Category Archives: gay

Brown Lives

brown lives

Since the Black Lives Matter started after a series of outrageous killings of Black men and women by the police, I have often asked: where is the equivalent Latino group. Where is Brown Lives Matter?

It seems that the outspoken people of color should all have the stage, but it seems to be the Black folks that have the headlines. Given the fact that, according to the NAACP, “together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population”

And let’s not forget that some presidential candidates have talked about “rounding up the field hands and the busboys and deporting them southward, and build a wall. But why do Latinos not have the same rage?

Héctor Tobar in todays New York Times offers some suggestions. He says “almost all the Latino students surveyed objected to using Brown Lives Matter on the ground of cultural appropriation. Black people have suffered enough, they said. Let’s not take their slogan, too”.

There is plenty to complains that Latinos can voice on other matters. Deportation by the US of children from Guatemala, the inhumane condition in the deportation centers, the lack of legal representation for undocumented workers and asylum seekers. And prejudice based on last name.

There are many alternative ways of getting Brown rights. Let’s start with the vote. Univision reports that about 11 million Hispanics voted in the 2012 presidential election, fewer than half of those who were eligible. Activists in both major political parties have been trying to increase that number, through voter registration drives and appeals over issues like immigration and wage stagnation on the left, and economic freedom on the right. The real challenge is to convince Latinos to go out and vote, and presidential candidate Donald Trump is doing that. Young voters are getting involved because of Donald Trump. Not because they like Donald Trump, but because they want to vote against him.

In addition all people at the margins can resist racism in their own way. Young students can get good grades. Of course, eloquent voices of leadership can persuade.

Coming Out Story

Ken shares a coming out from NPR’s StoryCorps cast and how it relates to his story.
opendoor

https://storycorps.org/#

Here is the transcript:

Titus (DT) and Zeek Taylor (ZT)

DT: I always referred to myself as the invisible gay guy. Because people that I worked with didn’t know I was gay and I heard every gay joke and slur. And, you know it hurt ‘cause these are people I liked.

And, um, in a small town like Fayetteville, everybody would know I was gay and nobody would hire me. So we had two houses. Because I needed a place so people could come after work and have a beer or hang out.

ZT: It kept the Miller Lite cold in the fridge… <<Laughter>> …for when they guys came over.

DS: Even though it had clothes in it, and food. You could open the door and swear I slept there last night but I never did.

ZT: I knew that’s what had to happen. It was pretty easy to run in to people that you worked with at the grocery store or wherever.

DS: Do you remember the things we had to do when somebody came up and talked to me?

ZT: Oh sure. You chose the name “Oscar” as your work name. And when we would go out, if someone said, “Hey Oscar,” I just kept walking like we were strangers. I, I never questioned having to do it. I didn’t like it but it would have been so hard on you if we had lived in the open at that time.

DS: Did you ever feel like I was ashamed of you or embarrassed by you?

ZT: No. I never felt that at all. I felt more that you were ashamed of yourself.

DS: That’s probably pretty true. You know, I’ve never really told you how brave I think you are. You were this openly gay ballet dancer. And, uh, the chameleon. And I think that I took the coward’s way out.

ZT: But I felt, “this is the price we have to pay to be together.”

DS: You know, even though I come across as the strong one you’re really the strong one in our relationship. And I admire you for being your own person all these years.

ZT: I appreciate knowing that, it means a lot to me.

DS: Well, you deserve all that and more. I’ve known you a long time and, uh, you just constantly amaze me.

ZT: Thank you.

PAFF 2016 journal #3

So I met up with Ken and Mack at the movies and we saw “Stories of our Lives” with an unfortunately small audience. This is a lovely black and white omnibus feature which told 5 stories of everyday life in rural Kenya and its challenges for GLBT people. These challenges all stem of course from a hostile political and social reality. These 5 vignettes (2 about women, 3 about men) tell of the struggle of gay and lesbian people to live their lives and love whom they want. There are no big tragedies or deaths, only the steady resistance of the society to letting them be.  
Most of what we hear about GLBT life in Africa is defined by the horrific laws and persecutions in some countries (Uganda, Nigeria). “Stories of our Lives” offers a more hopeful view absent the violence of other accounts but still realistic. Again with the dispelling of misperceptions of Africa! To wit: Africa is NOT a seething maelstrom of human slaughter and misery but is instead a collection of struggling communities and nations containing strong traditional elements as well as global trends and standards.  

I won’t be going to the festival until next Saturday when I’m planning to see “KPIANS” (Nigerian horror movie), “Nelson Mandela Myth and Me,” “Second Coming” (Idris Elba), and “Eye of the Cyclone” (Burkina Faso during their civil war). Then Sunday the boys and I are going to meet our friends Vicky and her daughters to see “Out of Darkness,” a well regarded US doc about African contributions to history, and maybe another one. Lots more info at paff.org of course.
Thanks for reading.

