i am

My photo
harlem, usa
same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. mjt975@msn.com.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Pride Week: Fun or Frustration?

Okay. I confess. I'm over Pride Week. I'm fagged out. For real. If I never see another pride palm card, flyer, brochure, flashing light, streamer, party hat, key chain, t-shirt (sigh) or rainbow flag, it won't be too soon. For real. As I creep towards my 45th year on this planet - a heady accomplishment for a Black man these days - pride activities have become less & less important to me for a number of reasons.

First, I don't have anything to hide, or prove, w/ my sexuality: I KNOW WHO I AM! Secondly, as one who identifies as same gender-loving, it seems to me that many 'gay-identified' activities are deeply rooted in Euro-American pop culture & socialization: bars, beach parties, clubs, dances, fashion show, etc. I've had my share of partying over the years, and I feel comfortable (primarily) at Club Shelter or Langston's - their music & sound system is par excellence. Finally, I don't get a feeling of pride from being involved in Pride Week, which is too commercial and too white for my proud Black ass.

Folks, seemingly caught up in the pageantry, were asking me: Are you going to the parade? Are you going to march? Are you going to be on a float? I sensed their questons were perfunctory & obligatory: I despise feeling obliged to do anything. A newfound friend left a gleeful message on my machine on my voice mail which said: "happy pride." I thought, damn, another one bites the dust, though I can fully appreciate his sentiments, particularly since this is his first pride clean from alcohol & drugs.

Am I bitter? No. Am I frustrated? Yes. I went down to the village Saturday night to 'hang out', which is something I hadn't done in quite some time. The mood was festive, the children were in rare form, yet I noticed a plethora of younger & younger Black 'gay-identified' effeminate guys dressed in the latest gear: solid & striped Izod shirts, diesel jeans, NIke Uptowns. I felt eerily out of place, uncomfortable w/ the realization I might be perceived as an 'older man.'

Trying to make eye contact w/ men who have same sex desire should be an Olympic sport. All night & well into the morning, I saw the desperate looks on their baby faces - eager to see who was out, eager to be seen in their fashonable attire ("...notice me, notice me, notice me, baby") - nary a trace of pride was evident. In fact, the feeling in the air was one of sheer boredom: all dressed up & nowehere (safe) to go. I overheard a conversation amongst a few young folks who were (obviously tired of) waking up & down Christopher Street, frustrated because their was nothing else (expected) for them to do.

Perhaps we need to affirm our same gender-loving brothers & sisters some other way...

Friday, June 17, 2005

Brother In Need Of Stress Management

Lately I've been feeling depressed, tired & worn-out. I lack the motivation to do anything constructive or productive. I'm not feeling sorry for myself, that much I am sure of. I do believe, however, I'm reacting emotionally to the painful awareness of, once again, over extending myself w/ too many personal and/or professional commitments & responsibilities. I've been here before, though. This pain is familiar...

In January, 2002, I quietly bid farewell to my four-year stint at Gay Men of African Descent. I was, quite frankly, relieved. The thought of not having to go to work filled my heart w/ joy. I was able to catch up w/ ER, Law & Order, NYPD Blue & Sportscenter. But what did I do? I joined three community-based organizations to volunteer my sweet & precious time. What was I thinking? Chile, I need Jesus. For real.

Granted, I believe in social responsibility. My parents encouraged me to be active, help others, etc. And, I genuinely love being of service. However, I'm a bit of an extremist: either I'm totally responsible, or I'm totally irresponsible. I decided to let go of a few commitments this week. I feel guilty about it, but like Gloria Gaynor, I will survive, ok? Hopefully, I can learn from this unhealthy pattern of doing too much, too often, too soon.

My compromised immune system needs rest & relaxation. I'll be 45 in August. Someone once told me it's ok to not DO stuff. But do I really believe that? We live in a society that values education, employment, social status & the like. NYC is a major hustle. It seems like no one has time to talk anymore because they are so damn busy: doing what, though? Look, I've got a new DVD to break in. I bought a few bootleg movies a few months ago & have yet to watch them. Why?

Because I'm busy!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Michael Jackson Found Not Guilty: Now What?

Michael Jackson was found not guilty of all ten charges of child molestation in a California courthouse this afternoon. I was glued to my television set this afternoon, watching the news coverage, switiching from channel to channel, observing the different ways media report the same news. I finally settled on CNN, a station less compromised by advertising dollars & corporate sponsors than local news stations.

A large crowd of onlookers & supporters surrounded the courthouse in an eerily quiet calm mood. Over 32 countries & 2000 journalists were represented. Michael Jackson is an international superstar. As such, his case warranted global attention. The jury, which featured NO Black people, heard testimony over a 14 week period. After a little over seven hours of deliberation, the verdict was announced.

Frankly, I was greatly relieved of the verdict, though I believe Michael's behavior is worthy of immediate mental health support. Jackson publicly admitted there was nothing wrong with an adult sleeping in the same bed of a child. Rev. Al Sharpton was interviewed on CNN minutes after the verdict about Jackson's "inappropriate" remarks. Sharpton reiterated Jackson was charged with child molestation, not having a pajama party.

