said his daughter got a brand-new report card/And all I got was a brand-new sportscar," West sings in "Welcome To Heartbreak." No longer the fame-hungry new kid on the block, West now seems all too aware of the downsides of stardom. "Do you think I sacrificed a real life/For all the fame and flashing lights," Wests asks in "Pinocchio Story" the live freestyle that closes the album. Now in his early 30's the Louis Vitton Don seems to looking inward, questioning if it was all worth it. Bragging and ego-trips are few and far between.

Heartbreak, both romantic and otherwise, is another recurring theme. "Didn't you know i was waiting on you/Waiting on a dream that'll never come true," West sings in "Bad News" one of several tracks detailing the dark side of love. "Tell every one that you know/That i dont love you no more," he growls on "See You in My Nightmares," while in "Robocop," West fires off sardonic lines at a neurotic girlfriend hell bent on knowing his every move.


Undoubtedly the death of West's mother Donda West influenced the album's subject matter, and serves as inspiration for "Coldest Winter." Backed by sparse instrumentation and tribal drumbeats, West questions whether he can ever love again and ponders past actions. "If spring can take the snow away/Can it melt it away all our mistakes."

While the album's emotional honesty makes it a compelling listen, West could've done more with the tracks. Some come across as too flat and don't match West's dynamic delivery. Other tracks, such as "Say You Will" lumber on for too long and disrupt the album's flow. And does Lil' Wayne have to be on everyone's album this year. I mean did 'Ye really pay $75,000 for that verse? Also it wouldn't have hurt to have dropped at least a couple of 16's.

These complaints aside, with 808's and Heartbreak, West drops the bravado and endless boasting to deliver his most personal and revealing work.


3.5/5

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tales of A Twenty Something: Reflections on My 22nd Birthday

Yay, today's my birthday! LOL!

Yes today marks 22 years of life for me. Of course I plan to do the usual things (accept gifts, go out all night with friends, see family), but I'm also reflective on this b-day(hence the title).

As I laid in bed last night, I thought about just how far I've come. Four years ago, at 18, I was not excited about college and the future, and didn't have any sort of dreams or ambitions for myself. I was lonely, sad and closeted. I had no sense of my own identity, but simply shapeshifted my personality to the desires of what friends, family, church and God (I thought) wanted for me.

Add to that some heavy daily weed usage and you have the depressed, hot mess that was me.

One day something shifted though. One night, alone and thinking about my life in my dorm room, I realized that I could not name one person in my life who I was being completely honest with, who I showed my true self to. I had built up a wall of sarcasm and secrey so thick that no could see who I was.

Since that day of realization, I embarked on a journey of intense introspection and discovery.

I met and befriended other gay folks who were comfortable with themselves and secure in their sexuality, came out to close straight friends and got into endless fights (let's call them discussions:) about why my 'choice' wasn't one and why I wasn't going to burn in hell. Knots in my stomach churned as I told my brother who merely shrugged and said "Ok." I also had my first serious relationship, discovered the torture of long distance love, and gave up the ganga ghost.

Most importantly I finally began to truly seek my own relationship with God by re-examining my faith and everything I had been raised to believe about homosexuality, and read things that challenged my ideas and ultimately caused me to think critically about what I had been taught, and realize my views are just as valid as anyone else's. Calmness and clarity began to replace feelings of anxiety and desperation, as I tore down the walls I had spent most of my adolesence building.

As I sit here typing this however, neither me or my life is perfect. When I told my mother, she reacted the way I expected her to: she felt this was something that could be prayed away, and eventually God would make the heterosexual family man I was born to be. I was prepared for her reaction, but still saddened that her beliefs couldn't allow her to see the man I truly am. And I still haven't told my father or extended family members.

There are still moments when I find myself wanting to revert to old closet behaviors, like when someone asks me who braids my hair (my current boyfriend does:) or asks if I'm seeing anyone special. There are still moments when I find myself desiring others' approval. Unlearning 18 years (I came out at 19) of closet case behavior doesn't happen overnight, but I'm making progress.

At 22, my life isn't everything I want it to be yet, but it's light years away from what it once was. I have a desire now to not just survive, but LIVE.

For anyone who is where I was, I'm not gonna sugarcoat it for you: coming out is not easy. It's often awkward and uncomfortable, and you not always get the response you want. But in the end it's one of the most rewarding things you can do. Make sure you find people who will support you in your journey, and remember that only person who has to live your life is YOU. So you might as well be happy while you do it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today marks the 10th anniversary of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day in which we remember trangendered people who have been murdered because of their gender identity or expression.

