All Articles Tagged "gay"
“I Don’t Know What I’ll Be Like Next Year”: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Wife Opens Up About Her Homosexual Past
Bill de Blasio was elected the next mayor of New York City on Tuesday, defeating Republican opponent Joe Lhota.
By now, New Yorkers have become well acquainted with De Blasio’s family–daughter Chiara, son Dante, and wife Chirlane McCray–all of whom were visible figures throughout his campaign.
In May, a 1979 Essence piece written by McCray was picked up by the media in which she discusses her identity as a gay black woman.
Read and see more at BlackVoices.com
Filmmaker, JD Walker is raising funds (and awareness) for a film project in the pre-production stage — a coming out story, new to Hollywood. And that’s a story about a queer woman of color, Alyssa (Margaret Kemp, Children of God ) and how she not only comes out, but transitions and grows after her divorce and secret life with another woman. A story told through the lenses of her daughter, the film will focus on the impact of the divorce on the child, and how the mother and daughter come to terms with each other’s choices.
Walker, a black feminist writer who identifies with the queer community, won the 2013 Sundance Pitching Contest and raised more than her $25,000 goal for the film through a Kickstarter campaign. But other than traditional Hollywood struggling to take notice, Walker says some people don’t want to see another film tackling coming out.
“A lot of people complained that they don’t want to see or read about or hear another coming out story particularly in film. But every time we witness another teen suicide, another teen who is being bullied just because who they are, we know there is still work to be done,” Walker said. “Personally, I don’t think that the idea of telling another story about how homophobia impacts subjects or people of color… I don’t think that the story can ever get old. It’s important it’s told in a very unique way.”
Walker talks about the status of her upcoming film and about why stories reflecting the intersection 0f homophobia, racism, sexism and classism need to be told in an exclusive interview with MadameNoire’s Deron Dalton:
MN: What inspired you to write and make The Postwoman?
JD Walker: “I have always been interested, both as a professor and black woman, in exploring black women’s quadruple oppression on screen and in literature and in writing. And that’s black women’s oppression by their gender, their race, their class and their sexuality. And I noticed over the years — my background is as a journalist and a theatre major — that a lot of images I saw in traditional Hollywood didn’t reflect my reality, my cultural reality or even just my experiences as a woman of color. I really wanted to help humanize queer women of color on screen and to give more black women characters voice.”
“…When we look at traditional Hollywood cinema from as early as D.W. Griffith and Thomas Edison, we see three-different stereotypes of black women in cinema. And that is the black woman as mammy, the black woman as sapphire and the black woman as matriarch. Doing this film [is] a way for me to address social justice issues and to address homophobia and the importance of eradicating homophobia, racism, classism and sexism not only in the world, but specifically the African-American community.”
MN: How did you come up with the name and the story The Postwoman?
Walker: “I originally did a short film for the queer women of color film festival. I was offered an opportunity to take a free class for women filmmakers. It was originally a comedy. It was a short about a woman sitting on her balcony, and she sees this mysterious postal carrier woman walk by her. And it’s partly autobiographical because one afternoon in the summer, I was sitting on my balcony and I noticed a female postal worker delivering the mail quietly and her hat was tilted down low… and I couldn’t see her eyes. But then I started thinking because I’m writer about what’s her story. That’s how I got the title The Postwoman, but I’m not really fond of the title for a feature film so the title may change. The short screened at over 20 black film festivals [a combination of black pride and LGBT film festivals] between 2009 and 2011. The story just grew by word of mouth and that’s what really inspired me to begin screenwriting as a profession.”
MN: Usually the media representation of the LGBT community are images of white men, younger white men or just white men in general, do you feel there are enough coming out stories for people of color on film or on TV?
Walker: “I don’t think there are enough coming stories for people of color on TV or film, even GLAAD has documented that most of the scripted TV LGBT characters are white males. If you look at… any kind of LGBT distribution you’ll see that the stories are about white males mostly. Our stories don’t get told. I think it’s important we hear a multiplicity of voices. Not just the coming out experience, but what happens after that, how do people survive and grow in life. There are so many great stories that independent black filmmakers produce that don’t make it to the mainstream or that people never see. And for me that’s painful.”
MN: What issues are highlighted in this film that interlink with real-life LGBT issues?
