Vanessa VanDyke, the 12-year-old black girl who was threatened with expulsion a private school in Orlando, Florida unless she changed the look of her natural hair, will not be kicked out, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
VanDyke said school officials gave her a week to decide to whether to cut or shape her hair or leave Faith Christian Academy.
"We’re not asking her to put products in her hair or cut her hair," administrators said in a statement. "We’re asking her to style her hair within the guidelines according to the school handbook." However, it is unclear exactly what those guidelines are and what VanDyke would have to do to her locks for them to conform to the rules.
Despite all the (IMO unnecessary and unfair) commotion, the preteen, who planned to discuss the school's statement with her mom over the holiday break, is still confident in her looks.
“It says that I’m unique,” she said. “First of all, it’s puffy, and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight.”
Bump what you heard. The Catholic Church isn't anti-gay, they just have an image problem. At least that's the case according to Cardinal Timothy Dolan. "Well, I think maybe we've been outmarketed sometimes," he said in a preview clip of an interview set to air Sunday on Meet the Press. "We've been caricatured as being anti-gay." Dolan, if you don't know, fought tooth and nail against the passage of marriage equality in NYC back in 2011 even comparing its legalization to communist regimes. “Last time I consulted an atlas, it is clear we are living in New York, in the United States of America — not in China or North Korea,” he wrote in a letter posted on his website. “In those countries, government presumes daily to ‘redefine’ rights, relationships, values, and natural law. There, communiqués from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of ‘family’ and ‘marriage’ means.”
Dolan told host David Gregory marriage equality supporters given the church, who he claims is not "anti anybody" its reputation. "When you have forces like Hollywood, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion-molders that are behind it, it's a tough battle," he said.
So, comparing marriage equality to living in a communist state isn't anti-gay or discriminatory? I guess the written words he posted on his own website--and the centuries of viewing homosexuality as disordered, a sin whose only solution is life-long celibacy--were distorted by the wick pro-gay media. Chile please.
The GIRLS are back in all their deliciously self-absorbed, naive, vulnerable, funny, neurotic and quirky glory. And from the looks of the trailer Andrew Rannals, a.k.a. Elijah, has returned (Yaaas!) along with a few black folks in recurring roles. Now only if Donald Glover would come back for a shirtless scenes...watch the trailer below.
My latest pieces for Butlerway, a recap of Scandal's "Vermont Is For Lovers" and "The Gender Gap," a think piece on masculinity and femininity (and what seems to be an obsession with the former) both American and by extension, LGBT culture.
An excerpt from the Scandal recap:
"If you didn’t catch it before, yes, Liv and Fitz have started up yet again, but not before having a good ol’ fashioned shouting match first. Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of their fight; Fitz was pissed Liv didn’t tell him Eli was head of B6:13, and claims she knows everything about him while she’s a dirty ball of secrets to him. She is rightly enraged he shot down a plane she still believes her mother was in, and argues the fact he could something so callous simply because it was an order is proof it’s he, not her, who needs to be protected and saved. In reality, they both need rescuing from each other. They may be in love, but it’s an all-consuming, desperate, blinding type of love, on that obliterates everything and everyone in its path. It’s fitting all this went down in the house Fitz bought in hopes they’d raise children and make jam; it’s a fantasy world, and that’s where they both live whenever they’re together. 'Everything’s Coming Up Mellie,' showed there was still a chance Fitz and Mellie could be a happy couple again, if they worked at it. And Jake, though a bit bland, carries none of Fitz’s secrets (well, besides the whole spying on her thing in the beginning) or manipulativeness, and has shown over and over that he really cares about Olivia and wants to be with her. But Fitz, for whatever reason, isn’t interested in repairing he and Mellie’s relationship; as for Liv, love also means pain, and simply being with a man, out in the open with no restrictions, is too much for her. So though she has one foot out the door, she still tells Fitz “don’t sell the house. Yet.” Just when she thought she was out, they pulled her back in."
