• in ,

    Again, But Better

    Once upon a time, a witty writer pondered his future over a plate of fabulous eggs Benedict. He had been madly in love with someone, Mr. Texas, for quite some time, even saying “yes” to a romantic marriage proposal months prior during a memorable 4th of July weekend.

    Everything to his knowledge was perfect.

    Then the truth started to trickle out, and the witty writer found himself falling less and less in love with his soon-to-be-husband. And so, he took off his engagement ring, slid it across the table, and told Mr. Texas the engagement was off—all before 9:30 in the morning.

    That witty writer is me.

    That’s right, I’m back in the saddle of singledom and ready for the next chapter of my life. Walking away from Mr. Texas was the best decision I ever made and there’s no way in hell I’m sticking around, living with him, while on the hunt for a new apartment. His ex reached out validating every little thought that festered in my relationship—the man even prostituted himself to his roommate (ew) to avoid paying rent. The man was unemployed for the longest time and couldn’t figure why it took him so long to find another job in computers. Come to find out, Mr. Texas was fired from Microsoft for drinking on the job—shit like that always follows you.

    Not only is this man an alcoholic, but Mr. Texas obtains STDs on the regular. I was tested before separation and I’m in the clear. Thank you, baby Jesus! In a nutshell, I was about to marry a man I didn’t even fully know, and wouldn’t have been long before he actually cheated on me. For the record, if are in a monogamous relationship, sending pictures of your dick and commenting on photos, and sending private messages saying “I want you to cum down my throat” is still considered cheating.

    No ifs, and’s, or but’s about it.

    I moved out a week later leaving the apartment like he treated our one-sided relationship, messy. The hardest part about the break-up was leaving behind the 11-year-old pom/terrier mix with who we’ve mutually grown together—preferred me over him any day. And so, I have to ask, is it wrong to grieve and shed tears for a dog instead of the man itself? Is that pathetic? Possibly.

    Since I found myself asking around and trying to locate a decently priced 1 bedroom, my only option was to move back in my folks, three months max, to figure out my next step. Well, my next step came quicker than anticipated and dropping $950 dollars to a lesbian who is looking to rent out two rooms in her house. Of course, I took the bigger of the two rooms which happen to be painted red [Just call me Mr. Grey.] and will be moving occupying the said red room starting the 1st of September.

    What has me wide-eyed about the whole situation is I’m exactly where I was before Mr. Texas came into my life. Thirty, single, and renting out a room in a house from a much older gay man who was patiently waiting for his male order husband to arrive from the Philippines. My dumb-ass was certainly on a quest of severely need self-growth and fun, though Cupid had other plans.

    Now, was this karma and life working together (after giving me a shitty relationship) and handing me a do-over? If so, thank you. The lesson of Mr. Texas has taught me I need to know my self-worth before ever venturing into another relationship, which could take many years to get to. [Currently enrolled in the Greyson Plan. Something my good friend did successfully for himself.] In turn, opportunities, such as this column, aren’t being passed up, and figure the gay community, digitally, needs a good laugh after the 2020 COVID debacle. We live in a society where Grindr is a door dashed man-menu and monogamy is on the verge of extinction, which makes me an endangered species. [Plant my face on national geographic magazine and someone get a hold of Sally Struthers.]

    So, with all of that said, I plan to put myself out there again [staying unattached] and tell the truth about thirty-something life after love, the whole truth.

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    Understanding Depression

    Two days ago, my husband woke up feeling “blah.” Although most of you know what that means, I’ll be more than happy to share what you it’s true definition. You are disinterested in life in general and home life in particular. Some people call it the blues, others call it being down in the dumps. The outcome is the same. It all revolves around the word, “Depression.”

    I am prone to bouts of depression for various reasons that I don’t have to go into right now. My husband…the most happy-go-lucky man that I know was experiencing depression in its worst form. Its the kind of depression that you can’t do anything about. This type of depression comes in the form an invisible cloud that surrounds the person and sits there. I knew that I couldn’t pierce through the emotion that had settled over him. He sat on the couch watching show after show with little interest in anything else. I made his favorite dinner with dessert, cleaned up the kitchen so that he wouldn’t have to do it and most importantly, made myself available just in case he needed to talk to me. I also made sure to give him his space so that he wouldn’t feel as if I was smothering him.

    It’s a horrible feeling to see your spouse go through something that you don’t understand and can’t really help him with. I know depression. We’re very good friends unfortunately. But my depression is not the same as his. His depression came on unexpectedly, lasted for about a day and then lifted as if it never occurred.

    Dealing with your spouses depression can be difficult. You don’t know the cause and you may not know what to do. First and foremost, I had to give him his space. I had to go about my business and do what I would normally do around the house. I also had to make sure that I was available if he wanted to talk to me…and then I had to be prepared to listen.

    Sometimes, life gets in the way!

    I also realized that I had to dig a little bit deeper to find out how to deal with his depression should it return. I started with finding out the various causes for depression. Here is what I found:

    Common Causes for Depression (1):

    • Preexisting mental health condition
    • Serious illness
    • Sleep disorders
    • Substance abuse and/or addiction (either personally or within the family)
    • Trauma or grief
    • Painful major life experience
    • Gender (women are more than twice as likely as men to report symptoms of depression)
    • Social isolation
    • Low socioeconomic status
    • Medications (certain prescribed or over-the-counter drugs can increase the likelihood of developing depression)

    Behavioral Symptoms(1):

    • Isolation
    • Abandonment of friends
    • Loss of interest in issues or activities that were once of great importance
    • Unexplained absences from work
    • Out-of-character emotional outbursts
    • Discussing suicide or desire to disappear
    • Engagement in reckless and dangerous behaviors

    Physical symptoms(1):

    • Fatigue, lethargy, or sluggishness
    • Extreme boost in energy levels
    • Drastic change in sleep patterns (can be either insomnia or hypersomnia)
    • Changes in eating habits (either developing a voracious appetite or a loss of appetite)
    • Significant weight gain or weight loss (associated with changes in appetite)
    • Generalized physical problems (stomachaches, joint pain, headaches)

