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.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

An Ode To Dana Rose

Last week I received word from a former co-worker about the recent transition of Rev. Dana Rose. Rev. Rose, or 'miss Dana' if you're nasty, was one of the most compassionate hue-man beings I've ever known. He was Black, male & homosexual, giving service wth a smile (sometimes shade) wherever he went. I'd see him periodically walking alone in various parts of NYC & woud stop to chat for a moment. I hadn't talked to him in years, but was aware he was suffering from diabetes, as he was losing sight in one of his eyes. I understand some members of ADODI & GMAD are planning a homecoming for him, one I intend to be present to.

I met Dana at a bereavement group in the fall of '96. He served as facilitator, though worked in many counseling capacities at the, then, Lesbian & Gay Center on West 13th Street in the village. The name has been changed to access bisexuals & transgenders, as well as engendering power to women, thus the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Services Center. But I digress.

On April 12, 1996, my longtime partrner of nearly 18 years, Bernard Brown, died of the disease of addiction in Chicago, my hometown. I was much too distraught to attend the funeral. In fact, I was rather numb for months. My therapist suggested I seek group counseling to heal. When it comes to dealing with pain, apathy & denial are part of my history. I finally decided to go because the pain of not going was uncomfortable.

Initially there were 15 folks in the eight-week group. After a few weeks, as usually is the case with support groups of any kind, the number dwindled down to a core group of eight or nine. Folks were grieving the loss of their parents, friends & animals. We bonded quickly, primarily because of Dana, whose love, respect & sensitivity centered us. He utilized spiritual principles in a non-traditional setting, as well as art, dance, gospel music & poetry. Dana affirmed our loss when we shared our pain, imparting wisdom I've never forgotten, "healing can only take place in community, it can never take place in isolation."

The universe is a better place because of the spirit of Rev. Dana Rose.

Rev. Rose is a beloved member of ADODI, a group celebrating 20 years (this summer) of serving African descended men who experience same sex desire. He's worked with various community-based & nonprofit organizations in NYC, NJ, Philadelphia & Washington, DC such as CHOICES, GMAD, Harlem United, POCC, SAGE & Us Helping Us. Rev. Rose was everywhere anyone needed him. His humility, integrity & kindness are rare qualities in a society obsessed with looking good than feeling good. I am a better hue-man being as a result of our evolving relationship, one that transcended the profession to the person.

When he walked into the room, we would just look at each other & crack up. Dana has that old school soul, but every now & then he'd cut up on somebody in a light, non-malicious way. I remember working at the old GMAD office on West 14th Street during a Friday Night Forum, when he whispered into my ear after someone came in late, "who that bitch think she he is?" I knew he intended no harm, but my stomach was in knots because it was a line you'd usually hear from an aunt or grandmother. He'd make me laugh & not feel guilty about it. I loved that about him.

Dana embraced his masculine & feminine energy in a non-pretentious, refreshing way. He wasn't bound by racist, Western social constructs as many folks are today. He was a Yoruba priest, immersed in West African customs & traditions. He became the first openly gay - a term I don't like - Archdiocese of New Jersey at a church whose name I don't recall because I got CRS (can't remember shit, that's my story & I'm sticking to it, ok?). But he was not one to impose his will on others. He was comfortable in his/her skin, though some makeup would've truly sufficed, chile.

I loved me some Dana Rose. He affirmed my sexuality, inspired my creativity & nurtured my inner child, especially when the little boy would start acting out. Dana would say, "don't start none, won't be none." Whenever I'd get short with him, he'd go Jill Scott on me, pretending to take off his earrings, put down his purse & pour on the vaseline - as only a Black woman from the 'hood would do. We would start swinging in the air at each other, channeling the little girls inside of us & folks would be like, what is wrong with these two? But that's how free he made me feel. Free to be all of me, not my representative.

Deepak Chopra once said, "healing is the natural tendency to restore balance when it is lost." Though I recently turned 46 years old, I'm still healing old wounds. I'm eternally grateful to the God of my understanding for placing miss Dana in my path. We were, indeed, kindred spirits. We understood each other. He had the courage to care. I respect him for caring. His heart was illuminating. His intelligence was stimulating. His trust was breathtaking. The energy of Rev. Dana Rose is divinely inspired. He was fierce!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Is There Intimacy On The Internet?

A wise woman once said, "God speaks to us in whispers." After careful consideration & spiritual reflection, I've decided to delete my profile on www.Adam4Adam.com. I joined in late January of this year for professional reasons, though my innate curiosity & desire to co-habitate got the best of me. I was facilitating a gathering in Harlem around men on the 'DL,' yet didn't know where or how to attract men who would be honest enough to share their emotions & experiences, let alone get them to understand it was a safe place.

The response was amazing, yet the number of booty calls got me shook. Was I flattered? Yeah, however my intention was to remain focused on work & not play. Most of the guys who responded never showed up, still, we had an interesting evening of stimulating dialogue among other SGL & gay-identified brothas. For example, the notion of being on the 'DL' was expanded in that many brothas are not open about their sexuality with family members, co-workers, neighbors, etc. But I digress.

I started to notice a disturbing trend with folks' profiles. When listing their likes & preferences, it seemed they had conditions, not invitations. I began to wonder: is there intimacy on the Internet? If God wakes me up, I'll be 46 this coming Sunday. I've met some interesting brothas online, as well as a few who need Jesus (smile). Typing words on a computer in the wee hours of the morning - or the middle of the day, for that matter - without the emotional investment and/or spiritual authenticity has become an exercise in futility. Alas, the time has come to surrender.

Let me be clear. I'm neither angry nor resentful. I feel optimistic, in fact. I've learned that when I get out of my own way, God's will becomes so apparent all I have to do is just be still & listen. My obsession (read: addiction) was disturbing to say the least. I've had enough of the empty promises, clever messages & unfulfilled fantasies. It finally reached a head a cople of days ago when a guy from DC told me he "would love me...if I just let him." Chile, cheese. I had to laugh at the delusion of it all.

God knows the desires of my heart. He knows my heart desires affection, friendship & intimacy. I got so caught up trying to "hook up' that I forgot where my real source of strength & courage lies. Do I want a man in my bed to cuddle me, hold me, kiss me & passionately make love to me? Hell yeah! I also want that brotha to stay with me & learn who I am. For real. My heart is open for a commitment, nothing less will suffice anymore. I don't want another empty, anonymous sexual encounter. Ever. Does that mean it won't happen? No, it just means that I'm clearer about my intentions & cannot afford to be wishy-washy in my decision making.

Ironically, I've been listening to sexy crooners like D'Angelo, Joe, Maxwell & Usher for the last couple of days. I feel good about my decision. I feel lighter about my decision. I feel relieved about my decision because my heart is precious to me. As fate would have it, I met a beautiful brotha walking down 14th Street Sunday evening. We acknowldged each other gracefully. He turned around, introduced himself & gave me a hug. All I could say was, "you are beautiful." I asked him what his plans were for the rest of the evening & said he was on his way to meet some friends at the SONY Virgin Record Music Store.

Undaunted, I gave him my business card & asked him to call me. He smiled & said, "I'll call you." I've yet to hear from him. One of my shortcomings is impatience. When I don't get what I want when I want it, I feel frustrated. I used to take everything personally; as if it were a sign of personal failure or rejection, but not today. How empty of me to be so full of you? My mother taught me love is patient & love is kind. I love myself today & desire to share my love with one man. Where is he? He is here with me, in my heart, at all times. As long as I remember the only relationship you'll ever have is the one you have with yourself, all is well in my world, whether I'm online or off tha hook.