For those not in the know, a little Transgender 101: Transgender is an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity(sense of themselves as male or female) or gender expression differs from that usually associated with their birth sex. Many transgender people live part-time or full-time as members of the other gender.

With the recent murder of Lateisha Green, a 22-year old transgendered woman, this event becomes even more poignant. While gays, lesbians and bisexuals certainly suffer discrimination and sometimes violence, transgenders face violence and prejudice not only from the straights, but sometimes from gays as well.

In addition antidiscrimination laws in most U.S. cities and states do not protect transgender people from discrimination based on gender identity or expression. While many of us cannot imagine what it must be like to feel that you were born in the wrong body, that's no excuse for hatred or ignorance.

The best weapon is education. To find out more information on transgender issues you go to www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/transgender

Rants and Raves: I Hate Musicals

Yea I said it. I don't like them. I know, as a gay dude I'm supposed to have the soundtrack to Rent memorized and be ready to burst into a Hairspray dance routine at a moment's notice, but I just never got into the whole thing.

It's not like I haven't tried to activate my musical loving gene. It's just all that SINGING AND DANCING. West Side Story for example. The two rival gangs spent half the time singing and dancing around about how's 'There's gonna be a fight' (or something like that), when all that valuable time could've been spent, I don't know, fighting! Seriously after five minutes you either need to shank someone or invite them to do a duet since you feel like sangin' so much.

This fear of campiness and over-enuciated singing has even kept me from seeing Evita (and anyone who' knows me knows I'm a massive Madonna fan). Yes even Madge herself couldn't break my will.
Of course there are exceptions. I can tolerate Grease and loved Dreamgirls (although I've heard some people say there was too much dialogue for it to be true a musical), and I get down with some Disney tunes (but that's just a trait of being alive:). I can also appreciate theatricality in concerts. Maybe because it's just compliment to the music and the artist, and not a full-on sing and dance attack.

Anyways, needless to say I won't be singing 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina' from my apartment balcony anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Random News and Notables

Ex-Military Officials Want To End "Don't Ask Don't Tell"



More than 100 retired military leaders have signed an agreement to end the military's current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy towards LGBT service members. Retired Adm. Charles Larson, the formal Naval Academy superintendent who originally supported the policy in 1993, has done a 180 on his position.

"There were a lot of witch hunts and a lot of people were turned out on that basis," he is quoted as saying in a Palm Center release. Other servicemen, such as retired Sgt. Brian Jones, disagree.

"Allowing homosexuality in the military would cause unnecessary sexual tension and disruptions to good order, morale, discipline and unit cohesion," Jones said. "This would erode the very qualities of military service that presently appeal to potential recruits."

News flash Sgt. Jones. Homosexuality is already in the military. I'm sure there were some queens serving right beside you during your time in the army, and I seriously doubt that in the middle of battle with bullets flying and grenades exploding, a gay private is going to be thinking "Damn, Lieutenant Dan's Hot."

Over the course of the Iraq War, many qualified soldiers have been dismissed simply because of their sexuality. That's just not right. Period.


Obama, McCain Meet To Discuss Reform


President-elect Barack Obama and former rival John McCain met today to discuss how leaders can come together and "change the bad habits of Washington."




In a joint statement both men expressed their desire together on various challenges facing the nation:



At this defining moment in history, we believe that Americans of all parties want and need their leaders to come together and change the bad habits of Washington so that we can solve the common and urgent challenges of our time," the statement said.


"It is in this spirit that we had a productive conversation today about the need to launch a new era of reform where we take on government waste and bitter partisanship in Washington in order to restore trust in government, and bring back prosperity and opportunity for every hardworking American family," they said.


Michael Jackson Sued By Sheikh

An Arab monarch's son is suing Jackson for $7 million for an autobiography and album that he claims Jackson promised but never produced. Michael denies the charges and says the money was gift.

Hopefully everything will work out and Michael won't be in the poor house. In the future he better hit up Janet, Latoya or Rebie for money instead of Arab princes. Goodness knows Joe and the boys don't have a lot of coins to spare these days, if the news reports are true

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wanda Sykes Comes Out


Comedian Wanda Sykes suprised a Las Vegas audience when she announced she was a lesbian and had married her wife in California last month.

While she has been silent about her sexual orientation over the years, Sykes said she felt the need to come out because of the recent passage of Proposition 8.

"I felt like I was being attacked, personally attacked -- our community was attacked," she reportedly told the crowd, according to an account in Sunday's New York Times.

