Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Man In The Mirror

Thirty-something New York musician Chicago has been transitioning from female to male since 2009. In that time, photographer Raymond McCrea Jones has been documenting his journey in a series of arresting black and white photographs that document his life both on and off stage.

"Chicago, who took his name from the city he was raised in, moved to New York about 10 years ago to pursue music. He performs as a solo artist under the moniker Princess Tiny and the Meats.

While working at The New York Times, Jones used his free time to photograph Chicago’s life on and off stage. He followed him around the city to performances, the health clinic and his Brooklyn apartment. Jones says the project forced him to challenge his own views on gender.

“There’s not always a black and white,” he said. “There’s not always a male or female. There are a lot of people out there who don’t feel like they’re either, and that’s OK. That’s what I took out of it.”

Read the rest of the article and view the rest of the pics over at CNN.com.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Erick Sermon On Gays In Hip Hop

All I can say is Erick hon....you GOTS to chill. Pure foolishness and fallacious babble. For a slightly saner (not counting the Gay Mafia assertions) perspectives on the issue, check out Too $hort's and DMC's Vlad interviews below. Hopefully Mr. Short's thinking has evolved on giving sex advice to teens as well.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Maryland Senate Approves Marriage Equality

Score one for the good guys. With a Senate vote of 25-22, Maryland becomes the eighth state to legalize same-sex marriage, and the fourth state in the past year.

"The approval in Annapolis caps years of failed attempts by gay rights advocates to gain equal access to marriage, and the hundreds of legal protections that accompany the union. The governor, a Democrat, plans to sign the bill "within a week," a spokeswoman said.

 Nevertheless, implementation of the measure is far from certain. Even supporters concede that the law will likely be petitioned to referendum, and they expect Maryland voters to have the final say in November. The legislation has an effective date of January 2013 — well after the November election. Recent polls have shown that Marylanders are evenly split on the issue, so it is difficult to predict what will happen at the ballot box."

Even though voters may prove to be an obstacles, this is obviously good news. Read the rest HERE.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reunited And It Feels So Bad....

Well it's official. Rihanna and her ex-BF Chris Brown are collaborating on a remix to the former's song "Birthday Cake" and a new version of Brown's "Turn Up The Music." According to TMZ:

"Both songs hit the Internet this week ... and both Rihanna and Brown have been pushing the songs on Twitter.

The songs seem to prove the rumors ... that Rihanna has forgiven Brown and is willing to move on. Earlier this week, Brown tweeted Rihanna "Happy Birthday" ... and Rihanna actually responded, "Thanks."

Rihanna is currently in London (see photo above) ... and Chris Brown was most recently seen in Miami.

As we previously reported, Brown is currently in a relationship with a woman named Karrueche Tran ... and we're told the two seem very happy together."

If I were Rihanna's manager and/or publicist, I'd be tearing my hair out, trashing my office and terrorizing interns Ari Gold-style. While I'm a big believer in forgiveness (it's not for them, it's for you and all that jazz) RiRi....chile this is career suicide. Chris Brown didn't just push you or slap you, which would've been bad enough. He punched, choked and even bit you. In short, he beat you down like a damn man or a dog you're trying to put under. What's more, it's not like what happened three years ago was "reportedly" true or open to speculation, or just your own personal recollection told decades afterward like Tina (I'm unaware if she ever reported Ike to the police). There are police reports and public documentation that Brown brutally assaulted you.

And now you wanna do not one, but TWO songs with him? Do you realize how that will make you look to your fans and the general public? It doesn't matter if this is merely a musical reunion--people are going to assume that ya'll are trading more than just melody lines, especially if you decide to commemorate the occasion with a pair of music videos. I'd figure you'd know this as a global superstar, but perception is everything. And people are gonna perceive you as a chicken head who can't leave her thuggish ex-boyfriend alone. You're hot right now, so you may think you're immune to reality of the situation. But the wrong move could sending you packing faster than a bald-headed Britney or a bare nipple Ms. Jackson.

