i am

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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...

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