Perhaps Michael's naivete & sheltered upbringing has clouded his judgment. He has endured emotional & psychological trauma, fueled by the abuse of his father as an adolescent. Jackson has spoken openly about his painful childhood. He became a global superstar at an age when most kids were learning how to ride a bike or shoot a basketball. Apparently, all that glitters ain't gold.

I was happy to see most of his family members present, particularly his father. His mother, in fact, was in court every single day. Noticeably abesent today were Jackie & Marlon. Nonetheless, the Jacksons came together as a family, hopefully dispelling prevailing notions of internal dysfunction. Jackson, like most powerful & successful Black men, has been demonized by the supremacist media. Maybe he has second thoughts on whether or not "it don't matter if you're black or white."

Monday, June 06, 2005

Detroit Cools Off The Heat

The defending champion Detroit Pistons earned their second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals tonight by defeating the host Miami Heat, 88-82. The Heat held a six point lead late into the fourth quarter, yet were unable to score. Defense wins championships. The Pistons shut down an injured, but inspired Dwayne Wade through double teams & traps. Wade will have to wait another year for the coveted ring.

I'm disappointed w/ Miami: the game was in their hands. Their playoff inexperience was evident by the bad fouls, missed free throws & rushed shots. Though I dislike watching them play, I respect Detroit. I admire their poise, tenacity & unselfishness as a team. They play as a unit. No egos, flashy players or superstars reign supreme. The Pistons have an opportunity to repeat. But first they have to get pass the San Antonio Spurs, who many feel will war the crown in 2005.

Shaquille O'Neal has given Miami a boost of energy through his charisma, leadership & superior skill level. Though the Heat lost three key players (Caron Butler, Brian Grant & Lamar Odom) to get O'Neal from the Lakers last summer in a blockbuster trade, the city has embraced him like a king. The "Diesel" has responded by taking the Heat to their first NBA finals appearance in eight years.

In L.A., the tension between O'Neal & Kobe Bryant was thicker than Beyonce's thighs. Under the zen guidance of coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers won three straight titles in 2000, 2001 & 2002. Last year, the Pistons gave them a thoroughly whipped ass in the NBA Finals, which fueled an exodus from Jackson, who admittedly found coaching Kobe to be "difficult."

Kobe & Shaq were never friends, but they managed to put their magnanimous egos aside to get the job done. The Lakers had a losing season this year. At times, they resembled a division two college team. I was not surprised by their poor showing. In fact, many folks blame Kobe for their woes, citing his aloof & indifferent personality, in addition to his inability to make his teammates better players.

An NBA junkie, I'll watch the NBA Finals w/ chagrin. Detroit & San Antonio are boring as hell to watch. I don't like half-court basketball. I wanted the phoenix Suns to play Miami for the championship, but the Spurs' tenacious defense was too much for the young guns in Arizona. Steve Nash won the league's MVP. Amare Stoudemire averaged over 35 points in the Western Finals series. Shawn Marion was superb.

And, Jimmy Jackson is fine...but that's not why I watch the game. I'm an athlete who appreciates healthy competition. Despite the players' astronomical salaries, owners' slave like mentality & soaring ticket prices I love NBA basketball. Thank God for cable. Perhaps I will consider getting the league pass next year. I have to learn how to save money before that happens.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I'm On My Way: But Where Am I Going?

Today is the first day I post to my new blog site, which is currently under construction, though I'm not clear who will do the real work. I've wanted a blog site for well over a year. Why did it take so long? I tend to operate on fear, no matter how loving my intentions are. My fears of commitment, exposure & responsibility have ruled as long as I can remember: pain is a memory. Can I go back to sleep now?

Seriously folks, I'm excited about the opportunity to finally (!) create, discover, express, learn, re-learn, struggle & try something new in the ever expanding global community. Who knows where my heart will lead? I'm addictted to certainty; as such, I trust God will bless me in this endeavor. Still, the idea of maintaining this site is overhelming: at the age of 44, I don't want to grow up, I'm a toys r' us kid.

I'm so lazy I don't want to get up to use the bathroom. But don't get it twisted, I don't pee on myself. Not as an adult. As a child I had a serious bed-wetting problem which traumatized me fiercely. I'd wake up in a puddle of piss each morning, probably from drinking milk at three o'clock in the morning (don't ask), only to find myself too ashamed to do something as simple as take a bath or shower.

Is this too much information for an opening post?

Anyway, some of my brothers & sisters, a few of whom shared the same embarassing trait, would laugh at me. A deeply sensitive child, I felt humiliated. We lived across the street from the school we attended as kids, yet I was late for school EVERY DAY. When I got to school, the taunting continued, lowering my tenuous self-esteem. Some years ago, during an Oprah show featuring Iyanla Vanzant - one of my favorite people - she mentioned anger shows up in being late, and, the need to be right.

Damn, damn, damn...