Monday, June 27, 2005

Do we want to be?

When Harriet Tubman was about 20 or 25 years old her constant recurring idea of escape one day had taken an irreversible turn. She ws ready to make a run for it today! After consulting with her brothers she began singing the words of familiar hymns, telling of a heavenly journey.

When dat ole chariot comes
I'm gwine to lebe' you
bound for de promised land
friends I'm gwine to lebe you

"The brothers started with her but the way was strange, the north was far away, and all unknown, the masters would pursue and recapture them, and their fate would be worse than ever before; and so they broke away from her, and bidding goodbye they hastened back to known horrors of slavery, and the dread of that which is worse".

Sometimes I wonder if Indiana is truly ready for a black gay pride festival. Do we want to be a unified community or are we content with the way things are. There is one common gathering spot for black gays and lesbians in Indianapolis. On any given Thursday or Saturday you may find between 200 and 500++ black folk up in there. We pay the cover and we buy the drinks. Lately we have taken to posing for pictures and buying "Pride" jewelry. The problem? We dont own or profit as a community from any of those dollars spent in that business or others just like it. Sadly, very few of us seem to be concerned about this as the parking lot is filled to capacity and at 1am on Sunday morning the line is out of the door. As with many other local establishments ours seem to be the invisible dollars. We are quick to empty our wallets, but little if any of that money is ever given back to our community.

The issue is a two sided one. One one hand we have to convince businesses that we are a viable market segment and worth courting for our dollars. On the other hand we have to be more vocal about where we spend our money and demand that those businesses support organizations that have our best interests at heart. Do we know what organizations have our best interests at heart? Do we even know what issues need to be addressed as African American gays, lesbians, and transgendered people?

We know that as black males we make up less than 14% of the general population. However we, along with our sisters, make up 50% of all newly reported HIV infections. There is currently a syphilis outbreak of epidemic proportions that is heavily effecting the very zip codes that most of us live in. Additionally, we all know that as black GLBT people there are significant disparities between our earning power, educational attainment level, and home ownership and that of our Caucasian counterparts. Add to those facts that we are nearly an invisible minority under represented politically, economically, and in the media and what you have is a cultural crisis in black Indiana. We know that racism exists both in and around the general gay community. We know that homophobia exists both inside of and around the black community. We know that some business owners don't care one way or the other if we kill each other or not. We know that nobody cares about us, but us! Yet we seem to be unconcerned.

So a few folks sat around and thought: We need something in Indiana that is uniquely ours. Something that can begin to address all of the issues that are important to us as a community of black GLBT folks. Something that businesses can sponsor and support as a display of their commitment to the people that fill their bank accounts and in turn this black gay organization could take polls and surveys and find out what is most important to us and what, if anything, is worth fighting for! A pipe dream? Perhaps, but I still believe in my heart of hearts that we want this! I believe that we want to celebrate that beautiful, powerful, strength, and energy that is black and gay.

All of this requires a lot from all of us. We have to be bold and confident and choose to believe in something rather than hold on to nothing. The way is strange, being proud of who we are and embracing our true selves is unknown to some and far away to others. The homophobes and the racists will lash out at us and we may think that our fates will be worse off than they were before there was a black pride. But please do not be afraid to do a new thing. I don't know what we will see at Watkins park on August 6th, but whatever it is I know it will be beautiful to behold! Are we ready for a black pride? The question should be is Indiana ready for a black pride?

Hi me!!

Until today I have not been able to post a pic of myself to my own blog! Bummer!

Well today, thanks to my friend Tiffany, I can finally put me on my blog! So here it is.......

Pretty uneventful if you ask me! I suppose it would have been okay to let folks just imagine what I look like! Oh well!

This was taken during an Indiana Black Pride roadtrip to Ft. Wayne Indiana. We were bowling and networking it was fun. Actually it was more fun just bonding with the other board members. If you want to know more about Indiana Black Pride visit our website.

later ya'll

Friday, June 17, 2005







Larry Calland Conga Jazz

$10.00 AT THE DOOR



Why Black pride

Why Indiana Black Pride? The question "Why Indiana Black Pride?" did not occur to me until I heard rumors that some people thought Black Pride would detract from Indy Pride and that there was a rivalry between the two Prides. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am a member of both. I know that Gary and Robert are in complete agreement that Black Pride is an addition to, and not a detraction from Indy Pride and the community. Why should we only have one celebration each year? Why not two? Why not more?America, for better and for worse, is composed of an African-American community and a "white" community that encompasses almost everything else.
There are, of course, many other communities that make up our nation, but, from the earliest days of European immigration to this continent, the African-American community has had a special place in our formation and growth. There are, of course, many components of the Black community; so many and so varied that almost anything you say about it is at the same time true and not true. But there is a strong sense of community overall and the contributions of that community over the centuries to American culture are defining. There is no American culture, be it dance, music, poetry, literature, art, theater or what have you, that is not profoundly marked by African-American influence. At the same time, Black American culture, although it may have African roots that would surprise most of us, remains essentially American. To understand America, you must begin with the divisions and unities of Black and White.

