Tag Archives: glbt

Quoted: Juba and Tim’m of Deep Dickollective on Hip-Hop and Homosexuality

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson

Warning: Explicit Language.

Saying that this interview blew my mind is an understatement. Reading “It’s All One: A Conversation between Juba Kalamka and Tim’m West” in the Total Chaos anthology was an illuminating experience in reference to queerness and hip-hop culture. There were so many pieces I wanted to type to share with you all, but couldn’t do so without feeling like I was taking money out off Jeff Chang’s wallet. So here are a few snippets of the conversation that made the largest impact on me and hopefully many of you will try to locate the full interview (or even buy the book).

[...]

Juba: It wasn’t until commercial viability became an issue for the record industry at large did the need for a categoric and hard-line heterosexualization and hypermasculine posturing come front and center. Hip-hop’s racial contextualization has been similar to that of early rock ‘n roll – the sale of scart, titillating, and ultimately Otherizing fantasy images of nonwhite people that fit into that same old boxes of “frightening yet sexy.” So, no, maybe a “gay” identity wouldn’t fit as a component of a “hip-hop” identity if you understand “gay” as a code for “weak” or “feminized” and therefore undesirable to a media machine selling a particular kind of Scary Negro Drag, or someone who’s performing it and unable or unwilling to interrogate their positionality.

At the same time, there’s the issue of “gay” or “Queer” being yet another identity marker that had already been co-opted by white middle-class institutions by the time hip-hop was beginning to receive mainstream attention. An authentic b-boy (read: Black) would have had a difficult time integrating a gay or bisexual identity into his pose, as “gay” was something he would know he was racially, economically, and socially excluded from.

Tim’m: But even this undermines a rich legacy of gays and lesbians in Black communities that had little to no interaction with white gay culture. Culturally speaking, Black gays have always preferred to abide alongside their Black communities rather than “ghettoize” their sexualities into geographic “safe spaces.” This isn’t a criticism, just an observation.

Juba: I agree. There is the assumption by Black straights and white gays that Black Queers were somehow automatically interested in participating in white gay culture – which also assumes an uncomplicated relationship to being “out” in the way most people understand that. That is extremely problematic and, as you have said, lazy thinking.

Growing up in Chicago and attending high school in the early and mid-1980s there was no real distinction between straight and gay in the house music scene, though it was overwhelmingly Black and Latino. My high school reflected this dynamic as well as that of the white gay kids never really expressing any interest in what we were doing.

Continue reading

Truth/Reconciliation: Morehouse on My Mind

by Guest Contributor Jafari Sinclaire Allen


Congratulations, Michael Brewer.

I have never walked across the stage on the Morehouse College campus green to receive my degree. On the first day of our indoctrination in 1986, who would have thought I would end up as one of those missing in action four years later? The upperclassman speaking prophesized: “Look to your left and your right. Four years later, one of these brothers will not be here,” and in 1990 one of those brothers was me. I was an “out” gay man at Morehouse College. On my would-be graduation day, I contemplated what
looked like a dismal future, by Morehouse standards—no Morehouse degree and no respect from the men that made up my peer group.

A recent article in the Los Angles Times, by Richard Fausset, bookends the recent history of homophobia and gay awakening at Morehouse with the heinous 2002 baseball-bat beating of a Morehouse student, Greg Love, by a dormitory mate, Aaron Price, and the historic “No More ‘No Homo’ ” events organized by Michael Brewer and members of the campus organization, Safe Space, in April 2008. For me, this recalls memories that I had put away, but which provide the foundations of my life as a scholar and activist. The fact that homophobia at Morehouse is not unique or unusual with respect to heterosexism and homophobia in society at large should be obvious. The institution represents rather, the “perfect storm” of homophobia —racial and class anxieties of “exceptional Negroes,” masculine gender trouble, class conflict and fundamentalist religious baggage [or as some might say, "heritage" or "tradition."] These seas roil and skies open up in an international climate of heterosexism and misogyny. Homophobia at Morehouse is therefore instructive, dramatic and sad, but not rare in our world. Continue reading

Gimme More Sugar

by Latoya Peterson

So after Joanna posted her article on Gimme Sugar I decided to check out some of the episodes On Demand. Since On Demand was horrifically slow with adding new episodes, I found the rest on Logo’s site.

