Posts filed under sexuality

MTV "True Life": Kiara Representing Beautiful in Every Shade™

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MTV’s “True Life: I Have A Trans Parent”, follows two young people grappling with their parents’ transitions. Kiara, one of people featured on the show, ROCKED a BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE™ shirt throughout a recent episode.

We appreciated the support and your embodiment of the message. 

Kara is 23-year-old women who lives with her husband and son in Georgia speaks openly about adjusting to but also her heart's desire to support and stand by her parent.  

When asked what advice she had for someone who’s having a hard time dealing with their parent’s transition, she said "Have patience and be openminded. It's important to remember that, in a way, you're going through a transition as well, and viewing your parent as a different gender doesn't happen over night."

At 0:46 and 2:01 of this short "True Life: I Have A Trans Parent" Sneak Peek, you can also find Kiara repping Beautiful in Every Shade™. 

To see an update about Kiara and her relationship with her father, view MTV's check-in interview with Kiara

Posted on January 28, 2016 and filed under family, Identity, LGBT, personal stories, press, sexuality.

BLACK AMERICANA VOL 1: Amore of the Diaspora

Amore of the Diaspora

As an artist and scholar I want to redefine and re-appropriate Black Americana to reflect, and highlight the positive contributions of people of African decent in the Americas and through out the diaspora. The first installment of the project or BLACK AMERICANA: Volume One explores relational dynamics between black men and black women at various points within the African American historical timeline looking to quantify and establish what it took for one black man to love one black woman in the past and what it takes now and cast vision for it will take generations to come. My hope is to create a body of work that encourages healthy dynamics within the Black nuclear family and helps us identify with the love that sustains us in our darkest moments and inspires us during our best, and brightest. The mixed media creative work spans multiple creative platforms, including a coffee table book of fine art photography, scholarship and documented accounts of the lives and love of real black American couples and includes contributions of notable visual artist of color selected by myself working together to expand and nuance the conversation around the legacy of Black American’s, exploring both the pain and pride in our collective stories.

Using the same two subjects, myself and Atlanta based artist, activist, and cultural influencer Devan D. Dunson we seek to embody the "black lovers” who meet at pivotal moments within black history and various meta moments within black consciousness. Visually and creatively placing ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors, experiencing and connecting with truths and moments they endured and discovering "the love" over and over again. Let our collective knowledge of black history, esteem and honor for the countless black couples and families who’s love stories are the foundation for our own be increased as we unearth the SUBSTANCE and fiber of our communal connection. What it is that binds and bonds us as a community, as brothers and sisters, as man and woman? What is the soul, spirit and dynamic power of black love? So few of us are taught, have modeled or EVER really get to experience what LOVE looks and feels like when its healthy because "our love" story has had to unfold in the midst of injustice, poverty and a racially toxic society, to me the art and the artist are one, as I seek to unlock and creatively express what is contained in my own heart, my own pride and pain found, I hope to heal and celebrate the beauty and spirit of "our stories" and find the “love" in our legacy.  

-Tanisha Lynn Pyron


OUT IN THE NIGHT: Gender Identity, Homophobia, Racial Profiling, Fighting Back

PBS Premiere: June 22, 2015

Check local listings »

Online: June 23, 2015 – July 23, 2015

Synopsis

In 2006, under the neon lights of a gay-friendly neighborhood in New York City, a group of African-American lesbians were violently threatened by a man on the street. The women fought back and were later charged with gang assault and attempted murder. The tabloids quickly dubbed them a gang of "Killer Lesbians" and a "Wolf Pack." Three pleaded guilty to avoid a trial, but the remaining four — Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain — maintained their innocence. The award-winning Out in the Night examines the sensational case and the women's uphill battle, revealing the role that race, gender identity and sexuality play in our criminal justice system. A co-production of ITVS. A co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC).

The film touches on issues of gender identity, homophobia, street harassment, self-defense, racial profiling and intersectionality. 


Posted on June 17, 2015 and filed under Identity, Homophobia, LGBT, race, sexuality, art, film.

Jason Collins: Why The Retiring Legend Meant So Much To The Culture

2013 was one of the biggest years in sports history for LGBT athletes, and that was due in large part to Jason Collins, then a free agent after leaving the Washington Wizards, announced to the world in a Sports Illustrated feature that he's gay. Even more, Collins added that he hoped to continue his NBA career and sign to another team.

In that moment, Collins became a one of a kind history maker for LGBT sports. Never in the history of any of the four major sports leagues in the United States had any professional player come out while still an active player, much less tried to continue their sports career after coming out.

But in 2013, such a feat was no longer out of the realm of possibility. Just the year before, President Obama had come out in support marriage equality, bolstering a surprising slew of celebrities, like Jay Z and 50 Cent, to follow Obama's lead and push for the legalization of same-sex marriage. And by the time Collins came out, the Supreme Court had struck down Prop 8 and DOMA, helping to cement the idea that America's idea on homosexuality was changing for the positive.

And in the world of sports itself, Collins was just the latest in a slew of LGBT athletes that had come out of the closet. Before 2012, it was only on the rare occasion that we Americans saw any pro athletes come out as gay or bisexual. But in 2012, it seemed that gay athletes weren't only kicking down the closet door, they were opening the flood gates to freedom as athletes like former NFL star Wade Davis, Olympic gymnastics hopeful Josh Dixon, pro boxer Orlando Cruz, and fitness guru Shaun T all came out as gay.

And the momentum continued in 2013 as Collins led another barrage of coming out tales that included athletes like WNBA star Brittney Griner, British Olympic diver Tom Daley, and WWE star Darren Young. Equally noteworthy was the fact that most of the popular coming out stories were courtesy of athletes of color

And though many of Collins comrades were either finding or had already found success in their own fields, there was still a sense of uncertainty and fear when it came to idea of a man coming out as gay and still thriving in one of the four major sports. Initially, it seemed as though Collins was fallingn victim to the typical homophobic trappings that have plagued the sports world for years as NBA team after NBA team passed on signing the free agent, forcing him sit out the first half of the NBA season and seemingly proving, once again, that America just wasn't "ready" for gay male sports star.

But all of that changed on February 23 of this year, when Collins was offered a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets, a deal which was advocated by his former teammate, former Nets coach Jason Kidd. Collins eventually signed another 10-day contract before signing on for the rest of the season. And Collins even dedicated his achievement to the memory of Matthew Shepherd by wearing No. 98 on his jersey.

Finally, after years of long waits, discouraging battles, and harsh struggles, we had a black gay man representing the community and proving that not only could gay men play sports just as well as anyone else, but also that straight people, specifically their straight male teammates, could understand and embrace them as people and comrades.