Walker: ”First and foremost, we see the intersection of gender, race, class and sexuality in this film. I think that a lot of the films I’ve witnessed… we haven’t really seen how quadruple oppression can effect a subject or a character. Most of the films we seen about LGBT individuals are comedies featuring white males.”
MN: ”Romantic comedies? I’ve written about it… for the Huffington Post… that gay formulaic comedy. You see an average-looking white guy hooking up with a really handsome-looking white guy and all their trials and tribulations in dating each other. That’s basically that formula.”
Walker: Laughs. “Somehow we can’t get around that. We have to get around that.”
MN: ”I’m not going to lie to you. I do watch them all.” Laughs.
Walker: ”I do too. I like them… and that’s all we have, but doesn’t mean we can’t demand more from our writers and to demand that they dig deeper and look at the realities of race, class and gender. I’m just trying to help to humanize black women characters on screen and to give more black women/actresses voices and depth. That’s the reason why I really decided to make this a dramatic feature film.”
For the past few years there has been much interest in actress Raven-Symone’s sexuality — mostly because it’s something she never speaks on, perhaps until today. Two hours ago, the former Disney star sent out an interesting tweet that many think is confirmation of her homosexuality. She wrote:
I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you
— Raven-Symonè (@MissRavenSymone) August 2, 2013
What’s confusing is the timing of the child star’s message. Many think it is a response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn The Defense of Marriage Act which will allow same-sex marriages to be recognized by the Federal government; however this decision was handed down in June, making her about two months late on the acknowledgement. The tweet also appears to be in direct conflict with a statement the 27-year-old made early last year when rumors surfaced she was dating former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Az Marie. At the time, she said:
I’m living my PERSONAL life the way I’m happiest. I’m not one, in my 25 year career to disclose who I’m dating. and I shall not start now. My sexual orientation is mine, and the person I’m dating to know. I’m not one for a public display of my life. However that is my right as a HUMAN BEing whether straight or gay. To tell or not to tell. As long as I’m not harming anyone. I am a light being made from love. And my career is the only thing I would like to put on display, not my personal life. Kisses!”
Though Raven still hasn’t technically put her personal life on display, she may have put her sexual orientation out in the open. But with no further comment from her, all one can do is continue to speculate as we have been.
What are your thoughts?
I watched this video (Video Of Black Teens Rapping About Oral With Other Men Goes Viral, Radio Host Blames Single Black Mothers) a few weeks ago and I was confused more than anything. I warn you, if you haven’t seen it. It’s a bit graphic and features a group of pre-teen African-American boys rapping about their skills performing oral sex on other men. As graphic and offensive as the boys were I couldn’t figure out whether they were joking, embracing homosexuality or making a statement on their own sexuality. Initially I didn’t continue watching the radio host’s commentary about how these boys’ behavior was a result of single-motherhood because I wondered why someone was so quick to point blame. What I witnessed was a group of boys much like the young men who would sit in my sexual health classes and immaturely ask me was it more safe to wear two condoms or can a woman get pregnant from butt sex. They were obnoxious, curious and completely clueless.
I did eventually watch Tommy Sotomayor’s commentary and I didn’t get how he was contributing to the solution by agreeing that most black men ain’t ish and black mothers are genocide to our race (Sorry Tommy, I’ve got classrooms of young black men that disprove this theory). The sex educator and ally in me was too busy cartwheeling that finally a group of young black men weren’t using derogatory names to refer to homosexuality or talking about being gay like it was dirty or repulsive. In fact, you might even get an impression that they were proud of it. That’s something to be celebrated, right? Even if it wasn’t in the most PG, politically correct language.
I was bothered more by the boys’ age in relation to them rapping so publicly about such sexually explicit acts. I would have felt the same way if they were saying they were going to “filet mignon” some women’s private parts Lil’ Wayne style. But instead of knocking the boys’ sexual preferences or public displays of it, it sounds like what they needed was someone to sit down and talk to them about healthy sexuality and values not a radio DJ to get on a soapbox talking about how they would be failures at life because they were raised by single black women. It’s easy to talk about who is responsible for the problems in our community, but it’s quite a challenge to play an active role in the solution.
The video did begin to have me questioning how young is too young to come out? I remember being curious about boys as early as seven-years-old, but is gay something you can’t truly claim until you’re older? In all actuality, the first crush I remember having was a girl crush. Sexuality was a foreign concept to my second-grade class and most of us were just beginning to figure out what “going together” or having a boyfriend or girlfriend even meant. One day I decided to “propose” to my best friend and the class threw us a wedding during recess. Did I “like” girls. Probably not. At seven-years-old all I knew was that my best friend was pretty, funny and nice and I wanted to make sure we’d be friends forever and at the time a proposal was the only way to express that. I got down on one knee and all. At 29, I’m confident enough to look back and know that I wasn’t a experiencing any first feelings as a lesbian. I’m completely heterosexual as far as I know but I still wonder WTH was I thinking in second grade. This whole business of sexual attraction and relationships is confusing for adults, and for pre-teens it’s complete chaos.
Can you tell when you’re dealing with a brother who’s on the down low? We like to think that we can tell when we’re barking up the wrong tree, but that’s not always the case. These celebrity men (and women) had the world fooled. And when they were caught stepping out of the closet, we were shocked.
The media and evidence from our site and social networking pages would lead one to believe black folk have strong opinions about same sex relationships. And often these strong opinions come across as, or outright represent homophobic schools of thought. Many blame the Christian church, intolerance and in some cases legitimate hate and fear for the ways in which these thoughts are expressed. We asked our Facebook followers if they believe blacks are more the most homophobic people out here. See what they had to say.
Lakeisha: Yes ! Because of what we learn in church and growing up listening to older people. But I am not …I love everyone for who they are.
Nicole: No, and the statistics indicate the ethnic groups who actually commit the most crimes tied to homophobia.
Chances are, if you’ve kept up with sports, you’ve heard about Brittney Griner. The 6 foot 8 basketball player made a name for herself as the star player on Baylor’s Women’s Basketball team and attracted national attention when Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban invited her to play for his team.
Though she’s receiving tons of accolades now, Brittney sat down with ESPN to explain that there were times when she wasn’t always so popular. In fact, while some have accepted her, there are still many more who are still taunting her, trying to figure out her gender and bashing her open expression of her sexuality.
Brittney explained that from as early as she could remember, she felt different than the other girls her age. While other students were playing house, squealing about being “wives,” Griner knew early that she didn’t want to be a wife she wanted to be a husband.
Griner explains how she’d feel when her parents put her in a dress:
“When I’m in a dress, it’s like, ‘What am I doing in this?’ I feel trapped, like I’m in shackles and handcuffs and a straitjacket. So I was just like, F— it, I’m going to wear what I want. I caught hell for it, but it felt so good being myself.”
Brittney’s struggles with her sexuality and identity didn’t stop internally. People in her school made accepting who she was exceptionally difficult. Other students would taunt her:
“Show us your private part. We know you have one.”
“Every incident was a variation on a theme. A girl would come up and grope at her flat chest, calling to the other kids: “See? Nothing!”
But when Griner attempted to come out to her father, the reception wasn’t too friendly.
“I ain’t raising no gay girl.” The former Marine set the house rules, and he forbade Brittney from inviting friends — male or female — over to hang out. Brittney and Ray clashed often, both too stubborn for their own good. By the time she was a senior, the self-described daddy’s girl was done with Ray’s idea of normal, so she moved out and stayed with the Nimitz junior varsity basketball coach.”
There were times when Brittney cried all by herself at night, considering taking her own life.
Eventually though, Brittney came to love who she is and her father came to understand that Brittney just wanted to be accepted for who she was. Her successful basketball career helped her father to see who she really was.
Check out the rest of Brittney’s interview and her internal struggles over at ESPN.com.
Sweeping statements about morality and religion populate the debate over same-sex marriage, while the financial consequences often go unaddressed. The financial impact on the Black community isn’t even an afterthought. But for some African-Americans, love is one of the biggest barriers to achieving wealth.
Marriage As A Contract
Many forget the financial safety net legal marriage provides. “There are roughly 1,100 benefits, rights, and protections conferred on married couples on the federal level. And hundreds more benefits, rights, and protections that married couples receive under state law,” attorney Camilla Taylor, Marriage Project director at Lambda Legal, a national organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and people with HIV, tells Black Enterprise.
Eight states currently allow civil unions or domestic partnerships. Another nine and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage. Twenty-nine states ban same-sex unions.
The government has never viewed marriage or divorce as the jurisdiction of religion, but as the forming and breaking of a legal contract. Under the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government does not recognize any state-issued marital contracts. Until DOMA is struck down, the progress made for gay couples at the state level has limited benefits. And the financial consequences trickle down to the simplest life decisions.