Even though I'm not team Breezy by any means, I don't feel he should totally give up his career and retire to a dark corner, curl up in a fetal position and cry about his mistakes for the rest of his life like some. I mean what else is the dude supposed to do? Become an engineer or marine biologist ? But at the same time, even the most casual follower of this whole saga would give the side eye to this turn of events. Maybe if Brown actually showed some true remorse for his actions instead of throwing chairs at windows, telling his detractors to fuck off and got more involved in speaking out against domestic violence, then this idea might seem less idiotic. Again, I understand it's important to move on, cleanse your aura and all that mess. But GURL........

On a side note, isn't Rihanna giving us mid-90's Mary J. in the pic above?

Monday, February 20, 2012

WATCH: Trailer For 'Struck By Lighting

Take a look at the trailer for Struck By Lighting, a teen flick about an ambitious high school senior written by and starring Glee's Chris Colfer. Judging from the tidbits, I could see myself quoting lines verbatim a few months from now. Watch below.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Janet Mock and Clay Cane Discuss Being Black and LGBT

Journalist/radio host Clay Cane and writer/transgender advocate Janet Mock chat about being black and LGBT, transgender issues, childhood experiences and more. Watch below.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Music: Avan Lava "It's Never Over"

If you're in the mood to dance, "It's Never Over," a ridiculously catchy track by indie pop band Avan Lava will help you get your fix. I'm personally in love with the song--it's full of synths that bore a hole in your ear, an addictive bass line and falsetto vocals galore--and the uber campy video that came out yesterday. Get into it below.

WATCH: Trailer for Documentary 'Bully'

Filmmaker Lee Hirsh's compelling new documentary Bully, which comes out March 9, follows five school kids over the course of a year to examine the problem of bullying in American schools. According to The Advocate:

"Hirsch documents numerous stories — including one of a 16-year-old lesbian who after coming out was ostracized along with her family by her entire town — but one child emerges as the film's clear protagonist. Alex, a gentle-natured, bespectacled seventh-grade boy in Sioux City, Iowa, finds there's no more terrifying place than the school bus. For him, the ride to and from his middle school each day is hellish — filled with cruel taunts and pencil jabs, even being "strangled," as he puts it, by older students. When his worried father asks about his day, Alex tries to assuage the concerns of his parents by saying the other kids were "just messing with" him. Hirsch traveled on the bus with Alex, and while he was legally prohibited from physically interceding, he became so alarmed by the abuse he witnessed that he took the footage to Alex's parents, the school, and the local police department.

In another harrowing scene, in Perkins, Okla., a boy sobs while leaning against the open coffin of his best friend, 11-year-old Ty Smalley, who committed suicide after being bullied. Ty's father, who describes himself as a simple man, learned to use the Internet so that he could launch a nonprofit antibullying organization, Stand for the Silent."

Watch the trailer below, and learn more about the film HERE.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Suspect Charged In Atlanta Gay Bashing

One of the scumbags who viciously attacked 20-year-old Brandon White outside an Atlanta grocery store has been arrested.

ATLANTA — Atlanta police said Saturday they have arrested a suspect in the beating of a 20-year-old gay man that was captured on a widely viewed video.

Police spokesman Carlos Campos said that officers have charged 18-year-old Christopher Cain with aggravated assault and robbery in the Feb. 4 attack outside a southwest Atlanta store.

Authorities are still seeking two other suspects in the beating of Brandon White. Their names haven't been released.

Federal authorities are investigating the attack as a possible hate crime. Gay slurs are heard in the video as White is beaten. White told reporters that he shouldn't have to fear for his life because he is gay.

It was not immediately known Saturday if Cain had hired an attorney.

Dozens of community residents turned out in cold weather Saturday to show support for White and solidarity against neighborhood crime, particularly when it is prompted by prejudice.

According to a video posted by WSB-TV (http://bit.ly/Axy0tg ), U.S. Rep. John Lewis told the crowd, "When you see something going wrong, you must do what you are doing here today."

Hopefully the others will be brought to justice.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

For Nippy...