    Cognitive symptoms(1):

    • Trouble staying focused on tasks at hand
    • Difficulty solving problems or making decisions
    • Sense of constantly being distracted
    • Heightened irritability; quick to anger
    • Temperament changes

    Psychosocial symptoms(1):

    • Hopelessness and helplessness
    • Increased anger or irritability
    • Unexplained feelings of guilt
    • Self-hatred and/or intense self-criticism
    • Desire to isolate oneself
    • Persistent thoughts of death or suicide
    • Unexplainable feelings of panic, anxiety, and/or irritability

    Effects of Depression(1):

    • Thoughts of suicide
    • Suicide attempts
    • Exhaustion
    • Poor personal hygiene
    • Poor performance at work
    • Strained or destroyed personal relationships
    • Abuse of alcohol and other drugs
    • Financial difficulties (related to job problems and/or failure to focus, pay bills, etc.)
    • Risky, dangerous, or otherwise desperate behaviors
    • Sense of hopelessness, guilt, and self-hatred

    In my husband’s instance, for Behavioral Symptoms, he exhibited Isolation. For Physical Symptoms, He showed Fatigue, Sluggishness and Lethargy. All of this confirms that he was depressed. Most of us knows depression when we see it.

    We work through our bouts of depression by simply being there for one another. This method may or may not work for you. You have to determine first and foremost the cause for the depression and work from there. It isn’t easy. Making the determination of the manifestation of depression is just as hard as identifying the cause. For some, we may never know this.

    To find out more detailed information about depression, please click on the link below.

    ~ J.L. Whitehead

    (1) https://www.sierratucson.com

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    Are we ever too old to celebrate “Pride”

    Older Man Celebrating Pride

    Are you ever too old to celebrate Pride?

    In New Jersey, there are multiple locations celebrating Pride.  Some of the celebrations are big while others are small.  My husband and I were sitting in a diner yesterday enjoying a late brunch.  We had passed one of the many streets that were celebrating LGBTQ Pride and I could not help but notice that many of the celebration attendees were in their twenties and thirties.  While we were waiting for our food, I could not help but wonder, “Are we too old to celebrate Pride?”

    Pride Celebration in the Nineties

    Back in the Nineties, Pride represented a major celebration event that I thoroughly enjoyed.  But I was much younger then.  I would think nothing of hopping a train or driving up to New York, go to a club and dancing the night away; waking up the next day and going to the Pride parade.  Back then, I had the energy to dance all night long and then go out and do so more drinking in celebration of who I am and who I love.  I was also in better shape back then.  I thought nothing of taking off my tank top and running with the rest of the boys in my age range or younger.  Back then, it was a magical time.  We celebrated something that society tried to deny us for decades; and that was the celebration of our humanity.  For one day the entire LGBTQ community was able to be themselves with no fear of retribution.

    Pride Now

    As we sat in the diner waiting for our food, I thought, “Are we too old to celebrate Pride?”  And then it occurred to me that (2)“Bears” celebrate Pride just as much as the (1)“Twinks.”  It just appears that the celebration was for men in their twenties, thirties, and forties.  And while I would never think of running the streets without my shirt now, I agree with celebrations of my own with small “Pride” Parties at home surrounded by close friends and family. 

    My days of celebrating Pride in New York City are behind me.  They are memories that are cherished the same way that someone would cherish photo albums filled with pictures of family and friends.  I gladly leave the outdoor celebrations to the young while smiling wistfully as my food arrived at my table.

    Pride means many things to many people; and while countless people use this as another excuse to party, there are others who thoughtfully reflect on what this celebration means.  We have chosen to live and walk in the light.  Our flag has come to be a symbol of love and acceptance.  We no longer have to hide in the shadows of a society that did not seem to want us.  We can now celebrate out in the open.  Our community with all its idiosyncrasies and misconceptions can live freely…and this is something that should be celebrated by the young and the old.

    We celebrate by not only marching in “Pride” parades; we celebrate by holding hands in the street.  We celebrate by giving our partners the quick kiss “hello” or “goodbye” as we meet them or tell them goodbye.  We celebrate pride by holding our heads high because of who we are instead of hiding in the closet while we are at work.  The list goes on and on.

    Love is Love

    Are you too old for Pride?

    We are never too old to celebrate who we are.  This falls within the same realm as celebrating every demographic because of who and what they are.  We celebrate because maybe society has forgotten them.  We celebrate because we are husbands, wives, parents, doctors, lawyers, writers, actors, actresses, and activists.  We are more than people looking for a good party.  We care about our communities and will take the necessary steps to keep said communities safe.

    You are never too old to celebrate pride.  The way you celebrate may change but the reason why you rejoice never goes away.

    ~ J.L. Whitehead

    (1) Twink is gay slang for a young man in his late teens to early twenties whose traits may include: general physical attractiveness; a slim to average build; and a youthful appearance that may belie an older chronological age.

    (2) Bear: In gay culture, a bear is a larger and often hairier man who projects an image of rugged masculinity. However, in San Francisco during the 1970s, any hairy man of whatever shape was referred to as a ‘bear’ until the term was appropriated by larger men, and other words had to be used to describe hairy other-shaped men such as otter (slim), cub (young bear on the way), or wolf (hairy, medium build). The word ‘manatee’ describes a big, hairless man, i.e., a bear without hair.

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    For Trans People, where do we go from here?

    Being Trans should not be a crime

    It has been a while since I’ve written content for this platform.  I maintain two other blogs that deal with two different subject matters and it takes time to maintain them both.  Initially, I did not know what content to place on GBB…until today.

    Some would say that I am a happily married man living one form of the average gay man’s dream.  My husband and I share hopes, wishes, and dreams and we are continually working to make them become a reality.  We have no desire to join the “gay bar” scene, but I often wonder what it looks like now.

