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22 comments | Tuesday, May 11, 2010




Four years ago this month I began an amazing journey when I wrote my very first blog entry on Living Out Loud with Darian. At the time I had no idea what the blog would eventually become, the number of people it would impact, and the level of importance it would have in my own life. However, I did know that I was frustrated by the absence of LGBT people of color in the mainstream and gay media; so I decided to use my voice and create a platform where our lives were not just tolerated but celebrated.


The objective of this blog has always been to uplift, empower, inform, and entertain same gender loving people of color and with this in mind I unknowingly began to build a brand that would separate this blog from the rest.


Living Out Loud with Darian has been a labor of love and an integral part of my daily life that will truly be missed. So why am I bringing it to a close? The easy answer: It's simply time. The hard answer is much longer and more melodramatic than I'd like to be perceived right now. Those of you who know me personally will be privy to that conversation.


The good news is that I'm bringing the blog to a CLOSE and not an END. This is simply the beginning of a new chapter in my life and career. While the blog will not be updated daily going forward the archives will remain online and there may be an occasional new post and guest blogging on other sites across the web. In addition to returning to school to complete my journalism degree this down time will hopefully birth the book I've been quietly working on for a year.


My commitment to the LGBT community is unwavering. My work doesn't end here but begins anew.


I'd like to thank every one who has supported me and this blog during the good and bad times. To every person who has sent me an e-mail, Facebook message, Myspace message, tweet, just to say how much this blog has meant to them I'm truly grateful.


I would be remiss not to publicly thank a few special people who have inspired, motivated, and encouraged me along the way. Please forgive me if I omit anyone...you know who you are.


Keith Boykin
Rod McCullom
Pam Spaulding
Gyant
Bishop Terry Angel Mason
DJ Baker
The late E. Lynn Harris
Rev. Tommie L. Watkins Jr.
Craig Washington
Drama Dupree
Tron Majette
Andre Allen
Ryan Lee
Dwight Powell
Tonex'
Lonnell Williams
Adolph Arromand
Bernie Tarver


Thanks for four incredible years! Always live out loud!

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yours truly. A great discussion in two parts. In part one I talk about why marriage equality is important to african american gays/lesbians; benefits of two parent households (same sex included); homophobic & rascist hate mail; biggest misconceptions of black gays/lesbians; balancing sexuality and spirituality and the late E. Lynn Harris.


During part two I discuss the murder of Seaman August Provost; President Obama's LGBT policies; gay rights vs. civil rights; the racial divide in Gay America; having successful relationships; and I answer Lonell's famous either/or.


Many thanks to Lonnell for including me to his already long list of impressive guests on 3LWTV. I had a blast!


Get into the interview below:





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Last month I had the pleasure of being a guest on Atlanta's Pride & Politics to discuss marriage equality and homophobia in the black community. Pride and Politics is hosted by Atlanta based journalist Anare' Holmes and is produced by People TV.


My friend and David Atlanta Editor Ryan Lee was also on the panel for a very thought provoking discussion on the state of LGBT rights as it relates to people of color.


Our appearance originally aired last night, but the tech gods were on my side and I was able to save the file to post here for you guys. I look forward to your feedback. Enjoy!





"Of course it was Damien's idea to get married, but it was me that took him to Tiffany. He picked a ring, and I got on one knee and asked him to marry me." –Seanmichael


When it comes to black love, the traditional union of a man and a woman is the model to be revered. Yet, there is a segment of the black population whose love is rarely acknowledged within the broader community, but it exists nonetheless.
Seanmichael Rodgers and Damien Ramsey, a couple residing in New York City and engaged to be married this spring, is an example of the love that challenges "traditional" models.





Seanmichael and Damien have been in a committed relationship for three years. Their commitment will ultimately lead them down the aisle in March. Over the past three years, there have been several Valentine's Day memories with each one competing to top the last.


While Seanmichael's plan to celebrate the holiday with his future husband remains a secret, he did reveal that it includes "100 candles, 10 wishes, 10 promises, 10 memories and 10 reasons."
The couple make it a priority to celebrate their love throughout the year and not just on Valentine's Day. Their weekly date night on Tuesdays gives each an opportunity to escape the stress of work and focus on nurturing their relationship.


Seanmichael is a producer and vocal coach, and Damien is a singer-songwriter known as Dy'Ari (pronounced diary).





"It's like falling in love again every week," says Damien, "sometimes for the same reasons and sometimes for new ones. We take these days seriously, because it allows us the time to stay fresh and revisit one another and the reasons why we love each other the way that we do."


