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1 comments | Monday, April 18, 2011

Grab your tissue. Not every LGBT person is fortunate enough to have accepting parents whom they can talk to openly about their sexual orientation, if you're one of those people, then consider yourself extremely blessed. Sampson McCormick, an openly gay comedian and writer from DC has the kind of relationship with his mother that many LGBT kids dream about. In the latest installment of his YouTube show, McCormick invites his mom on to discuss her experience as the mother of a gay child.

Watch this amazing and heartwarming video below:

0 comments | Saturday, April 16, 2011

In 2004, lesbian activist FannyAnn Eddy was brutally murdered in Sierra Leone in her office building a few months after returning from a meeting with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The details surrounding her death are horrific: evidence revealed that her throat was cut, her tongue and eyes were removed and she was raped. Although the motives of Eddy’s assailant(s) are sketchy, her untimely death shook the African LGBT community, and left her partner and son without a spouse and mother.

In response to Eddy’s murder, Selly Thiam, a first-generation Senegalese queer activist, founded None On Record: Stories of Queer Africa, an audio documentary project that includes a collection of stories from the QLGBT African and African Diaspora community. Her first interview was broadcast on NPR in 2005 with Notisha Massaquoi, a queer woman from Sierra Leone, and since then, the project has continued to expand in cities across the U.S., Canada and South Africa. Thiam’s documentary and grassroots organizing breaks the silence on seclusion, homophobia and the extreme acts of violence that have happened as a result.

SB: What was going through your mind when you heard of FannyAnn Eddy’s death?

ST: When I heard about FannyAnn, I was living in Chicago at the time and this was the first time I saw a West African lesbian, even though I had done so much LGBT organizing in Chicago with black organizations. It had a big impact on me in thinking about the realities of those who were living out as queer or LGBT in African communities. Once Notisha’s interview went on NPR, and the energy behind meeting other people grew, it became clear that it was bigger than I thought it was going to be.

SB: Why did you decide to name the project None On Record?

ST: The name of the project stems from a priest I met from Nigeria who was seeking refugee status in Chicago – not because of his sexual orientation, but political persecution, although he is a gay man. When I asked him if he knew any names of LGBT people in his native language of Yoruba, he paused for a long time and said, “I have none on record.” Every way we’ve described this project comes from the people we’ve interviewed and their stories. How do you describe a queer African and people who may be gender non-conforming in their native language? That’s all being debated because it changes from region to region.
While trying to put this into text, I asked myself, “What kind of language do I use to describe this? This person is gay in New York, but are they gay back home in their village in Nigeria?”

SB: Do you feel a disconnection from Senegal?

ST: I actually feel very connected, but when you identify as queer within the African Diaspora, it can be very difficult to find a way to fuse your African identity with your queer identity. Oftentimes, you’re living two double lives. And I think that’s where the disconnection and isolation comes into play.
When you’re in the Diaspora, people are fighting so hard to be seen as Africans. It’s almost like they want people to know that they’re African. And they want gay people from Africa to know that they are African because there’s always the question of authenticity in the black community. When you get to the States, Canada or parts of Europe, it becomes a little bit murky because people have so many different places they call home. And they’re influenced by so many different things that they may ask, “Am I still African at all?”

SB: How do you find a personal balance with your American and African identity?

ST: I identify as a Senegalese person and African-American. My mother is African-American and my father is Senegalese. Both of those roots are very important to me. I have a different perspective in regards to how I see the role of blackness in a global context because I know how blacks have worked and struggled in different parts of the world.

SB: How did your father deal with your sexuality when you came out to him?

ST: My father knows I’m gay but that’s not important to him at this time. He’s a bit of a revolutionary thinker and not into policing the way I identify. I can tell you that coming out to my mother took decades of her trying to wrap her mind around it. I never really explained to her what I was doing with this project for so many years because I didn’t want her to worry when I traveled. But when she came to visit me in New York a couple of months ago, I played one of the stories we documented. And she said, “Oh my God! This is amazing!” Sometimes, parents surprise you.