    It’s not the same now as it was then

    When I came out in 1979, I remember dancing until two o’clock in the morning and then going to an after-hours club and dancing until four.  Afterwards, my friends and I would go out to breakfast at any one of the all-night diners that peppered the “gayborhood.”  In the early eighties, we did not seem to be bothered with responsibilities outside of providing a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and food on the table.  I was too busy trying to find the perfect man only to find that he did not exist.  It was not until much later that I found the man that was as close to perfect as you could find.

    https://genderphotos.vice.com/
    Transgender Woman

    We have just emerged from one challenging period and I see ourselves going into another.  And while we can continue to go to clubs and dance until dawn, the rest of the world will continue to keep turning and politicians will continue to make decisions that will impact our lives.

    The question is what are we going to do now?  As a community, it is our responsibility to take in our own and watch out for one another.  When I say this, I automatically think of the Trans Community.  Trans People are more likely to be the victims of violent assault than lesbian and gay men.  One of the things that I think about is that we as a community ignore the plight of our Trans brothers and sisters.  We forget that it was not that long ago that gay men and women were the victims of assault, robbery and murder.

    1. Transgender people face frequent experiences of discrimination, violence, social and economic marginalization, and abuse across the lifespan. International efforts to track the murder of transgender people suggest that a transgender person is murdered at least once every three days. However, in the United States there is no formal data collection effort that can be used to describe the nature, frequency, or extent of transgender homicides.

    Transgender data

    Transgender People are three times more likely to be victims of attacks than gay men and women in our community

    Trans is not the same as drag

    2. The transgender community is not the same as drag queens.  Trans people do not identify as the sex that they were born with.  The problem comes with people that are offended with the choice that they made to be a man or a woman…and yet they seem to still have features that may be associated with the sex that they were initially born with.  Oftentimes, once they have been identified the reaction can be visceral.  And yet, I wonder what gives the right for someone to attack someone because they are personally offended by the choice that someone else made to identify as a member of the sex opposite what they were born when that choice has nothing to do with them?. And yet, we have the Equality Act that would help protect our community from any further acts of violence.2. On a federal level, the Equality Act would fill in the gaps of anti-discrimination protections not just for LGBTQ+ people, but also for people of color and women, according to a recent report by the Movement Advancement Project. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have previously pledged to address the epidemic of violence against trans women of color, with a promise to pass the Equality Act within the first 100 days of the presidency.

    The Equality Act

    Passed House (02/25/2021)

    Equality Act

    This bill prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system. Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation.

    The bill expands the definition of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide (1) exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; (2) goods, services, or programs; and (3) transportation services.

    The bill allows the Department of Justice to intervene in equal protection actions in federal court on account of sexual orientation or gender identity.

    The bill prohibits an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.

    It’s time we start paying attention to our community

    We do not talk enough about the trans community.  My hope is to create a conversation around a topic that is too important in part to the survival of our community.  We need to understand that simply because we are not the victims of the hate crimes that is disproportionately impacting the trans community, does not mean that it does not impact our community.

    The people dying in our streets while we dance the night away is still part of our community.  They deserve better from us.

    Otherwise, they will continue to die in our streets while we dance the night away.

    ~ J.L. Whitehead

    References:

    1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5551619/
    2. https://www.them.us/story/seven-trans-people-killed-two-months-2021
    3. www.rainn.org

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    It’s Time to F*cking Grow Up or Kiss My Engagement Goodbye

    It’s been a hot minute since my last post as I needed to work on bettering myself, and honestly, it was needed. But, taking that necessary time doesn’t stop there, it’s a continuous effort—if you’re single or not.

    Real talk, the one area I haven’t worked on and lost along the way is major self-esteem, trust, and overall being a happy guy—so much so, my bad relationship habits from previous relationships have bled into my current engagement, leaving the man I absolutely love on the edge of ending it all. Why? Because I’m stupid, that’s why. [Not my finest moment.] And let me tell you, alcohol only makes matters ten times worse—this includes having his daughter witness how much of an imbalanced person I am. Sometimes, I want to do what Gordan Ramsey did to the chef during an episode of Hell’s Kitchen and place two loaves of bread over my ears and out loud call myself an “idiot sandwich” repeatedly.

    In an evening, Will had expressed (more so a list) reasons why he’s on the edge and stressed out to the point that he doesn’t want to be around me.

    1. I bitch and nag about why he does do or doesn’t or just anything and everything.
    2. I’m never happy.
    3. I can never let go of things and drag them out.
    4. Trust is not my friend.
    5. I give him no space.
    6. Impatient.
    7. Constant validation.
    8. Clingy.
    9. Become rather violent when drinking. [That is hard to admit.]

    The list goes on, but the point was severely made, and don’t blame him for feeling this way. Who wants to have a partner of this caliber? Hell, I don’t even want me as a partner. Looking back on last year, my behavior mirrors the list. When did I become this person? How did I allow myself to exert such horrible spouse behavior?

    Understandably, people change over time, but not this drastically toxic. My demeanor and tone years prior used to be of the happy kind. So, I ask again, what happened?

    Fear.

    I’ve allowed fear to control my life. I’m constantly in fear of Will cheating on me, in fear I’m not good enough…no matter what fear clouds my mind, and like my partner has countlessly told me, “It’s getting old.”

    It is getting old, real fast.

    I’m tired of constantly worrying about things he’s never given a reason to. Prime example, comments on social media. I got so emotionally worked up over an innocent comment when logically I shouldn’t have. At the end of the day, we are together. It’s not like the guy he commented on is going to abruptly stop his life, board a plane, and try to start a life with him—that’s crazy talk. [I’ll cut a bitch just in case.] This is where I need to tell myself, “Trust him, he’s not the type who is going to allow it beyond the comment.” [Simple, right?] The time and energy used to bitch and cry could have prevented a fight.