Those reasons were made perfectly clear during Seanmichael's traditional "down-on-one-knee" proposal, along with an ageless silver ring with diamonds inscribed with roman numerals from Tiffany.


"I am in love with you for many reasons. For the rhythms that only our two hearts can beat, for the strengths you show in my weaknesses, for the passion that burns every time you kiss me, and for the joy you give me every day. I want to give you the depth and the shallow of me with all transparency. I want to love you through this eternity into the next."


It's been said that black men loving each other is a revolutionary act, given the pervasive homophobia that exists in American culture and the black community . The fear of losing the support of family and friends, a vital element to the success of black unions can become a major hindrance for a black same-gender loving couple. But even with support of family and friends, there's still no guarantee of a successful relationship when both partners are of the same sex.


Despite these obstacles Seanmichael and Damien's love triumphs because love always outweighs fear and equality will always defeat injustice.


"Will you marry me"? asked Seanmichael.


"Yes"! "A million times," replied Damien.





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Recording artist Tonex' shocked the world and the gospel music industry two weeks ago when he revealed that he was indeed a same gender loving man. After years of speculation and controversy he confirmed his same-sex attraction making him the first and perhaps the last person in the black gospel music industry to do so.


Was it career suicide? Well the answer may depend on who you're talking to and over the past couple of weeks it's been almost impossible in Christian & black gay circles not to have some sort of opinion on Tonex". But what does Tonex' himself think about the fallout from his decision to disclose his sexuality, his personal journey towards truth & freedom, and the hypocrisy and homophobia in the black church?


Loldarian.com sat down with Tonex' earlier this week in his native San Diego, California and got answers to all of these questions and more. Watch parts one through three of four (part 4 forthcoming) below.


Many thanks to Tonex', Tim Dillinger, and Tramaine Renee' for making this happen.








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I've been asked by people on many different occasions and even by relatives why I would choose to be both black and gay in America, sometimes I even ask myself if life would be easier if I had been granted the heterosexual privilege.


I would probably be in Alabama with multiple degrees, a wife, children, 2 cars, a house, a dog, and a closet filled with secrets.


I knew by the time I reached second grade that I was "different", and at the time I didn't even know what being gay meant, but I knew I couldn't speak about my feelings.


Throughout grade school I had my share of harrasment, bullying, self esteem issues, and suicidal thoughts. I even experienced "puppy love" and did exactly what was expected of me until keeping up the facade of being heterosexual proved to be more than I could bare.


Once I came out at 16 to my mother and my sister, the once close relationship I shared with two of the most important women in my life became almost non existent. They would ask me, "Darian why would you want to go and be gay? You're a black man and life is already hard enough, this is just another strike against you.


What my mother and sister didn't realize is that I didn't choose to be gay I was chosen. Now that I'm older I understand the fear they experienced when I came out, our world is not kind to minorities and if you're gay or lesbian you're considered subhuman.


I don't know of any person alive that would choose to welcome rejection, spiritual attacks, violence, death, and being denied the rights and privileges that are taken for granted everyday by straight Americans.


If you think those are things I decided to include into my everyday routine in the second grade you're wrong. But what I did decide to do was walk in truth even when it hurt. If I've ever exerted courage it was at that moment.


Over the past 3 years I've watched my SGL brothas and sistas get bashed, shot, dismembered, stabbed, and left for dead . This all happened right here in America and with little to no news coverage.


Our lives matter. Our BLACK, GAY, SAME GENDER LOVING LIVES MATTER. The level of hate in this country from people who cave into homophobia from lacking the understanding of people who are different has reached an all time high.


That could have been any of us whose body parts were dismembered and stuffed into garbage bags found all over New York City, or beaten in a park and chased into speeding traffic to be hit and left for dead.


Years later we're still feeling the stings of slavery and Jim Crow. Racism is not only projected onto us by the "man" but can be found in the way we deal with each other as black people. The HIV/AIDS epedimic, the black community's silence about the issue, homophobia in churches across the country, and you ask me why I chose to be gay?


Doesn't it sound like an orientation anybody would choose?


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Why do you think there's so many black gay men in the church, especially in the choir?


That's a question I would love to have to ask them because I will not tolerate being castigated and then asked to sing a solo. I can't. I can't be castigated and then asked to sing a solo. I can't. I can't be castigated and then say, "Oh please. I'll usher." I cannot do that. I think that there's a very schizophrenic relationship. There's a nod, nod, wink, wink, as if to say, "Now you know what I am but I'm really working on it and give me one more week. I'm really working on it". And it's almost a way of atonement, like "I know that you don't like what I'm doing but listen to me sing. I know you don't like what I'm doing but I'm tithing. I know you don't like what I'm doing but if I can...give me just a little more time and I'll help you out. Give me just a little more time and I promise I'll marry Miss So-and-So down the street. Give me just a little more time." And I think it's a very unhealthy game. It's almost like bribery. "You let me in. You let me be apart of the community and I will grant you this service".