Like many tributes, I thought it would be best to begin by reminiscing about the first time I heard Whitney's voice--that perfect, pure, powerful, awe-inspiring instrument--The Voice. But as I tried to conjure that first note, lyric and image, and where I was and what I was doing, for some reason I couldn't. However, it is not due to a sudden flash of amnesia. It is because I cannot genuinely recall a time when I didn't hear Whitney's voice. There's no point in my 25 years that I can't remember listening to her.

As with many a gay boy of my generation, my introduction to Whitney Houston came courtesy of my mother, who would play her cassettes (yes, cassettes!) of The BodyguardWhitney Houston and I'm Your Baby Tonight constantly. Whether we were at home or in the car, "Saving All My Love For You," "The Greatest Love of All," "All The Man I Need" "Run To You," "Shoop," "I Have Nothing" and of course "I Will Always Love You" were on constant repeat in my head, where they have stayed ever since. Although I embraced other divas and musical styles, I always came back to Whitney's music. Like an old friend or ex-lover, we may have lost touch or agreed to see other people, but we still hooked up from time to time. And I never felt cheated.

To this day, I can duplicate many of Whitney's vocal flourishes and runs verbatim. Even when I'm singing to someone's else music, a bit of her style always creeps in. Her voice and persona are ingrained in my psyche. She is the best vocal teacher I never had.

There's no need to run down Whitney's full chart/award history--the American Music Awards, the Grammys, the seven straight number ones--we know she swept the industry like a force of nature. But some oft-repeated "facts" need to be revised. Today, the popular tale of her career is that Whitney, while coming from a soul tradition of her mother Cissy and her godmother Aretha, was turned into a bland pop product by Clive Davis and that while vocally gifted, she lacked any fire or passion. Pardon my french but that's bullshit. While it's true that her phenomenal voice was reined on her records, all you have to do is search YouTube to know live performance is where Whitney really shined and her soul came bursting out.

At her peak, Whitney could sing the same song five or ten different ways and every performance would single worthy. How many American Idol wannabes can say the same? Who else could make a hit of The Star Spangled Banner? Who else could turn pansy ass tracks like "How Will I Know" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" into full on pop anthems? Yes she could belt, but her talents for improvisation, lyrical/song interpretation, vocal control and melisma were almost unparalleled. Simply put, Whitney was/is your favorite singer's favorite singer, and the line of divas influenced by her--Mariah, Celine, Mary J, Jennifer Hudson, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Leona Lewis--is too long to mention. She is the reason big voiced, gospel-influenced vocals became standard in mainstream pop. She, along with Diana and Janet, is also the reason that black female pop stars can enjoy such widespread mainstream success in both music and film, and land on the covers of Vanity Fair, Vogue, Rolling Stone, Elle and other magazines.

I'll admit that I laughed at a MadTV sketch or two about Whitney, and chuckled while shaking my head at Being Bobby Brown. I could say that watching her downward spiral was so depressing that the only reaction was to laugh, but I'd be lying. But even though I chuckled at "crack is wack" and other cringe-worthy moments, all I had to do was pull up an old performance or listen to one of her songs and I was reminded of what I loved about her in the first place: that voice, and joy she luxuriated in while using it. It was what kept me hoping that she would work through her demons and come out the other side. For while it looked like a happy ending was on the horizon, with another rehab stint and a remake of Sparkle in the works. But for whatever reason, things didn't turn out that way, which makes hearing about her death feel even more like a punch in the gut.

While reading Twitter, posting lyrics with other fans and looking at all the condolences, someone asked why we only get upset about celebrity deaths when so many other unknowns are dying everyday. What I responded with, and what I believe, is that while everyone's life is important, celebrities live out their lives in a way that affects the masses, so when they die, the loss is felt that much more.

Stars--the biggest and best ones at least--work themselves into the inner cracks and crevices of our lives, the spaces where we are at our strongest or the most vulnerable. They irrevocably attached themselves to our happiest moments and saddest memories. At best, they inspire us to be better. At worst, they infuriate us and serve as scapegoats to make us feel better about our own shortcomings. So when they die, a part of us seems to go with them.