Want a buy a home for your family? Unlike heterosexual couples where a home is automatically passed on to the surviving spouse in the event of their partner’s demise, your partner will have to pay a gift tax if they were added on to your deed.
Want to start a family? Some health insurance policies don’t cover maternal care costs; even more don’t offer domestic partner benefits. States that don’t support same-sex unions won’t allow you to be put on the birth certificate of non-biological children born during your partnership. This will affect your ability to list the child as a dependent on your health insurance, make medical decisions for the child, or even enroll them in school.
Want to care for your sick partner? If you live in a state that doesn’t recognize your marriage, getting health insurance will be an obstacle. Some employers have special programs that offer health insurance to domestic partners, but those benefits are federally taxed as additional income.
Want to take advantage of your federal benefits? You will receive fewer social security benefits than partners in a heterosexual marriage. The federal government will not recognize your same-sex spouse or non-biological children. And your partner will not qualify to receive your social security benefits.
Want to take care of a loved one after your death? While traditional husbands and wives have unlimited transfer of assets, you and your partner must piece together financial and legal protections for your assets after your death.
Want to start a new career? State marriage laws will limit what job offers you can take. If an attractive job offer is located in a state with discriminatory legislation you could lose more than you would gain from the opportunity.
Same-sex partnerships are so financially cumbersome that firms are creating divisions that cater to the LGBT community. Wells Fargo even developed an Accredited Domestic Partner Advisor certification in 2010 that specializes in the unique challenges same-sex couples face in estate and financial planning.
Dollars and Sense
According to a Gallup special report on the LGBT population in the United States, 4.6% of African Americans publicly identify as LGBT. That means currently at least 1.9 million Blacks will never be able to reach their full financial potential.
If the obstacles posed to millions of individuals’ financial dreams doesn’t mean anything, consider that a 2004 report by the Congressional Budget Office suggests that federally recognized gay marriage would reduce the budget deficit by about $450 million a year.
Maybe it’s time to stop viewing this issue in sweeping indictments. Maybe it’s time to stop thinking of our government as the purveyor of morality. Didn’t that ship sail a long time ago? Let’s look at this issue through a lens our government understands: the good old-fashioned American way of cash money.
Marriage is a legal structure that allows people to depend on each other, so they don’t have to depend on the government. And it doesn’t make much sense, or cents, to block the prosperity of a growing population of our country.
C. Cleveland covers professional development topics and entrepreneurial rebels who blaze their own career paths. She explores these stories and more on The Red Read, Twitter (@CleveOutLoud) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).
An Open Letter To Jason Collins: I’m A 25-Year-Old Follower Of Jesus. I’m Black. And I Grew Up Wondering If I Was Gay
Earlier this week, NBA player Jason Collins came out as the first openly gay professional athlete playing in a major team sport. A couple of weeks prior, No. 1 WNBA draft pick Brittney Griner made an announcement regarding her homosexuality as well, following in the footsteps of former WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes. Beyond sports, there was Frank Ocean last year and now rumors are swirling about singer Janelle Monae (who denies being gay, but opposes traditional gender norms). Not to mention, there is the ongoing debate about gay marriage, gay rights, and tolerance. Last year, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis even released a song called “Same Love,” which was a personal call for equality for gay couples in light of the rapper’s childhood wonderings.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the gay community has cemented their place in culture. But of course they haven’t done so without a fair share of controversy. Yet, from where I stand, all I see are two caricatures presented by the media— a voice of tolerance and a voice of hate. A group simply wanting people to be happy, and the opposition wanting to deny them of that inalienable right, and doing so with absolutely no compassion. If you’re gay, be gay! Or God hates gays, so go to hell! Those are the only options society gives us.
Yet, what I don’t think is being given a voice is the side of those who love gay people (and any other group of people), believe in human rights, but also ascribe to a faith that has transformed their own thinking and being—all the way down to challenging their own sexuality. This became apparent when Chris Broussard made his comments regarding Collins’ announcement. Although I understand why ESPN viewers could be bothered by Broussard’s religious commentary, considering they watch ESPN for sports and not sermons, I think it’s unfortunate that he’s now experiencing media martyrdom. I began asking myself what I would have done if (for some reason) ESPN asked me for my opinion. I’m not sure what would have come out of my mouth that particular day, but I know I would have tried to communicate a message of truth and love. And if I could write a response, instead, here’s what I would say in my open letter to Jason Collins, Brittney Griner, and every person that wants to be who they were meant to be:
I’m a 25-year-old follower of Jesus. I’m black. And I grew up wondering if I was gay.