For many of us, Collins was the fulfillment of a dream that was helped realized by all of the closeted gay athletes that came before him, wishing they could live their life freely and successfully. He was proof that, once again, the black queer community is brimming with the groundbreaking human beings who are ready to change the course of history, just like we have before with movements such as the Stonewall Riots. And Collins represented the hope that he was just the first of what will be an ever-growing line of openly gay and bisexual athletes who will not only disrupt the culture of homophobia, effimiphobia and transphobia in major sports, but also lead us to a truly even and equal playing field.

So, with the recent news that Collins is retiring from an amazing 13-year career in the NBA, we congratulate and salute Collins for helping to change the world for the better.

Watch and read his official Sports Illustrated statement on his retirement below. 

"It has been 18 exhilarating months since I came out in Sports Illustrated as the first openly gay man in one of the four major professional team sports. And it has been nine months since I signed with the Nets and became the first openly gay male athlete to appear in a game in one of those leagues. It feels wonderful to have been part of these milestones for sports and for gay rights, and to have been embraced by the public, the coaches, the players, the league and history.

On Wednesday at the Barclays Center, I plan to announce my retirement as an NBA player. The day will be especially meaningful for me because the Nets will be playing the Bucks, who are coached by Jason Kidd, my former teammate and my coach in Brooklyn. It was Jason who cheered my decision to come out by posting on Twitter: “Jason’s sexuality doesn’t change the fact that he is a great friend and was a great teammate.”

Considering all the speculation about problems I might face within the locker room, Jason’s support was significant. It had been argued that no team would want to take on a player who was likely to attract a media circus from the outset and whose sexuality would be a distraction. I’m happy to have helped put those canards to rest. The much-ballyhooed media blitz to cover me unscrambled so quickly that a flack jokingly nicknamed me Mr. Irrelevant.

Among the memories I will cherish most are the warm applause I received in Los Angeles when I took the court in my Nets debut, and the standing ovation I got at my first home game in Brooklyn. It shows how far we’ve come. The most poignant moment came at my third game, in Denver, where I met the family of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student beaten to death in a 1998 hate crime on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyo. For the past two years I have worn number 98 on my jersey to honor his memory. I was humbled to learn that number 98 jerseys became the top seller at NBAStore.com. Proceeds from sales, and from auctioned jerseys I wore in games, were donated to two gay-rights charities.

There are still no publicly gay players in the NFL, NHL or major league baseball. Believe me: They exist. Every pro sport has them. I know some of them personally. When we get to the point where a gay pro athlete is no longer forced to live in fear that he’ll be shunned by teammates or outed by tabloids, when we get to the point where he plays while his significant other waits in the family room, when we get to the point where he’s not compelled to hide his true self and is able to live an authentic life, then coming out won’t be such a big deal. But we’re not there yet.

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, storyteller and blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

Posted on November 22, 2014 and filed under current events, LGBT, sexuality.

Instead of Praying the Gay Away, Can We Just Celebrate Being Gay?

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, all week long you've probably been seeing a million and one video responses to Andrew Caldwell, the young black man from last week's the Church of God In Christ (COGIC) convocation who announced on camera that he is "DELIVERT" from his homosexuality and that he will "love a womens." And while the video has understandably garnered a lot of hilarious laughs, jokes and video spoofs, including one hilarious R&B remix - Seriously, I can't even count how many times I've pressed repeat on that one - there is a deeper social matter to be discussed about the topic.

It's safe to say that most people have heard the phrase "pray the gay away," a phrase as old as time that promotes the idea that men and women of the gay and bisexual communities somehow chose to stray from the norm of heterosexuality and choose a deviant "other" sexuality.

And watching the original COGIC video with Caldwell, we see many in the congregation, including the pastor, praising Caldwell for "delivering" himself, sans the "t," from his sinful past of loving men. 

But seriously, in these modern times where we have countless personal accounts from the LGBT community, scientific support of diverse natural sexualities and growing public support for the LGBT community, why is it still hard to believe that homosexuality and bisexuality are natural yet so easy to believe that one can simply choose to be gay/bi and then the next day choose/pray it away. I's as though people see being gay or bi as if it's some easy tough greasy stain that's easy to catch but tough to get rid of without church shouts, some prayer, and maybe even exorcism.

More than a stain, it feels like homosexuality and bisexuality are treated as demonic.

So what does that do to person in the church when they're seen as the embodiment of hell's evil roaming the Earth? What kind of emotional demons are birthed inside of the person wanting to be accepted in their church and receive God's love but feel they are undeserving because they have a demon inside? What does it do to a community of people to feel that internal struggle inside to choose between loving themselves and living naturally or (attempting) to change themselves to be loved by others?

As the grandson of a pastor of my family's church, I was lucky enough not to be subjected to fire and brimstone sermons about the evils of homosexuality - or perhaps I missed it while I lay asleep on my mom's shoulder - but I remember the personal conversations held on those hallowed grounds in which homosexuality was mocked.

More than that, I remember the time when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old and I asked my mom about homosexuality and hell. I remember my mom had just picked me up from school and driven us to the store up the hill, and as we sat together in her car, unbuckling our seatbelts to leave, I stopped my mom and asked her "Why do people say that gay people are going to hell?" Even at that age, I knew I was one of those gay people and I wanted her to reassure me that she didn't think anyone like me would go to such a horrible place. Sadly, without batting an eye, my mother simply responded "because they are."

For me, that one single response changed the nature of our relationship for the next 20 years, leaving me with the mentality that my own mother was my enemy. And it also led me to believe that anyone who was religious in my life would be left with a choice to either choose to love me or their religion. And in my mind, I figured they would always choose their religion. 

Because of that, I grew a strong sense of disbelief and disinterest in Christianity, as well as a strong sense of self-hate because I thought I was unworthy of being loved by my own loved ones. I never tried to be straight, but for years I never felt proud or comfortable about the idea of telling people the truth of my sexuality because I "knew" that, to them, who I was was something less than hum and not at all lovable.

It took me two decades to reconcile those feelings and come to my own conclusion that love, for me, must be unconditional and all accepting. Otherwise, I just don't want it, whether it be from friends, family or a god. 

But I understand that that's not everybody's thought or life experience, and I can't preach that my way of working things out would work for everyone. But what I will say is that there are clearly countless numbers of gay and bisexual people in religious communities who feel that same sense of self-hate, hurt and anger that I felt. 

I can only imagine what kind of identity struggles and crises that Caldwell must have gone through over the years trying reconcile his belief in Christianity and its doctrines with his need to love himself. And, though I may not like it and, like most people I don't believe him, I understand why Caldwell would want to claim straight and stop feeling the ridicule, the shame, and the pain of not being accepted by his own community.

I understand the feeling of just wanting to be loved, even if it's all a lie.

But with all that THAT experience encompasses, I wonder why people still think it's okay to promote the idea of praying the gay away? Why do people think it's okay to ridicule someone for being gay? Who do people think it's okay to tell someone that who they truly and naturally are is a problem and a sin?

