Reading Gay Pride: Queer Book Review

This year’s NYC PRIDE is filled with not so mixed emotions, and we approach the big parade here this Sunday. Yep. I am pretty much bitter all around. First, two of my favorite queer spaces are closing. 275 Grand, the best (mostly) Black, bohemian, grown and sexy, queer lounge in Clinton Hill (and the only space like it in the city) is closing its doors Friday night. And I JUST found out that Meshell Ndegeocello is playing there tonight! So I’ll be there twice before they close.

My other favorite place in the meatpacking district in Manhattan is Florent, the 24 hour eaterie, is closing this weekend as well. Florent was one of my favorite places to eat, and Florent, the man himself, was always very sweet to the customers. It will sorely be missed as well.

If you’re a grumpy, anti-capitalist, nearing middle-aged queer like myself, the June Gay Pride festivities can be really annoying — especially in New York. Because there are five boroughs, the events seem to go on forever. Rainbow striped flags, key chains and booty shorts sprout all over the city, defying the drab earth tones of your camouflage shorts and black tank top. Cheesy dance remixes of even cheesier top 40 songs drown out your reflective folk tunes. Yep, June is no bowl of organic free-trade cherries for the political queers.

What I do in these tough times, as the happy-go-lucky gays parade up and down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue this last week of June, is curl up with some good queer (non-fiction!) reading. Reading helps me get in touch with my inner, bitter queer, and I want to share some of the latest books I’m reading with my queer comrades out there who are throwing anti-Pride pity parties in our miserable little hovels across the tri-state this season. READ THE REST OF MY “READING GAY PRIDE ARTICLE” IN THIS ISSUE OF THE INDYPENDENT!!!

Charles Barkley for Governor. Of Alabama.

Many of you know, I am no gay marriage advocate. But I am so desperate for some straight Black men to decidedly denounce sexism and homophobia, I’ll take what I can get.

In walks NBA legend Charles Barkley. Listen to the interview he gives CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, calling the “Conservatives” fake Christians. It’s a lovely thing. Wouldn’t it be a hoot if he actually became governor of Alabama, which he says he’s going to do in 2014?

OJ Arrested!: Damn DAMN DAYUM!

OJ Simpson was arrested today in connection with a hotel room robbery in Las Vegas. He apparently is denying the alegations, saying he went to the room to retrieve some things that belonged to him. It is still unclear what he as been charged with, but according to the New York Times, “another person connected to Simpson was accused of storming the room at the Palace Station Hotel-Casino was charged with two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary with a deadly weapon, Lt. Clint Nichols said.”

Really OJ? I hope he’s not guilty of this. Either way, I wish he would just stay out of the press. It has been 15 years of OJ embarrassment for Black people, and we really just don’t need anymore! We already have hip-hop, Ward Connerly and BET to contend with. Can we catch a break?

All Black people know what I am talking about. Not only with OJ, but anytime you watch the news and hear about a crime committed by somebody Black. We tend to have the following collective response:

BET’s ‘Read A Book’ PSA Causes Controversy

Now that you’ve watched it. What do you think? I gotta say, I kinda LIKE IT! Before I go into why, I’ll say upfront that it is not without its problems. Who’s watching this video? Will this create another case of people laughing at us, and not with us? Does it further stigmatize black youth? This seems specifically targeted to black boys/teens–why are black women’s bodies still exploited as the vehicle to carry this “message” to them? And does this undermine or outweigh the messages it’s trying to hit home?

I think these are all questions I have watching this video. And they are more than just rhetorical questions, I think they bear some thinking about, and demand answers.

But what I like about this video, as someone who is uber interested in media messaging, is that it does, in a really clever way, intervene on what can no longer be denied as problematic behavior. It’s especially interesting in a time where there is an ever-growing conversation in Black communities and on the left about how do we “reach” black youth. It does what the hip-hop activists and scholars, and “conscious” hip-hop artists have failed miserably at doing over the last decade–which is to use the language and visual culture of hip-hop to drive home messages to create what public health folks call behavior change. I think this has the potential to do that–albeit with the problems it has.

Certainly has come a ways since School House Rock!

Much love to Pop Gumbo for writing about this first.

Straight Men Don’t Touch: On Manny Ramirez & Julian Tavarez

Have you ever noticed that straight men don’t touch each other, especially in the US?

Maybe that’s why the sportscasters on this Boston_____Sox (I don’t know. White or Red.) game are aghast at the manner at which Manny Ramirez is so affectionate with his teammate, Julian Tavarez.

Maybe they’re not straight. I am the first queen to tell folks, sometimes things look exactly as they are. And we need to recognize the whole world is not 100% heterosexual. And this does look a little bit like the opening scene of a Latino Fan Club or Pit Bull Productions film. If you look at the video around 1 minute in, another player passes in front of them and they seem to both look in the same direction of the ball player’s backside…

But maybe they are straight! I actually wish more straight men would get over their fear of touching other men (Have you ever seen straight men in a movie theatre on on a train sit next to one another without leaving an empty seat between them?). Maybe they’d be less likey to feel the need to beat and bash women, children, queers or men they percieve to be less man than they. So whatever the case, Manny and Julian, be not moved by the naysayers! Hug on! Caress on! Fondle on! Wrestle on!

(and if you’re interested in someone joining you, drop me a message…OFFLINE!)