Jeff H
Anybody interested in joining me?

Jeff Horton

PAFF journal #2 

From Jeff H BWMTSC COCHAIR

Sunday, Feb 7

My planned viewing last night (Saturday) was altered by my underestimation of the popularity of the festival this year. (ALERT: Buy your tickets as early as possible!) I barely got into “Half of a Yellow Sun” and I had to substitute the American drama “Chapter and Verse: A Harlem Story” for “Lambadina” because it was sold out.

“Half of a Yellow Sun” is a big budget Nigerian historical epic set in the bloody civil war of the 1960s when Eastern Nigeria tried to secede as the country of Biafra. The film tells the story of a middle class, educated couple (Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton) whose romantic relationship and its missteps are inexorably and then suddenly overwhelmed by the violence of the civil war and anti Ibo persecution (they’re Ibo). Their lives, and the lives of their friends and her sister, devolve abruptly from a comfortable middle class existence to a frantic rush to find shelter from the war in a refugee camp. John Boyega is their loyal house servant. The transition from romantic melodrama to brutal and violent historical tragedy is jarring, and even though the main characters survive the violence, many of their friends and parents do not.

This movie is a perfect example of why we should see the African narrative features. Our view of Africa is so distorted and twisted by centuries of anti African propaganda in Euro American culture that it really takes African stories (and movies) to tell the truth. This film not only presents a crucial historical event occurring shortly after independence from the colonial masters of England, it also paints a portrait of a fully rounded society with modern and traditional lifestyles. The actors do a superb job and the production is excellent. It’s showing again next Sunday Feb 14 at 215 pm. See it if you can, if you want to expand your understanding of African history and culture.

“Chapter and Verse: A Harlem Story” directed by Jamal Joseph is also a gripping and revealing drama. Daniel Beatty, in a tour de force performance, is a recently released convict and former gang member who struggles to survive on probation in Harlem by delivering meals to the needy. He befriends an elderly woman (Loretta Devine) and her grandson, reconnects with an old friend who has also left the gang life behind for a barbershop, and in every case enhances the lives of those he encounters. The depiction of the tightrope that formerly imprisoned Black men walk in trying to survive gives the film a constant feeling of menace and uncertainty. All of the performances are genuine and human in the gritty, threatening, but vibrant world of Harlem depicted so vividly in the movie.  

I give this one a high recommendation also. It is a Black perspective on Black life in the age of mass incarceration, neither sentimentally optimistic nor brutally negative. See it if you can. It’s showing Fri Feb 12 at 845 pm and Mon Feb 15 at 520.

I’m about to leave to see “Stories of Our LIves,” a Kenyan feature with several vignettes about GLBT life in that country. I can’t wait go get a more balanced view of our brothers and sisters in Africa. I’ll report!

Friday, Feb 5

My first viewing at this year’s festival: the LGBTQ shorts program. This was a wonderful experience. There were 5 short films, 2 from Africa and 3 from the US. Afterwards there was Q & A with directors from the 3 American movies, all of them Black women. In fact all of the films are about women. They were all very well made and provocative. One of the African films “Oya” is an extensive exploration of the role of gender ambiguity in Yoruba culture contrasted with the vicious antigay laws being passed in Nigeria. “Transcend” is about a Black transgender man trying to reestablish a relationship with his parents. The others all deal with coming out and its consequences in one form or another. All in all I recommend this series highly. They are shown again on Thur Feb 11 at 345 and on Mon Feb 15 at 805.

Tonight, Saturday, at 7 pm I’m going to see the exciting sounding Nigerian dramatic film “Half of a Yellow Sun” set during the civil war in the 1960s and starring John Bodega (Star Wars!) and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Then I’ll see the Ethiopian drama “Lambadina” at 930. Tomorrow, Sunday at 1255, I’m planning on seeing the Kenyan film “Stories of our Lives” which is a series of vignettes about LGBT life in that country.  

Anybody interested in joining me?

Jeff H

Pan African Film Festival-LGBT shorts

Today, my Husband and I went to the Pan African Film Festival to look at 5 LGBT short stories entitled “Stories of Our Lives”.stories

The was presented by the Nest Collective after they published a book (http://www.thisisthenest.com/sool-book)

This book evolved in June 2013, when this Kenyan multidisciplinary group travelled across Kenya, recording over 250 personal accounts of persons identifying as GLBT and intersex in Kenya.

