At the International AIDS Conference. I

At the International AIDS Conference. I’ll be live tweeting from @Praxis_Project from #AIDS2012 till Friday. Follow us.

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.

Why I Love & Hate Black Gays: Mariah & Janet Read the Divas!

I have recently been having a lot of conversations with Black women, particularly lesbian friends, about Black gay misogyny. Without going into grave detail (right now anyways), what are the ways in which black gay male performances of black women actually support patriarchy more than they do to disrupt gender norms? Why is it that many people in our community can only be bothered with women they consider femme, attractive, or some other superficial markers of womanhood while are incredibly hostile to women, lesbians in particular who don’t perform for them, or fit certain high-femme gender norms of what it means to be a woman?

In any case, while I sometimes really am annoyed by Black gay misogyny, I cannot help but also be entertained and highly value the ways in which we continue to develop a whole language and culture that is a whole thing all its own. Case in point, the following video (and if you go to Youtube there’s a whole series of these) of a fake conversation between Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey, which the two describe their frustrations with the other so-called Divas and Legends, reading as if they are two queens from the Ball scene. And what’s funnier is the script run through a computer voice interpreter which strips away the contours of how we actually sound, but you get to hear the actual words and phrasing. This is clearly written by a Black gay man, and while I have to ponder at the ways in which we invoke the feminine that are sometimes horribly problematic, it is at the same time very creative, inspired, and in this case, damn funny.

OK. One more. Whitney Houston schools Keri Hilson.

A Black Gay Day In NYC: Black Lesbians Beaten By NYPD, RIP Octavia St. Laurent, Prop 8 Protest

The last few days have been strange.Perhaps it was not so strange, as it was a series of events that got me thinking alot about Black gay life in New York.

RIP! Octavia

Last week, we lost Octavia St. Laurent, singer and Ball scene legend and icon, who most would remember from the documentary Paris is Burning, and she also appeared in the 2003 film How Do I Look? Octavia was a really outspoken advocate for transgender and “third gender” people. In How Do I look? she describes herself as being third gender, and how she remembers seeing more third-gender people in the Black community years ago, but how violence and HIV/AIDS had taken many away from us. This is a really great interview of Octavia. Rest in Peace, Sweetie.

NYPD Beating of Two Black Lesbians in Brooklyn

On Saturday I got an email from my ex forwarded to him about the  NYPD beating and arresting two Black lesbians outside of a nightclub in Bed-Stuy–right down the street from me. Audre Lorde Project’s SOS Campaign is taking the lead on organizing a response–which includes a rally on June 6th. Here’s the email in its entirety:

Hey ya’ll…

I am writing today with a heavy heart. And for me no matter how much the world seems to dissappoint me I always want to bounce back. But this time is a little different.

I and another lesbian in the community were involved in a BRUTAL BEATING by ALL MALE COPS the 77th PRECINCT of the NYPD.

It took place at the IFE LOUNGE, corner of Nostrand & Atlantic in Brooklyn. I know for a fact there were at least 100-200 woman outside at the time and I am hearing rumors of video footage. LOOK LADIES… IF YOU FIND CAN FIND A PARTY SO F-IN IMPORTANT, THAT YOU HAVE THE TIME TO TELL A FRIEND TO TELL A FRIEND TO POST BULLETINS TO EMAIL FLYERS.  THEN I WOULD HOPE YOU WOULD HAVE THE TIME TO ASK A FRIEND TO ASK A FRIEND TO ASK A FRIEND TO FIND PICTURES VIDEOS, WRITTEN TESTIMONY TO SUPPORT THE FACT THAT TWO OF YOUR OWN WERE BEATEN IN THE STREET BY POLICE!!!

NOT ONLY WERE WE BEATEN, COPS HURLED ANTI-GAY STATEMENTS AS THEY RAISED THIER NIGHT STICKS IN THE AIR. LIKE “YOU FUCKIN BITCH ASS DYKE”… AND THEN HAD THE AUDACITY IN FRONT OF THEIR OWN SEARGENT AND THE REST OF THERE BROTHERS AND SISTERS SAY “WE ARE HAVIN SOME DYKE PUSSY IN HERE TONIGHT”

Really ladies… This crime wasn’t about me or about the other female involved. As I laid there and I felt the night sticks hit me, I thought of Martin Luther King, and what he had to endure just for us to have the freedoms we do today. I immediately relaxed my body, put my arms up where they can see I wasn’t resisting, and screamed at the top of my lungs for someone to hit record on there camera. As they pulled me into the car I knew then that they picked the wrong quote unquote “DYKE”, to mess with.

TODAY!!! ITS TIME FOR US TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!! I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely tired of the way police, club owners & bouncers treat us. If you didn’t know what they think about YOU. I hope you RECOGNIZE NOW, what it really is.

THIS IS WHAT WE NEED:

1. VIDEO FOOTAGE
2. PICTURE FOOTAGE
3. WRITTEN TESTIMONIES W/CONTACT INFORMATION

PLEASE EMAIL ME ASAP!!!

DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU IT ISN’T YOUR BUSINESS, IT IS. IF YOU HANG WITH US, PRAY WITH US, IF YOU PARTY WITH US, IF YOU SHOW YOUR PRIDE WITH US, THIS CRIME WAS COMMITTED AGAINST YOU AND MEMBERS OF YOUR FAMILY. Email me @ civilrights@LadiesLoveLadies.com

Prop 8

As many of you know, the California Supreme Court upheld Prop 8, which placed a state Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage but declared the 18000 same-sex marriages that occurred between May 15 and November 5 to be legal marriages. A mess. Anyhoo, I was passing the NYC protest and March that happened last night protesting the decision and got some photos. Some of the posters are, well, I’ll let you decide.

Prop 8 Protest May 26 2009

Prop 8 Protest May 26 2009 #2

Prop 8 Protest 3

Prop 8 NYC Protest 4

Women’s History Month #1: Me’shell Ndegeocello

I have been extremely busy, overworked, and also really bored with blogging lately, so I am gonna do some more fun blogs that don’t follow the press. So being Women’s History Month, I am gonna focus most of my posts this month on Black women, but particularly Bisexual, Lesbian, and Transgender Women in politics, film, music, academia, etc. I am beginning this series with Me’shell Ndegeocello.

I first saw Me’shell Ndegeocello in 1993, when BET was premiering the video Dred Loc,” the fisrt single from her debut album, Plantation Lullabies. I was in love, and immediately left the house to try to find the CD, which I believe is one of the best and most innovative records of that decade. It was a time when soul music from the UK–artists like Caron Wheeler, Carleen & Jhelisa Anderson and the Brand New Heavies (though lead singer Ndea Davenport is from the States)–were producing the better soul music than was coming out of the States. And Plantation Lullabies (alongside Joi’s Pendulum Vibe and Dionne Farris’ Wild Seed, Wild Flower) signaled the return of dyanmic, cutting edge, and complex soul music to the US.

As a bassist, lyricist, singer and emcee, she has released 5 studio recordings that are totally Me’shell, and yet completely different in terms of sound, subject, and approach. Hip-hop, Soul, Jazz, Funk, Folk, Rock, Gospel, Reggae and Punk are just some of the genres she’s unflinchingly dived into on each of her releases. And oftentimes many artists who “switch” from the style they normally play sound forced or even ridiculous. When she raps on “Hot Night” with Talib Kweli, she sounds like a hip-hop artist (and sometimes just as misogynist), and when she sings on “Sloganeer: Paradise,” she sounds like a punk rock artist without question. Though not a superstar, Me’shell is definitely a legend who’s influence on music will continue for years to come. There were too many videos of Me’shell on Youtube, but I selected the 1996 Leviticus: Faggot, written for a friend of hers who died from a gay-bashing.

Silence is KIlling Black Gays as Much as HIV

From The Defenders Online (the blog of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund).

…28 years into the AIDS epidemic, that silence that once protected us, is now killing us. As we near Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on February 7th, all sorts of pronouncements will be made about the devastation HIV/AIDS is having on the community. And though we are disproportionately impacted by the epidemic, concern for black men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women will not likely come from most quarters of the community. If black leadership is at all concerned with ending this epidemic, we’re going to have to acknowledge and overcome the homophobia that is driving it in the community.

Read the entire op-ed here.

Sharpton Turns the Church Out On “Gay Marriage” Focus

The Southern Voice reported today that Reverend Al Sharpton on Sunday in Atlanta called out Black church community on how much energy they put on the same-sex marriage issue, and little else about anything else in the Black community. Here’s what he said:

“It amazes me when I looked at California and saw churches that had nothing to say about police brutality, nothing to say when a young black boy was shot while he was wearing police handcuffs, nothing to say when the they overturned affirmative action, nothing to say when people were being delegated into poverty, yet they were organizing and mobilizing to stop consenting adults from choosing their life partners,” Sharpton told a packed audience on Jan. 11.

“There is something immoral and sick about using all of that power to not end brutality and poverty, but to break into people’s bedrooms and claim that God sent you,” Sharpton added.

(DAMN, THAT LAST LINE IS FIERCE!!!)

He spoke at Tabernacle Baptist Church, which was written about in the New York Times in 2007, because Rev. Dennis Meredith proclaimed the church open and accepting to the LGBT community, which meant much of his congregation went elsewhere. According to SOVO, Reverend Meredith has since come out as bisexual.

Sharpton goes onto speak more about the hypocrisy of minister who are often in the closet themselves, and preaching hatred of gays, as well as their lack of participation in racial & economic justice issues.

“I am tired of seeing ministers who will preach homophobia by day, and then after they’re preaching, when the lights are off they go cruising for trade…“We know you’re not preaching the Bible, because if you were preaching the Bible we would have heard from you…We would have heard from you when people were starving in California, when they deregulated the economy and crashed Wall Street you had nothing to say. When [alleged Ponzi schemer Bernie] Madoff made off with the money, you had nothing to say. When Bush took us to war chasing weapons of mass destruction that weren’t there you had nothing to say. … But all of a sudden when Proposition 8 came out you had so much to say, but since you stepped in the rain, we gonna step in the rain with you.

Let the church say Amen.