While other gay-celeb admissions are hardly a shock, this is one of the times where I've actually been suprised by a celebrity coming out story(of course my gaydar is mostly guy-specific:). Whatever her reason, good for Wanda for speaking out, and having the courage to be one of the few openly gay black celebrities in Hollywood. Now if only a certain famous black rapper-singer-actress admitted what we already know....

Friday, November 14, 2008

Defining Yourself

Last night I watched the Escape From Jonestown special on CNN. The show detailed the events that led to the tragic mass suicide and murder of 900 people, and interviewed survivors about their experiences and how they come to terms with the time spent there.

For most people my age, the Jim Jones scandal is known only in reference to someone "drinking the Kool-Aid" when others think they're blindly following a politican or religion.

But ultimately what I took away from the special was something much deeper. The main reason why 900 people took their own lives and murdered innocent children was because they allowed someone else, in this case the "Reverend" Jim Jones (who didn't even drink the damn Kool-Aid), to define who they were. They surrendered their individually and intelligence to a man that used any and every resource in his power to control their minds, bodies and souls.

While it is unlikely that any of us will get caught up in something like the Jonestown incident, many of us experience something similar on a smaller and less violent scale daily.

Think about it. How many times have you allowed others to dictate your opinions, what you wear, how you should speak, who you should date, what school you should apply to, what job you should take? How many instances have you denied or hidden some part of yourself( a personal interest, your spirituality or sexuality) so you wouldn't make waves?

I'm not saying we should never listen to the advice or tips friends and family give us about our lives, because it can be helpful. But where does the line between taking advice and allowing others to define you begin and end?

So I guess my point is that at the end of day(who thought up that phrase lol:) no one has to live your life but YOU. Seeking out others' approval will never bring you happiness or a sense of identity. Advice is good, but ultimately you have to know who you are and what you believe in. This requires introspection and critical thinking, two things that those who seek to control others want to stamp out. And what would you do when all those people who you let define you go away? Who will you be then?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda...But Didn't

By I'm sure you're well aware of and pretty burned out(I know I am) by all the back and forth finger point that has occured in the gay blog world since Proposition 8's passage a week ago. Above all else I hope we all come away with the knowledge that bridges must be built and real alliances must be formed to prevent similar events from happening in the future, and that this incident will not be a searing wall of insults and stereotyping that symbolized nothing.

One point continually cropping up in blog comments sections by white gays is asking how they could have better understood or engaged the black community on gay marriage. Airing more videos like this one(which never saw the light of day), would've been a good place to start.




Living Out Loud With Darian: The Prop 8 Commercial That Never Aired

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Random News and Notables

He was a civil rights activist. He helped organize the March on Washington. He advised Martin Luther King Jr. on Ghandian nonviolent resistance tactics, helped organized the Montgomery bus boycott and co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with King.But Bayard Rustin also endured rabid homophobia for being an openly gay man in the civil rights movement.



According to Wikipedia, "U.S. Representative Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. forced Rustin's resignation from the SCLC in 1960 by threatening to discuss Rustin's morals charge in Congress."In addition Senator Strom Thurmond "produced a FBI photograph of Rustin talking to King while King was bathing to imply that there was a homosexual relationship between the two" and NAACP chairman Roy Wilikins didn't allow him to receive any public acknowledgement for his part in planning the March on Washington.


In the later years of his life Rustin worked as a human rights monitor for Freedom House and often spoke in favor of gay rights. He onced said, "The barometer of where one is on human rights questions is no longer the black community, it's the gay community. Because it is the community which is most easily mistreated." Bayard died in 1987, and was survived by his partner of ten years, Walter Naegle.


So while we continue to celebrate Dr. King's and the other civil rights figures' (Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Malcom X) legacy, let's not deny Bayard Rustin his place in that legacy.Here's a link to a short clip about Rustin: http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=-8795990671374283637&hl=en




Nationwide Protests Planned Against Prop 8




Protests against the passage of Proposition 8 will happen on Saturday, Nov. 15th in all 50 states. To find out what's happening in your state, go here for more details.



Even if you can't physically go to any protests, you can still contribute to the cause by telling a straight friend or family member why fighting this proposition is important or donating funds to invalidateprop8.org.


Rapper Trick Trick Doesn't Like The Gays


In an exclusive statement on Allhiphop.com, the Detriot rapper expresses his distate for homosexuality and gay people.

“I’ma go on the record right now with this. Homosexuals are probably not gonna like this album,” Trick revealed to AllHipHop.com. “I don’t want your f**got money any goddamn way. I don’t like it [homosexuality]. Carry that s**t somewhere else.”
Not afraid of an impending firestorm that could threaten his album’s success, Trick Trick explained that his anger comes from what he feels is mainstream society’s growing promotion of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.