And one from "The Gender Gap":
As men, we are socialized to be tough, unemotional, not too sensitive or expressive. Think about all the conversation you’ve had with your friends about video games, sports, movies and whatever the topic du jour was. I’m willing to bet most of the adjectives used were one of the following: “tight,” “a beast” “cool” “off the chain” or “bad ass.” Anything description beyond that is not only suspect, but unacceptable, and likely to earn you side ways glances or the dreaded “pause” or “no homo.” Like most social interaction, these codes aren’t said out loud, but everyone knows how to operate and conduct themselves. This spills over into our choices in music, clothes, hobbies and even our careers. Wanna make something wrong, uncool or forbidden to young boy or teen? Label it as “gay.”
Make time to read Diane Anderson-Minshall's excellent in-depth Advocate story about a tragic fire at The Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans in 1973. Even more horrific than the 32 patrons killed was the silence, disgust and shame in its aftermath; politicians didn't offer public sympathy, religious leaders refused mourners and many families refused to claim the bodies of their dead children. The fire also drove many in the Big Easy's LGBT community further into the closet.
Fortunately, the story is now being told through two films--The Upstairs Lounge Fire and Upstairs Inferno--an art installation, Clay Delery's book The UpStairs Lounge Arson: Thirty-two Deaths in a New Orleans Gay Bar, June 24, 1973 and Upstairs, a musical. You can also read about the fire in Johnny Townsend's Let The Faggots Burn, which contains the first-hand accounts of many survivors. Watch the trailer for both filmsand archive footage of CBS's coverage of the fire below.
Head over to Butlerway. to read my latest piece "What's Your Fantasy?" which talks about the destructive collision of sexual stereotypes and race. and my own experiences being propositioned for a lil sumthin' sumthin' about white gay men with a thing for black boys. An excerpt:
"Why the focus on “big black ****?” A simple “you’re so hot,” or “hey sexy, wanna hook up tonight?” would have sufficed. Though deep down, I knew the reason for his fascination with me and the other black men he propositioned was the same one my straight friends had encountered with some of their female conquests. It wasn’t really about us, but the fantasy we represented: the big black buck, the sexual savage or–its modern equivalent, the thug–that would come into his home, ravage his precious white body and leave him curled in a post-coital fetal position, begging for more. Of course, all hookups are based in part in fantasy—and depending on your hookup partner’s Photoshop skills, a harsh reality–but this struck me as less sexual fantasy and more as an unhealthy fetish. It reminded me of the time an older white man approached me and a friend at club, confessing he “had a thing for black men,” and asked if I wanted to make a trip to the bathroom with him so he could “get a little taste.” The fact we were wearing baggy jeans and fitted caps was not lost on me. Everyone has their preferences. But if we were rocking buttoned up shirts, vests, ties and slacks, would we have gotten the same reaction?"
Transgender Day of Remembrance, which recognizes transgender people killed in "acts of hatred and violence," is today. The day began 15 years ago, when a candlelight vigil for Rita Hester, a trans woman who had been murdered, led to the original "Remembering Our Dead" project, a list of people killed because of anti-transgender violence. Numerous events, including vigils and ceremonies, are taking place across the world.
Find out if there are any activities near you HERE.
My latest piece for Butlerway.com has been posted. As you might be able to glean from the title, "Why Can't We Be Friends?" deals with friendships and the sometimes combative (i.e.shade throwing) dynamics that can exist between gay and bisexual men. An excerpt:
"I’m not suggesting friendship between gay or bi men is impossible—I’ve had and continue to have positive, interesting and rewarding relationships with gay friends and acquaintances. But I’d be lying if I said I’ve never noticed that there can be a wariness, a sense of suspicion that our brethren aren’t not brethren at all, but a threat, either to our personal status or to our romantic relationships. In other words, our initial thoughts aren’t “let me to get know this person” or “what’s he all about?” but “what stunt is he trying to pull?” or “is this bitch trying to take my man?” This often translates into jealousy, suspicious side eyes or the throwing of shade. For many of us, this mentality was born in childhood, a response to the sting of hurtful, homophobic insults hurled at us from bullies or beliefs instilled in us by families and churches. A sharp tongue, a thick skin and a paranoid, hypersensitive mind were the only tools many of us had available in our closets as we struggled to accept ourselves. Problem is, once we came out, we brought our old equipment with us."