    So, something’s got to change and it’s not going to be him, it has to be me. Otherwise, I might as well start packing my shit and shop for an apartment, because the man is not having it any longer. Writing has always assisted me in getting my dwelling thoughts out of my head and onto paper (even if it’s digital).

    We’re still in the new year, and it’s still plenty of time for me to leave behind my shitty behavior permanently, become a happier Allister, and fucking step up to the plate of not only being the spouse Will needs and deserves but also amazing step-parent to his kid. [Change is the New Black.] Cheesy as this sounds, if Carrie Bradshaw can manage to find love in New York City, I’m fucking sure as hell capable of achieveing this.

    Starting with cutting way the fuck back on the wine for a good while.

  • in

    Rape is Rape

    I was raped when I was 13.  I was too young to realize what was happening to me.  The man that assaulted me knew exactly what he was doing.  From the day we met, he had one purpose for me.  I have no idea how many other boys he assaulted.  I know that I was not his only victim.  This man assaulted a fifteen-year-old girl before we met.  I have no idea how many victims there were.

    Maybe I don’t want to know.

    My perpetrator picked me up after a school outing and took me to his home under the guise of calling me a cab to take me home.  Since it was getting dark, I went with him figuring that I would save time if I took the cab ride as opposed to taking the subway and then the half hour bus ride to get me home.  I remember being very tired after the day’s events with my classmates, so my abuser told me to go to his room and relax while he called the taxi.

    I woke up the next morning thinking that my room didn’t look right…and then I looked around me to see that I was still in his room.  He told me that the cab never came and then handed me a dollar for carfare to get me home.

    My mother was worried sick, but as I approached my home, I saw my estranged father standing behind her. I saw fury on my mother’s face and anger on my father’s.  I tried to explain what had happened but like most black parents of the seventies, the only thing that they knew was that I was disobedient and must be severely punished.  I was never asked where I was all night long.  And honestly, I don’t know what I would have told them if they were inclined to listen.

    Rape is not pretty.  Rape happens to women, girls, boys, and men.  We may have fancy words for it like pedophilia or sexual assault.  Rape is rape.  We know it when it happens to us.

    I knew all those years ago…I just couldn’t allow myself to say the words.  What my abuser did to me he went on to do it to other boys.  I wish I could tell you that this ended on a good note.

    It didn’t.

    I’m 59 years old now.  I didn’t start unpacking those feelings until I was 51.  I was fortunate to have a good husband who is an amazing listener.

    But before I met him, I acted out without knowing why.  I drank heavily at times…waking up in someone else’s home after a blackout binge drinking event.  I had indiscriminate sex until my mind screamed for me to stop.

    What I’ve come to find out is that sometimes our gay brothers can mistreat us to the point of soul breaking pain.

    But there’s hope.

    You don’t have to wait until you’re 51 or 59 to get help.

    First of all, understand that you were not at fault.

    Say it with me.

    You were not at fault.

    No matter how old you were when it happened.  It doesn’t matter if you willingly went home with your assailant.  It doesn’t matter if you had too much to drink.

    It is not…your…fault.

    If you’ve been the victim of sexual assault, please see the contact information for RAINN below.

    https:www.rainn.org

    J.L. Whitehead

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    Why have we forgotten the Trans Women Community?

    Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells

    Why have we forgotten the Trans Women Community?

    The year 2020 faces a grim statistic regarding the Trans community.  (1) In seven months, at least 28 Trans women have been murdered with little recognition by the media.  Why haven’t we heard more about the issue and challenges of this community?  It may start with the fact that they are misunderstood. All most of us see when we look at them is a man in a dress.  For most of us (even some of us within the gay community) the idea of understanding what they go through just to exist is something that does not cross the average person’s mind.  Many regard the Trans community as being the sub-culture of the LGBTQ community.  They are regarded with disdain if not downright disgust…especially among heterosexual men.

    The average man does not want nor do they desire to understand the Transgender community because they view it as something that is in direct conflict with who they are as men.

    Some of us regard their existence as being for entertainment value and then dismiss them when the show is over.

    Many trans women live dangerously; often relegated to the sex industry as a means of making money to survive.

    The stories behind their lives are filled with hurt, disappointment and rejection.  Their families do not provide the support and understanding that they need to survive.

    Some of them have taken to forming their own family within the gay community; hiding during the day and only coming out at night.  And it is at night that the horror begins.  The listing below is a listing of the 28 Trans women that have died this year:

     (2) Names of those murdered, or suspected of being murdered, compiled by NCTE:

    • Dustin Parker, McAlester, OK
    • Alexa Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico
    • Yampi Méndez Arocho, Moca, Puerto Rico
    • Monica Diamond, Charlotte, NC
    • Lexi, New York, NY
    • Johanna Metzger, Baltimore, MD
    • Penélope Díaz Ramírez, Bayamon, Puerto Rico
    • Layla Pelaez Sánchez, Puerto Rico
    • Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, Puerto Rico
    • Nina Pop, Sikeston, MO
    • Helle Jae O’Regan, San Antonio, TX
    • Tony McDade, Tallahassee, FL
    • Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, Philadelphia, PA
    • Riah Milton, Liberty Township, OH
    • Jayne Thompson, Mesa County, CO
    • Selena Reyes Hernandez, Chicago, IL
    • Brayla Stone, Sherwood, AR
    • Merci Mack, Dallas, TX
    • Shaki Peters, Amite City, LA
    • Bree “Nuk” Black, Pompano Beach, FL
    • Summer Taylor, Seattle, WA
    • Draya McCarty, Baton Rouge, LA
    • Tatiana Hall, Philadelphia, PA
    • Marilyn Cazares, Brawley, CA
    • Tiffany Harris, The Bronx, NY
    • Queasha D. Hardy, Baton Rouge, LA
    • Brian “Egypt” Powers, Akron, OH
    • Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears, Portland, OR
    HRC Mourns Queasha D Hardy, Black Trans Woman Killed in Louisiana

    Hardy’s death is believed to be the at least 25th violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year in the U.S.  She was fatally shot in Baton Rouge, LA.

