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.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

WNBA Star Sheryl Swoopes Goes Public With Her Same Gender Love

Earlier this week I came upon some intriguing information from an associate's website. Olympic Gold Medalist, & four-time (consecutive) champion from the WNBA Houston Comets' Sheryl Swoopes shared her same gender love w/ the media. In the latest ESPN Magazine, which ironically covers an unlikely pair - NBA Laker star Kobe Bryant & his, once again head coach Phil Jackson - Swoopes reveals she is gay.

Additionally, ESPN 2 has a relatively new sports/talk show - "Cold Pizza" - which comes on way too early (8:00 am) for my taste. This past Thursday, Swoopes was interviewed by their seemingly indifferent female journalist. At one point, the woman said, "there's a perception that most of the women in the WNBA are lesbian, what do you think your coming out will do for other gay or lesbian athletes out there, who might be thinking about coming out?"

Swoopes, dressed in a sleeveless, black turtleneck accentuated by a sparkling silver cross, said, "well, the reason I'm doing this is so I can be free...the stereotypes about female athletes are not true, there are just as many straight female athletes in the WNBA as there are straight men in the NBA." Swoopes went on to say, "I had to sacrifice my happiness for awhile...if people don't want to come out, that's fine, but I want people to know who I am, who I care about, who I show my affection for...I'm tired of pretending."

I was particularly proud of the humilty Swoopes displayed in her interview. She was calm, polite, warm & unapologetic. She admitted it was difficult hiding her authentic self because she knows as an athlete, mother & public figure, "it's (referring to homosexuality) not accepted in our society, but I'm okay w/ that because I'm still the same person, still the same mom & still the same Sheryl." Though not surprised by her courageous revelation, my male supremacy didn't consider being lesbian as her possible reality.

We live in a society which teaches us heterosexuality is the standard way of being, living & loving. Most of the time our attitudes around sexuality are heavily influenced by religious dogma. Like rapper Nas once said, "we fear what we don't understand & hate what we can't conquer." Aware of my same sex desire as a small child, I quickly learned to avoid (male) eye contact, deny my true feelings, lie about my social calendar, monitor my walk, smile when angry & try to please others so they wouldn't hurt me.

None of those damn strategies were effective...

When I shared Swoopes' lesbianism w/ a caring & sensitive hetero male friend, he suggested, "well, its easier for her because she's established." I didn't bother to tell him pain is on both sides of the dollar bill, no matter who you are in this world. Not surprisingly, he assumed being honest about her sexuality would be easier for Swoopes because she got bank. Wrong. Yet, his perspective is fairly common in today's fast paced, I'm busy, we'll talk later society.

After watching Swoopes on "Cold Pizza", I was pumped to go to the newsstand. I want to hear the whole story - not the less than eight-minute piece she offered on cable. I've yet to pick up the ESPN Magazine w/ her in it, though. I will, eventually. For real. You see, my mind is telling me yes but my body is telling me no. Okay, so I'm lazy. But I'd love to interview Sheryl Swoopes one day. Like Bobby & Whitney, we got something in common because I can identify w/ her on an emotional level. Besides, sometimes all people want is the feeling of being listened to, which didn't happen on tv. No wonder I hate cold pizza.

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