Tyler The Creator says words like "faggot" are only offensive if a person chooses to be offended by them. In an interview last week on the Arsenio Hall Show, the rap star defended his use of word, comparing it to racial slurs.
"That’s just a word, you can take the power out of that word," Tyler told Hall. "The way that I see things, you chose to be offended if you care more about stuff like that, and that might sound very ignorant, but if you're a black person and someone calls you the n-word and you get offended, maybe you might be. But if I know that I'm not a n-word...I'm not gonna get offended."
Tyler cited his friendship with Frank Ocean as proof he wasn't homophobic. "Frank is gay and I use that word all the time," said Tyler. "He doesn't care because he knows me. He knows when I say that word I'm not thinking of someone's sexual orientation. It's just another word that has no meaning."
Hmmmmmmm....okay. First off, I hate when people say and do things they know can rub folks the wrong way and then place the blame for being offended on them. It's so damn condescending. People should have the right to feel offended, regardless of how asinine, petty or trivial their gripe may come off to others (which in this case isn't--but of course that's my opinion). Particularly in this case, when a word that has historically been used to degrade and dehumanize LBGT people, and, as I know firsthand, is often the prelude to physical violence, being offended shouldn't just be shrugged off as equivalent to being pissed someone threw shade at a new pair of shoes you bought. Like the N word, the suffering and pain behind it is and continues to be real, and should be acknowledged. And it felt like Tyler glossed over that.
All that being said, I'm not of the mindset we should ban slurs from public discourse or hold mock funerals for them. Let's be real--there will always black folks who say nigga, LGBT folks who say faggot or trannie, women (and their assorted gays) who say bitch or ho, to the chagrin of other blacks, LGBTs and women, no matter what. To me what is more important is not so much the word, but the context and the intent. For example, Tyler says his friend Frank Ocean, an openly gay or bi (he's never put a label on his sexuality, but let's stick with those for the sake of argument) man, doesn't have a problem with him using the word "faggot." But that's just it; Frank Ocean is Tyler's friend. They have a relationship where they've established clear boundaries on what they can and can't say to one another. As Latifah said about being called a bitch in "U.N.I.T.Y." "now don't be gettin' mad/when we playin' it's cool."
However, there's a big difference between trading otherwise hostile slurs with friends in private and someone screaming said slurs at a black or gay couple or woman walking down the street. The intent in this case is to intimidate and gain dominion over a perceived threat. What worries me is when artists like Tyler The Creator, Eminem (who's used the same argument for eons) Chris Rock or Louis C.K., all of whom claim to be supportive of the LGBT community, use "faggot" in their songs or routines, their legions of fans--particularly ones who don't think twice about saying "pause" or "that's gay"--won't pick up on this nuance, or will just ignore it all together.
But is that Tyler The Creator's fault? Earlier in the Arsenio interview he made a point about people thinking for themselves, which I'm a big believer in. We shouldn't take celebrities' (or anyone's) words and actions as gospel, and need to come to our own conclusions. There's no way a singer, rapper, comedian, actor, writer or director can control people's reaction to their creations.
I guess in the end it's a question of freedom of expression versus personal responsibility, along with critical thinking. An artist may not be able to stop others from misinterpreting their work, but they can choose to be transparent about their intentions or be aware of how the majority of people (i.e. well adjusted, reasonable) will perceive their actions. On a day-to-day level, what we play well in private--or as, Wendy Williams says, kitchen table talk--won't always fly in public, and we should cognizant of that.
Okay, so this post has gone in about two or three different directions. Watch Tyler's interview below and tell me what you think.
