All Articles Tagged "LGBT"

Woman Goes Topless To AfroPunk To Raise Breast Cancer Awareness

August 31st, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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I forgot that AfroPunk was this past weekend. So while others were out in the sun, enjoying the food, vendors and festivities, I was at home, getting some much needed rest, looking at pictures, and reading a particularly good think piece about the annual event. In an essay titled, #LiterarySwag: Shade In The Shadows, Yahdon Israel, writes about his hesitancy to attend AfroPunk.

While he felt the Black folk who attended the event were beautiful and eccentric, he wondered if their attire was authentic. Were they really about this life or were they just playing dress up, performing the type of Blackness deemed acceptable at an AfroPunk event.

He writes:

I was also trying to figure out if everything I was seeing was for real. If the people with the purple pouted lips, the Bantu Knots, the lime green cornrows, and the tribal face paint were these people all the time? Or were they just doing that because they were at Afropunk? I wondered if the only way these people felt their bodies could navigate Afropunk successfully was by dying their afros pink and wearing dashikis?

But then, after further reflection Israel realizes that maybe AfroPunk was one of the few places where this type of in-your-face-Blackness could be accepted, without condemnation or consequence.

The “family secret” amongst black people is the visceral knowledge that our bodies’ survival and success in the world, be it black or white, is predicated on acting, on performing. While it is true that acting and performing concede to the idea that we aren’t being authentic—that we aren’t “keeping it real,” that we aren’t “keeping it 100,”—it is also true that this “authenticity” has always come with an asterisk.

I was reminded of his words when I came across the story of Ericka Hart. Hart also attended AfroPunk this past weekend. And she did so topless.

In a recent Instagram post, Ericka described her decision to do so.

Afropunk feels like a second birthday and pride for me all rolled into one celebratory black queer time. Lots of people have been asking me why I went topless, so I thought I’d share. Black people are at increased risk for many health disparities and we don’t always talk about them, resist doctors, and die at early ages (all of which are directly related to historical trauma due to white supremacy). Often, I share my experiences to support others in whatever way feels good and that was definitely one of my reasons for going topless. But, I also wanted to bring visibility and honor to my breasts just as they are. People often go topless at music festivals. Why not me too? Everyday is an act of resistance of loving my breasts (and body) just the way it is. Being topless took something for me each day. People stared. Wanted to take photos. Asked me questions. Told me their experiences with cancer. I have never felt so connected to people. So, it seems that when we share the most vulnerable parts of ourselves, others around us will do the same. Thank you black folks at #afropunk for loving on me! I am free. #blackgirlmagic #fuckcancer #scars #freedom #etinan #blackjoy #feltbeautiful #queen #here @afropunk photo by @enitan_vintage 📷

A photo posted by Ericka Hart (@ihartericka) on

Afropunk feels like a second birthday and pride for me all rolled into one celebratory black queer time. Lots of people have been asking me why I went topless, so I thought I’d share. Black people are at increased risk for many health disparities and we don’t always talk about them, resist doctors, and die at early ages (all of which are directly related to historical trauma due to white supremacy). Often, I share my experiences to support others in whatever way feels good and that was definitely one of my reasons for going topless. But, I also wanted to bring visibility and honor to my breasts just as they are. People often go topless at music festivals. Why not me too? Everyday is an act of resistance of loving my breasts (and body) just the way it is. Being topless took something for me each day. People stared. Wanted to take photos. Asked me questions. Told me their experiences with cancer. I have never felt so connected to people. So, it seems that when we share the most vulnerable parts of ourselves, others around us will do the same. Thank you black folks at #afropunk for loving on me! I am free. #blackgirlmagic #fuckcancer #scars #freedom #etinan #blackjoy #feltbeautiful #queen #here @afropunk @enitan_vintage

As you might imagine, Ericka would not have been able to walk down the street baring her breasts. AfroPunk provided the space for that. There are still far too many places in this world where women aren’t safe. Other countries have issued travel advisory warnings for Black people traveling to the United States. Because interacting with law enforcement, with Black skin, is not safe. And with homophobia preached as religious doctrine, it’s certainly not safe to be queer either. And Ericka happens to be all three. Where else, besides AfrroPunk, could she express herself in this way, safely?

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire. She is also the author of “Bettah Days.” 

What Took So Long? Nickelodeon Debuts Gay, Interracial Couple

July 20th, 2016 - By Chad Milner
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Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon

In the past month, viewers of Nickelodeon have turned on their television and seen some unexpected things happening.  First, Viacom’s simulcast of the BET Awards on all platforms (to be a fly on the wall of the family turning on their television to catch “Full House” on Nick at Nite and instead, hear Jesse Williams’ speech), and now, a gay interracial couple will make their debut on the “The Loud House.”  What a time…

“The Loud House” is an animated series that follows the misadventures of Lincoln Loud, who has the misfortune of having 10 sisters.  The focus of almost every episode consists of Lincoln devising a hair-brained scheme to get his way (ie: sitting in the “sweet spot” on a road trip with the right sisters sitting around him so he can sleep, trying to sit at the “grown up table” for dinner).  Via walkie-talking, his sounding board and consigliere is his friend, Clyde McBride.

Today (July 20), on an episode entitled “Overnight Success,” Lincoln invites Clyde to his house for a sleepover.  In a teaser uploaded to Twitter, Clyde lets Lincoln know that he will be arriving shortly with his parents.  Breaking the fourth wall, Lincoln exclaims “This is it…Time to make history.”  

Lincoln opens the door and says hello to Mr. and Mr. McBride, Clyde’s Black and white fathers (Note: Clyde, too is B”lack).

(Caption: Wayne Brady is thumbing through checks!)

Many have shown their support for Nickelodeon’s progressive thinking.  Then, there are groups such as One Million Moms, who have made “The Loud House” and Nickelodeon a new target, all while giving the show a spike in publicity.

Unfortunately, children are now being exposed to same-sex marriage on a network that is designed for kids. Just because something may be legal or because some are choosing a lifestyle doesn’t make it morally correct. Nickelodeon should stick to entertaining instead of pushing an agenda. Nickelodeon has decided to be politically correct instead of providing family-friendly programming.

Families tuning in to watch a children’s network may encounter a premature discussion on sexual orientation that is completely uncalled for. Conservative families need to urge Nickelodeon to avoid controversial topics that children are far too young to comprehend. This is the last place a parent would expect their children to be confronted with topics that are too difficult for them to understand. Mature issues of this nature are being introduced too early and too soon, and it is extremely unnecessary.

(Note: They really could use an editor.  Using the same words repeatedly is a no-no and there is an unnecessary use of a comma or two).

For many children, this is the norm and the only kind of parenting they know.  Even if there was just one child who sees this episode and feels a little better because of how often they are teased by their classmates for having gay parents; taking such a risk would have been worth it.  Of course, that’s not true and this happens a lot.

“Overnight Success” airs on Nickelodeon this afternoon, July 20, at 5:00 pm ET/4:00 pm CT.

“Where Are Your Kim K’s Now?” Crissle Comes For Straight, Black Men Who Don’t Want Intersectionality In The Movement

July 12th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

At this time, going through what our country is going through, there is no room and no time for division. And I’m not just talking about outside of the community, I’m talking about within the Black community. Crissle, the host of the popular podcast “The Read” made that point yesterday when someone tried to come for Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson.

The tweet has been deleted, but essentially, this person said that they were not going to follow DeRay because he is gay.

Now, I don’t have to tell y’all how DeRay has been one of the front men of the movement. He has sacrificed his time, talent, and most recently, his freedom for the cause of our people. But because someone assumed he was gay, he was not worth following. For some reason, we have yet to realize that as a marginalized, oppressed people it is dangerous to turn our attention to attacking other marginalized and oppressed people, like women, like the LGBT community etc. It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it’s not productive.

Crissle was here for none of it. And after that tweet, she, rightly, went off.

See what she had to say in the series of tweets below.

