Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Where My Comments At???

Okay, so i switched my comment management system to HaloScan. So far i haven't managed to migrate old comments into the new system. I think i'm going to have to cut and paste if i want them to show. In any case, leave a new comment and let me know how it works for ya!


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Right People

It's important to be surrounded by "the right kind of people." I've heard that, read it, but didn't really get it until i looked up one day recently and realized i am.

I am a sociophobe, a xenophobe, and any other kind of phobe that involves being uncomfortable around people in general. I would love to get over it (and by my own mantra, i can choose to at any time). So what happens? I find myself surrounded by dynamic, powerful people who constantly draw me out of myself.

I love to read, love to write, love language. I am surrounded by highly literate people who write, who appreciate and make use of language in ways that engage and intrigue me. (It's no small delight to me that so many people i know are blogging these days.)

I am deeply concerned about my black brothers lives and the way we are so often, in so many ways devalued, even to ourselves. In particular, i worry that HIV is still infecting us out in record numbers, though the mortality of AIDS has somewhat slowed. And again, i am surrounded by intelligent, committed people who have the tools to make a difference in this fight and who are willing to help me learn and grow in my efforts.

All in all, i am surrounded by the right people, right now. I am surrounded by the people who encourage me, uplift me, give me light and love and a whole lot of resources to draw on.

SO ... to everyone in my life right now, vested or indifferent, know that you are having an impact on me.

Thank You.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Attack of the Blogs

Okay, so why does it seem almost everyone i know is blogging now? Could it have something to do with the fact that i just got into it, so i'm really aware of it now? Or does it have more to do with the fact that just got into it, so i keep telling people, "You should start a blog. It's very cathartic." Whatever the reason, check out some of the links to Other Bloggers on this page. There are some very interesting thoughts and opinions among the folks i know ....

The Questions

Got the concept from Quency on, though apparently it comes from an old hip-hop song. So, the object is not to answer, but to ask ...
  1. Why do black men believe their dicks make them powerful? (And why don't they believe anything else does?)

  2. Why do black gay men take that belief to the extreme, incorporating it into their identities? (How many "big dick blatinos" can there be on the internet?)

  3. Why do we believe black folks are more homophobic than other people?

  4. Why dem gay boys still go to the churches where they get bashed every week? (How many can you list off the top of your head?)

  5. Why did i buy into the whole gayboy gymbunny body consciousness so late in life, when it never used to concern me?

  6. Why are relationships so complicated? (And i don't just mean primary "romantic" relationships.)

  7. Why does the porn industry rake in more money ($57 billion worldwide) than all major league sports combined ($27 billion)?

  8. Why are there so many black men living in fear of their own sexuality?

  9. Why do we learn how to fuck before we learn how to love? (And why do we treat the two things like they're mutually exclusive?)

  10. Why is it so easy to not want anything?
Feel free to join in, either here or in your own space. Just like on a polygraph, it's not the answers but the questions that are the dead giveaways. So, what questions do you have on your mind?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

The Wisdom of Eva

The boon of a canceled appointment today afforded me the opportunity to channel surf for a bit. Deliver Us From Eva was on. I remembered it being an entertaining spin on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, so i settled in to watch it again. It was cute. I didn't remember that Miss Evangeline Dandridge (Eva's full name) had the following words of wisdom for me.

"You know what I learned about love, Raymond? Love isn't a virus that infects you; it's a choice. We choose to fall in love and we choose what love makes us do."
--Gabrielle Union, Deliver Us From Eva

I think i'm there. I've never been one of those, "love makes you stupid" kind of folks. My friend April and i have talked about it before and i always argued that if it makes you stupid, it probably isn't love.

I guess when you get down to it, it's a matter of semantics. How much of what people typically call "love" is a biological-emotional reaction, and how much is how we choose to relate to other people? In keeping with my guiding principle, i'll put my faith in choice every time.

So when i say i have never stopped loving anyone i've ever loved, it's about me choosing not to release that. It doesn't mean i've still got burning passion for them or -- in the case of the men in my past -- that i'm wishing, hoping, dreaming, or even thinking of being with them again. It just means that choosing to love is much more satisfying to me than placing my relationships, my life at the mercy of my hormones.

Iyanla Vanzant (and probably many ancient sages prior) has said that there are only two real emotions: love and fear. All else stems from one of those two. If that is true, then choosing to put aside love is akin to choosing take on fear. I'm not saying i've never been fearful for someone i've loved before, or that i've never experienced the two emotions in relation to each other. But the possessive, jealous emotions i've experienced in my life were more about the fear of losing love (or the fear of losing what i thought of as mine), than about true love.

