Marsha Ambrosius ‘Far Away’ Video Takes On Homophobic Violence

The Black twitter and blog world have been abuzz with the release of Fly Away, the 2nd single and new video from former Floetry vocalist Marsha Ambrosius. The video is getting a lot of buzz because it is the first video from a major-label R&B/Soul artist since (as far as I can remember) Me’Shell NdegeOcello’s Levitivus: Faggot to really portray black gay men in a sympathetic light.

While I wish I didn’t have to see us die tragically on film, the fact is, some of us do, and I am struck by the fact that the video shows the impact of homophobia on a Black gay man’s life, the direct ways it plays out in the Black community, and his ultimate suicide (based on a real-life friend of Ambrosius).  I have had to personally deal with a number of the kinds of scrutiny, looks and words of disgust from Black homophobes–especially when I am with other Black gay men, whether we’re actually dating or not. But what is more emotionally moving to me is the way the video shows the relationship between the two black gay men, which we almost never see never see in pop culture, save Noah’s Arc (despite having a black gay man on most of the Housewife reality shows, Top Model or a number of fashion makeover shows, they are detached from any real relationships to Black gay community-they exist on these shows in total isolation to the rest of us). I really cried watching this video just from seeing the relationship between the two men.  I also appreciate the love relationship between Ambrosius and the couple in the video–albeit brief. If I had to base our value on pop culture (or even what happens in the community often) if we’re not doing your hair/makeup or singing in your God’s choir, our lives don’t matter.

It’s also a beautiful song–I just bought it to support this artist. Thank you, Ms. Ambrosius.

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

Housing Works Update: Where Are All the Black Gay Men?

This article from Housing Works’ Weekly Update raises similar issues I raised in my op-ed for The Defenders Online about HIV/AIDS in the Black community, and the silence around Black gay men.

Two weeks ago individuals and organizations across the nation marked National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Judging by many of the articles, press releases and events commemorating the day, however, you might never guess that the highest percentage of new HIV infections in 2006 was among black gay men.

Why, even on a day dedicated to black AIDS awareness, do black gay men remain a footnote?

“It’s symptomatic of the problem we face of ridding our community of HIV in order to break the back of the epidemic,” said Ernest Hopkins, policy director of the Black Gay Advocacy Coalition. “The most heavily impacted population by percentages is black gay men. If you want to talk about this epidemic you have to start there, and then move very quickly to black women, or you’re not doing your job.” Read the rest of the article here:

BET Lives Up to Tacky Reputation with LGBT Web Section

I was all excited when I saw on The Daily Voice that BET.com had added an LGBT section to it’s website. That excitement quickly turned to annoyance, and then finally disgust. Perusing the website I stumbled across sections with bios of “who’s who” in the Black LGBT community, myths about the LGBT community, history, and an HIV/AIDS info section. There’s even a “what’s hot” among the Black queers section–annoying, but I can even deal with that.

But what really took the cake was this dumb-ass section on “How to tell if Your Man is Gay” which is full of every fucking ludicrous stereotype out there. Why, oh why do I expect BET to act right? Every time you think they’re gonna do something worthwhile they continue the downward spiral further into the abyss of foolishness. I did a show a few months ago on Blog Talk Radio about homophobia in the Black community, and the questions listeners asked were so conservative and uninformed it was really unnerving, like “Why are gay men always trying to take our men, etc.,” or “How can you tell if someone is on the DL?”

Given that that kind of ridicululous paranoia is out there in the world, and to have BET create a website that a lot of Black people will go to, and see that bullshit as their potentially first exposure to Black LGBT issues from a “legitimate” source, is downright sad. What someone at BET did to try to save themselves from the wrath of the Black Queers was to make the last entry in the series a thinly veiled way-letting you know the whole thing is “tongue-in-cheek.” Here’s what it says:

The truth is, you don’t need all these signs to know whether your partner is gay or not. What you should do is sit down and talk to him about it. Make him feel that it is all right and that you understand. Finding out if your boyfriend is gay needs a little observation and a lot of honesty.”

After you’ve gone thru and put more bullshit out there for people to consume, the thing to do is to try to cover your ass. I’m far from impressed.
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