SB: Why did you choose to do this as an oral history project, as opposed to documenting it for a book?

ST: I was studying in Mexico before I did my first interview with Notisha in 2004. While there, I did an interview with a NPR producer who made a film in Ghana about a female superhero whose “superhero” powers kicked in whenever a woman was assaulted and she would beat up the assailant. The producer asked me what I was going to work on next and I told her that I was going to Toronto to interview a woman [Notisha] from Sierra Leone who was a lesbian. She told me to take some audio equipment and record her. I recorded it, and later NPR aired it.

I didn’t go with the intention of recording anything, but after doing two or three interviews via audio, I realized that the sound of people’s voices started to mean something to me. It’s one thing to write these narratives down, but it’s another experience to hear when someone hesitates before answering a question or hearing when their voice changes when they are coming across a topic that may be uncomfortable for them because it still carries a lot of pain. Audio is a way to get an essence of a person. It’s like two souls talking.

SB: Who are you planning to submit this project to and how can other people get involved?

ST: The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Gay and Lesbian Archives (GALA) in Johannesburg are interested in using it as a reproduction. People can do interviews, or donate money and time if they have an expertise or skill. We also have satellite programs all over the world for people to do interviews. To date, we’ve done approximately 30 interviews globally.

SB: How has this project impacted your life?

ST: I now have a huge amount of friends in my African queer community. I love editing, traveling and hearing people tell courageous stories. It’s been amazing for me to see the humanity of people in tough times and it helps me understand the privileges of being a woman born here who has the resources to make this type of project happen.

For more information about None On Record: Stories of Queer Africa, please visit their website: noneonrecord.com

Click here to listen to archived recordings from their website.

This post is courtesy of new loldarian.com contributor Stephanie Barnes. Barnes is a Women and Gender Studies graduate student at Rutgers University and a reservist in the US Air Force. She is the former publisher Shades Magazine. Barnes is also a former GLAAD intern. Loldarian.com is thrilled to have her on board!


Derrick Briggs of ADTV sits down for an exclusive interview with Sizzle Miami CEO Dwight Powell. In a rare and revealing interview Powell discusses his life, the gay community, and his highly successful and well attended circuit party held over Memorial Day weekend.

Powell is the founder of the now defunct CLIK Magazine which for many years was the top magazine in the country catering specifically to the black LGBT community. He is currently the editor-in-chief of mPower Magazine, a Miami based magazine for black gay men which I am honored to serve as a staff writer.

Briggs gives Powell a chance to clear up the top misconceptions about Sizzle that many people (including myself) have about the circuit party and even reveals the personal decision that prompted him to move from Atlanta to Miami.

Get into this great interview in the video below:

| Tuesday, April 12, 2011

As you may have noticed, posting has been sporadic as of late do to other commitments such as school, work, freelance assignments, and my upcoming book release. I'd like to invite you all to follow me on Twitter and to friend me on Facebook since many of you have e-mailed inquiring about updates and how you can follow the blog. Time doesn't always permit me to write extensively on the site, but I update my Twitter and Facebook frequently throughout the day with important LGBT news.

I look forward to keeping you in the know through utilizing social media. Thanks for your support.

3 comments | Monday, April 11, 2011

Here's "Amazing Grace", the latest video from openly gay independent singer Nhojj. You may recall reading about the talented and openly gay artist on loldarian.com last year when he topped the MTV Hot 100 list with "Beautiful, the theme song from the Kirk Shannon- Butts film Blueprint.

Nhojj teams up again with director Shannon- Butts for Amazing Grace and the final product is a beautiful mash-up of the unexpected.

"My manager Ron really loves this song and he felt it would be a great message, especially in these times when spiritually and homosexuality seems to be on opposing sides,"says Nhojj. " Since everyone knows Amazing Grace... to combine those two aspects...to bring spirituality and homosexuality together and to really show the lives of two men in love, and to show the similarities between a homosexual relationship and a heterosexual relationship. They're both based on love, both partners are here for each other and we just wanted to show that," adds Nhojj.