There’s really not much else to say. This is nothing but facts. The idea that straight, Black men, in the little bit of privilege and power they yield in this misogynistic society, want to turn around and dismiss, degrade or ignore the issues of people within their own community is deplorable, yet prevalent. And if we’re ever going to get free in this country, not only do we need call out the perpetrators of this system, we need to be willing to fight for those unlike ourselves.

Women’s Basketball Coach Fired After Suspending Two Players For Dating Each Other

March 28th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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There’s an interesting story surrounding Prairie View A&M Women’s Basketball coach Dawn Brown. Brown was fired after she suspended two of her players for dating one another. The girls filed a complaint, saying her decision to suspend them was a violation of their Title IX rights.

But Brown’s decision to suspend the players was a result of a team rule that prevented players from having nonprofessional relationships with players, coaches, managers, trainers and any other person affiliated with the program.

Brown said the rule was put into place after an assistant coach was fired for having an inappropriate relationship with a student. Coach Brown says that she enforced the rule with support from the school’s Title IX coordinator, who told her suspending the two players would not be an issue.

Brown said the decision to suspend the players was extremely difficult “but was made with consultation, encouragement and approval” from the athletic director.

But when the punishment was issued, Brown was eventually fired.

In a statement to USA TODAY, Brown said, “Clearly, I feel betrayed and unjustly penalized by this action.”

The two suspended players were able to retain their scholarships and remain at school. They did say that the suspension was based on their sexual orientation and not on the violation of the dating rule. Still, they claim that the dating rule itself violates Title IX as well as the Texas A&M system policy.

Brown, who had enjoyed four consecutive SWAC titles with the team, says she plans on appealing the decision.

With the limited information we have, this story is not as cut and dry as it sounds. While the rule itself is a bit unrealistic and in violation of Title IX rights, I wonder if the two players signed contracts stating that they would adhere to it. I also wonder who created the rule in the first place and why didn’t the Title IX coordinator review it before players signed it or tell Brown that her decision to suspend the two women was indeed a violation of their rights? It certainly looks discriminatory, plus there’s no ethical violation in teammates dating one another, like there is when a coach, an authority figure dates a player. It would be the equivalent of telling all students when they set foot on campus that they’re not allowed to date anyone in any of their classes. If these students are around one another, with as much frequency as collegiate athletes are, it’s likely that an attraction and eventual relationship would develop.

And these two players shouldn’t have been penalized for this.

I don’t know if Brown should have been fired as a result. I guess that depends on the conversations she had with the players and how she treated them beforehand.

What do you make of this story? Should the two players have been suspended? Should Brown have been fired?

Did You Know These Stars Came Out Of The Closet?

January 22nd, 2016 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Tumblr

Image Source: Tumblr

Once upon a time, a celebrity coming out of the closet was headline news. But these celebrity coming-out stories completely slipped under most of our radars. Did you know?

Teen Son Comes Out And Parents Take Out Newspaper Ad To Celebrate

January 22nd, 2016 - By Kweli Wright
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Courtesy of Drakey Drake YouTube channel

Courtesy of Drakey Drake YouTube channel

Bold and brave parents Joan and Craig Wilson, mom and dad to an equally brave son Drake, took out an ad in the Houston Chronicle’s Celebrations section this past Sunday, to let the world know he is gay and that they are proud, according to the Texas Observer.

“And yes,” reads the ad, “he adores Barbra Streisand.”

Joan told the Observer on Tuesday that she placed the ad in response to the defeat of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance in November. HERO would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and 13 other characteristics, but was rejected by voters.

“I couldn’t think of a better place than Houston, out of the entire country, where they needed to hear my message of pride,” Joan said, adding that she believes her son was born gay and created by God. “My announcement was my way of humanizing the issue.”

The Wilsons live in Washington state. They say when he was 16, Drake posted a cheerful coming out video on YouTube, so mom didn’t have to worry about spilling the beans.

“We are blessed to live in a state which has passed anti-discrimination laws,” Joan said. “As a mother, I have much trepidation in thinking my son might one day live in a state such as Texas.”

Drake Wilson

Drake Wilson dressed up for Halloween, courtesy of Drakey Drake YouTube channel

After her son came out, Joan Wilson founded the Society of Lucky Mothers, a group that celebrates LGBT children. In an essay on the group’s website she wrote:

“By the age of three, Drake still wasn’t very interested in playing with cars or destroying things like most boys his age. He was very interested in art, his aunt’s newest furnishings, and the color pink. He could recognize damask patterns and he wanted to be a flower when he grew up. At four, when his sister talked of being a tomboy, Drake asked what that meant and then extrapolated that that must mean he was a tom-girl.”

The Wilsons, who are Christians, always made sure to express their support for gay rights, and figured that in time, if their son was gay, he would tell them. Eventually, he did.

Drake told his mom that he hadn’t planned on coming out until he was at college, but after watching HBO’s adaptation of The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s iconic play about the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, he decided to reveal his truth earlier.

In his YouTube coming out video, Drake thanked all those who came before him for allowing him to be able to come out while still in high school. He also gave a special thanks to his family.

“I would just like to say a big thank you to my whole family for being an example of how all families should be,” he said in the video.

Watch Drake Wilson tell the world he’s gay.

“My Job Is To Love, Not To Judge”: Erica Campbell Shares Thoughts On LGBT Community

November 23rd, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Erica Campbell Shares Thoughts On LGBT Community

Source: WENN

It seems like these days, people are extremely interested to learn what different gospel artists think about the LGBT community. First, there was Tye Tribbett who said he didn’t condemn homosexuality. Then there was Donnie McClurkin who spoke out against the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage. And most recently, there was Kirk Franklin who apologized to the LGBT community for the way the church has abused and mistreated members of the community over the years.

Now, it’s Erica Campbell’s turn. In a recant round-table style interview, Team Curtains asked Campbell, ” What are your thoughts on transsexuals and gays in the gospel music and church today?”

Here’s what she had to say.

“I believe sin is sin and it exists and God forgives it just like everything else. I think our responsibility is to keep singing about Jesus. Keep telling the world that he loves and saves, transforms and heals. I know there’s a lot of different conversations about the origins, and the whys and the hows, and I wish I had the answers to but I do not.

But what I do know is the Bible said, “For God so loved the world…” It didn’t say the heterosexual or the homosexual, it didn’t say the Christian, the saved or the unsaved. It said, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only son that whosoever shall believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” So that’s the only thing I can stay confident in. I rest on the word of God. I stand on the word of God. And we will all stand before Him and God won’t ask me my opinion. He won’t ask the people their opinion. They will have a one-on-one with the Father.

And so, I think we should keep singing, keep sharing, keep loving, keep opening the doors of our churches, keep embracing and let God do the changing. I think a lot of times, we try to be God and we try to make the change. Everybody has an issue. Sometimes people’s is a little more flamboyant than others. Maybe yours is lying and we can’t see your issue. You know what I mean? But we all have something to work on. And I think–yeah, that’s my feeling. My job is to love not to judge. God will do that part.”

Her response is being reported as intolerant. Naturally, people will take issue with her calling the homosexual lifestyle sin. People who believe everything in the Bible are likely to agree with that sentiment. What I found most important though is that she called for people to love and quoted scripture that says God would grant everlasting life to those who believe in Him. Period.

Her statement might not represent the tolerance and acceptance many are looking for. But to me, it’s progress. When I was growing up, people believed and openly stated that homosexuals were going to burn in hell. And then said “Bless the Lord.” And since that was their fate, people felt no need to treat homosexuals or transgender folks with love and respect as Jesus has called us to do for all people.

I hear a lot of Christians argue that speaking out against those in the LGBT community doesn’t mean you don’t love them. And a large part of me questions that. If we behaved that way with other behaviors the Bible and Christianity deems unholy, what would our lives look like? Would we have any friends if we were constantly calling out people who lie? Are there people who are willing to stand up and against those who don’t keep the Sabbath holy? What would people think of us if we wrote long, lengthy Facebook statuses about how immoral and corrupt society has become ever since we started wearing cotton and spandex blends. Would people think we were crazy for picketing with signs that say “God Hates People With Tattoos.” What if we bashed or completely boycotted shows for featuring men who cut their hair and beards.

Not only would people who don’t keep those laws find you judgmental and unrelatable, throwing someone’s sin or shortcomings in their face, if that’s how you interpret their behavior, is not very loving. And I think that’s what Erica was trying to get at with her comments. None of us are in the position to judge another. And thank God we don’t have to. Just let God cook. It’s enough to worry about getting our own lives in order.

You can listen to her full comments in the video below.

Yusaf Mack Says His Daughter Told Him To Kill Himself After He Came Out

November 6th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Fox 29

Source: Fox 29

The heterosexual among us will never know the anxiety, fear and anguish some people in the LGBT community feel when grappling with the decision to come out and reveal their sexuality. Though I could understand why Yusaf wouldn’t feel comfortable coming out, having a fiancé and 10 children, there was also a larger part of me that wondered why he just couldn’t be honest with himself and those near him.

Though he says otherwise, I’m convinced Mack’s decision to star in the adult film was less about falling on hard times and more about a way for him to finally live in his truth, even if he had to do it passively. There’s no doubt in my mind that Yusaf knew this video was going to make its rounds.

And while there might have been some weight lifted in his decision to finally be honest about his sexuality, the reaction from those closest to him weren’t always supportive, as he might have assumed.

In a recent interview with a Philadelphia Fox affiliate, Yusaf Mack talked about the hardest conversation he’s had in the two weeks since the tape was released.

He said it was the one he had with his 23-year-old daughter.

Mack says she said, “Kill yourself. You embarrass us.”

Then the interviewer asked him how he responded.

“I just threw the phone down and starting crying. I didn’t have no words, nothing to say. What could I say? ‘Who you talking to like that?!’ She’s got feelings. I’m her dad. All I could say was, “You’re right.” and threw the phone down.”

What makes the situation so tragic is that sometime in the past two weeks, it’s not clear if it was before or after this phone call with his daughter, Mack did think about killing himself. He called a couple of his friends and told them he was considering the feat. One of them came over, sat with him and eventually dissuaded him from the notion.

Today, he says all thoughts of suicide have passed.

“I’m free. I’m happy.”

Still, Mack, who says he’s known for the past eight years that he was gay, wishes he would have handled the situation differently, particularly with his fiancé, who was with for five years.

“I should have just come out and told her the truth and I’m sorry.”

Mack also had a message for his daughter and his other children.

“To all my kids, I’m sorry and I’m going to still be y’all father regardless, of what I am or who I am.”

I understand that Yusaf’s daughter is going through a helluva lot. Homosexuality aside, no child should have to deal with her father’s porno being the talk of the town. And I pray she hasn’t stumbled across it in any way. Still, despite her hurt, saying something like this to her father, represents the exact reason he kept his lifestyle a secret for so long. I don’t have to tell y’all that telling your father to kill himself is never ok, particularly when he was going through a challenging time in an attempt to be his truest self. Perhaps she didn’t know he was considering suicide but imagine the guilt she would have felt if he’d taken heed to her advice. Words are powerful and it’s a good thing Yusaf followed his friends encouraging ones rather than his daughters.

Hopefully, after she’s had some more time, Yusaf and his daughter will be able to make amends.

You can check out his full interview in the video below.

Did You Know These Celebrities Were Gay Rap Pioneers?

August 14th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: WENN.com

Image Source: WENN.com

Once upon a time, hip-hop was criticized for its homophobia. But with Frank Ocean out and proud and Milan Christopher starring in Love & Hip Hop, things are changing in a big way. Do you know who’s at the forefront of hip-hop’s more inclusive future?

“I Used To Be Homophobic”: Celebrities Who Changed Their Stance On Gay Rights

August 12th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Kevin Hart

Shutterstock

Recently, Kevin Hart stated that he was no longer going to include jokes about gays in his act. He made this known despite having a whole bit about the possibility of his son being gay in his 2010 standup, Seriously Funny. But he’s not the only celebrity who has changed their stance on the LGBTQ community and gay rights. These stars say they see things differently these days.