All Articles Tagged "lesbian"
“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.”
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.
No.1 Draft Pick Brittney Griner On Being Gay In The WNBA: ‘I’ve Always Been Open About Who I Am And My Sexuality’
It shouldn’t be surprising that the WNBA is a lot more accepting of “alternative lifestyles” than the NBA is, but for No. 1 draft pick Brittney Griner it doesn’t make her much nevermind. Before Monday, it was a toss-up whether the Baylor grad would be heading to the WNBA or charting new territory with the Dallas Mavericks, as owner Mark Cuban claimed he’d give the Houston-born baller a shot to try out. But four days ago, the Phoenix Mercury scooped up the 22-year-old before he had a chance to make good on that offer, and from an interview with Sports Illustrated it’s clear she already feels at home.
Asked along with the No. 2 and 3 draft picks, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins, why coming out in women’s sports is more accepted as opposed to men’s, Brittney said:
“I really couldn’t give an answer on why that’s so different. Being one that’s out, it’s just being who you are. Again, like I said, just be who you are. Don’t worry about what other people are going to say, because they’re always going to say something, but, if you’re just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don’t hide who you really are.”
At 6’8″ it’s hard for Brittney to hide much — a reality that made being “out” much less of a deal for her, she told SI when asked whether it was difficult for her to be openly gay.
“It really wasn’t too difficult, I wouldn’t say I was hiding or anything like that. I’ve always been open about who I am and my sexuality. So, it wasn’t hard at all. If I can show that I’m out and I’m fine and everything’s OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way.”
Whether the NBA adopts such an open and accepting attitude — along with the NFL and other predominately male sports — remains to be seen. But so far, it looks like we can chop up the WNBA’s LGBTQ acceptance as yet another example of how women are surpassing men.
Bisexuality, for most, simply means duality: the attraction to both the same sex and the opposite sex –male and female. To some, however, bisexuality is reduced to promiscuity –individuals who are considered so perverse that they don’t exclude either sex from their conquests or attractions. And, that notion is perpetuated by many aspects of the media, predominately television; along with the idea that bisexuality is neither a real identity nor a lifestyle choice, but a way for men to curtain their “true” gay identities, and an opportunity for women to engage in non-emotional sexualized play –and that thought directly correlates to the onset of biphobia in waking generations.
Bisexuality is by no means a new occurrence in nature. Throughout recorded history, various humane societies and the animal kingdom have been documented as having explored bisexuality. Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome are prime examples of civilizations recognized as having bisexual tendencies, and the squid, the Bottlenose dolphin and black swans are just on the short list of animals who like to swim at both ends of the metaphoric pool.
The fact that bisexuality is documented does not dissuade naysayers from objecting and volunteering their opinions on the matter. The gray-middle ground, where bisexuality lies, upsets people because it isn’t black or white. Men who love men are always considered to be gay, and are rarely accepted as being bisexual. If he is seen with a woman after he’s already been perceived as gay, then she’s a “f*g hag” or a “beard,” and he’s jumping back inside the closet. And, this is often the opinion from both gay and straight bystanders, who are waiting for him to finally admit he’s gay or to keep lying to himself, and presumably be on the down-low. This is not the case at all, if a bisexual man happens to marry a woman, he is no more inclined to cheat on his wife than a heterosexual man, or he would his husband. To assume that he would have to live a double life in order to satisfy his urges suggests that people don’t believe that bisexuals are able to maintain healthy and loving relationships without straying.
And, for bisexual women, the problem is entirely different. The assumption is that bisexual encounters between two women only happen when alcohol is involved, or during experimentation. Or, if there is a relationship, then it is just a phase. These women are expected to be having “fun” prior to the presumably superior life of hetero-normality. This, again, is reductive. The assumption not only cheapens the idea of female sexual experiences of women, but it suggests that a same sex relationship involving a bisexual woman is not a lasting one.
The challenge for society is to understand that fluidity in sexuality doesn’t simply occur when a person is drunk or horny (not every bi-person is hetero-flexible or straight-when-sober), it occurs through actualized attractions and personal honesty. Bisexuality can become more accepted if individuals refrain from jumping to conclusions about another person’s sexuality based on who others are dating or having sex with –also being candid and frank about one’s own attractions makes people less bigoted toward other people’s attractions and choices.
*Name has been changed to ensure privacy
A few weeks ago I came across the movie Pariah. It was one of those vague, but poignant IFC network films that I’m always waking up on the end of in the middle of the night. Before the credits begin to roll there’s a dark-skinned girl staring out of a bus window with a vacant look of relief which had me like, “Wonder what the hell that was about?” So I did a search and set for it to record the next day. The movie begins in a seedy strip club. Our main character stands a bit behind the crowd shy, but in awe of this mocha-colored beauty doing some kind of butterfly thigh move on the pole. And soon it hits me that this person in a fitted cap looking confused, amazed and about a “Drake” on a comfort level of saint to sinner in the strip club is wait…a girl. Pariah is the story of a young African-American woman dealing with discovering her own blossoming sexuality and self-expression while confronting the expectations of her traditional church-going parents who have skeletons of their own. Even more so, it’s a story of a butch African-American lesbian teenage girl.
Over the past twenty-years and so, America has hesitantly swallowed the shock value of gay America and in the past decade or so even slowly infused it into our popular culture in a social understanding that LGBTQ is American culture too whether we like it or not. But as familiar as some of us have become with Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and LOGO TV, we’ve forgotten that lesbians are about that life too. And not the lesbians that Lil’ Wayne glorifies and America likes to see. I’m talking about the lesbians that we don’t completely understand, so we think if we don’t discuss them, they’ll go away: the butch lesbians.
Because I honestly must say, I don’t get it. When I watched Pariah I had the same question I’m sure everyone else does when they see a beautiful woman holding hands with someone at first glance you think is a guy, until something that would otherwise go unnoticed gives it away only because you ARE staring so hard, “Why is she with her when she could just get a real man?”
“That’s not a question that’s easy to answer,” I was told Friday evening. See because the fact that I didn’t “get it,”bothered me. So instead of making assumptions I wanted to talk to someone who could give me a glimpse into what life is like for the “lesbians straight people don’t understand.” I decided to call up Jazz*, a friend I hadn’t talked to since high school. In fact she was someone I had liked a lot, my best friend since grade school. So of course I felt like a complete jerk that my first phone call to her in over ten years was to interrogate her about her sexual status. It was nothing personal, just one of those situations where life stuff makes you lose touch. Luckily the whole conversation wasn’t just about who she was sleeping with, and she was still the great friend I had from all of those years ago.
For as long as I knew, Jazz and I never had much in common. In fact I’m pretty sure our friendship blossomed from always being grouped together for some kind of seating arrangement or project in grade school because our names were close together in the alphabet. We always enjoyed each other’s company and even when I’d come over she’d be playing basketball in the back of the house and I’d be upstairs playing Barbies with her younger sisters. But it was further proof that friendship is more than just all of the activities you have in common; it’s about inside jokes, common enemies and the fact that someone who is not obligated to love you, does for whatever reason that may be.
When I vaguely learned that Jazz was dating women through a random Facebook update, I can’t say I was super surprised, but apparently it wasn’t anything she ever really entertained when we were younger. Here I was marching around with my LGBTQ ally flag singing, Baby I was Born This Way when Jazz quickly corrected, she really doesn’t think she was, “Some people say they’re born gay and I don’t know if I agree with that. I’m not even going to say I wasn’t ever attracted to men. Even you know when me and you were younger we talked about boys we thought were cute.” It made me think of the notes we’d pass in eight grade bickering over who Batman from Immature (or was it IMX by then) belonged to. It wasn’t a front or her fighting any feelings she was ashamed of. She was just blindly navigating her sexuality like the rest of us adolescents. It just further confirmed to me how sexuality isn’t as black and white as we’d like it to be, whether you’re gay or straight. We may not be all pushing any boundaries on gender representation and who were attracted to, but sexuality and emotions are confusing for everyone.
I wonder if Jada Pinkett knew the firestorm she was going to set off when she posted a rather interesting and controversial question (along with the image above) on her Facebook page earlier this week. Concerned about the state of relationships between men and women, and about the intimacy choices of a few women around her, Jada questioned why women are seemingly choosing to be with women romantically in response to negative experiences with men. Rather than editorialize and run the risk of misconstruing whatever insight she was trying to gain, let me simply lay her question out the same way she did.
Before I begin…I want to make one thing clear. It’s important that you know that I believe love comes in ALL forms. I believe a person should love WHOMEVER…HOWEVER they choose. But…I do have a question.
In the last month, three women, in their 40s, coming out of long term relationships with men have confided in me that they now feel that their last resort for companionship is that with a woman. These are women who have never engaged in or even desired to be in intimate relationships with other women. Now these women feel as though they have no other option. It seems as if there is a spike in same sex love all around. What is changing in which how men and women are relating to one another, that is creating same sex love as a LAST RESORT for heterosexual women?
Well, what do you think? And have you noticed this “trend”?
For years, there has been media speculation concerning the sexuality of celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Queen Latifah, Eddie Murphy, Johnny Gill, and more recently, Raven Symone. The trip out of the closet has been a long one for African American celebrities, evident by the fact there aren’t nearly as many out and open black celebrities as there are white. We don’t often see black celebrities walking around, publicly showcasing their love like Sex and the City’s Cythia Nixon and her girlfriend; Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi; or Elton John and David Furnish. That isn’t to say that there aren’t any out African American celebrities though. In fact, we’ve got an entire list of proud gay celebrities.
This comedian has been making people laugh since she began her stand-up career in 1987 at a Coors Light Super Talent Showcase in Washington DC. She got her first big break opening for Chris Rock at Caroline’s Comedy Club, and since then she’s made a career of being an award-winning television and movie actress, stand-up comedian, and writer. Sykes publicly came out on as a lesbian in November 2008 after the passing of Proposition 8 in California.
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For as much discussion as there is about African Americans’ overgeneralized sense of homophobia, it’s surprising that a study has found we are actually the most likely racial group to openly identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT).
A new Gallup Special Report on the LGBT population in the U.S., based on more than 120,000 interviews of adults, found 3.4% of the overall population of the country identifies as LGBT, most of which are non-white, younger, and less educated. In terms of race, African Americans and other racial minorities were more likely than whites to identify as homosexual. Overall, 4.6% of African Americans identify as LGBT, followed by 4.3% of Asians, 4.0% of Hispanics, and just 3.2% of white Americans. Seemingly confirming the double standard of society embracing lesbian women but somewhat rejecting gay men is the finding that women are just slightly more likely to identify as LGBT than men (3.6% vs. 3.3%). In terms of overall numbers, 53% of LGBT individuals are women.
Less surprising perhaps is the fact that younger Americans (age 18-29) are more likely, three times specifically, than seniors (aged 65 and older) to identify as LGBT. The 6.4% of open young adults versus the 1.9% of seniors likely has a lot to do with societal attitudes toward homosexuality over the years. What was once a taboo sexual preference and even seen as an illness has become mostly culturally accepted and even endorsed by the President and legitimized in some eyes by the recognizing of same-sex marital unions in a number of states.
What may be less easier to explain is the finding that Americans with lower levels of education are more likely than their higher educated counterparts to identify as LGBT. The study authors note that this is contrary to many studies using smaller data samples, but among their population, 3.5 % of those with a high school education or less identify as LGBT compared to 2.8% of those with a college degree and 3.2% of those with a graduate education. In all, LGBT identification is highest among those with some college education (4.0%) but not a college degree.
Speaking on the new insight gained from their Gallup report, Williams Distinguished Scholar Gary J. Gates said in a press release:
“This report not only confirms the validity of prior estimates of the size of the LGBT population, but also provides new insight into the diversity within the LGBT community. It will dramatically increase our understanding of the lives and views of LGBT Americans, and I congratulate Gallup for adding this important question to their tracking poll.”
For more highlights of the report, click here.
What do you think about these major findings?
*Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.