If you need to play catch up on Scandal, head over to Butlerway.com to read my recap of last week's episode "Icarus," which dealt with the aftermath of the mind-blowing revelation that (spoiler alert!) Fitz shot down a plane Olivia's mother was flying on as part of the uber secret Operation Remington. Could this be the official end of Olitz? Liv's reaction certainly gives weight to that scenario:
"After downing a glass or five of wine, Olivia dials up Eli, who also clams up despite her tearful rage, only allowing her ask one question about her mother’s death. She, being an actual human being, asks more than one but Eli maintains his icy, vaguely threatening tone. At one point his face softens enough for us to see he actually does give a damn about his daughter, advising her to let the past be the past. Easy for him to say; he isn’t, as Olivia describes herself, afraid to form attachments to people because “my mother is dead and my father is that thing that goes bump in the night.” Olivia’s public world is ones of lies, secrets, cover ups and image makeovers. Here she tried to shine a light on some of her private darkness by simply asking for the unvarnished truth, and she was denied it by those who say they love her. No wonder she sprints from more emotionally available and honest guys like Edison and Jake; they offer a rose without a thorn. And for Liv, it ain’t real unless she can get pricked. For her part, she summons enough strength to kick Fitz out when he comes to try and bring her back to the fold. However the flashbacks between her mother walking out for the last time and Fitz leaving tell read a bit ambiguous. Is she closing the door on the man she now sees only as her mother’s murderer? Or is a case of her feeling abandoned yet again, losing, what is in her mind, a strong protective force?"
Read the rest HERE.
This is welcome news. For the first time in U.S. history, the senate has approved a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. With a final vote of 64 to 32, the bill now moves on to the House of Representatives.
All 55 Democratic senators voted yes on the bill, along with nine Republicans that included John McCain and Jeff Flake. Senators also voted down an amendment championed by Republican Senator Pat Toomy, which would have expanded the number of organizations and individuals that could discriminate against LGBT people under the banner of religious beliefs. He cited religious organizations that host secular activities, such as a gym run by the Mormon Church, a Presbyterian-run retirement home, or a Jewish community center.
However, others pointed out the bill already contains a measure exempting faith-based organizations and clergy from ENDA's discrimination protections. "This amendment threatens to gut the central premise of ENDA," said Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, who opposed the amendment. "The amendment is ill-defined, and opens floodgates to all kinds of court cases."
The Advocate has the complete breakdown of the votes HERE.
As of today, it has been five years since my very post on K. Clark's Corner. I know, they grow up so fast! But seriously I can't believe what it has grown into. I started this blog weeks before my 22nd birthday. I'd been out for a few years, had a steady relationship with my first boyfriend, and was doing well in school. Things were good, better than they'd been for the first time in a long time.
But there were lingering feelings, loose strings that weren't tied up. Originally, K. Clark's Corner began as a lark, an outlet for me to keep my writing sharp as an aspiring journalist. Over time though, the loose strings and lingering feelings spilled over into my posts, and the blog evolved into a sounding board where I could wrestle with getting out difficult, sometimes dark experiences. It wasn't just my past though; as I dealt with my family's reaction to my coming out, struggled through the break up of my first relationship and the early days of my latest one, confronted doubts about my faith and tried to land a full-time job, this blog was a refuge, a hiding place (albeit a public one--that could probably be a post in itself) where I could lay out my fears and frustrations uncensored.
Fortunately, this hasn't only been a canvas for me to paint my pain, but to indulge my various obsessions. Divas, movies, music, TV, the ballroom scene, sexuality, gender, anti-gay politicians and preachers, shitty part time jobs, fine ass men--they all gotten ample airtime. Most unexpectedly, all those paragraphs extolling the virtues of Madonna or overanalyzing the shit out of Mad Men and True Blood unwittingly laid the groundwork for future freelance writing opportunities and a warm up for my forays into fiction. It has also introduced me to some wonderful blogger friends (shout out to Prince Toddy, Bama Boi and Wonderman).
All of this is to say while this space has been many things over the past five years, but it has always been rewarding one. Thanks to everyone who's ever commented or shared things I've written or simply taken time out to read a post. So without further ado, here are my favorite posts. And yes, for those who are avid readers of Boy Culture, I'm completely lifting this format from Matthew Rettenmund. But as Tyra Banks schooled me, steal from the best and make it your own. I hope I've done so with K. Clark's Corner. Enjoy.
Be sure to head on over to Butlerway.com and check out my latest Scandal recap of "More Cattle, Less Bull" (chile, Shonda has cooked up another grade A plot twist) as well as the more personal "Out, In and In-Between: Coming Out At Work," which details the personal and professional dilemma many gay/bi men (including moi) face when it comes to deciding whether to be out on the job.