“It’s just that every time that you turn on the TV, that sissy s**t is on,” Trick told AllHipHop.com. “And they act like its f**king okay. The world is changing for the worst when s**t like that happens. And I address that issue. I address it hard as hell.”
Now that Trick Trick has had his say....
LET THE READING BEGIN!
1. You don't want me to buy your album....done (I need money for gas anyway!)
2. How can you have so much hate against gays when the people who signed you, produced you and styled you could be gay. And I know someone in your family's probably gay. Like Chris Rock said, "Every body got at least a gay cousin!"
3. You may be a talented rapper but since you don't want me buying your album, I and millions other self-respecting gay folks that love hip hop will never know because of your ignorant tirades. Every money-hungry wannabe hustlers knows better than to diss potential customers. Hope your bank account can survive without them gay dollars.
4. And lastly, how are you gonna be homophobic with a name like Trick Trick, posing for pictures like a piece of Tuesday night Trade with a BGC profile? I mean Trick Trick...the name says it.
Enough said. Dismissed.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Fashion Hell Naw's

Beyonce.....Gwrrrrrrrrrrrl......





That dress...


That dress.....



That Dress......

Somewhere Jane Jetson is missing an outfit :).


Obama Meets Bush At The White House

After spending his campaign criticizing his policies, President-elect Barack Obama and future First Lady Michelle met with current President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.
While Mrs. Bush gave Mrs. Obama a tour of the White, Obama and Bush discussed policies and transition matters.


The meeting is a tradition in politics when one family replaces another in the White House. While Bush's disapproval rating has soared to 76 percent, hopefully Obama won't meet the same fate. The current state of the country will definitely put his goodwill with much of the public to the test.



The Daily Voice: Obama, Bush meet in the White House

New Music Review: Pink "Funhouse"


"So what/ I am a rock star/I got my rock moves/And I don't need you tonight," Pink roars in her current single "So What," a classic mix of the singer's trademark sarcasm and smart-ass attitude. Newly single, it would seem that Pink would be ready to mingle, and while Funhouse offers up her usual bravado ("So What" and "Bad Influence"), lyrically the album consistently turns inward.


"I don't wanna be the girl that has to feel the silence/The quiet scares me/Cause it screams the truth," she sings over booming drums, atmospheric backing vocals, strings and sparse electric guitar on "Sober," one of several tracks hinting that while she and ex-husband Corey Hart are best buddies now, it was a hell of a journey from divorce court to video cameos.


"I Don't Believe You" mines similar introspective territory. "Looks like/You've given up/You've had enough/But I want more/No I won't stop," Pink sings somberly, suggesting that it wasn't easy for her to throw in the towel. In "Mean" she gets more explicit: "The shower it reminds me you'd undress me with your eyes/ And now you never touch me and you tell me that you're tired."


Musically, the album is a mix of straightforward pop/rock("Please Don't Leave Me"), acoustic jams ("Crystal Ball") and hip hop/dance/rock mashups ("It's All Your Fault," "Funhouse"). My only compliaint is that the album could've have used one more "So What"-style anthem to balance out the ballads. Whatever genre she chooses to play with however, it's clear that Pink hasn't let the mirrors in her funhouse distort her true emotions, and delivers an honest, if less upbeat, album.

4.5/5


Friday, November 7, 2008

Donate to Invalidate Prop 8




The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center website has started a new website, invalidateprop8org, dedicated to overturning the passage of Proposition 8. For every donation of at least $5, the site will send a postcard with your name to Thomas Monson, president of the Mormon Church, informing him that a donation has been made in his name to the cause.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Catholic, Mormon Church: "Proposition 8 is not against any group"

Roman Catholic and Mormon Church leaders defend their opposition to gay marriage, saying Proposition 8 was not meant to single out any group in society.

"Proposition 8 is not against any group in our society. Its sole focus is on preserving God's plan for people living upon this earth throughout time," Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, said in a statment Thursday.

"The Catholic Church understands that there are people who choose to live together in relationships other than traditional marriage. All of their spiritual, pastoral and civil rights should be respected, together with their membership in the Church," Mahony said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statment, "It is important to understand that this issue for the Church has always been about the sacred and divine institution of marriage: a union between a man and a woman."

Where do I start? I have no problem if any church refuses to marry a gay couple if it contradicts with their beliefs. That's their right. What I have a problem with is religious organizations wanting to have it both ways. They want to flex their political and financial muscles to legislate morality inside and outside the church.