If at the end of the day all straight people want to do is be loved by those around them and their gods, why is it so wrong for gay and bisexual people to want the same thing? Why must WE change ourselves to be happy and prosperous?

Why should we endure so much struggle and pain just for being born, or created by a god?

Can we gay and bisexual people just BE who we are and be loved and celebrated in our truth? Because it takes a lot to be us and it sure as hell seems to me that loving yourself and others is the most powerful and godly thing you can do.

 

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, storyteller and blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

Posted on November 16, 2014 and filed under religion and culture, race, sexuality, personal stories, LGBT, Identity, Homophobia.

Raven-Symoné Responds To Bullies Over Race and Sexuality Comments Backlash

Raven-Symoné's lovability dropped drastically in the eyes of many of her black fans over the past month after she told Oprah Winfrey in a "Where Are They Now" interview that she didn't want to be labeled as "African-American" or "Gay."

 "I don’t want to be labeled ‘gay.’ I want to be labeled a human who loves human. I’m tired of being labelled. I’m an American! I’m not an African-American. I’m an American," she said, later adding, I’m an American. And that’s a colorless person — because we are all people. I have lots of things running through my veins."

Since making the statements, Raven has received a barrage of criticism and hateful comments from angry fans, calling her everything from a race traitor to an Uncle Tom.

Earlier this month, Raven tried to clarify her statements, explaining that she never said she doesn't identify as black. However, the criticism furiously continued. Now, Raven has penned an open letter on her Facebook page addressing the ongoing backlash against her.

Although I don't agree with Raven's initial interview comments - you can read about my thoughts here - I do agree with her that the issue of race and blackness in these modern times is something that needs to be openly discussed and examined, and I think she has a right to voice her opinions freely.

We black people all might have similar skin tones and hair, but that doesn't mean we all see race in the same way, and we don't at all have to either. Clearly Raven's opinion differs from many in the black community but from gauging the many conversations online and in my own personal life, it's clear that she's not alone.

And it's also clear that the labels within the LGBT community don't fit or appeal to all people who are same gender loving, which is an issue that has been brought up throughout the years by many people who are SGL.

Identity is a major deal and though our conception of it is partially based on the outside world it is still something that should be appointed and claimed by oneself, not placed upon an individual by another group.

Instead of attacking, bullying and trying to silence Raven, it would be best if we as a people opened up an honest dialogue about diversity within our black and LGBT communities and try to see things from all different perspectives. Perhaps then we can truly find unity in our diversity as opposed to trying to force it through intimidation and silence.

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, storyteller and blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

Posted on October 27, 2014 and filed under Identity, LGBT, skin tone, sexuality, race.

Why A (Gay) Bully Learned To Let Go Of His Homophobia

When people think of homophobia, they usually think of a group of straight men violently attacking gay men. But homophobia doesn't have to be expressed through violence to be real, and it doesn't have to come from a straight man to be felt. Too often when it comes to LGBT youth homophobia and it's equally hateful sibling, effemiphobia, comes directly from one LGBT person to another.

That was exactly the case when Joseph Barden was a freshman at his Richmond, Virginia high school where he bullied a young gay classmate for being, as he put it, too feminine.

As Barden explains in this new video for "I'm From Driftwood,"nonprofit archive for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer stories, he was privileged enough to befriend a group of upperlassmen girls. One day, as the group sat at a lunch table, the girls' gay friend, David, walked over to greet them and after he left, Barden trash talked the young man for being gay.

"I said, 'Oh my god! He's just so disgusting!' And my friend Johnetta looked at me and she said, 'What did you say?" And I said, 'He's so disgusting. The way he acts. The way he just prances. It's just uncalled for.' And she looked at me and she said, 'Wow, Joseph. I thought you were better than that.'" Barden recalled.

But instead of getting defensive, Barden explained that he took Johnetta's words to heart and they sparked a lifestyle change in him that not only shifted his mindset about bullying but also forced him to accept the truth about his own sexuality. 

Growing up in a small homophobic town, I know very well how life at school can feel like a battlefield among gay kids, because instead of showing solidarity and standing together to fight against homophobia and effemiphobia, too often young LGBT kids harass and fight each other as attempts to deflect attention away from their own insecurities about their sexuality. And I've personally been on both sides of that offense, both trying to defend myself and trying to belittle other gay men to look cool so that other kids wouldn't bully me.

Looking back, I wish that there would have been a stronger sense of community between the LGBT kids at my school, but I hope videos like this can be a learning tool for the LGBT youth coming up behind my generation to stand together, validate and applaud each other, and love each other. 

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, storyteller and blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

Posted on October 9, 2014 and filed under Homophobia, Identity, LGBT, Masculinity, sexuality.

What SHOULD Happen When A Young Kid Comes Out As Gay

When it comes to sexuality, it's easy to say that we live in the best times the Western world has ever seen when it comes to being LGBT. But that doesn't mean things are the best they can be for us LGBT folks, and it certainly doesn't mean that coming out to our friends, family and loved ones is always a breeze. 

To this day, it's still not uncommon to hear about young LGBT kids being chastised, bullied, beaten, kicked out, or even being murdered for coming out of the closet. For some, coming out is still a dangerous crapshoot of a gamble of the lesser of evil outcomes.

But for others, a growing number of LGBT kids, coming out can be an amazing experience where they are, rightfully, embraced with unconditional love from the people around them and shown that sexuality is to be embraced and praised, not used as a negative mark against someone - especially not someone you're supposed to love.

Today, I found a great example of that kind of amazing story when I watched a video of a young 14-year-old boy named Joshua Felix as he comes out to his sister as gay. 

Like I always do when I watch someone coming out, I cringed a lot and tried to suprress the urge to stop the video for fear that i might see them being rejected or attacked. Having come out myself 8 years ago, it's a fear I know all it too, and one I can't seem to let go of for others. But thankfully, Joshua's sister gave her little brother the greatest response any young gay kid can hear when they say the words "I'm gay."

"What’s wrong with that?" she responds casually. "That’s nothing you need to worry about. I’m glad you felt you could come and tell me. I am, seriously. That was very brave of you as well for telling me—I’m proud of you.”

With society continuing to find greater accetpance and understanding of the LGBT communities everyday, hopefully more coming out stories will look like this until the day coming out won't even be an issue....or a thing that occurs at all.

Check out this amazing video below.  

 

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, storyteller and blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

Posted on September 28, 2014 and filed under Families, family, Homophobia, LGBT, sexuality.

50 Shades of Black Creator Connects the Legendary Joyce Bryant to Elementary Kids and History Comes Alive

Was she still alive? The question lingered in the minds of 33 Hardy Elementary School’s fourth graders in San Diego, California after their teacher, Christine Bailey, introduced them to a woman they would not soon forget.