Whitney Houston is gone. A sad fact for her family, especially for Cissy, who will have to bury her daughter, and Bobby Kristina, who will have to go on without her mother. But ultimately she left her mark on the world, as we all aspire to do. Dorian Corey once astutely quipped, "If you shoot an arrow in the air and it goes real high, hooray for you." Hooray for Nippy.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Whitney Houston Dies At 48

I'm speechless right now. First Etta, then Don, now Whitney?

From AP:

LOS ANGELES — Whitney Houston, who reigned as pop music's queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, has died. She was 48.

Publicist Kristen Foster said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unclear.

At her peak in the 1980s and '90s, Houston the golden girl of the music industry and one of the world's best-selling artists.

Among her hits were "How Will I Know," ''Saving All My Love for You" and "I Will Always Love You." She won multiple Grammys including album and record of the year.

Her success carried her beyond music to movies like "The Bodyguard."

But by the end of her career, drug use took its toll as her record sales plummeted and her voice became raspy and hoarse.

I just knew in my heart of hearts she'd pull a Mary J and come back somehow, whether in music or just life in general. Damn....it goes without saying but a tribute is in the works.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Where Did Our Love Go?

Diana Ross, a.k.a Miss Ross, a.k.a The Boss, will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at The Grammys this Sunday (ironic given that she's never won a Grammy in her entire career). But a L.A. Times piece by Ernest Hardy makes a compelling case why that honor may not be enough.

A few choice quotes:

"The late Marvin Gaye, Ross' Motown contemporary and label mate, was vocal about his jealousy over attention she received from the label, but he also gave her due props. "Diana's about business," Gaye told biographer David Ritz in "Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye." "She'll out rehearse you, out dress you, and outperform you, so you best stay out of her way. I appreciate Diana's trip and her talent. She's worked hard for everything she's achieved."

R&B singer Ledisi:

"She made little girls dare to dream once they experienced her songs or films," says the singer. "And of course, I was one of them — a shy, skinny, awkward, big-eyed, brown girl watching 'Lady Sings the Blues' for the first time at a friend's house on a plastic-covered sofa. I remember thinking, 'Wow, look at that white suit with that hat, and those red lips.' Her version of 'Our Love Is Here to Stay' made me fall in love with jazz and Billie Holiday. I wanted to be like her."

Visual artist Mark Bradford:

"She was a trailblazer who wrote chapter after chapter, who put herself at the center of the conversation and demanded a seat at the table," he observes. "She didn't want black power. She wanted power. There's this thing with women — especially women of color — that when they have ambition, it's [perceived as] a character flaw" says Bradford. "But Diana Ross would throw it in your face. She didn't apologize for it."

Read the rest HERE.

Howard Stern Goes On Pro-Gay Rant, Inspired By Ellen

Whether you love, hate or simply don't care about Howard Stern, after listening to this,  you will respect him.

Two Suspects ID'd In Atlanta Gay-Bashing Video

Atlanta Police say they've identified two of the three suspects who attacked 20-year-old Brandon White outside a convenience store. Watch AJC's report below.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Random Jam: Mary J. Blige "Changes I've Been Goin' Through"

Can't believe it's been 20 years since this came out. The breakdown at the end always does something for me.

Mother Bey Out On The Town

Ladies leave your babies at home...at least if you got a squad of nannies and your pockets are full grown lol. Not sure why I'm posting these pics of Beyonce out on the town sans Blue Ivy, if only for the fact that I saw them and immediately thought "damn she looks fab." Get into her post-baby curves, jewelry, heels and handbag below.

CNN Suspends Roland Martin After Homophobic Tweets

Via Rod 2.0

In the wake of controversy over homophobic tweets during the Superbowl, CNN has decided to suspend contributor Roland Martin. GLAAD and the National Black Justice Coalition have been speaking out against Martin and calling for his resignation. CNN released this statement about the situation.

"Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive. Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being.” 

CNN took its time, but it clearly reached a strong decision here. What Martin had tweeted — advocating beatings for men who’d enjoyed the David Beckham underwear ad shown during the Super Bowl plus the same for a New England Patriot clad in a pink suit — was the equivalent of cheerleading for violence against gays."

GLAAD spokesperson Rich Ferraro applauded CNN's decision.

 "CNN today took a strong stand against anti-LGBT violence and language that demeans any community,"  Ferraro said. "Yesterday, Martin also spoke out against anti-LGBT violence. We look forward to hearing from CNN and Roland Martin to discuss how we can work together as allies and achieve our common goal of reducing such violence as well as the language that contributes to it." 

New Jersey-based pastor, gay activist, author and producer Rev. Kevin E. Taylor has a great editorial about Martin and why some black gays defended his tweets. Read it HERE.

Atlanta Gay Bashing Victim Speaks Out

Brandon White, the young man who was assaulted by a group of gang members outside an Atlanta convenience store, has decided to speak out in effort to bring the cowards to justice. Watch the full press conference below.

Monday, February 6, 2012

"Faggot" Beaten By Thugs Outside Atlanta Grocery Store

Awful and disgusting. World Star Hip Hop posted a graphic of a young man being assaulted by a group of gang members outside of an Atlanta grocery store. In broad daylight. All because "faggots," are not tolerated in their neighborhood.

According to The Smoking Gun:

The business, located at 1029 McDaniel Street SW, is a popular congregating spot for members of the Pittsburgh Jack City Gang (or “PBJC”). The group has also used the name “Jack City 1029.”

After being provided a link to the video, an Atlanta police spokesperson told TSG that the clip had been forwarded to the department’s gang division as well as the unit that investigates bias crimes against the LGBT community. Officer Kim Jones added that she was researching whether a police report was generated at the time of the attack (which investigators believe took place over the weekend).

The video opens with an unseen cameraman and a second man outside the grocery store. The second man announces, “Round one. Jack City. No faggots.” Then, after a diminutive man exits the grocery, an assailant approaches him from behind and delivers a brutal punch to the side of the victim’s head. The man’s cell phone flies from his hand and he crumples to the ground.

The victim is then set upon by three men who punch and stomp him while he tries to cover his head. One of the attackers--who is wearing a shirt with “Jack Gang” imprinted on the back--even strikes the victim in the head with a tire.

As the man is beaten, the giggling cameraman announces, four times, “No faggots in Jack City.” An onlooker can be heard saying, “No faggot, man.” The video ends after one assailant picks up the victim’s cell phone and then punches the man in the head while holding the device.

Watch the video (it is graphic) below.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

WATCH: Madonna Performs At The Superbowl

She came. She saw. She SLAYED (despite a little slip--see I can admit that:). Get into it below:

Friday, February 3, 2012

African Americans For Humanism To Put Up Atheist Billboards

I saw this over at Sir Toddy English's blog and had to post it. African Americans for Humanism has started a billboard campaign targeted towards African Americans who are questioning their religious beliefs. Member Alix Jules (pictured above) and seven other local activists' faces will be on billboards alongside prominent black humanists from history.

“The question’s regarding doubt of religion. Do you really buy what you’re being told?” said Alix Jules, a member of African Americans for Humanism, a national organization of non-believers.

In July, Jules was featured in a hot-button Ebony magazine article discussing his decision to become an atheist. His face is also on the ad bound for the billboard. It will be alongside the famous free-thinker, historical writer and activist Langston Hughes.

“Can I believe in a God that will help me find my keys and win a ball game but allows hunger in places like Africa? Those are really big questions the church does not have answers to,” he said.

Obviously I'm on board with this campaign as well as its timing (Black History Month). Religion, particularly Christianity, is so entrenched in black culture that other beliefs, or lack thereof, are never given much airtime. Hopefully this will cause more black folks to pause for a moment and really think about what they believe. Watch KDFW Fox 4's report below.

Give Me All Your Luvin....

In case you didn't know, Madonna's video for "Give Me All Your Luvin" featuring Nicki Minja and M.I.A. has been unleashed on the world. And like all good videos, it's made me like the song even more. While the bevy of cheerleaders and football players are an obvious wink wink to her upcoming Superbowl performance(which I'm not mad at--Madonna's no marketing virgin, and she's pushing MDNA like it's 1985!) the overall Marilyn Monroe-meets-Ann Margaret-meets-"Like A Virgin"-meets-Sailor Moon-esque imagery is fun in a campy, tongue-in-cheek way.

Nicki and M.I.A. come off great too, and not just as accessories to make Madge seem "down with the kids." Although I would have preferred if her cut away solo shots had been a bit more choreographed (she just loves shooting those finger guns:), it's obvious Madonna's having a blast and looks gorgeous. Watch below.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Madonna On The Gays: "I Never Left Them"

The Madonna media assault is in full swing with the queen of pop gracing the cover of  The Advocate. While it's not as raunch-tastic as her 1991 sit down with the magazine (and if you haven't read it, you must; Madge goes IN chile:), it provides good insight into her new movie W.E., her thoughts on Gaga's gay appeal, and why those who doubt her rainbow credentials should have a Coke and a smile and....you know the rest.

On how she was personally affected by AIDS:

“I was extremely affected by it. I remember lying on a bed with a friend of mine who was a musician, and he had been diagnosed with this kind of cancer, but nobody knew what it was. He was this beautiful man, and I watched him kind of waste away, and then another gay friend, and then another gay friend, and then another gay friend. They were all artists and all truly special and dear to me. I saw how people treated them differently,” she says. “I saw the prejudices, and I think probably I got that confused with, intertwined with, you know, maybe things that…ways that people treated me differently.”

In response to the sentiment that she abandoned gay fans:

“I never left them. When you’re single, you certainly have more time to socialize and hang out with your gay friends, but then you get married and you have a husband and you have children, and your husband wants you to spend time with him. I’m not married anymore, but I have four kids, and I don’t have a lot of time for socializing. I hope nobody’s taking that personally. It certainly was not a conscious decision. As it stands, most of my friends in England are gay. But I’m back. Never fear.”

Read the rest HERE.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

'Think Before You Speak' Anti-Gay Bullying Campaign PSA to Air During Superbowl

This was good thinking. Being that everyone (especially the gays, being that Madge is gracing the stage this year:) will be watching the game this Sunday, a primetime slot provides the ideal place for GLSEN's message to reach millions of homes.

Via The Huffington Post:

"The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) will share its new PSA campaign targeting anti-LGBT language among teens with Super Bowl attendees at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. The award-winning "Think Before You Speak" campaign features stars Hilary Duff, Wanda Sykes and the NBA's Grant Hill.

"GLSEN is thrilled to share the Think Before You Speak campaign’s message of respect with tens of thousands of football fans attending the Super Bowl this year,” GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard said in a press release. "The PSA campaign featuring Hilary Duff, Wanda Sykes and the NBA’s Grant Hill has already reached millions of Americans across the country and we are truly grateful for this opportunity to increase awareness among a new kind of audience about the negative impact of anti-gay slurs."

View the PSA below.

'It Gets Better' Project Comes to MTV

Dan Savage's It Gets Better campaign, created to combat anti-gay bullying and teen suicide, is making the leap from YouTube to the original boob tube with an hour long special.

The program, set to air on MTV and Logo on February 21, will follow the live of three LGBT kids as they grapple with issues related to their sexuality. The show, hosted by Savage, will feature guest appearances by Zachary Quinto (who else loved him in So Notorious?), Margaret Cho, Sia, Chaz Bono and singers Sia, Jake Shears and Adam Levine.

Watch a short clip from the special below.

Get More: MTV Shows

Soul Train Creator Don Cornelius Found Dead

Damn....there's not much to say about this tragic turn of events.

Soul Train creator/original host Don Cornelius was found dead in his Sherman Oaks, CA home by a family member.  LAPD believes his death is a suicide and said Cornelius suffered a gun shot wound to the head, which appears to be self-inflicted. He was 75 years old.

Don Cornelius is an entertainment icon, and even though I didn't grow up the original Soul Train era, it is clear that the show had a huge impact on pop culture, from music to fashion to dance. There would be no Yo! MTV Raps, MTV Jams  or 106 & Park had there not been a Soul Train first.

Rest in peace Don.
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