    Johanna Metzger

    Johanna Metzger is believed to be the sixth transgender or gender non-conforming person violently killed this year in the U.S.

    Nina Pop

    Trans Woman Nina Pop Stabbed to Death in Missouri

    By highlighting just a few of the deaths of people that belong to the gay community, the hope is that a light is shone on their lives and how they are no less loved, no less cherished and deserve better treatment by our law officials.

    The police do not have a good relationship for most of the women that encompass the trans community largely because they are regarded as men that are breaking the law.

    Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells

    Figure 2Riah Milton of Liberty Township

    Two Black trans women have been reported dead this week. Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells of Philadelphia, PA and Riah Milton of Liberty Township, Ohio. #RestInPower #BlackLivesMatter #BlackTransLivesMatter

    Riah Milton

    Often, the women are dismissed not as women but as things that don’t have emotions or feelings because of when they come out, what they do to survive and the fact that most of them do not have insurance and as a result have to pay out of pocket for any hospital visits for injuries incurred during their time of existence.

    It is time for the lgbtq community to embrace the members that make up the Trans community because they are truly the forgotten; their deaths meaning nothing in the media.  Their value is in understanding that these people have lives that are led in ways that work for them. Their deaths deserve to have meaning.  Most times, their deaths are reported to the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) which are one of the few organizations that keep track of their deaths. But what if we all could embrace our sisters?  What if we could force ourselves to understand that their existence is connected to our very existence of all people?

    What if we could convince ourselves that it is time to care?

    ~J.L. Whitehead

    1. https://transequality.org/blog/murders-of-transgender-people-in-2020-surpasses-total-for-last-year-in-just-seven-months

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    When you fall in love with yourself

    When I initially heard of the concept of falling in love with yourself, I thought it was a fallacy…something that only existed in movies and books where the main characters have happy endings. For entertainment purposes, that was all fine and well, but it hardly suited real life.  It was easier for me to fall in love with someone else than it was to consider how I felt about myself.  Even though I was half of any personal relationship that I found myself in, I always considered the needs of the person that I was with.  How I felt in the realms of the relationship was secondary which made it easier for me to be at the mercy of the man that I was with.

    The first two relationships that I was a part of made those it easy for those men to manipulate me into being a man that I didn’t want to be.  The first relationship showed me that I had no desire to be involved in extra curricular as a norm.  I realized that my partner at the time wanted a reason to cheat when the opportunity presented itself.  How I felt about it didn’t matter.  I didn’t think about this until later…much later.

    My second partner’s ideals and principles seemed more simplistic at the time.  He wanted me to make him the center of my life.  And for a short period of time, we were happy.  He was happy being with me and I was more than okay with that…until he decided that he wanted something more; or rather he wanted someone new.  I had allowed him to systematically eliminate all my support systems; starting with my family and ending with the few friends that I had.  Once he had me where he wanted me, he took himself out of the equation.  He found man after man and with each one of them, excuse after excuse to keep me hanging on while he acted as if he were free.

    I was young…built and swollen in all the right places.  He knew what I was as well as what I was not.  And with what I was not came other boys that had everything that I didn’t.  He knew this and played the game well; but it wasn’t until I left him that I realized the toxicity of what he brought into my life.

    It is critical to anyone reading this editorial that if you believe that you are in either one of these scenarios, you may want to re-consider why you decided to stay with someone that didn’dt value you.  Even more importantly, why didn’t you consider yourself worthy of deserving more when someone treated you badly initially.

    I thought about this for an exceptionally long time after I came out of those toxic relationships. I would never go through anything like that again. 

    And I haven’t.

    This editorial however isn’t about me.  Its about you.  Do you drink too much, too frequently?  Do you wake up beside someone that you didn’t know after a night of drinking?  Are you moody throughout the day but the life of the party on either Friday or Saturday nights?

    And here is one more profoundly serious question you must ask yourself.  Why do you drink/drug and sex too much?  Think back to a part of yourself that you tried to forget.  Are there any memories that you have that are hazy or the chain of events that you struggle to forget but for some reason can’t?

    I pieced the data together slowly and deliberately.  I took a step back away from the bars and took the time to meet someone that I wanted to spend time with…not for an hour but a significant amount of time.

    I realized that it wasn’t until I fell in love with me and recognized my worth that I stopped taking the scraps of men that wanted to sleep with me; no matter how attractive they were.

    Falling in love with yourself is not that difficult. You must recognize when you’re being mistreated and take the necessary steps to remove yourself from the situation.

    Understand this…the man that is mistreating you isn’t going to change.  He will not get this sudden epiphany that he has someone special.  Why?  Honestly, I can’t answer that. You must know that you are special.  You must carry that with you every day for the rest of your life.  You deserve to be loved the way that you need to be loved. You are worth more than a lame excuse often served up when your significant other comes walking in at three in the morning.

    I am not saying this because it sounds good or that I have a degree in psychology.  I am telling you this because I lived each one of these scenarios.  I can attest to what a selfish man can do to you if you let him, regardless if the man is gay or straight.

    I’ve heard in circles that I travel in that loving yourself doesn’t require a tremendous amount of effort.  Sometimes, you have to tell yourself that no matter who the person that you fell in love with happens to be; it doesn’t matter how many apologies they give you after they beat you; your relationship should be the one place that provides you with peace and harmony.  It should be your shelter from the storms of life.

    Or at least it should be in theory.

    There isn’t a gay man alive that doesn’t know what the term daddy/mommy issues.  I played those schoolyard games at all every one of the elementary schools that I attended. I accepted the role of son to other school aged kids were the norm. It wasn’t until I got a little older and began to love who I was.  This may be difficult if you are beneath the age of consent. I get it.  I was young once.  I stumbled through my teen-age years all the while missing my father so desperately that I would have done anything to fill the void that he left behind.  And yet, this isn’t about me.  This is about you.

    You know who you are.

    ~ J.L. Whitehead

    RAINN

    Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network

    800-656-Hope (4673)

    https://www.rainn.org/

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    How to get through the era of COV-19 and keep your sanity

    COV-10

    We thought that we would have gotten through this epidemic by now.  We thought that wearing a mask would have passed by now.  It didn’t.  As I write this, there are (1) 2.74 Million confirmed cases of COV-19 in the United States.  844 K cases have recovered.  As of today, 130 K deaths have occurred in this country because of a virus that we do not know that much about.  Personally, I have been sporting a mask whenever I leave my home.  I do not go out that often but when I do, I always have a mask.  Right now, there are at least five masks in the back seat of my car.

    There is nothing wrong with wearing a mask despite the inconvenient factor that accompanies the idea of going to the store, market of pharmacy.  And right now, this is our life…like it or not.

    The hard part would be to get your entire family to wear a mask that is designed to protect others in addition to yourself.  Despite all of this, we as Americans are powering through this epidemic.  We are doing what we need to do to reduce the spread of COV-19.  And it truly is about not spreading it to others’, which includes social gatherings in bars, restaurants or in any venue that can house at least 10 people.

    This is about not spreading the virus that has claimed so many American lives.  We need to show who we are as the American People and put an end to spreading a disease that initially seems so simple.

    I had a medical procedure recently and I had to get tested for the virus.  My results came back negative and I was able to have the procedure.  But admittedly, I do not always cover my nose with the mask because it makes it difficult to breathe.  I try to catch my breath when I lift the mask off of my face for a moment just to breathe normally…and although I may be exposing myself (and others) to the possibility of becoming infected, I have to catch that breath before going into the store.

    So how can you get through this outbreak and keep your sanity?  Believe it or not, surround yourself with immediate family and enjoy the times that you share.  Obviously, if you can work from home, you do your work fairly and log on and off when you’re supposed to.

     You are probably already ordering from restaurants to support the workers and feed your family.  Go to the market and get groceries that will last you a few days so that you can plan your menu for your family.  Select days that you can cook for your family and enjoy the time that you have together.

    And here’s the most important thing…you now have the ability to do some of the things that you put off doing because you didn’t have the time to get them done.

    I have found more time to write.  I spend some time in prayer and I count my blessings.  I realize that some of you cannot work from home and you may be facing issues and circumstances that are larger than I can cover in this article.

    We are going through several epidemics in addition to the COV-19. We have racial unrest like we’ve never seen before.  White people may feel like they are under attack because people of color are protesting the murder of people of color by the police.  I assure you; it is not about that.  Fairness hopefully will come for everyone.  Hopefully, we will see the beauty in diversity in which everyone can have a place at the table.  Obviously, there will be some that will disagree with this and I do not have an answer for them.  Keeping things status quo will not help everyone.

    But what will work for us is wearing a mask when we go outdoors and when you are out, practice social distancing even if you are going to the store.

    As much as we may want to go to the gym, bar or restaurant, until they have a cure, err on the side of caution and don’t go to the event.

    Everything that I am saying I am sure you’ve heard before.  But it bears repeating.  Save yourself the headache and stay indoors.

    ~ J.L. Whitehead

    References:

    How to get through this era of COV-19 and keep your sanity1. https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=how+many+Americans+have+died+because+of+the+corona+virus%3F

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    What kind of people will we be at the end of this pandemic?

    Who will we be after this pandemic?

    I’ve seen so many commercials emanating what the essence of the American spirit looks like.  I’ve seen images of major company’s displaying their generosity to the American public by providing everything from much needed food to supplies to facial masks needed for the survival of the citizens of this country; which gives me pause as to who we are as well as what we hope to be once we come out of this global pandemic.

    Who will we be when we come out on the other side of this illness?  Will we have learned anything at all especially when it comes to the respect of life after a disease that has killed over 1) 106,000 people in this country alone: 370,000 souls worldwide?

    I am constantly reminded of our new normal in the news cycles, the commercials that we take in as well as the people that we see on the street.  Everyone has on a mask that they hope will protect them from the coronavirus.

    But I wonder if we’ve truly learned a much-needed lesson from all of this.  As front-line responders continue to put their lives on the line and fight for those of us that can’t, I am amazed, and I take my hat off to you.  My younger brother is a police officer in Delaware.  He along with many others continue to fight against crime and illness regardless of the provisions they have in place at the moment.

    Will we remember those that have fallen in the name of what is right and decent?  Will their lives continue to matter long after this pandemic is over even as their families continue to grieve their passing because of their unselfish sacrifice?

    Or will we go back to being a divided people?  I wonder if we are more comfortable hating one another for one reason manufactured in our imaginations because we need someone to blame for our misfortunes. Slowly but surely, the middle class is being erased much to the dismay of everyone around us.  The blame does not rest on everyone and everything with the exceptions of where the blame rightfully belongs.

    We have the choice to come out better and truly being our brother’s keeper because that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  It doesn’t matter how you make a difference as long as you do.  Every contribution is appreciated.  Every hour donated to help our neighbors who probably never thought they would need the type of assistance provided is one filled with gratitude.

    More importantly, (and no one is talking about this now) is that we are seeing the slow erosion of the middle class.  The middle class never thought for a moment that they would need the type of assistance that they are getting.  In the meantime, the wealthy don’t experience any of the hardships that the poor and middle class have had to endure.  No one is talking about that.

    So, who will we be after this pandemic?

    We argue, fight and agree to disagree; but we’ll always be at odds with one another. The reason for this difference is not because we don’t understand where we are as a people.  We understand where we are all too well.  One of the main problems with that that thought process is that we don’t believe it.

    There are two America’s that exist…not one.  There is an America for people of color, and there is an America for whites.  The moment we understand this, the better off we’ll be.  We’ll be able to address the issue of race in this country without the anger that is deeply hidden on both sides.

    We march because we’re tired of dying and no one doing anything about it.

    We need to come to grips with the fact that we have always been divided as a country.  The division didn’t just come about because of Donald Trump.  He is a symptom, not a cause. If you look at our history (and I hate to say this) but people of color have never been welcomed in this land unless we were to assume the role of being subservient to white people.  White people need to own how they feel.  They also need to own why because it’s that thought process that caused many people so much pain.

    However, whenever this topic is brought up, it’s often in an accusatory tone in which white people will react with the look that all people have come to know.  Anger runs deep when one race mistreats another.  But the reality is that white people need to own what has happened in the past so that we can move forward as a people.

    ‘There are two America’s that exist…not one.  There is an America for people of color, and there is an America for whites.  The moment we understand this, the better off we’ll be.  We’ll be able to address the issue of race in this country without the anger that is deeply hidden on both sides.” ~ J.L.Whitehead

    Part of the problem is that most white people are acutely aware of what has been done.  In their minds, two things are going on.  One is that they personally should not be held responsible for any mistreatment of people of color in the past because in their mind, they haven’t personally violated the rights of anyone.  The second is that even though the average white claims to not see color, you see it all the time.

    But who will we be once the corona virus scare is over?  Will white people respond with understanding or more hatred?  I’m not sure because the two America’s that I described is so deeply entrenched in our DNA and yet we don’t acknowledge or respond to it.

    We live under a flag that is supposed to cover all of us; but it doesn’t. 

    People of color should not have to hold rallies, marches or violent confrontations to show that they are Americans.  But when America is divided so that one group of people get the benefit of the doubt or presumed innocence before a guilty sentence is just as bad as someone who’s not guilty but is automatically deemed guilty before they’re taken into custody.

    We can choose to be what we say we are and stand up for what we believe.  We can come out of the corona virus epidemic by being a little bit kinder to strangers regardless of race in addition to the neighbors they know.

    We can be better…but it starts with believing and instituting that belief system in their everyday lives.  We can choose to embrace our differences like we did during the pandemic.  Or we can go back to hating one another.  The choice is yours.  What will you do?

    ~ J.L. Whitehead

    1. https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=how+many+americans+have+died+because+of+the+coronavirus%3F

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    What I would tell my abuser if I had the chance…

    What I would say to my molester

    I’ve had years to think about what happened to me as a child.  There were times when I wept about it, became angry about it, had questions about it and then became angry all over again.  I replay certain incidents as if I were watching a movie – minus the popcorn.

    I wondered what I would say to each of my abusers if I had the chance. 

    I ran into one of my molesters when I was in my late twenties.  He had come to my place of employment by accident.  I smiled and we chatted for a few minutes before he left saying that we should get together some time.  He spoke with the ease of someone that was meeting a longtime friend that he was asking out for coffee to get caught up instead of someone that had been having sex with underage boys. 

    I felt nothing about him.  I wasn’t angry or sad.  I knew that I would never see him again not because I hated him.  It was more centered around the fact that I viewed him as a part of my past never to be relived.  Maybe in his mind, we could pick up where we left off, but in mine it was a done deal.  What I noticed most of all in our brief interaction was that he couldn’t look me in the eye.  Not even once.  To me, he looked the same, but I couldn’t get a good look at him because he never looked me in the eye…not even once.  I knew even before he left my office why he couldn’t look me in the eye.  He saw himself in my reflection.  My eyes mirrored all the other boys that he molested over the years.  For all I knew, he may still be doing the same thing that altered the trajectory of whom I was to ultimately become.  Even then, in my latter part of my twenties, I knew that we were not friends.  We did not have a loving relationship like I had one time thought.  There was no trace of his protective fatherly behavior. I wouldn’t realize until I was in my early fifties what was going on during that time in the seventies.

    But I think about it now.  Would I have gotten good grades instead of barely passing?  Would I have excellent people skills instead of enduring what anyone had to throw at me?  Most of all, would I be confident instead of the guy that curled up inside of himself when he was challenged by anyone?

    I saw him but didn’t say anything.  I couldn’t because I still felt like I was a willing participant in my own abuse.  I knew that no one would be willing to listen to what I had to say even if I were willing to say it at that time. 

    But if I had the chance to say one thing to all three of my abusers it would be this: Why me?  What was it that you saw in me that made you think that asserting yourself on me sexually would somehow be okay?  Do you have any idea what you did to me?  Of course you couldn’t because for you, it was a one-time thing.  It was sex with a young boy.  That was it, pure and simple.  You were present in the moment.  How could you know that you were changing who I was to become?  How could you know that I would be ill equipped to deal with certain social situations?

    So what would I say to these men if I had the chance?

    To the first man, I would ask why me?  I thought that I was special.  You manipulated me until I thought that I was the one seducing you.  And when I left the school abruptly, you simply moved on to the next boy…a boy that I happened to know.

    To the second man, I felt and continue to feel nothing about what happened. As a child dealing with someone in administrative authority over me, I honestly felt like I didn’t have a choice.  If I could get through what you wanted to do to me, I would come out okay on the other side.  You were a short-termed teacher…a teacher that was supposed to protect me.  Instead, you homed in on me from the moment I came into your classroom.  You moved in on me like a true predator, making sure I sat next to you during any announcement in the auditorium.  You would call me in from recess to tutor me in reading.  And then finally, you seduced me in the faculty room.

    Scene of the crime

    To my last abuser, I would tell him that you hurt me the most…both physically, mentally and emotionally.  You took advantage of at least one boy that I know of and I realize now that you enjoyed sex with children.  It didn’t matter if your victims were male or female.  What happened with me was all about you.  There is no polite way to put it because what happened culminated in you raping me.  You had no idea that I would get in trouble with my family.  You didn’t know that my estranged father was at my house to greet me when I arrived, and he whipped me with his belt after a night of being sodomized.  And yet, I compacted all my emotions around this and chalked it up to something that happened and that I would never tell a soul.

    And with all of this, I still treated these incidents as isolated and dismissed them because to hold on to them would hurt me too much.

    No man wants to identify himself as a victim.

    Not one.