Caption: "Joyce Bryant the first Negro to play a top hotel at America's most popular resort.

Bailey had set out earlier this year to teach her students about lesser known figures in Black History and stumbled upon a woman whose beauty had graced the covers of Jet magazine and held spreads in Life and Time. A woman who was a pioneer, as the first black singer to perform at the Casino Royale in Washington, D.C. and several hotels in Miami Beach during the early 50s. Her nickname became the Black Marilyn Monroe. She is, Joyce Bryant.

“The littler known people were just as instrumental,” Bailey said. “We should pay homage to them and celebrate what they did.”

Bailey and her students became enamored with Bryant’s style — sexy, with a purpose. Bryant’s signature look included a skintight dress and stunning silver hair.

“In those past times, and some would say they still linger, a woman of Joyce Bryant’s color was not automatically considered as beautiful and gorgeous as she was,” said Jim Byers, Bryant’s biographer and producer of an upcoming documentary called Joyce Bryant: The Lost Diva.

Bryant said her flashy style served a higher purpose — to open stage doors previously closed to Black singers at white-only clubs. Although some of her songs were banned from the radio for reasons more complex than their alleged provocative content, Byers said, her vulnerability and effervescent presence transcended all barriers. Bryant was a hit.

Known as the pit bull of research by her colleagues, Bailey had taken to the Web to find out if she was still alive. In all biographies of Bryant, no date of death was listed. She finally came across the 50 Shades of Black blog where director, Carlton Mackey, had recently posted about meeting Joyce Bryant.

After a few emails, Mackey then connected her with Bryant’s niece and caretaker, Robyn LaBeaud. Black History Month for fourth graders at Hardy Elementary got a lot more interesting. Bailey shared her discovery with the class and the children wrote reports and Bryant’s life while her music played in the classroom. Then, with LaBeaud’s blessing, they wrote and sent her letters asking questions about her life.

LaBeaud read each letter out loud to her “auntie,” but was interrupted by Bryant who laughed at questions about her dancing. She clarified, she was not a dancer. A singer and actress, yes. But not a dancer.

“I don’t know where they got that from,” she said.

Shortly after the letters were exchanged, Bailey and a colleague traveled to Los Angeles to meet Bryant in person. Although the students were not allowed to travel beyond city limits, Bailey shared the pictures, music, stories and joy she experienced meeting the celebrity when she returned.

“We felt like we were like little school girls meeting a super star,” Bailey said. “We were standing outside the house making sure we were on time.”

LaBeaud, a professional chef, cooked lunch for the visitors. They were invited to sit and eat on Bryant’s bed and they spoke with her for more than two hours.

“She’s just an absolute kick in the pants,” Bailey said. “She is as lively and wonderful and sassy as you would just imagine her.”

“I’ve taught for twenty-nine and a half years and I have never had history come to life through this whole process — playing her music, writing letters, then sitting on her bed with her.”

Although Bryant now has Alzheimer’s, she hasn’t forgotten her glory days. She shared stories of her years as an elite in the music industry — rubbing shoulders with other stars like Sydney Poitier, and giving voice lessons to Denzel Washington’s wife.

“She asked us a lot of questions, which made us feel just as important as she was,” Bailey said.

“She made you feel so very comfortable. And to hear how sad it was, her whole life how people took advantage. You’d never know those things when you meet her.”

Bailey made the two-hour trip back home listening to nothing but the sound of Bryant’s voice on her car’s stereo. She placed the two portraits she was given on the walls of her classroom. For certain assignments she still plays the music for the children.

On one special occasion, she and all her students stood up, pressing their legs together imitating Bryant’s iconic dress and sang along to her song. It was in that moment Bailey knew the “teaching moment” of a lifetime.

“I hope they learned that you can be what you want to be if you put your mind to it,” LeBeaud said.

“I think what she taught the kids, and what they picked up is you can be what you want to be. The sky is the limit.”

—Danielle B. Douez

Emory University Grad
BA
 Psychology 2013,
Freelance Writer & 50 Shades of Black Contributor

RELATED STORIES:
Meeting the Legendary Joyce Bryant by Carlton Mackey

Joyce Bryant: The Most Famous Woman I Never Heard Of by Carlton Mackey

Posted on September 20, 2014 and filed under blog, education, history, sexuality.

50 Shades of Black Hosts Opening Day of Pan African Film Festival - Atlanta

It gives us great pleasure to announce that we will be hosting the Opening Day screenings of the Pan African Film Festival on August 7, 2014 at the Historic Plaza Theater in Atlanta, GA.

As hosts, 50 Shades of Black will introduce each of the day’s screenings, lead engaging Q&A discussions after each film, and will be present with other sponsors and actor Danny Glover at the red carpet screening of “Supremacy”.  Throughout the weekend, 50 Shades of Black will also be conducting exclusive interviews with some of the festival’s biggest stars.

Beginning with the very first film “From Above”, a Shakespearean tragic love story between African and Native American main characters,  to the final film of the day Elza, [a visually beautiful tale that confronts the issue of “colorism” in Guadeloupe (and in most colonized societies), where internal race prejudices often hinge on light skin versus dark skin; “bad” hair versus “good” hair] each of the Opening Day hosted films connect directly with the mission of 50 Shades of Black and highlight the work we are doing with some of our key partners across the country such as I Love Ancestry, National Congress of Black American Indians, Jazz WCLK, and Locs Revolution.

Screening 12:15pm - William Ward (Danny Glover) dives under the gloomy waters of his memory to recall the love story of his life with Venus, a girl belonging to the Lighting Clan, a peculiar Native American family living in Arkansas with a strange communion with electricity.

  Thanks to the introduction from our partners at   I Love Ancestry  , Yvonne Rosegarden will be joining   50 Shades of BLACK   tomorrow for a post film conversation of "FROM ABOVE" at the   Pan African Film & Arts Festival   (Atlanta) [Screening at 12:1  5pm]  "I am really looking forward to viewing and participating on a panel to discuss this film that spotlights the seldom discussed relationships between Americans of Native and African descent---AND spreading a LOVE VIBRATION with 5-count hugs at the same time! See you there--please share!" -Yvonne Rosegarden

Thanks to the introduction from our partners at I Love Ancestry, Yvonne Rosegarden will be joining 50 Shades of BLACK tomorrow for a post film conversation of "FROM ABOVE" at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival (Atlanta) [Screening at 12:15pm]

"I am really looking forward to viewing and participating on a panel to discuss this film that spotlights the seldom discussed relationships between Americans of Native and African descent---AND spreading a LOVE VIBRATION with 5-count hugs at the same time! See you there--please share!" -Yvonne Rosegarden


It is PAFF’s goal to present and showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help destroy negative stereotypes. We believe film and art can lead to better understanding and foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, and lifestyles, while at the same time serve as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times.