“The book presents a selection from the resulting archive – in an attempt to explore the consciousness, ambition and expression of many queer Kenyans in their daily interactions with family, friends, schools, workplace, religion and ideas of the future, and in diverse social contexts in Kenya. Through these stories, the self-representing queer Kenyan grants the reader permission to explore private and intimate worlds–where the vagaries of queer publicness, silence, intimacy, militancy and love happen.”

The makers of this film (banned in Kenya) faced criminal charges in that country.

The first story (Ask Me Nicely) tells of two lesbians of high school age who meet each other in school. One of them loves to wear trousers and her mother banned her from doing so, the other likes to wear conventional clothes. Their principal called them in the office to warn them that their displays of affection was abhorrent behavior. While away from the school, Kate impulsively has a sexual encounter with a boy in her neighborhood. Upon her return, Kate tells Faith about the encounter with the boy. This annoys Faith, leading to an end of their relationship. This is a moving and beautifully film in black and white (as they all are) and through the dingy scenery a bright light is shone in emerging lesbian lives.

The second story (Run) tells of Patrick stumbles upon a local gay bar while walking with his best friend, Kama. There are longing moments and bold curiosity by Patrick on this scene and a brusque and venomous anti gay spewing from Kama.  Patrick later returns to the club for a night out, hoping no one will find out. (Remember, if you can. the excitement and apprehension when you went to your first LGBT bar?)

Kama spots Patrick leaving the bar, and they have a violent confrontation about it. Patrick has to run away to escape the fight.

The third story (Athman) shows that excruciating time in gay life where one develops a crush on a straight guy who finds out. You both work it to (or not).

Farm workers Ray and Athman have been close friends for years. Hurt by Athman’s flirtatious relationship with newcomer Fiona, Ray has an awkward conversation with Athman about their relationship. Athman reiterates that he isn’t interested in a sexual relationship with Ray. They reconcile, then Ray asks Athman whether he can kiss him. Athman is taken aback by the question and leaves, uncomfortable. The two reconcile again the next day, but Ray decides to leave the farm.

The fourth story (Duet) was my favorite partly since it stars a white and black couple who are attracted to each other.

Jeff – a researcher visiting the UK for a conference – hires escort Roman for an hour-long session in his hotel room. Roman arrives, and – sensing Jeff’s anxiety – attempts to calm him down. Jeff asks if they can talk a little before engaging in any physical activity. The two sit and have a conversation about inter-race relations. A cute scene shows them smelling act other’ “Black or white” fragrance.

Roman then offers to give Jeff a massage, which then leads to Jeff being less anxious. The two proceed to make out.

The last story (Each Night I Dream) is about Liz who visualizes dramatic escape plans for herself and partner Achi when local legislators threaten to enforce anti-gay laws. The crowd appears at their door, but they get the last showing them their bodies leaving us to wonder what their revaluation was?

All the production time, actors and actress are from Kenya and these shorts are a tremendous contribution.

Sources: PAFF, thisisnest.com, wikipedia

The Oscars, LGBTIQ and POC

This year’s Oscar nominations were more notable for who they left out than those included.

So it included Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, and Mark Ruffalo.

Notably absent from the pool was any actor of color—the second year in a row that the Academy has elected an all-white group of nominees. And and acclaimed Lesbian themed movie Carol, were shut out of the top categories.

Carol was directed by Todd Haynes—one of the most eclectic and accomplished talents of his generation—was snubbed.

Nico Lang* in The A.V. Club reminds us that “a decade after Brokeback Mountain was famously snubbed at the 2006 Oscars—thwarted by Paul Haggis’ Crash in a shocking upset victory—Carol’s snub is just how the Academy does business. To date, a queer-themed movie has still never won Best Picture, and those that do receive any kind of recognition prominently feature queer suffering”.

Only two performers have won an award for playing LGBT characters: who live after the end of the movie: Penelope Cruz won Best Supporting Actress in 2009 for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. In 2006, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman snagged a Best Actor award for playing writer and socialite Truman Capote.

Most queer characters in movies seem to not get the dignity to die outside the camera’s gaze. In Philadelphia, Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) dies of HIV in extreme close-up, as he tells his partner, Miguel: “I’m ready.”
Add The Spider Woman, Boys Don’t Cry, and you can see the Awards love queer misery and struggle.

Let’s get real,the stories of LGBT people can be important teachable moments in our nation’s ongoing struggle for equality.

So on to people of color. Example Selma’s David Oyelowo is indicative of how the Academy Awards treat black narratives.

Cara Buckley has a great article in the New York Times**.

“The outcry over the nomination of 20 white actors, and no black ones, for the Academy Awards gained momentum on Monday — Martin Luther King’s Birthday — as the director Spike Lee and the actress Jada Pinkett Smith announced they would not be attending the ceremony”.

Spike Lee’s his latest film, “Chi-Raq,” earned no nominations. He said he was tired of being asked for his opinion about all-white or majority-white Oscar races year after year, he also urged the news media to “ask all the white nominees and studio heads how they feel about another all-white ballot.”

Pinkett Smith has already taken aim at the Academy asking on Facebook and Twitter, “Should people of color refrain from participating all together?” She added, “People can only treat us in the way in which we allow.” Later she said “We can no longer beg for the love, acknowledgment or respect of any group.” Her husband, Will Smith, was a best actor contender for his lead role in “Concussion” but received no nomination.

The American Civil Liberties Union called for a government investigation into potentially discriminatory hiring practices last May. And the Directors Guild of America released a study in December showing that 82 percent of movies from 2013 and 2014 were directed by white men.

So I know you NA members and allies all love entertainment and the movies, but perhaps this is the time to consider a boycott of this years Academy Awards event based on the perceived lack of representation of LGBTQI accolades.

Remember Coretta Scott King’s admonition: “I believe all Americans who believe in freedom, tolerance and human rights have a responsibility to oppose bigotry and prejudice based on sexual orientation”.

And also: “Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.
______________
Sources:
http://www.avclub.com/article/mostly-snubbing-carol-oscars-continue-exclude-quee-230826

Bullying

As we all know there are youths that are being bullied in school and society, and for sure in the LGBT community. How to deal with it effectively requires the skills to understand and manage their feelings, and overcome.

As an educator I hear the expression “computers will soon be able to do many of the cognitive tasks in many jobs”. Life skills are mostly relational and being part of a team. Also empathy becomes a more important workplace skill, the ability to sense what another human being is feeling or thinkings.

In addition, the ability to function in a group also becomes more important — to know how to tell stories that convey the important points, how to mix people together. Amazingly, there is an app for that to

use technology to better articulate, understand and control ones emotions. So far so good. Research shows that people communicate more often with family and friends because of technology, but the quality of that communication may be weaker.

However, kids who spend more time engaging with a screen than with other kids or adults can struggle to understand emotion, create strong relationships or become more dependent on others. If all you’re doing is using Facebook, you’re not getting the interpersonal connection that you need.

For adults, reliance on the quick text or Facebook message is mostly about saving time. But for children, the overuse of technology to communicate affects the brain as we show below. Technology can be a big hindrance on interpersonal relationships, and can rewrite a child’s brain pathways in a very different way than how they would normally develop.

The problem is that the more people and children interact with a person or the real world through a screen rather than in real life, the less emotion is attached to the exchange. The way we talk, our body language and tone are all fundamental to establishing human relationships. And they’re all missing with most forms of modern technology.

Back to LGBT bullyingIn a study, 85% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40% reported being physically harassed, and 19% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual identity. To counteract this we need to

– Debunk misperceptions about digital behavior;

– Build empathy and understanding;

– Teach online safety skills;

– Equip young people (and some adults) with strategies to reject digital abuse in their lives.

October was the national bullying prevention month. There is no federal cyberbullying law in the U.S.

and efforts at creating the culture of empathy, on the other hand, receive far less public attention. One bright light is The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence’s partnership with with Facebook aimed at helping the company to foster empathy among its users.

While public attention seems to be overwhelmingly focused on punishment, education on cultural values to  foster a different pattern of social relations and concern for others is just as important. Framing online behavior as symptomatic of larger cultural narratives is a much neglected view in the public debate around cyberbullying.

So why do i perseverate on this when the average age of the NABWMT is 52 (or so)? The answer is we need to realize that the current traits of young adults in empathy can become (at least in part) ours. We need to balance our online and offline persona.

After all the NA has a proud history of emphasizing people skills especially at the margins of society. So, after you have friended one of our thousands on our Facebook, practice being their and friend someone face to face.

Podcast LGBT Poet

podcastThis is a podcast highlighting the works of LGBT poet Danez Smith

Danez Smith was born St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of  Boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Lambda Literary Award, and the chapbook hands on ya knees (Penmanship Books, 2013). Smith is the recipient of fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, Cave Canem, Voices of Our Nation (VONA) and elsewhere. He is a founding member of the multigenre, multicultural Dark Noise Collective. His writing has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Beloit Poetry Journal, Kinfolks and elsewhere. In poetry slam, he is a 2011 Individual World Poetry Slam finalist and the reigning two-time Rustbelt Individual Champion, and was on the 2014 championship team Sad Boy Supper Club. In 2014 he was the festival director for the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam, and he was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. He earned a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was a First Wave Urban Arts Scholar.