-An excerpt from Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of The South by E. Patrick Johnson


I'm currently reading Sweet Tea and one particular chapter titled Church Sissies: Gayness and the Black Church really struck a chord and reminded me of a post I'd written a while ago on a controversy surrounding gospel artist Ricky Dillard. In that post it was reported that Dillard had officially come out during a benefit service here in Atlanta after his home had been burned down. The post was quickly pulled after I was contacted by Ricky Dillard's manager Will Bogle via e-mail, a decision that I would later regret. After all the editorial decisions on this blog begin and end with me, but let's chalk it up to me being new at the time.


It seems Bogle was no stranger to putting out "gay fires" for his client and the unspoken truth would only continue to manifest itself later on, particularly at the 2008 Stellar Awards.


It's no secret that black gays and lesbians are everywhere, especially in the black church. This post really isn't about Dillard, but the countless nameless faces who subscribe to the "don't ask don't tell policy" of the black church. Many of whom refuse to join LGBT affirming congregations.


I know you're out there and you read this blog, so please tell me why.





Required Reading:


Gays and Gospel Music: A Divine Refuge?


Who Is Jermaine Sellers?


Gospel Artist Tonex and The Gay Rumors


Say What?


DeWayne Woods: Smoke & Mirrors?

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Antron Reshaud is a poet and author of Bohemian Rebel: Naked and Exposed. Vol 1 and the forthcoming The Rising Vol 2. He has been featured on CNN and in Southern Voice. A native of Gainesville, Florida he now resides in Atlanta, Georgia. This is his story.


Darian: Did you recognize from an early age that you were different?


Antron: I knew that I was different. I didn't know what it meant to be gay...I was four. I didn't know what that word meant, I was just being Antron.


Darian: And who was Antron at the time? Was he effeminate, quiet, shy, or was he outspoken?


Antron: I had a lot of feminine tendencies, I still do to this day. I was really shy, definitely not as outspoken as I am today.


Darian: So when was your first sexual experience?


Antron: Consensual I would say when I was twenty. Non-consensual when I was seventeen. I was raped by two guys in this field in my neighborhood. I remember coming home from the pool and they were teasing me and I just ignored them. I just remember hearing one of the boys say, "you got something to say faggot"? And I could feel their footsteps getting faster and I'm getting faster. And then I feel something sharp hit the back of my head and it started bleeding. They were throwing rocks and beer bottles.


I started running and then I tripped over the flip-flops I was wearing and the first thing I felt was a kick to my stomach. I tried fighting back but they were just too strong. The next thing I know my hands are being bound and I hear the sound of a belt buckle coming undone. He pulls his pants down and then proceeds to pull my swim trunks down and spreads my legs, and just basically inserted his dick in me.


I screamed and every time I would scream they would hit me in my face or kick me. So I was getting hit and getting fucked at the same time. And when they were done one of them spit on me and started laughing. When it was over I just remember holding myself trying to figure out what just happened.


Darian: Did you know the two guys who raped you?


Antron: One of the guys I knew because he lived in my neighborhood, the other guy I didn't know. I remember walking home and I was beat up and previously my mom and I had an argument about my "gayness", and she wanted to make a t-shirt for me to wear to school that said, "I'm a fag please kick my ass" to try an embarrass me.


Darian: In hopes of changing your mind about being gay?


Antron: Yeah. And when I came home all bruised up she said, "see that's what you get for being gay".





Darian: Did you confirm your sexuality for your parents prior to the rape?


Antron: No. I couldn't say the words because there's a lot of island influence in my family and they're very religious. My mother used to threaten to have my uncles come over and whip my ass if I ever came out. I used to ask God how could he love and hate what he created all at the same time.


Darian: So was it hard for you to participate in consensual intercourse after this happened?


Antron: I didn't want to have sex at all and then I met Jordan. My relationship with my mother was on the rocks and she put me out(of the house) so I went to stay with Jordan. He was the first person I told about my rape. I remember this like it was yesterday. I was studying for mid-terms and he stormed into the house and he was like, "I wanna fuck"! I said no! We got into this big argument and he started hitting me and throwing me around the room and then he raped me too. He's actually the person who infected me.


Darian: Did you have any idea he was positive or did he know?


Antron: Actually that's why he was so mad. He'd just found out he was positive. He was infected by this girl he was messing with who was having sex with this guy who was on the DL. So when he found out he was positive he wanted to take it out on someone else so he intentionally infected me. I didn't find out about being positive until a year later.


Darian: So their were no early symptoms?


Antron: No I was completely fine. I didn't get sick. I didn't suffer from night sweats or anything.


Darian: So I'm assuming you eventually went to get tested.


Antron: I actually donated blood and The Red Cross notified me. A healthcare worker came to my house and sat on my couch and gave me my results and I just cried.


Darian: What year was this?


Antron: This was in 2004. I was nineteen years old.


Darian; So who did you go to for support?


Antron: I didn't have a support system. I didn't want to tell anybody. I didn't even want to admit it to myself. HIV had become my scarlet letter.


Darian: So how did you move from a place of denial and fear to a place of acceptance?


Antron: That's a good question. A part of me felt like people needed to know that HIV is nothing to play with. Talking about it was my way of educating myself and others.


Darian: Do you think about death?


Antron: It's almost like I'm not afraid of death anymore because I've confronted it. Everyday I have a choice to live or die and I choose life.

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Author Terrance Dean (Hiding In Hip-Hop) explores the intricacies of being a black gay man in a white gay dating world in his latest piece for Advocate.com. Dean tackles the highly controversial topic of interracial dating and explores the various reasons why many black gay men are opposed to the idea and prefer to date within their own race rather than be reduced (in some cases) to mere sexual objects.


An Excerpt From Advocate.com


Growing up, many black people are taught an emphasized sense of pride and self-assurance of loving oneself that their white counterparts are typically not. White men do not need validation in a world that already justifies their existence. Then again, some whites appreciate dark skin, but it seems too often that it is out of novelty or fetishism, rather than pure connection.


“There are white men who think that just because they are attracted to or sleep with black men, they can’t be racist,” says James Earl Hardy, 42, a writer in Atlanta and New York. “It’s as if their ability to deep-throat black dick means they don’t have a prejudice or bigoted bone in their body. They oftentimes feel the need to tell me they love black men. I always have to correct them. No, you love black meat. That is what you have reduced us to.”


Darian Aaron, a 29-year-old writer and activist from Atlanta, says the media’s shallow portrayal of black gay men is a key ingredient in the roots of the problem. “Black men are often obsessed and glorified by white men. They buy into the myths that black gay men are well-endowed and hypermasculine. White men tend to worship and seek after that and nothing else. I don’t want to be anyone’s object. We are smart, intelligent, and more than our penises.”


The fascination with the black male physique can be pinpointed to centuries ago, when slaves were stripped nude in public view of white men and women. Slaveholders boasted of black men’s penises, stating, “He is good for mating with negro slave women to produce virile offspring."


“Some of my white friends will hook up with someone black or Hispanic because it’s like a trophy,” says Jeff Brauer, 38, political science professor in Scranton, Penn. “They wouldn’t date or have a relationship with them. They think black and Hispanic men are only interested in sex. It’s a sexual thing, so they think they have nothing else in common with them.”


“Black gay men have not been out of the closet or comfortable in their own skin as white gay men,” says Lee Hayes, 35, a Washington, D.C.–based writer. “Black men are not out to the same degree as white gay men. We have a need to blend into society instead of standing out. To date outside our race makes that particularly difficult.”


Have you ever dated outside of your race? Would you consider doing so now? How do you feel about black gay men who only date white men and vice versa? In the post Obama era should race even be apart of the equation when looking for a mate?

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This open thread was birthed out of a very spirited debate that caught me by surprise on a recent post on the blog and is actually long overdue to be discussed on the front page.


I along with many of you were frustrated that black gay men were not represented among the speakers at last weekend's National Equality March in D.C. and I believe it's a legitimate question to ask of NEM organizers as to why we weren't represented. But an even bigger question is why black gay men seem to be absent from the gay civil rights movement as a whole.


One loldarian.com reader offers his opinion:


"Simply put, black gay men just don't view themselves with the same self-love as white gays do. There is a wall of shame, fear, unhappiness, and denial that's holding us back. There have been no real initiatives within the black gay community to mobilize and address these problems. It's been every man for himself for a very long time and these are the results.


What's equally disturbing is the fact that some of us are so isolated and out of touch that they really think that black gays are ready to join the national fight in large numbers. You can't build a house on a weak foundation and you can't demand love & respect that you don't feel entitled to. We can lend our support to the movement, but if we ever really want to be on the same page as others we are going to have to address our inner issues."


Do you agree? Or is this just one of many problems the black gay community must address in order to step out of the closet and take ownership of our lives and demand a place at the table?


Don't hold back. Discuss.


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