Directly in line with the festival’s mission, 50 Shades of Black is the multimedia platform for exploring the complex relationship between race, skin tone, sexuality, and the role each play in the formation of identity. 50 Shades of Black, its creator Carlton Mackey, and its team has collaborated with visual artists, scholars, and the general public to also cultivate a deeper understanding of what diversity truly means with particular focus on the spectrum of manifestations of and understandings of "blackness".


Screening at 2:50pm - A documentary that examines with candor and humor Black women's issues regarding hair and self-esteem, and advocates for the acceptance of all hairstyle choices.  


Screening at 4:50pm - Titus is the story of a virtuoso African-American jazz musician whose damaged soul has brought him to the status of a nobody. Living in London, far from home, he’s wasting away, estranged from his one true love, his vintage alto sax. All hope looks lost until a visitor arrives, Jessica, the daughter he abandoned as a baby. Over the course of a day and night together, old demons are laid to rest and new ones are stirred, and for one last time the future is back in Titus’ hands. The poetic and soulful story of one man’s final shot at redemption – when all he’s ever known is hell.

  Rivablue will be joining 50 Shades of Black tomorrow for post film conversation of Titus as she reflects on the film and the global influence of Jazz.  Rivablue can be heard on   www.wclk.com   mon-fri 7pm-10pm. 

Rivablue will be joining 50 Shades of Black tomorrow for post film conversation of Titus as she reflects on the film and the global influence of Jazz.  Rivablue can be heard on www.wclk.com mon-fri 7pm-10pm. 


A young Parisian woman of Caribbean descent returns to her native island of Guadeloupe looking for the father she has never known. This visually beautiful tale confronts the issue of “colorism” in Guadeloupe (and in most colonized societies), where internal race prejudices often hinge on light skin versus dark skin; “bad” hair versus “good” hair. 

Screening 10:10pm

JOIN US OPENING DAY!  PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE HERE

or at the Box Office Window - Plaza Theater 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave N // Atlanta, GA 30306 // 404.873.1939

 

50 Shades of Black is a signature project of the BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE ™ Campaign.

 

Posted on August 2, 2014 and filed under africa, art, film, press, race, religion and culture, sexuality, skin tone.

Seriously, Why Do We Fetishize Asian Women?

My geek friends and I regulary share gifs, photos and videos of things we find interesting on the web with each other on Facebook - because, well, geeking out at work is really the only way to go about getting a check. And being fans of Japanese anime and manga, it came as no surprise that one of my friends came across a video called "Why Guys Like Asian Girls" and shared it with the rest of the crew. 

In the video, actress and filmmaker Anna Akana vents candidly (with the most splendid potty mouth) about her disdain for "yellow fever" i.e. way men of other races, namely white men, exoticize and fetishize her just because she's Asian. 

Now, as a black gay man, I figure when most of my melenated brothers and sisters are talking about being reduced to fetishes and tokens, they mean that the perpetrator is, well, someone white. But that clearly isn't the case because a few of my geeky black guy friends just couldn't seem to understand why Anna had such a problem with so many men only liking her, and so many other Asian women, just because of the color of their skin.

And it's not just my friends who seem to have this sexual fantasy of Asian women. I've heard fantasies like this from men all of my life, and as Anna notes, never have any of those fantasies been based on anything other than the racialized idea of the woman as opposed to who she actually is as a person. 

And honestly, I don't see how any Asian woman, or any woman for that matter, would be flattered by the idea that a man only wants her because she talks with a baby voice, acts childlike and dresses as a school girl, perhaps barely speaks English, enjoys being dominated both in the bedroom (or while giving Handy J's in a spa) and in her life in general. Basically, she just has to be nothing more than a doll-like slave that's only good for sex, cooking and naughty massages.

Besides laughing my ass off at Anna's hilarious commentary, I also felt empathy for Anna's story because her complaint sounds exactly like the anger and frustration we black men feel when we're reduced to tokens and Mandingo sex warriors in the eyes of other races. Personally, I can't tell you how many times I've tried to talk to a guy of another race (White, Middle Eastern, Hispanic, Asian, etc.) online and one of the first things they tell me is "I'm really into black guys" or "I bet you have a big dick" or "I bet you have a big black ass" or even something as extreme as "I want you to come ravish/dominate/rape me."

Or, sadly, if they don't like me or I turn them down, they call me a "nigger."

Basically, to them, I'm nothing more than a hyper-masculine, ghetto-booty-having, big-black-dick-swiinging sex beast ready to ravish any man in the bed, Or I have to be the sumissive black boy that they can tame in the bed just so they can feel proud and mighty about having conquered the big black beast.

Seriousy, does the idea of living out that fetish or the Asian fetish sound appealing to you? Well, it sure as hell isn't fun when people try to force it on you.

Unforunately, it's not just the mindsets of other races that people of color have to deal with when it comes to being fetishized. People of all races seem to do this to each other based on the ill-informerd, reductive, and, dare I say, fucked up stereotypes running rampant in the media about all of the different communities of people.  

Clearly, everybody across the globe has their own personal hangups when it comes to race and sex, being a citizen of the world makes that pretty impossible to avoid. But one way to diminish that ignorance and racism is to listen to the stories of other people and be aware of how our words and mindsets affect them as well. And to start, I suggest you watch Anna's video above because it's not only thought-provoking but it's also freaking hilarious and witty.

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, storyteller and blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

 

Posted on July 30, 2014 and filed under race, sexuality, skin tone.

The High Five: The Day a Brother Invented the World's Most Famous Salute

high 5-history2.jpg

The High Five - The Day a Brother Invented the World's Most Famous Salute.

Have you ever reached your hand high in the air for an awesome High Five?  Ever wondered who was the "first" to do it?  Well, in this amazing documentary you'll learn a lot more than you ever thought you could in 10 minutes about the high 5, baseball history, and the first openly gay athlete in any major sport...and no he isn't Jason Collins.  

The High Five - The Legacy of Glenn Burke.

50 Shades of Black examines Sexuality and Skin Tone in the Formation of Identity.

Posted on July 28, 2014 and filed under blog, history, Identity, Homophobia, LGBT, personal stories, sexuality.

Eastern Europe's first black mayor opens up to 50 Shades of Black in Exclusive Interview

  Eastern Europe's first black mayor opens up to Ross Oscar Knight about race, skin tone, gender equality, family and politics.

Eastern Europe's first black mayor opens up to Ross Oscar Knight about race, skin tone, gender equality, family and politics.

Today Ross Oscar Knight interviewed Mayor Peter Bossman of Piran, Slovenia. Slovenia, part of the former Yugoslavia, was the first country to gain its independence in 1991. Now part of the European Union, the country received ample media attention after Bossman was elected its first black mayor in 2010. The interview details the story of how Bossman fled Ghana in 1977 and eventually settled in Slovenia to become a doctor. Bossman and his wife are parents of two biracial daughters. During the discussion Bossman speaks of pride in his African heritage and how he has balanced his identity with Slovenian culture. 