Growing up as a tomboy, I never played with Barbie dolls (except for that MC Hammer figure I was geeked about); I played outside with boys instead; wore boys’ clothes; played basketball most of my life, and didn’t really like doing any girlie things including liking boys. I can recall being in middle school trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I even remember how awkward it was for me to have a boyfriend (for like 2 months). Was I supposed to feel something when he hugged me? Or that time he gave me a peck on the lips? Well, I didn’t. And if not for my ponytail, I’m sure we looked like two dudes walking down the street. I began wondering was I gay. My teammates were tomboys too, so I figured maybe we just represented a different type of female—a hybrid of genders perhaps. But as time went on, some of those teammates and other girls I’d played basketball with were now openly pursuing girls. They were gay. What did that mean for me? Confusion. But I didn’t decide that I too was gay. Why not? If it was something I could have decided, does that mean I never was? Is it because I grew up in church and heard being gay was a sin, so I never fully considered it an option? Or did I decide that I would fight to be whom I believe God created me to be despite any of my own thoughts or dispositions? What about one of my best friends or other individuals who once embraced a homosexual lifestyle, but don’t anymore? Does that make it a choice?
If you need proof of how much the business of coming out has changed, take a look at the career trajectory of Ellen DeGeneres. The TV star saw ratings on her self-titled sitcom tank when she wrote her gay lifestyle into the script. Fast-forward 16 years and the openly gay, married comic is the queen of daytime talk shows.
Now we have news that Washington Wizards center Jason Collins has come out — on the cover of Sports Illustrated, no less — and he’s greeted with support from across the NBA, from the public, and even past and current Presidents and politicians.
Prejudice against members of LGBTQ community still exists but being a bigot just isn’t acceptable anymore. For many in the LGBTQ community, we’re living at a time that was decades in the making. On the flip side, we’ve also reached the point where stars are accused of coming out for profit. Who saw that coming?
The media and fellow celebrities still question whether Frank Ocean’s admission that a man was the subject of love songs on his debut album “Channel Orange” was a ploy for publicity.
Ocean received a warmer welcome out of the closet than many expected. Especially considering he operates in the world of hip-hop where misogyny and homophobia are accepted as the norm. Collins is taking on a similarly biased industry, becoming the first openly gay actively playing professional athlete. He admitted to Sports Illustrated, “I’ve endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie.”
Collins’ announcement is no doubt the product of a difficult internal struggle and required great bravery. But some are already questioning his intentions. New York radio station Hot 97 asks if the move was “a tactic to gain sympathy and notoriety in hopes of getting signed because, let’s be honest, he’s not even close to being a decent player even for his position at center.”
It sounds cynical but let’s entertain the notion for a moment. Collins is at the end of his career and a free agent that, before his announcement, no team felt pressure to add to their roster. Now, if Collins isn’t picked up, it may look like the NBA blackballed him.
Acceptance Outweighs Backlash
Bigotry, even if it’s only perceived, is bad for business. Sure, Collins will have to endure a more sinister type of trash talk from less open-minded sports fans, but no one with real money to lose is to going to say anything to welcome the wrath of GLAAD and jeopardize their career.
With his announcement, Collins secures a loyal demographic that will keep money coming in long after he leaves sports. Advertisers have been reluctant to use gay spokespeople in the past but that’s changing (see Ellen DeGeneres’ deal with Cover Girl, and companies like Starbucks and Target’s support of gay marriage).
“The market is more receptive. He might be the right player at the right time to benefit from that,” said Paul Swangard, managing director of Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon. In addition to potentially expanding his current deal with Nike, Collins could also benefit from speaking engagements and book deals if he chooses.
The day is coming when coming out just won’t be a big deal whether you’re rich and famous or not. For now, we’re at a crucial point of change where, for public figures, coming out is less career death sentence than saving grace. The experiences of DeGeneres, Ocean, and Collins show others that we live in a time where being authentic can expand your opportunities if you’re brave enough to be the first to speak up.
C. Cleveland covers professional development topics and entrepreneurial rebels who blaze their own career paths. She explores these stories and more on The Red Read, Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).