Eva was right: love is a choice. It's a choice i'm confident in making.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

On Parole from the Black Hole

I was at Atlanta Pride today. You know, that big event creating all the foot traffic in Piedmont Park? I took on my shift at the booth, flirted with all the people walking past so they'd stop and see what we had to offer, and checked out the more outré elements of the gay community strolling by. It was an interesting, but taxing experience. (I just don't do well around large crowds i of folks i don't know.)

Still, i'm glad i was there today. I ran into some people that brought me joy in small sips and slices. It was like some great power had issued a mass pronouncement of clemency for denizens of that black hole that has swallowed people from my past.

  • It started with Chandra & Carla. I'm not sure how long it's been since i've seen them. Seems like it was almost back at Mellonee and Debra's wedding a few years ago. Seeing them strolling along together brought back the feeling of hope i got at their wedding. We talked for a minute about being old married folks, and making the obligatory annual public appearance. Then i got pulled away by another amazing encounter.

  • I found one of my lost chirren. I only have two "gay kids" that i claim. Damien (who was 15 when he came out to me and, last i heard, had moved to New York) and Khary (who was pretty much grown when i met him, and who left for Alabama or some shit). Lo and behold, who should come walking through the park but my lost second child Khary.

  • Ken disappeared somewhere around the same time the old guard Second Sunday leaders faded into the realm of myth and resurfaced today in the park. We reconnected for a few hectic minutes and talked about the future, the past, the traveling he's doing. (Boy is going 'round the WORLD, ya hear?!?) It was good.

  • I hadn't seen Raquel since the days when neither one of us had hair this long. But there she was at the booth, in my face, lovely long locks and all. We laughed and hugged and compared hair and hugged some more and exchanged numbers and hugged again before other people came by who demanded my attention.

  • Finally, i saw a fellow member of the Tongues Untied online discussion list, who i hadn't seen in a few months. I had forgotten how beautiful this brotha was and what an effervescent personality he had. Francis, thanks for brightening my day.

Then there was the beautiful, beautiful boy who walked past once while i was busy with folks at the booth, so i couldn't stop to try and recruit him. (I'm a photographer, remember?) I didn't know him, but i swear i've seen him before. When he walked back by again, i had to accost him. Of course, he was with his friends and of course i must have looked like some lunatic stalker or self-serving, trickster pornographer. He was with his friends who looked at me suspiciously while i babbled for a minute then gave him my card and let him go on his way. (Hopefully, he didn't trash it as soon as he was out of my eyesight.)

There were some perennials like Craiggie and Bobby (forgot to ask why Eric wasn't with them today), Paris, Warren, Damone, Walter, Ricky & Roger, Anthony K and that boy who shall remain nameless for his own sake who shares my birthday. And there were a few brothas who i gave out program information to, inviting them to the workshops and gatherings i coordinate.

So i'm glad i went to Pride today. {sigh} But i still don't like it.

I'm a Speak & Spell!

I picked up this little tidbit while visiting The Prime One himself out in the Blogosphere. It seems i bear a striking resemblance to a smarmy know-it-all 80s toy. This in spite of the fact that i was rapidly leaving my childhood by the time the 80s rolled around.

speak and spell
You're a Speak & Spell!! You nerd, you. Just
because you were disguised as a toy doesn't
mean you weren't educational, you sneaky

Yes, you too can attach all your self-worth and identity to the results of a silly survey at the What childhood toy from the 80s are you? quiz, brought to you by Quizilla. Results can range from a Rubik's Cube to a Weeble to a Spirograph to a GI Joe. Check it out; they even provide the HTML code to drop on your page for the results.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

All About Charles

I have declared this "Blog About Charles Day."

Charles Stephens is the one of my friends who most reminds me of myself. Which means he is probably absolutely appalled at the thought of a lot of people turning their attention toward him in any kind of public forum like this. Only because he's my friend, and i love him dearly, will i stop now.


Just let me say that Charles is fab. He's an incisive critic of the -isms that flood through our daily lives, a talented writer who ought to be publishing a book sometime soon, a gifted and necessary subversive element in my life, and a (unbeknownst to many) a real laugh-riot in his unguarded moments.

I know he thought i was going to start some kind of campaign to have people blogging at him from all sides (and i do think Neena may have mentioned his name), but really i am going through all these motions just to fuck with him.

So ... here's to you, Charles. Gotcha.

A Lot of Sex Talk

A friend of mine has been talking a lot about sex lately.

It's not the kind of talk that is designed to promote him as a sexual conquistador or to shore up his masculinity. In fact, he's been doing a lot of questioning his place in the sexual culture that is Atlanta's black gay milieu. Some element in his questioning has sparked in my mind an analysis of my own sexual behavior.

I am great on the theory of sexual liberation; i talk a really good game. The truth of the matter, though, is i am about as sexually repressed as you can get. I'm not sure when that happened. I used to be free. (I used to be a little too free, if you know what i mean.) So how did i become a sexual prude in my old age?

Okay, so i'm not really old. And i'm not really a prude; i mean, i don't go around judging what other people do sexually or turning my nose up at folks who talk about things that i personally wouldn't choose to engage in. I just don't seem to feel the same way about myself that i used to.

I remember a time in my adolescence when sex was all i could think about. I didn't think of myself as sexy or even attractive at the time. Then there was my first boyfriend when i was 15 or 16. He made me feel sexy for the first time: desirable, powerful, and oh so potent. It was the beginning of my sexual awakening.

There was the "dry, white season" of my year-and-a-half at Michigan State University, followed by the dark days of my park-cruising adventures. Salvation at the hands of a new group of friends led me to my first black gay social gatherings and clubs, and opened new possibilities of sexual conquest and exploration.

My move to Atlanta signaled a significant shift. From vixen to serial monogamist, i moved to a new pattern of expressing my sexual self. Somewhere along the way, my sexual attitudes and my sexual behaviors fell out of synch. I stopped feeling my sexual power and stopped exercising my sexual prowess. Somehow, i reverted to my adolescent self: thinking and talking about sex without feeling especially sexy.

Maybe it's married life. Maybe it's middle age. Maybe it's both, combined with the fact that i work primarily around men who are much younger than i am.

Whatever the cause, i have a sense lately that i am undergoing a major shift in my life again. I am at one of those critical junctures where not just one thing, but many many things are changing for me. How will the changes affect my sexual life? I don't know. But my partner better watch out, 'cause when i get my bearings again, i'm gonna be all over him.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

It's Like He Knew
I Would Change My Mind ...

I haven't spoken to a friend of mine (call him Brotha T) in more than two years. Not really talked. Not more than "Hey, what's up," even though i see him all the time. Yesterday, i decided to send him an e-mail. I don't know why; it just came to me in a quiet epiphany how silly and petty of me it was to maintain my anger at him for so long over something he did to piss me off. (Oh yeah, that's why i hadn't been speaking to him.) Besides, it was so very unlike me.

Just like that, i let it go.

I sent the e-mail very casually, very chatty, very "it's not like i haven't said anything of any significance to you in the past couple of years." I let it go and felt happy about the prospect that the friendship could resume, probably without him even realizing that i was ever mad at him. I was actually looking forward to the next time i saw him, and told him so.

At some point during the day, i got an e-mail from another friend (Brotha H), forwarding a short story about a young man's seroconversion* experience. As the author of the story was not credited, i made no connection between it and Brotha T at the time. (Unless you're not really paying attention, you probably just made the connection yourself.) It wasn't until a quick online conversation later with Brotha H about the story that it hit me. Hard.

Brotha H never said anything to confirm my suspicions. In fact, i didn't even ask him about the identity of the author. I didn't need to; i recognized Brotha T's voice in the crude language on the screen. I could almost hear him speaking the words.

I don't know why it still bothers me when my friends seroconvert. I don't know why i sit and cry over other people's informed choices. I don't know why i'm lamenting the actions of someone i easily could have diagnosed as "passively suicidal" ever since i've known him. I don't know why i wanted to kick my friend's ass last night after i realized it was him. But i did; i do. (I would if he wasn't bigger'n me.)

I'm not as psycho-spiritual as most folks apparently think i am. I don't believe in coincidence or universal "rightness" or divine order. I have to wonder, though, about the timing. The very day i let go of my anger at Brotha T over one thing, for no apparent reason, is the day i was hit with a new reason to be angry at him all over again. It seems as though my subconscious was clearing the way for me to realize how much i care about him. After all, if i didn't care about him, i probably wouldn't have been so mad in the first place.

I woke up crying in the middle of the night. It's not logical, i know, in 2004 to mourn for people who engage in risks with known consequences. It's not logical to act as though i just heard my friend is dead, when that's so far from today's reality. It's not logical to be angry or embittered or distressed because of my friend's choices. His choices.


Maybe i'm not "the bitch who doesn't have a soul" after all. I'm feeling this one.

Damn, T.


*seroconversion = "development of antibodies in blood serum as a result of infection or immunization." (Specifically here -- and in my work -- used to indicate the process of becoming HIV-positive.)

Monday, June 21, 2004

HIV Testing My Patience

I'm frustrated.