More on this story from 50 Shades of Black.

RuPaul and The Problem With The Big 'Tranny' Debate

Living in this country, it’s already hard enough being a minority but it’s doubly problematic when your specific community is lumped together with other oppressed minority groups and you find these communities in conflict with each other. It’s a predicament that has plagued black people, brown people, women, people of various classes for many years. And now America is seeing it play out within the LGBTQIQA community (Seriously, that is too many groups lumped together) thanks to gay drag icon RuPaul’s ongoing battle with the transgender community over the use of terms like “tranny” and “she-male” in “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Just to give a recap, for several months now “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has come under fire from the transgender community for using words that were considered anti-trans slurs, like "tranny" and "she-male." The controversy grew so large that producers for the show apologized to the trans community and edited out a mini-challenge called “Female or She-male” from the season. They also pledged to stop using trans slurs as well.

Recently, RuPaul was asked how he feels about the controversy and he fired back at what he called a “fringe” group within the trans community who are simply looking to play victim and police others when it comes to language.

“Does the word ‘tranny’ bother me? No. I love the word ‘tranny,” RuPaul said.  “No, it is not the transsexual community. These are fringe people who are looking for story lines to strengthen their identity as victims. That is what we’re dealing with. It’s not the trans community, because most people who are trans have been through hell and high water and they know — they’ve looked behind the curtain at Oz and went, ‘Oh, this is all a fucking joke. But, some people haven’t … You know, if your idea of happiness has to do with someone else changing what they say, what they do, you are in for a fucking hard-ass road.”

“But don’t you dare tell me what I can do or say. It’s just words. Yeah, words do hurt … You know what? … You need to get stronger. You really do, because you know what, if you think, if you’re upset by something I said, you have bigger problems than you think,” he added.

Not so surprisingly, his words caused an uproar among the LGBT communities, and even some of his drag race alumni weighed in on the matter. Season 3 contestant and transgender superstar Carmen Carrera, who previously criticized the show for its use of trans slurs, slammed RuPaul for what she claimed was insensitivity to the trans community.

"This battle of respect is something very real to me," Carrera previously stated in a Facebook post. “I've watched my friends get called out in public for not being passable as female and hurt big time about it, I've watched my friends in the news that got murdered and never investigated, I've watched my friends believe all they can do in life for money is escort. I'm very passionate and believe that every time the LGBT community is featured in the media, people are learning about us. Now more than ever. My thing is, teach them the good of who we are that way it will cause a ripple effect and open the doors for respect and then ultimately lead to more people loving us."

However, Season 6 winner Bianca Del Rio fired back at Carrera and implied that the she should be silent and grateful that Ru gave her a platform to superstardom.

“There’s all this madness about shit we can say and shit we can’t say…it’s not that fucking serious. Let’s face it, we wouldn’t know who the fuck Carmen Carrera was if she didn’t fucking get on ‘Drag Race.’ Maybe she should stick what’s left of her dick and shove it in her mouth and shut the fuck up,” Del Rio said at a recent performance.

Ru was also supported by famous transgender activist Justin Bond, who argued in a Facebook post that “tranny” should be considered an empowered word of endearment in the LGBT community.

“In lieu of standing up to the haters who seek to diminish us and our accomplishments and standing UNITED IN PRIDE IN OUR DIVERSITY these thoughtless “word police” instead go on the attack and achieve easy victories by harassing, silencing and shaming members of their own community and the allies who are thoughtful and sensitive enough to the reasons and feelings behind their anger that they are willing to listen and -as usual, blame themselves and make the changes because it’s just EASIER to “evolve” back into silent, bullied shame. What they fail to recognize is that by banishing the use of the word TRANNY they will not be getting rid of the transphobia of those who use it in a negative way. What it does do is steal a joyous and hard-won identity from those of us who are and have been perfectly comfortable, if not delighted to BE TRANNIES, but the fact is WE ARE NOT GOING AWAY. In case you didn’t know it WE’RE TOUGH!”

And those three opinions exemplify the strong arguments that are being hurled across the board over the use of trans-focused words.

On one hand, it’s understandable why queens like RuPaul and Bianca feel such a strong ownership of the word “tranny.” Before the Western world even had an inkling of an understannding of what a trasngender person is, tranny was a word used to describe drag queens and anyone else dressed as the opposite sex. For some in the older generation, it became a word of pride, being used not only in conversation but also as a powerful descriptor when advertising for shows. 

But like the way many words change over time, the context and definition of tranny has changed as our society has opened its eyes and mind to the existence of transgender people. What was once just used as an umbrella term to describe anyone who used fashion to break gender norms has now been used, mainly in a comical or offensive way, to describe members of the transgender community. And although some in the LGBT world feel a sense of ambivalence or pride about the word and others like it, clearly there are those who are offended by it's use.

I'm not a transgender person and I've not done drag enough times to call myself anyones drag superstar (I was quite BEAT though), so I'll never fully understand what it feels like to be in their shoes or be called a tranny. But as a black gay man, I look at a word like tranny and the way it is dividing communities of people and it reminds me of the impact that words like "faggot" and "nigger/nigga" have had on my own respective communities. 

As minorities, or rather oppressed groups, we know that those words were born from hate and used to brainwash us into thinking we were less than human, less than worthy of life, love and knowledge. And for many of our ancestors, and, sadly, for many of our friends and family, those words were that last that many of us heard as we were brutally victimized in hate crimes and lynchings. 

Unlike most other offensive words in the English language, those two are drenched in the blood of millions. They're so scarlet stained that even though both the black and gay communities, more so the black community, have taken their respective words of hate and tried to turn them into terms of endearment, they still bring about feelings of pain, frustration and loss when said in the wrong way, or by someone of the wrong race, or to a little black or gay child who undoubtedly will have that word forced upon them, even by his or her own people.

I understand the reasoning behind wanting to reclaim a word of hate and I also understand the reasoning behind wanting to ban it as well. I even understand the reasoning behind wanting to take power away from all of those words and focus on the forces behind them. I think that everyone must choose to handle those words in the way that works best for their own spirit.

But what I have trouble understanding is how a person, especially a minority, can tell people of another minority group that they're weak for being angry about hearing a word used to sometimes degrade and dehumanize them. 

I believe that RuPaul has done a lot to improve the lives of the LGBT community especially when it comes to giving us representation in the mainstream world, and superstars like Carrera have many reasons to praise RuPaul for that. But just like I don't owe any other black person my silence about the word "nigger/nigga", or any other gay person about the word "faggot", and I especially don't owe anyone outside of those two communities my silence, no transgender person owes anyone their silence about the word tranny and how it makes them feel.