"We get to see a lot of sensuality but you don't get to see a lot of intimacy and the natural home life of a gay couple and that's what we wanted to represent."

Nhojj's team on his spin on the traditional classic: This new version of "Amazing Grace" expands the innate power of this hymn to affirm the LGBT community and support gay marriage. It represents a step forward for homosexuals in reclaiming their spiritual lives and healing wounds. This is the first time a well known Christian hymn has been used in a music video to express the "rightness and godliness" of same gender love -- portraying a male interracial couple exchanging marriage vows and living in a loving committed relationship.

Check out Nhojj's beautiful visual for Amazing Grace in the video below. You can also watch a behind the scenes video of Amazing Grace here.

15 comments | Tuesday, April 05, 2011

It's the issue the black church just can't seem to get away from-homosexuality- and gospel singer Dejuaii Pace, of the Anointed Pace Sisters, may force the church to once again confront the issue.

In an exclusive interview on The Root.com, Pace, the daughter of a Pentecostal minister and a member of one of the most beloved family gospel groups of all time reveals she is a lesbian and has been coping with a food addiction as a result of being unable to live life authentically. Pace will share her story as one of eight cast members on the new OWN Network show "Addicted To Food" airing tonight.

From The Root.com

The Root: Before you taped Addicted to Food, had you ever shared with anyone that you were attracted to women?

Dejuaii Pace: When I joined my church about 15 years [ago], because I wanted to be up front with my pastor, I told her that the attraction was there but I was denying that I was attracted to that [gay] lifestyle. I acknowledged it to myself in 2006 when I really took a deep evaluation of my life.

I was not married, was not dating and had not dated. And I was like, why is it so? And I just took a deep look at myself and realized that I've not been attracted to men ever and had just been friendly with them. At the end of the evaluation, I told myself that I had to acknowledge it.

I didn't tell anyone [in my family] I was a lesbian until December 2009, when I felt sick and tired of my life and wasn't happy. And I told one of my friends. I said, "Listen, I need you to help me to come out, because If I'm going to be happy, I've got to face this thing." About 98 percent of my friends are in "the lifestyle," and they knew I was struggling with it.

TR: For a lot of churches in the black community, homosexuality could be staring them in the face, whether it's the choir director or even the pastor, and people will pretend it's not there and speak against it. You seem very passionate about changing that type of behavior. Are you doing anything to help do that?

DP: I feel that is the beginning of what God is calling forth at this time. I do not have all of the answers. For me, I am taking it day by day.

I want my soul mate. However God brings that about is fine with me. I know that God loves me, and he has created me, and this thing is here. I feel that it is part of my destiny to find out what is really going on. Because I cannot say it's against God, and I cannot say God is for it. All I'm saying now is that we cannot tell people what we've been telling them. I have friends who've stopped going to church because of that.

In the interview Pace reveals she is a 45 year-old virgin who has never been intimate with a man or a woman. So how will the church react to her coming out? Will it be the usual fiery condemnation reserved specifically for gays and lesbians ( while adulterers and baby mama's and daddies get a pass) or will Pace be welcomed into the fold because she has remained "pure" and not given into "temptation"?

Dejuaii Pace becomes only the second high profile gospel artist to come out following the firestorm of controversy after B. Slade (formerly Tonex') came out in 2009. Loldarian.com spoke with B. Slade regarding Pace's decision to come out and his concern for her well being was evident.

"I just hope I can reach her as support because I know the hate and fear this article will produce", says Slade.

Dejuaii Pace has provided the black church another opportunity to address (homo) sexuality but I'm not holding my breath for them to approach it any differently than they have in the past. Sadly, it will be business as usual.

Watch Dejuaii Pace in the trailer for Addicted To Food below: