All Articles Tagged "LGBT"

The Untold Story Of A Queer Woman Of Color: Q&A With Filmmaker JD Walker

October 11th, 2013 - By Deron Dalton
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JD-Walker

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 [2010]) 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.”

Wentworth Miller Reveals He Tried To Commit Suicide Multiple Times Before Coming To Terms With Sexuality

September 9th, 2013 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Roger Eldemire / WENN

Roger Eldemire / WENN

We told you last month about handsome Prison Break star Wentworth Miller, 41, coming out as gay in an effort to protest treatment of LGBT men and women in Russia. Since then, he hasn’t said very much about his choice to do so. But just over the weekend, the actor spoke at a Human Rights Campaign dinner in Seattle and according to Us Weekly, revealed that he tried to commit suicide “more than once” while trying to come to grips with the fact that he was gay. He said the first time he tried to harm himself was when he was 15 years old:

“I waited until my family went away and I was alone in the house and I swallowed a bottle of pills. I don’t remember what happened over the next couple of days but I’m pretty sure come Monday morning I was on the bus back to school pretending everything was fine.”

He went on to discuss the battle it was to not appear to be different than what people expected him to be as both a young man and an adult in the public eye.

“Growing up I was a target. Speaking the right way, standing the right way, holding your wrist the right way. Every day was a test and there was a thousand ways to fail. A thousand ways to portray yourself to not live up to someone else’s standards of what was accepted.

I had multiple opportunities to speak my truth, which is that I was gay, but I chose not to. I was out privately to family and friends — publicly, I was not. I chose to lie — when I thought about the possibility of coming out, how that might impact me and the career I worked so hard for, I was filled with fear.”

Clearly that fear has since subsided. Kudos to Miller for sharing his story.

What do you think of what he had to say about his past struggles? 

How Young is Too Young to Come Out?

July 5th, 2013 - By Toya Sharee
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

 

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.

“I Want A Real Apology From BET”: B.Scott Decides To REJECT Network’s Apology For Awards Attire Fiasco

July 3rd, 2013 - By Clarke Gail Baines
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b.scott_

We told you yesterday that popular media personality B. Scott, who does on occasion dress like a woman, wrote an open letter on his website to discuss the hurt that he felt he was caused by BET when he was snatched off the red carpet and the pre-show telecast and told to tone down his “unacceptable” look. This look was the way Scott has presented himself to the world for years now, and the confusion surrounding the incident seemed to create a backlash against the network by Scott’s fans and many others. The network went on to offer an apology, which if you’ll remember, went something like this:

BET Networks embraces global diversity in all its forms and seeks to maintain an inclusive workforce and a culture that values all perspectives and backgrounds. The incident with B. Scott was a singular one with a series of unfortunate miscommunications from both parties. We regret any unintentional offense to B. Scott and anyone within the LGBT community and we seek to continue embracing all gender expressions.

Scott saw the apology, but he’s made it clear that it’s not enough. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said that he felt the apology was half-hearted.

“I want a real apology from BET. This was a not a mutual misunderstanding or miscommunication. I pride myself on being very professional.

This was my day to come out in one of the biggest days of my career and I was publically humiliated. I’m just hurt by it. I just want people to know that it’s ok to be who you are.”

Despite claiming to be very hurt by the whole incident, Scott said that he could see himself working with BET again in the future since he still has some “supporters” at the network. But he would only do so under one condition:
“If I knew for sure that they wanted me to be there and I could express myself how I normally express myself and my brand.”
Well there you have it. While I do agree that the whole “miscommunications from both parties” part of BET’s apology came off as a big excuse as opposed to someone taking real responsibility for a mistake, at the same time, I’m surprised Scott went to Entertainment Weekly about all this. Seems a bit much. But then again, it does get the word out so that similar incidences such as this one don’t occur in the future, or can be handled more professionally by all parties involved.
What do you think about his response to BET’s apology?

A Child’s Death & A Mother’s Pain: New Film “TransParent” Sparks New Conversation About LGBT Community

June 23rd, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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A new film is about a very “taboo” subject is hoping to find its way to film festivals and theaters.

TransParent is a film about the life and death of Shelley “Treasure” Hilliard, a slain transgendered 19 year old woman from Detroit

The film, produced by Natasha “T” Miller and writer/producer/director dream hampton, tackles many issues surrounding Hilliard. First, many in the Detroit LGBT community believe this was a hate crime.  Detroit, like many cities, are still uncomfortable about men and women who do not “represent” the sex they were born into.  Second, others believe that Hilliard was a police informant and by being mixed in that, she was killed in a sting that did not go as planned.

Equally as important to the story of what happened to Treasure is the story of her mom, Lyniece Nelson. She says that even though it has been two years since her daughter was killed, she hasn’t found a way to forgive the act:

“I will never find closure or any type forgiveness. I  can only pray that God help me deal with the pain and give me the strength to continue take care of the children and my grandchildren. But forgiving? I’ve forgiven a lot of people for doing a lot of horrible things to me and I don’t think I have anymore in me. And I just have to ask God to forgive me for that.”

People often say that a parent isn’t supposed to have to bury their child and when you watch the clip, it becomes more apparent where that statement comes from. The pain is so deep that it feels impossible to work through.

Miller and hampton have started a Kickstarter fund to raise money for film submissions, equipment rental, completion of the film and other things.

While discussing transgendered people still may be very uncomfortable for some, especially in the black community at times, it is important to still have it. When we open up that discussion, it may possibly allow for young people to feel more comfortable with their sexuality.

Is TransParent a documentary you’d like to see?

For Gay Couples, Love Comes With Added Cost

May 21st, 2013 - By C. Cleveland
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Illinois Rev. Phyllis Pennese speaking at a press conference with other clergy in support of same sex marriage. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Illinois Rev. Phyllis Pennese speaking at a press conference with other clergy in support of same-sex marriage. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

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.

Imagine you…

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).

 

Nothing Like A Father’s Love: Dad Writes Son A Letter Telling Him It’s Okay That He’s Gay

March 16th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"FCKH8lead"

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We know all parents aren’t this understanding but this story is really touching.

FCKH8.com, a website that sells t-shirts to spread love across all sexualities (in their words, they “fight homo-h8), posted a very sweet letter on Friday morning on their Facebook page that epitomized love. In the letter, an unidentified father told his son, Nate, that he’d overheard a phone conversation about his plans to come out to his dad. In surprising fashion, his dad totally took the pressure off his son.

In the note, he said:

I’ve known you were gay since you were six. I’ve loved you since you were born.”

The dad also added that he thinks his son and Mike, the guy he was on the phone with, make a cute couple.

Well…anybody have a smile on their face right now? Need a Kleenex?  We aren’t sure how old Nate is (he’s apparently in school as his dad told him to plan to bring home oj and bread after class) but as many in the LGBT community will tell you, it isn’t always the easiest thing in the world to come out to friends and family members. Some parents are especially hard to tell because some of them have certain life “expectations” for their children and can’t see that being gay, lesbian or bisexual doesn’t necessarily stop those things from happening.

I’m sure Nate took a huge sigh of relief after reading that note.

Do you think or hope you’d be this open if you overheard your child having this type of conversation?

Out & Proud: Gay/Bi/Lesbian African American Celebrities

February 27th, 2013 - By Nicole Akoukou Thompson
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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.

wanda-sykes-1-682x1024

WANDA SYKES

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.

Taking The High Road? Frank Ocean Says He Won’t Be Pressing Charges Against Chris Brown

February 3rd, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

While we still don’t know who really started this little rumble in the parking lot between Chris Brown, Frank Ocean and their friends last Sunday, we do know that Chris feels persecuted and Frank believes that Chris is the one who started it.

While there were earlier reports from an LA County Sheriff’s department spokesperson that Ocean might be seeking to file charges against Brown, according to MTV, he is now saying that isn’t true. Ocean took to his favorite place, Tumblr, to speak his mind:

As a child I thought if someone jumped me it would result in me murdering or mutilating a man. But as a man I am not a killer. I’m an artist and a modern person. I’ll choose sanity. No criminal charges. No civil lawsuit. Forgiveness, albeit difficult, is wisdom. Peace, albeit trite, is what i want in my short life. Peace.

That’s definitely a way to let this entire thing burn out from Ocean’s stance.  One could call it very “zen” of him to just let the whole thing ride, especially considering that it wouldn’t take much for anyone to believe that Brown was at fault.

It remains unclear if Brown is considering filing charges against Ocean seeing as though most reports state that Ocean and his friends started it.   Perhaps it is best if they both just accept that they don’t like each other and avoid each other as much as possible.

Oh, to be young, rich and seemingly live with no consequences. Then again, a fight can happen to anyone, right?

When’s the last time you had a fight?

Which Baltimore Raven Is Planning To Use The Superbowl To Stand For LGBT Rights?

January 25th, 2013 - By MN Editor
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wenn.com

From Black Voices

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo wants to use the Super Bowl media frenzy as a platform to sound off on marriage equality and anti-bullying.

In an email to fellow same-sex marriage supporters Brian Ellner and Michael Skolnik (who also serves as political director to hip-hop mogul and philanthropist Russell Simmons), Ayanbadejo asked, “Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti-bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?”

Along with his team, the AFC champion will be playing in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3 against the San Francisco 49ers.

Among those to get word of the email was New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, who reached out to Ayanbadejo.

“On the phone Tuesday afternoon, Ayanbadejo called that missive his “Jerry Maguire email,” referring to the Tom Cruise movie, in which the plot is set in motion when Maguire, played by Cruise, seizes the occasion of a sleepless night to pour his heart and soul into a mission statement,” wrote Bruni.

Read the rest at Black Voices

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