I think that, as minorities, we often forget that we don't all sit equally on the bottom of the social totem pole. There's a privilege to being a biological man or woman, especially a man, and being able to play in gender and revert back to your biologicial form at will when you take off the clothes, the fake dicks, the wigs and the makeup. It's easier to shrug off painful words when they don't have to apply to you at all times. But it's a hell of a lot harder when there is no drag, no mask, no act and you are simply transgender. There is no easy escape or solace then. You have to actively and willfully find strength and power in yourself everyday to rise above the hateful words and actions of others, all while trying not to succumb to the self-hate and esteem issues that such attacks will inevitably cause. And while that doesn't sound too different from the lives of every other minority group, like all of them, there are nuances to that struggle that can only be fully understood if you live it.

And I'm not the only one who shares that sentiment. Of all of the responses to the "Drag Race" controversy, I think the one we can all take to heart is that of Season 6 runner up Courtney Act, respectfully challenged Ru’s words in a Facebook post and explained that we should spend less time fighting each other and more time trying to love each other and end oppression.

“I’m a little surprised by @rupauls recent reaction to trans issues. I understand and apply in my own life the logic about not giving other people power over how I feel, but I am not 1 in 12 trans people in America who will be murdered. As Ghandi said “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members,” so why doesn’t everybody say “Love?”

If you’re gay, how do you feel about straight people in the media using the word f—-t? If you’re black, how do you feel about white people using the word N#@$^? At some point we agreed that those words are not acceptable, I can’t even type the “N-word,” so much as say it out loud. Why are we so flippant about tranny? I don’t agree with polarizing the argument either way, but I do think we need to overcome the ego, coming from both sides, and have some compassion and consultation so we can move forward. Let’s change the way we are looking at this argument, cause when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

What would be energy better spent right now is focusing on helping trans people improve their quality of life.  Here are some facts I'm sure we all can agree are not acceptable and that we need to come together and bring about positive change:

Transgender facts

1 in 12 transgender people in America is murdered. (This one fact alone is more than enough)

Although social acceptance for transgender people is growing, parents continue to abandon youth with gender-identity issues when their children need them most, advocates say.

49 per cent of transgender people attempt suicide.

Transgender youth account for 18 per cent of homeless people in cities such as Chicago, but researchers estimate fewer than 1 in 1,000 people is transgender.

Transgender youth whose parents pressure them to conform to their anatomical gender report higher levels of depression, illegal drug use, suicide attempts and unsafe sex than peers who receive little or no pressure from parents.

Sources: Guidelines for Transgender Care (2006), Gender Spectrum Education and Training, Families in TRANSition (2008).”

 

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, storyteller and blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

The Stars Line Up: Rashan Ali, Ross Oscar Knight, Christopher Barker, & Fahamu Pecou

 Ross Oscar Knight interviewed by Rashan Ali on Atlanta & Co (NBC)

Ross Oscar Knight interviewed by Rashan Ali on Atlanta & Co (NBC)

Sometimes the stars just line up.  Today was one of those days.

You would have thought I was going to be on TV based on how much I was smiling and pushing folks out of the way at work to get in front of the screen to watch what was about to come on.

Today's special guest on Atlanta & Company, a live weekday show featuring local businesses, events, and entertainment (aired on local NBC Affiliate station 11Alive) was Ross Oscar Knight.

Literally moments before Ross walked into the studio for the live broadcast, he and I were on the phone debriefing an international call we just had exploring a potential partnership with 50 Shades of Black in South Africa.  You see, not only is Knight featured in our coffee table book, and not only did he host the inaugural Open Photo Shoot of the BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Campaign, he is emerging as what may become an official role as our International Project Coordinator.  And for the sake of today's interview, Ross is clearly a celebrated speaker, author, and photographer.

Clamoring to get a glimpse of the segment where he discussed his latest work HIM -In His Moment, an intimate profile of the wedding experience from the groom's perspective, I couldn't have been more excited for this talented, driven, focused young man.

 Ross Oscar Knight, Author - Cover Design, Christopher Barker

Ross Oscar Knight, Author - Cover Design, Christopher Barker

I was equally excited about the coverage and emphasis that the show placed on the cover of the book itself.  Designed the Artistic Director of our book, Christopher Barker, the cover of Knight's first book is a stunning manifestation of elegance and a clear articulation of a vision that could only happen between Knight and Barker.

 Twitter: @50ShadesBlack

Twitter: @50ShadesBlack

What was equally as amazing was that Knight, with the Barker illustration in the background, was being interviewed by Rashan Ali!  She and I spent an hour together in the 'green room' at Emory University prior to her featured panel with Fahamu Pecou.  In a lively, heartfelt conversation we discussed the significance of the work...not simply in general but in the very real ways it connected to her own life.  During the panel conversation with Pecou, I felt moved and compelled by Rashan's powerful witness.  I tweeted (and truly meant) this message during the show to which replied.

...and guess what?  That panel host that I referred to...Fahamu Pecou is also a featured artist of 50 Shades of Black.  As a matter of fact, he and his wife to be grace the cover of the book!

 Cover design by Christopher Barker featuring Fahamu Pecou and Jamila Crawford based on photograph by Terra Coles.

Cover design by Christopher Barker featuring Fahamu Pecou and Jamila Crawford based on photograph by Terra Coles.

Sometimes the stars just line up and the degrees of separation decrease to even less than six.  We couldn't be more proud of everyone on the team for their amazing individual and collective success.

Show them all some love!!

Emory Black Star Magazine & 50 Shades of Black Release Special Edition Magazine

 Screen Shot of Digital Magazine Release.  Print copies available this week!

Screen Shot of Digital Magazine Release.  Print copies available this week!

Emory Students at Black Star Special Edition Magazine Release Party.

Black Star, Emory University's first and only black student publication partnered with 50 Shades of Black to release a special edition magazine to close the year.  Dressed to impress, students crowded into the Emory Black Student Union (EBSU) for the unveiling of the magazine.

This special edition magazine comes on the heels of the two organizations successfully executing the first college campus open photo shoot of the BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE (TM) Campaign, the signature empowerment campaign of 50 Shades of Black.  Atlanta Sports and Fashion photographer Breonca Trofort captured over 100 Emory University students, faculty, and staff.

A collage of images from the BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE (TM) Open Photo Shoot grace the cover of this Special Edition Magazine.  The magazine also includes a 10 page spread featuring deeply personal reflections from students who explore their own identities ranging from black Latina, biracial, queer, Jamaican, and East African.

Samantha Scott, the editor and chief of Black Star, wanted to offer a platform for exploring the question: "What is it like being black at Emory University?"

We couldn't be happier that she chose 50 Shades of Black as a partner for helping navigate that exploration.  We are so grateful for the entire Black Star Staff, and the 100's of people from the Emory community for their powerful witness and testimony.

>>HOST A BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE OPEN PHOTO SHOOT AT YOUR SCHOOL<<

Wonderroot Podcast: Interview with the Creator of 50 Shades of Black

In this WonderRoot Artist Feature Carlton Mackey, creator of "50 Shades of Black", talks with WR Interactive Media Manager Floyd Hall about the origins of the project, its evolution as a platform for dialogue about race, sexuality, and identity, and why the tag line "Beautiful In Every Shade" is so meaningful.

For more information on 50 Shades of Black, visit: http://50shadesofblack.com

WonderRoot is an Atlanta-based non-profit arts and service organization with a mission to unite artists and community to inspire positive social change. By providing production facilities to Atlanta-based artists and coordinating arts-based service programs, WonderRoot empowers artists to be proactive in engaging their communities through arts-based service work. For more information, please visit:

http://wonderroot.org 
http://facebook.com/wonderpage 
http://twitter.com/wonderroot 
http://instagram.com/wonderroot

Introducing The New Cool Kids On The Scene: The Tenth Zine

As a black, gay writer, I’m always happy when I see people from my community planting a flag in the world of media, whether it be behind the scenes, writing or designing, or giving me LIFE in pixelated in pixelated form in glossy pages or on my computer screen.

Earlier this month, I’d heard about a new magazine geared toward the black gay community called The Tenth, the first independently published project from the Brooklyn-based Pink Rooster Studio. Recently my 50 Shades of BLACK cohorts, Carlton Mackey and Chris Barker, and I checked out the online site and we all raved at what came across our screens.

 The creators of Pink Rooster Studio, &nbsp; André Verdun Jones, Khary Septh, Kyle Banks

The creators of Pink Rooster Studio, André Verdun Jones, Khary Septh, Kyle Banks

In the past, friends and I have complained about black gay magazines focusing too heavily on the fluff of party scenes, well-oiled Adonis models, flyers, ads, flyers and more ads. But The Tenth, though only offering a glimpse into its pages on the site, seems to skew left of middle and simultaneously travels the roads of art, fashion, sex appeal and literature.

Boasting more than 80 contributors for its first bi-annual issue, which was released on April 10, The Tenth promises offerings from the likes of performance artist Andre Singleton, fashion designer Telfar Clemens, photographers Idris & Tony, activist Darnell Moore, contemporary artist Rashaad Newsome, and literary critic William Johnson.

"We really talk about what's happening now in our culture and have no agenda to represent an image or counter any perception. We just want to play in the sandbox with other exceptional black gay boys and be faggy and angry and smart and silly and beautiful and ugly and radical and perhaps more than anything just learn to trust each other through collaboration. It really has been an incredible experience," said the founders of Pink Rooster studios to Huffington Post.

"The work is born out of our queerness. We know that we, as black gay men will always be forced into a box. This is us coloring that box, and that is a very queer thing. Making anything beautiful, elegant, and joyous," they added.

Yet, most intriguing, so far, is the Courtney Harvier helmed short film "The Masters." Perhaps playing on the layered opening phrase of “I Saw Africa On His Mind,” the stunning visual piece showcases black men, slaves, on the plantations of the south as they work the fields and their master’s home, all the while yearning for the freedom of their homeland, as well as the solace and familiarity of each other’s bodies and hearts. It’s provocative and immediately enthralling and undeniably an awesome teaser for the work that’s the come from The Tenth.

If you want to know more, check out The Tenth website here. And be sure to watch "The Masters" below. 

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, storyteller and blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

Posted on April 19, 2014 and filed under activism, africa, art, blog, Body Image, LGBT, Masculinity, sexuality.

50 Shades of Black Creator in Featured Podcast at Wonderroot

 Floyd Hall in Recording Studio at WonderRoot in Atlanta, GA

Floyd Hall in Recording Studio at WonderRoot in Atlanta, GA

This morning I had the distinct pleasure to sit down with Floyd Hall, the Interactive Media Manager for Wonderroot for an interview.  Floyd curates the WonderRoot Podcasts series which offers listeners a vast array of conversations and insights into WonderRoot, artists and the Atlanta cultural community. Each podcast is recorded in the audio studio at WonderRoot Community Arts Center.

I can't wait to share to share more with you.  Expect podcast release early next week.

 50 Shades of Black Creator Carlton Mackey and Floyd Hall at WonderRoot - Atlanta, GA

50 Shades of Black Creator Carlton Mackey and Floyd Hall at WonderRoot - Atlanta, GA


Atlanta Fans Pack The 'Dear Dad' Premiere Film Screening

 Patrick Saunders/The GA Voice

Patrick Saunders/The GA Voice

The "Dear Dad: Letters From SGL Men" premiere screening was everything we expected and more as Atlanta fans poured into the Emory Center For Ethics on Wednesday night to watch the film with creator Chase Simmons and 50 Shades of BLACK creator Carlton Mackey.

Over the course of an hour and a half, more than 100 audience members crowded into a lecture hall and watched as the eight black gay Atlanta men poured their hearts, minds and tears into confessional interviews and, of course, deeply personal letters to their fathers about their relationships and how it strengthened them, hurt them and ultimately shaped them as adult men.

Throughout the film, the audience could be heard laughing and whispering with intrigue and emotion at the storis playing out on the screen, sharing in the intimate, comical and sometimes heartwrenching moments of film until the very last credit rolled.

But the real magic happened during the following Q&A, which featured cast members Gee Session-Smalls, Kevin Dwayne Nelson, Chris Barker, Marcus J.W. Borders, Jon Diggs and myself, Nicholas Harbor. The cast shared both sweet and bitter updates on the state of their relationships with their fathers, such as Nelson and Smalls, who discussed making peace with their journeys now that their fathers have passed on. Barker and Simmons also opened up to the crowd about continuing to work to better their strained relationships with their fathers.

Many of the men in the audience personally related to the cast's stories and offered up their own struggles to change and strengthen their relationships with their parents. But if a tangible example of hope was needed, it certainly seemed to come forth when the fathers of both Borders and myself stood up and announced themselves to the crowd as they showed their support for their sons and shared some poignant, comical and touching words for the crowd.

By the end of it all, little else could be seen other than smiles sailing across the room as the cast, their families and audience members all mingled and bonded over what could only be described as a night where we not only celebrated eight brave men who decided to come out, but a tribe of people who decided to come together in unity and love.

If you couldn't make it to the premiere, don't fret too much. Simmons announced that "Dear Dad" is being submitted to film festivals, and there are plans in the works for future screenings in Atlanta, Tennessee and other states.

And if you want to see a bit of Wednesday night's magic, check out photos from the screening courtesy of Patrick Saunders of The GA Voice below. 

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, Storyteller and Blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor