RIP MJ

This is my favorite Michael Jackson video, “Remember the Time,” though “Wanna Be Startin Somethin'” is probably my favorite song. I liked Michael’s music like most people, but was far from a HUGE fan. Nevertheless, I have found myself weeping at his loss. Perhaps he meant more to me than I thought.

Stonewall 40th and Pride Unveil NYC’s Shameful Priorities

Stonewall 40th and Pride Unveil NYC’s Shameful Priorities

Written by Yasmine Farhang & Kenyon Farrow

Just months before the 40th anniversary of one of the most significant rebellions of poor and working class queer and transgender people (mostly of color), out-lesbian New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced the city’s proposal for rich gay tourists to commemorate this anniversary—shop till you drop. But for us at Queers for Economic Justice and our allies, our movement for sexual liberation is not for sale.

This announcement was made weeks after New York City refused funding to organizations that house and provide services to homeless queer youth, leaving several organizations on the brink of closing. Speaker Quinn made the City’s priorities clear when she announced that two million dollars would go to launching a gay tourism marketing campaign called Rainbow Pilgrimage. The campaign claims to commemorate the forty year anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion by imploring tourists, domestically and internationally, to connect with this proud lineage. READ THE REST HERE.

Selling AIDS: Wiretap Mag On HIV Prevention Messaging

I am Gay StayI recently met the author of this new piece on Wiretap Magazine called “Selling Ourselves: Questioning HIV Prevention Campaigns,” Kirk Grisham, through mutual friends and he’s a kindred spirit in trying to really push against all of the assumed narratives about “men who have sex with men,” and notions of “community” and “risk” in HIV prevention work. Let’s hope we get into Mailman, Kirk! LOL!

I have gotten into debates on this very blog about the meaning and efficacy of social marketing campaigns. While not perfect, and alone will not end the epidemic, I think they can be effective in breaking social norms, especially when they speak to people as having agency, value, and break certain silences and social taboos. In short: They get people talking and thinking.

Conversely, social marketing campaigns can also be stigmatizing, blaming, and as Grisham says in the article:

City agencies, private firms and the populations themselves share blame for producing these messages, which begs the question: Do we know what’s good for us? Are we simply propagating the same stigma, homophobia and racism vis-à-vis mainstream society through marketing, as seen in the Homoboy campaign?

Do these negative, racist and stigma-filled homophobic messages sell? Would positive messages work any better? Can one sell liberation?

He names some of the most problematic campaigns to come out in recent years, including “Don’t Be a Bitch. Wear A Condom.” The response he gets from Better World Advertising Exec Les Pappas (who I worked with on the WeArePartof You.org capaign)” basically says to Grisham that the message tested well in focus groups.

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Where are your politics? When I was at New York State Black Gay Network and we did the campaign with Better World, we were very clear that we did not want to do some tacky stigmatizing campaign that talked down to Black gay men. The campaign we ended up with was taken to focus groups, but our values and politics shaped it from jump. This Don’t Be a Bitch message probably would test in the current social context where Black folks are running around talking about “Man Up” and “No Homo.” Does that make it right? Is it the goal of social marketing campaigns, as they pertain to public health interventions, just to mimick what else is already out there in the world? Or to actually know that what you’re doing isn’t doing more damage than it will acutally do any good? What are the measurements of success?

Very little reporting happens that questions the more subtle forms or racism and homopbobia that happen in do-gooder public relations campaigns. Thanks for continuing a conversation, Kirk.

Tonight in Newark-A Tale of Two Movements: Black & LGBT Civil Rights Struggles

This event should be a really interesting conversation. If you’re in NYC/NJ you should come through tonight! If not, make sure you get on board with the Newark Pride Events this week. I’ll be there. And I am comin’ from Brooklyn! What’s your excuse?

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Kenyon on TheGrio.com: Not All Gays Support Same-Sex Marriage

I just started writing for a new Black-focused news site called TheGrio.com, and my first piece is on my growing frustration with same-sex marriage politics and the Black community:

I have spent many hours in lectures, panels and private conversations trying to explain why Black people, in poll after poll, overwhelmingly do not support same-sex marriage. But my arguments are beginning to lose steam and I am not sure I believe them anymore regardless of how I feel about gay marriage. At the end of the day, there is no excuse for homophobia and I am tired of indirectly defending it.

Hours after the California Supreme Court decided to uphold Proposition 8, effectively banning future same-sex marriages in that state, I found myself standing along a protest route where about 1000 same-sex marriage activists marched along 14th Street in Manhattan to rally in Union Square. Suddenly behind me I heard someone shout “God meant marriage for a man and a woman! Stand Strong Obama!” READ THE REST AT TheGrio.com