National HIV Testing Day (June 27) is coming up again. As part of the work i do at "a large AIDS Service Organization in Atlanta," i am coordinating some of the efforts for this annual observance. In addition, i am working on a state-wide HIV prevention campaign targeting African American Men who have Sex with Men that is launching this week. And Atlanta's Gay Pride celebration is this weekend, so i am expected to participate in that at some level as well.

Now you, may think my frustration is arising from the multitude of tasks that i'm expected to complete this week. No. I am frustrated because i'm not at all sure that any of this is going to make a difference.

I've been working in the field of HIV Prevention for a few years now. I've learned a lot and changed a lot of my attitudes and expectations about why and how gay men negotiate sex, desire, relationships, and our own risks around HIV. I've heard many, many stories from my brothas about how and why they didn't stop themselves before contracting HIV. I've heard similar stories from men who can't understand why they are still HIV-negative, considering the risks they've taken. But i don't know that anything i've done has affected any of them as much as they've affected me.

I know that HIV testing helps people manage their health. (How can you protect your status if you don't know it?) I guess i just wonder if these large-scale events really reach those folks who are most at risk. In my experience, the majority of people who come out in public to get tested are those who don't have real concerns about their risk anyway. (There are exceptions, of course, but they tend to prove the rule.) So why do we do it? What is the real benefit? Well, some people really do get some information that can help them move forward in a healthier way. Some people get corrected information that helps disabuse them of the myths and mis-information they had been holding onto. Some people find out more about agencies and organizations working to fight the spread of the disease and decide to get involved as volunteers. And some people really do find out their HIV status for the first time.

So i will march on, continue to make plans, reach out to people, publicize the events, and hope that one of the people i talk to this weekend -- especially one of my brothas -- really hears something that will be life-changing. And maybe i will learn something too.

Hope, they say, springs eternal.



Friday, June 25, 2004
7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Mall West End
Atlanta, Georgia

Saturday, June 26, 2004
10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Main Street Barber Shop
Smyrna, Georgia

UPDATE 6/22/04
This event has been CANCELED

Saturday, June 26, 2004
5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Holiday Inn Select, Atlanta Capitol Plaza
(includes screening and discussion of film "One Week")

For more information on these and other events,
call the Georgia AIDS & STD InfoLine at

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Why Am I So Tired?

It seems my everyday routine is running me into the ground. I feel like i'm working like a field hand and not getting anywhere for it.

But i'm not complaining.

After all, everything i'm doing right now i chose for myself. I am working in HIV Prevention for black gay men. I am consulting with the State of Georgia about more needs for black gay men. I am writing and performing about/with black gay men. I am photographing and creating art with black gay men. If you asked me what i'd rather be doing, i honestly couldn't tell you.

So why am i so tired?

Maybe it's just that i haven't been sleeping like i know my body wants me to. Maybe it's that so many of the things i'm doing are ultimately controlled by other folks who decide the parameters my work. Maybe it's just time for another change.

Being a Pisces, i am prone to cyclical movements both in my everyday existence and in the larger patterns of my life. A cousin of mine once said to me, "You reinvent yourself every five years." I guess i'm just getting the five year itch. So it's time for some reassessment, time to look at my opportunities, my strengths, my skills, my weaknesses, my areas for growth ... all that new-age human resources crap. (I should know; i left HR about ... well, five years ago.)

In the end, i guess what i'm experiencing is just my latest set of growing pains. When i look at it from that perspective, it doesn't feel so bad after all. In fact, i'm looking forward to stretching a bit and moving on to the "next big thing" in my life. As long as my partner and friends are ready to go along with me, i'm cool.

Be your best you.


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

A Portrait of the Artist
as a Not-So-Young Man

So here it is. My self-indulgence has finally worked its way into my photography. I should have figured at some point my fascination with black men as subjects would grow to include ... well ... me. Still, if what i'm after is some form of artistic expression generated via communion between the photographer and the photographed, here it is. In spades.

Is it okay for me to think i'm beautiful (some days)? Is it sad that i have to ask for permission? What am i really after with this whole exploration into the visual arts anyway? Hell, i'm half colorblind and have zero depth perception. What kind of nerve do i have calling myself a photographer?

It's amazing the kinds of questions giving a little attention to myself has generated.

June 17, 2004

PS - For a real gander how self-centered i was being, check out the pic in my profile, taken of me by me during the same photo shoot as the one above.


Why has it been three months since i posted anything here?

Why did i think i was going to post to a BLOG every day when some days i don't even feel like getting out of bed?

Why am i getting into this technocrap at 40 years old?

Why did KEVIN E. BYNES incite me to start this mess all over again?


I guess i'll try it one more time ...