If you don't want me saying 'I do' to another dude in your sanctuary, that's fine. But taking legal action to stop me from doing so outside of your church is a violation of mine and many others' civil rights. Because let's be real, tax breaks, visitation and property rights don't have much to do with Christ or crucifixes.

Secondly, the defense that no specific group was targeted is so transparent. What other group was being targeted? Martians? Oompa Loompas? I mean think about it; LGBT citizens are tax-paying citizens, yet we are denied a basic civil right, to marry another consenting adult because of someone else's interpretation of their religious scripture, and what they think God wants them to do.

Now ain't that bout a.....(you know the rest)!

CNN: Catholics, Mormons defend support for same-sex ban



And The Negro Please Award Goes To......


Lil' Fizz!
Now how did this illustrious B-2K alum win this prestigous honor? It seems poor Lil Fizzy is peeved that Omarion won't return his phone calls about working on his next album. So like all D-list celebs that have score to settle, he decided to take to it to the block(the blog block that is), unknown flunky in tow, and air his grievances.


Fasten your seatbelts boys and girls, because what you're about to witness is seven minutes and 57 seconds of what will be referred to from now on as nabble (or negroidian babble, yes I had to make a new word for this). Prepare yourselves as you descend into a never-ending vortex of ignorance and misguided machismo . And now, without further delay, Lil Fizz:









Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Where Have All The R&B Groups Gone?






Weak." "Forever My Lady." "End of the Road." "Diggin On You." "Don't Let Go." "Understanding." "Don't Leave Me Girl." I'm sure you already know the songs I'm talking about, the groups that sung them, and are singing silently(or loudly) in your head songs you heard thousands of times. As far as I'm concerned, the 90's was the last golden age of the R&B supergroup. Yeah Jagged Edge has made some memborable tunes in the 2000s, but they haven't come close to achieving the popularity and influence that SWV, Jodeci, Boys II Men and TLC had in their heyday. Unlike girl groups (Pussy Cat Dolls: fun dance/pop but not a lot of depth) and guy groups (Pretty Ricky: over-the-top sexuality that borders on bad porn parody) of today, 90's R&B groups had it all. They could dress, dance, and be entertaining, but they could also SANG (LIVE!) and bring an emotional depth to their songs that went beyond the tired girl/boy-you-so-fly-let's-get-drunk-and-slab-tonight-I-don't-love-them-hoes subject matter. See if these clips jog your memory and make you want to start rockin' blue jean jackets and do the bankhead bounce!











A Bittersweet Symphony























November 4, 2008.
A day that I'll tell my younger cousins, nieces or nephews ('cause I'm not havin' no kids, but that's a separate post) about. The day that a black man officially entered 1600 Pennslyvania Ave, a.k.a. the White House. The day when it seemed like America finally acknowledged its own diversity and sought move beyond divisive racial issues. As a black man, I couldn't be prouder.

But as a gay man, my joy is tempered with a hint of sadness. While the numbers haven't been fully calculated, it's more than likely that California voters will choose to eliminate the rights of their LGBT citizens by approving Proposition 8, which will define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Amendments have also been approved in Arizona and Florida, while gay couples' adoption rights have also been stripped in Arkansas.


To add insult to injury black voters voting overwhelmingly in favor of Proposition 8, with 70 percent of black voters saying yes.

I'm sure the mainstream organizations will be quick to blame the measure's passage on black homophobia, which is partly true. However blacks only make up about 6 percent of California's population, so even if 100 percent voted no, it would still have a good chance of passing.

I think the problem is two-fold.

One: We as black gays are invisible in many of our communities. We live in silence, afraid to come out to our friends and families, staying quiet as church mice when preachers blast us and blame us for AIDS and the barbershop council dismisses us. If we want things to change, we have to come out and declare ourselves worthy of respect and dignity. The best defense is an offense. People's hearts and minds change once they personally know someone who is gay. They are forced to confront their fears, their prejudices, and their own conscience.

Two: Mainstream (i.e. mostly white) gay organizations have to make more of an effort to reach out to the black community. Regular inclusion of black gays would be a nice start. Working with the National Black Justice Coalition, a black gay organization, would've also been good. Hell, recruiting Michael Eric Dyson to speak would have earned some cool points. I mean it's hard to educate blacks on why they should support your cause if the face of gay rights almost always looks like this:


OR THIS:

The lack of black faces in gay rights groups only fuels the myth that gay=white. As long as the look of LGBT leadership remains lily white and black LGBTs remain invisible, the conservative segment of the black community can still sail along on the sea of denial that gays don't exist.

Translation: We need to get our sh*t together.

With all that said, I love Will & Grace, so no shade against Will with that pic LOL!






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