So it is with Indy Pride and Indiana Black Pride. We all know that African-Americans contributed mightily to Pride last weekend, both as participants and as visitors. I do not remember such a turnout last year and I believe that much of the increase was attributable to IBP, the organization, and the buzz they have created. Indiana Black Pride, the festival, August 5th, 6th and 7th will be, at the same time, an African-American gift to Indianapolis, a show that offers something different from the show that was Pride, a chance for Black GLBT folk to invite us to their neighborhood, for a good time and to help them make a statement in their own community.Sadly, although we recognize the extreme similarity between the Civil Rights Movement of the fifties, sixties and seventies and the Civil Rights Movement of the 2000s, Black churches and much, too much, of Black society remains extremely conservative and oppressive of their GLBT relatives and neighbors. Black GLBT folk have too often felt rejected or invisible in the GLBT community and rejected and invisible in the Black community. Indiana Black Pride is an effort to overcome both problems. I cannot see how anyone would not wish to respond and to help, especially as the only thing you have to do is go and have a good time.So join us on August 5th, 6th and 7th and have a great time. For details please go to:

Youth's blog stirs uproar over 'ex-gay' camp

SUMMARY: A youth's online postings about being sent to a rigid "ex-gay" program has troubled LGBT leaders and sparked daily protests at the ministry's Alabama headquarters.

Sixteen-year-old "Zach" is apparently enduring a rite of passage still too common for gay youth: His parents say he must change. When they enrolled him last month in a Christian camp-like program to turn him straight, he documented his fears in his online diary, or blog.
The PlanetOut Network could not confirm Zach's identity or his story, but the blog has sparked a firestorm of protest against the program, known as Refuge, and renewed scrutiny of similar "ministries."
A residential program run by Memphis, Ala.-based Love in Action (LIA), Refuge "ministers to adolescents struggling with broken and addictive behaviors, such as promiscuity, alcohol and drug addiction and homosexuality," according to its Web site.
An estimated total of 150 people -- including parents, children, psychiatrists and other concerned Memphis residents carrying signs that have slogans such as "This is Child Abuse" -- have gathered over eight consecutive days outside LIA headquarters. On Thursday LIA held a press conference in response to the protests.
For LIA, homosexuality is not an orientation but a set of behaviors that lies at the root of all dysfunction. And homosexual desires can supposedly be reprogrammed, through Refuge, at a cost of $2,000 for two weeks, or $4,000 for six weeks.
Patterned after teen drug and alcohol programs, Refuge minimizes contact with familiar things that it claims encourage homosexual behavior: no secular music, no more than 15 minutes per day behind a closed bathroom door, no contact with any practicing homosexuals, no masturbation, no secular music, and -- for reasons not explained -- no Calvin Klein underwear.
The rules above were posted on Zach's blog, which has been inactive since June 3. The policies were confirmed by Alex Polotsky, a spokesman for Queer Action Coalition, a Memphis group formed to provide alternative information for struggling youth.
"Nobody can be straight enough in the program," said Polotsky, whose group staged the protests outside LIA. "We're outraged at the treatment youths receive [in Refuge]."
Exodus International, an umbrella organization for nearly all regional "ex-gay" ministries, provides funding and marketing support for groups such as LIA, Lifeguard Ministries, New Hope Ministries and others. Although "reparative therapy" for homosexuality has been denounced by the mainstream psychological community as tantamount to abuse, "ex-gay" ministries offer hope to conflicted parents (usually devoutly religious and conservative) who are unwilling or unable to accept their kids' sexuality or seek traditional counseling.
Youth (and adults) who enter "ex-gay" programs may suffer from genuine self-destructive behaviors that go far beyond their struggle with same-sex attraction, said Wayne Besen, who wrote the book "Anything But Straight" about the "ex-gay" movement.
"To get help they have to swallow the lie that it's because they are gay that they're having these problems. It works by confusing people. It doesn't matter to them that they don't get results. They get a lot of money from people who really believe this stuff."
"Love in Action seems to be the worst of these reckless religious activities," said Craig Bowman, executive director of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition. "These programs are dangerous because they systematically work on a young person's psyche using junk science as a foundation."
Jack Drescher, M.D., a New York-based psychiatrist and chair of the American Psychiatric Association Committee on LGBT Issues, told the PlanetOut Network that such programs do far more harm than good for impressionable teens. "They may delay the child's coming out for many years, but by the time they are ready to come out, there's been a lot of psychological damage."
Shawn O'Donnell spent eight years in and out of therapy to change his sexual orientation. As a depressed and suicidal 18-year-old, O'Donnell was referred by his pastor to a three-year residential program, New Hope Ministry, located 10 miles from San Francisco. O'Donnell said it only made his issues worse.
"It was hell, very controlling. We couldn't be alone. We were always told to pray harder, and it made us feel ashamed that we weren't using the program correctly," he recalled.
Peterson Toscano spent 17 years and $30,000 to get straight as an adult, but nothing worked. Now a "performance activist" in Connecticut, Toscano has toured the United States and Europe with a satirical theater piece about his two years in LIA.
"'Ex-gay' programs use the term 'gay lifestyle,' which to them includes unsafe sex [and] emotionally dependent relationships," Toscano said. "They know they can't really turn anyone straight, but they can make them not live the 'gay lifestyle.' They are purposely deceiving people."
Though relatively few people participate in 'ex-gay' programs, Drescher believes their influence goes far beyond changing individuals. "They are a pawn in the culture war," he said. "They support the idea that homosexuality can be changed, therefore it is a lifestyle and not worthy of civil rights legislation."
Drescher pointed to an 'ex-gay' convention called Love Won Out, organized by the anti-gay Focus on the Family and held in Texas to coincide with the state legislature's biennial sessions.
"The timing is not a coincidence," he said. "Their purpose is to shape public policy."
If you'd like to know more, you can find stories related to Youth's blog stirs uproar over 'ex-gay' camp.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Michael Eric Dyson

This past Friday May 27th famed commentator, activist, intellectual, and author Micheal Eric Dyson visited Indianapolis Indiana. I must admit this man is my modern day hero. As I told a close friend after an evening with Kwesi MFume, intelligent and poised men really turn me on. More so than the hot bod attached to an empty head, I respect and desire a man that makes me challenge my intellectual boundries and form unique conclusions and opinions.

I mean really, if we are to have any confidence in this anti-gay, anti-black, anti-steroetypical exsistence of ours we have got to learn to form our own opinions and examine history to form our own perspectives. If I was going to see the world through the eyes of the common (average, status quo) black man then suicide would have to be in my verty near future.

Anyhow, Dr. Dyson joined us at a local church to discuss his new book, "IS Bill Cosby Right?: or has the black middle class lost its mind". I quite enjoyed the good doctors reflections. Mr. Cosby has been very vocal as of late chastising the lower income and less fortunate segment of the black population for what he calls a failure to hold up there end of the deal. The deal being all of those battles that were won in the 60's in favor of equality for blacks. Mr. Cosby goes so far as to say what good was Brown V Board of education if nobody wants it. The other comments were aimed at allegations that he was airing our dirty laundry to which he responded that our dirty laundry gets off the bus at 2:30 everyday speaking ignorantly(sic) and wearing hundred dollar tennis shoes.

I am paraphrasing but I think most of us heard those comments. So Mr. Dyson takes his turns at Mr. Cosby reminding us that it was the cos who made millions off of the Fat Albert series and JEllo Pudding. It seems that the man is so far removed from the lower class blacks that he has forgotten his roots.

I am sitting in the audience chomping at the bit waiting for my chance to ask the big question. When they announce question and answer time I race to the microphone practically knocking down a young lady who beat me to the front. She could see the intensity in my face and she graciously allowed me to go first. Now I have been criticized as of late for allowing my sexuality to take over my entire focus in life. But if these people are going to sit spellbound hanging on every word from the great Dr. Dyson I demand that he teach them a thing or two.

Dr. thank you so much for coming to Indy to share with us tonight, I am a huge fan and IO want to thank you for challenging me to be an intellectual. My question is, Would you mind sharing your thoughts with us concerning gospels of inclusion and relationships between the black community and the black gay and lesbian community. And would you elaborate on the neccessity of the black church to adopt a new dialogue as it pertains to same gender loving Christians.

The room fell silent. Now I have asked similar questions, in similare venues, of Kwesi Mfume, Tavis Smiley, Kevin Powell, adn Danny Glover I have come to expect the room full of black folks to grow still. This is still not a popular topic. The gay issue is white to so many of us. And the only thing we as the collective black family have done is to hide it and sweep it under the rug and tag it as somenody else's problem. So I fully expected the good Doctor to soften his usual rhetoric. For those of you that dont know Michael Dyson is the author of an essay entitled, Homotextualities, "Homotextualities: The Bible, Sexual Ethics, and the Theology of Homoeroticism,". In this piece Dyson clearly asserts an opinion that Christianity is related to homosexuality in its innate male to male bonds and passion. There is room in the black church for same gender loving African Americans.

But unlike Mfume who as head of the national NAACP spoke out in favor of same sex marriage but in response to my probes at Clowes Memorial Hall some months ago just prior to his announcement that he was running for the senate, did his best Gregory himes tap dance impersonation and towed thy party line, Dr. Dyson spoke loudly and boldy from the church pulpit. "We have got to stop taking on the charateristics of the oppressor", he said. We cannot tell other people who they can and cannot marry.

I have never been more proud. I stepped away from the mic, satisfied that my question was answered clearly and with passion. As I made my way back to my place in the pew..............Landrum hissed at me from the social hall and motioned me back behind the door as if I were a runaway slave and he was my Quaker midnight tour be continued