After watching the first few episodes, I was charmed. I generally liked the show, the women cast, and while there were a few things I had some questions on, the show was entertaining enough for me to look forward to the new episodes.

However, checking out the reaction to the show online was a bit of a shock.

The show was panned by AfterEllen’s She Made Me Watch It segment. I mean, damn. The vloggers and I came away from the show with two completely different impressions. The AE crew also seemed upset at the whole concept of vapid twenty somethings and the idea of reality TV in general.*

From where I sit, the show is looking very different from the usual reality show fare due to the strong business focus and the portrayal of women of color in the GLBT community. Continue reading

LA Times Explores Being Gay at Morehouse

by Latoya Peterson

A while back, I read Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies, and Denial in Black America. Written by Keith Boykin, the book is an answer to J.L. King’s On the Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of “Straight” Black Men Who Sleep with Men. Boykin sets out to debunk a lot of the myths about the down low as put forward in King’s piece, but one part of his argument stands out in my mind.

In analyzing what makes a good black man, he poses multiple scenarios about men, their community contributions and their personal lives. In one synopsis, Boykin seemingly describes the perfect, community involved black man with one catch – he’s gay.

Does his sexual orientation disqualify him from being “a good black man?”

I’ve been puzzling over that question for two years now. While it would make sense that a man’s deeds, not his choice of partner, should determine his standing in the black community, it is obvious that the ideal we would like to get to is far from reality as it stands today.

So, when reader Jafari sent in an article from the LA Times about being gay at Morehouse, I hoped that the article would lead me to some answers.

The piece begins with a tantalizing tagline:

The ‘Morehouse man’ is a paragon of virtue and strength, a leader destined for great things. But can he also be gay?

Continue reading

Logo Gives Asian-American Lesbians a Voice with Gimme Sugar

by Guest Contributor Joanna Eng

I kind of hate reality shows, and especially ones that are about a group of people who like to party. (Well, okay, I’ll admit that I did follow the first season of A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila.) But here’s one that I have reason to be excited about: Gimme Sugar on Logo.

From the GO Magazine article:

“Most happily, perhaps, is the strong presence of Asian lesbians on the show. Three lesbians on Gimme Sugar are certifiably Asian American. There is swaggering, deep Davonee from Laos; on-top-of-the-bar-making-out-with-whoever Taiwanese Bathilda; and alternately kickass and nurturing lesbian leader Charlene, who was born in the Philippines and settled in California as an infant. They are some of the first Asian lesbians portrayed on television.”

Davonee says, “It’s really hard because we’re Asian, you know—we’re not supposed to be gay! So I think [the show] is just gonna help a lot of Asian girls and families to come out and be comfortable.”

Bathilda adds, “And we’re three very different Asian lesbians—some Asian out there in Milwaukee can totally relate!”

A reality show about the party scene in L.A. isn’t exactly going to change the world; and it’s limited to the Logo audience, so it might not get much mainstream attention. But, c’mon, Margaret Cho and Tila Tequila can’t hold it down for all queer Asian American women forever! Since The L Word can’t seem to acknowledge that there are Asian Americans in California, and even add one token character to their cast, this is big news. I’m just impressed that out of only five main characters on Gimme Sugar, three of them (60 percent, people!) are Asian American.

What do you think? Are you going to watch?

Nina’s Heavenly Delights: the cheesecake factory

by guest contributor Manish, originally published at Ultrabrown

Nina’s Heavenly Delights is the latest badly-written desi flick to hit enough recognizable truths about the diaspora that it’s fun in spite of itself. It’s a Glaswegian lesbian romance interpreted chastely, as if for kids. The female leads nuzzle and kiss without tongue, lest director Pratibha Parmar offend the focus group, while the drag queens camp and vamp to stereotype but are never permitted to smooch on screen. FSM save gays and lesbians from friendly filmmakers.

The problem with gay, desi, and gay desi flicks is that they’re made out of a crying need for representation, but neither ‘boon’ automatically makes one a good director. Nina’s is infested with clichés, begins with a spice metaphor, and ganks not only the ghostly chef from Ratatouille, but also the spirit guide from the atrocious Touch of Pink (Jimi Mistry, Kyle MacLachlan). It rings false and fantastical, with the most understanding desi mom ever written into film. But it leans on an indie soundtrack and a cinematographer who loves slow pans and tilts. Save for a tacky Taj Mahal model-slash-heartlight, it’s not as obviously amateur as Flavors.

Shelley Conn, great niece of stealth desi Merle Oberon, is taller with darker skin than her white love interest. She’s the top in this film, which is unusual for gay desi flicks. (Daniel Day-Lewis’ tomahawk cheekbones were clearly dom in My Beautiful Laundrette.) The plot is yet another battle-of-the-bands exercise, a ‘curry competition’ helmed at last by the great Kulvinder Ghir (Goodness Gracious Me) in burr, kilt and rabbits’ feet. The movie’s relentless focus on Indian food makes it more commercial, as does the lesbian angle; knowing her mainstream, Parmar let the girls get to first base, while any guy-on-guy takes place off-screen. It’s not that one wants to see Ronny Jhutti (Rafta Rafta) get it on — not that there’s anything wrong with that — it’s that it’s a blatant double standard, genuflecting in the direction of heteronormative marketability.

This movie was made earlier with more wit and bite as East is East, which too made great use of Jhutti and Raji James. But its ending video sequence has queens, twinks, brown highland dancers and white Bollyornaments naachofying to Briton Nazia Hassan’s classic ‘Aap Jaisa Koi.’ If you enjoyed Rocky the drag queen’s camp performance in Bollywood/Hollywood, you’ll have fun with this. And Shelley Conn (and Atta Yaqub) aren’t exactly hard on the eyes.

Nina’s opened in NYC and San Francisco recently. Here are the trailer and clips. For more desi Scots, check out Psychoraag and Ae Fond Kiss, among others .

‘Blade Runner’ and race

by guest contributor Manish, originally published at Ultrabrown

In Blade Runner: The Final Cut, the 25th anniversary edition of that seminal film, little-known indie director Ridley Scott (A Good Year, Black Rain) uses yellow panic to convey a dystopian future. Impenetrable Chinese and kanji ideographs and Arabic vocals from the Brian Eno track ‘Quran’ signify a future where Earth is crumbling, most have moved off-world, and the seedy neighborhoods left behind are non-European. In Blade Runner, white flight means leaving for the sub-orbs.

In one scene, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) chases a replicant down a crowded street, pushing his way through a group of Hare Krishnas. The world may be run by spinners, androids, implants and megacorps, but like cockroaches, Krishnas and Chinese noodles survive. Make way, make way; Deckard locates and blasts Joanna Cassidy, in a scene reshot with the aging actress specifically for the final cut.

Deckard later tracks down a clue, decorative scales from an artificial snake. The music switches to tabla and desi vocals as he shakes down the Muslim proprietor. Paul Oakenfold sampled other parts of the soundtrack in ‘Goa Mix’ (’94). Artless though it is, Blade Runner’s multiculti melange is even today far ahead of ultrawhite sci-fi/fantasy films like E.T. (which crushed Blade Runner on their head-to-head opening weekend), Star Wars, and the modern-day Lord of the Rings. The only sci-fi films I’ve seen recently which were as multiculti were Serenity and Sunshine.

* * * * *

Blade Runner has held up remarkably well over time. It’s still gripping and panoramic and ambitious in a way not often attempted in sci-fi these days. Its atmospherics were remarkable. It was the Half-Life 2 of its time in terms of immersive, spooky audio and visuals; today, PC games are the new Blade Runner. The film’s models look great, non-CGI-fakey. With physical models, getting the lighting and physics right is pretty much automatic.

Later movies freely pinched from key scenes in Blade Runner. Silas in The Da Vinci Code was ripped from Rutger Hauer’s white-haired Jesus figure, complete with crucifixion reference. Daryl Hannah’s leotarded replicant crushes Ford’s neck between her thighs. The scene was gleefully echoed by Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp in Goldeneye.

The ghostly, omnipresent advertising blimp showed up later as the floating zeppelin in Æon Flux. Hide-and-seek with living toys and assassins with calling cards have become fright flick staples. ‘Time to die,’ uttered twice in different contexts, is now a survival horror catchphrase. Blade Runner’s even got its very own ‘Han shot first‘ fanböi squabble, the unicorn scene. Continue reading

The Office recap: Branch Wars

by guest contributor Jasmine

In the time that we have come to know and love Stanley Hudson as one of the beleaguered employees on “The Office”, we have seen the myriad offensive ovations suffered at the hands of his boss, Michael Scott. Stanley is recruited by Michael for a pick-up basketball game because he is Black. Stanley, though, always seems to prevail, confounding Michael’s racist presumptions with hilarious consequences. The problem, though, is that Michael never learns. He never learns that it’s wrong to assume that Stanley is a good basketball player because he is Black. He doesn’t understand why he can’t drop the n-word when impersonating Chris Rock. He finds it hard to believe that the White woman with Stanley at the Dundies is actually his wife. He’s surprised to learn that Stanley and his family don’t celebrate Kwanzaa. You know what I don’t understand? I don’t know how Stanley held out so long, and for so little.

Stanley finally gets his due, though, when he gets an offer to join the Utica branch, for more money and presumably a better boss: Karen, formerly of Stamford and Scranton, the girl Jim dated before he finally broke it off and started dating Pam. The Utica branch appears like an oasis in comparison to the dysfunctional drudgery of Scranton. Who can blame Stanley for wanting to leave? Apparently, Michael can: in a fit of exasperation, he announces Stanley’s leaving to the office. Unexpectedly, Stanley’s fellow employees applaud. Michael is beside himself: “You cannot take the hilarious Black guy from the office.” Going on, he lists Stanley’s assets: “bluesy wisdom, sassy remarks, crossword puzzles, his smile… those big, watery red eyes.” He pauses, then continues: “I don’t know how George Bush did it when Colin Powell left.” Stanley insists that the reason he’s leaving is money, and anyway, it’s probably his sales record that got him the job. I don’t see Karen running an want ad for “bluesy wise older Black gentleman”. Michael, still, is incredulous: “Mo’ money, mo’ problems, you of all people should know that.” Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! Again, I’m wondering why nobody calls Michael on his ignorance, but then I remember that Michel, not being smart, would never get it. But does that make it any less reasonable to try? How do you reason with the unreasonable?

Elsewhere in the office, Pam, Toby, and Oscar have started The Finer Things Club. Oscar says that, apart from having sex with men, it’s the gayest thing about him. Way to embrace the stereotype! Mainly, though, the Club discusses a book over a lunch tied to the book. E.M. Forster’s “A Room With A View” with tea and sandwiches. “Memoirs Of A Geisha” with sushi. Andy tries to join, but is unsuccessful. Jim’s eventual admission seems short-lived, as he may not have actually read “Angela’s Ashes”.

Eventually, the episode wanders from Stanley’s narrative to Michael who, if he cannot keep Stanley, will exact revenge on the Utica branch by sneaking into their office to steal their industrial copier. An interrogation from Karen, and Michael returns defeated to Scranton. He gets Pam started on a want ad: “Wanted, middle aged black man with sass, big butt, bigger heart.” Fortunately, we don’t hear any more of the ad, as Stanley surrenders. He’s staying — in fact, he never meant to leave. He just wanted to see if Michael would counter Karen’s offer of more money, and was surprised to see Michael calling his bluff. Which makes Stanley wonder if perhaps Michael is a secret genius after all. I doubt it. I’m disappointed in Stanley — he could have moved into a more diverse office with a boss who isn’t a racist for more money, but he stayed. I’m sure he has his reasons. What they might be, I can only hope to figure out.