    What you need to know is that you will have to deal with whatever trials and tribulations that you have endured if someone took advantage of your innocence.  You can block it out or you can deal with it.  And dealing with it will take more than one attempt.  You may have to re-visit the incidents as many times is necessary to get it right in your mind.  It may include the assistance of a licensed professional.

    Whatever you decide, it’s going to be okay.

    Until we meet again, I wish you love and peace.

    ~ J.L. Whitehead

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    Living in the age of Corona Virus

    When will this virus go away?

    Jim was going to take his husband out dancing.  He wanted to go out to the clubs and experience what he thought he’d experienced when he was single…minus the flirting and possibly drinking to excess.  He wasn’t going to let a virus scare him into staying home.  He knew that the gay scene itself had changed due to his age but he didn’t care.  He was looking for the one night where he and his partner could go out and become enthralled with the music and dance until they worked up a sweat.  Maybe they would leave by 12:30 and be home by 1:00.  But in the back of his mind the thought of the corona virus set up shop.  And he wasn’t ready to conform to a life of being indoors permanently.

    The problem was evident.  How is the corona virus changing the landscape of America?  We know that the virus is here, and it seems right now like it’s here to stay.  Jim is HIV positive and isn’t sure how this virus will impact his life. He wasn’t sure if he should be doing the things that he enjoyed doing before the virus invaded America and subsequently, his life.  He wasn’t sure what to believe as the government or rather, the president came across the local airwaves and proceeded to give misinformation about the virus.  In the end, some people were confused and unsure of what to do.

    This did not stop people from making a mad dash to the market and clearing out the aisle that contained bread as well as the adjacent aisle that held paper products.  And as he picked up the few things that he needed, he wondered how his world will change.

    The scary part about all of this is that he has deliberately chosen to tune out the words of the president despite how somewhat presidential he sounds.  Instead, he pays attention to the health experts that he has surrounded himself with.  He’s finding that most of his family members and people that are in his social circle of doing the same thing.  He knows that there is no sense in panicking.  That will not accomplish anything because like it or not, the world is changing.  Instead, he sought some information that we are willing to share with you.  Some of it is common sense and others may be new to you.

    What is the coronavirus?

    Coronavirus is a family of viruses, some of which can infect people and animals, named for crownlike spikes on their surfaces.

    BACK TO QUESTIONS

    What is a novel coronavirus?

    A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2019 novel coronavirus is SARS-CoV-2, named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. It first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.

    BACK TO QUESTIONS

    What is COVID-19?

    COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a novel member of the coronavirus family — SARS-CoV-2 — that’s a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.

    There is still much to learn about the disease. Globally, about 3.4% of people infected with COVID-19 have died. At greater risk are people with chronic health conditions and the elderly. For perspective, flu cases currently dwarf the number of COVID-19 cases, although the death rate is less than .1%.

    BACK TO QUESTIONS

    What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

    Symptoms of COVID-19, caused by novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, include respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. In more severe cases, it can cause pneumonia and severe acute respiratory syndrome.

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    How can I prevent getting the new coronavirus?

    The World Health Organization has the following recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses, including the new coronavirus:

    • Frequently clean your hands by using an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
    • When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue. Then throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands.
    • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough.
    • If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share your travel history with your healthcare provider.
    • Avoid the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products. Handle raw meat, milk, and animal organs with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, per good food safety practices.

    BACK TO QUESTIONS

    Should I wear a mask?

    If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with a suspected COVID-19 infection, according to the World Health Organization. If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, you should wear a mask to protect others and seek medical care.

    The WHO states that a medical mask is not required if you are healthy, as no evidence is available on its usefulness to protect non-sick persons. However, masks might be worn in some countries according to local cultural habits. If masks are used, best practices should be followed on how to wear, remove, and dispose of them and on hand hygiene action after removal.

    Can antibiotics prevent and treat the new coronavirus?

    Like the common cold, there is no specific antibiotic or medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. But people infected should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive medical care, which may include antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.

    BACK TO QUESTIONS

    How did the new coronavirus start?

    The National Health Commission in China informed the WHO on Jan. 11 that the new coronavirus outbreak is linked with exposure to a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan. Coronaviruses are common in people and many species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rarely, animal coronaviruses infect people and then spread person-to-person, such as with MERSSARS, and this new coronavirus. All three of these viruses are betacoronaviruses, which have their origins in bats.

    BACK TO QUESTIONS

    How are governments trying to control the spread of the virus?

    The Chinese government has taken extraordinary measures to control the spread of the new coronavirus, both within the country and across borders. Wuhan and many other cities are in lockdown, affecting over 51 million people. The government has suspended transportation and launched a massive program to ramp up the number of hospital beds.

    The World Health Organization has also been working with the Chinese government and others to track the spread of the disease and advise health authorities. Many airlines have stopped flying to China, and in countries where cases have been identified, people infected are being isolated for treatment and monitoring.

    As countries and communities respond to the virus by closing schools and places of work and imposing quarantines, along with people limiting public interaction, it is children and the very poor who will be greatly impacted.  Any loss of work for people who survive on minimal earnings will have a devastating impact on household incomes where people survive from day to day.  The price of food and goods is also likely to rise as shortages emerge and people begin to hoard supplies. The very poorest won’t be able to stock up in the same way, and the loss of earnings will make it very hard for them to feed their children.

    BACK TO QUESTIONS

    What is the difference between an outbreak, epidemic, and pandemic?

    When even one case of COVID-19 is diagnosed in a new location and determined to be locally transmitted, it is an outbreak. When it spreads rapidly to many people, that is an epidemic. A pandemic occurs when it spreads globally.

    According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic can occur when three conditions have been met:

    1. A disease emerges which is new to the population.
    2. The virus infects humans, causing serious illness.
    3. The virus spreads easily and sustainably among humans. Most people will not have immunity to the virus.

    The WHO is extremely careful about when to declare a pandemic. It seeks to avoid creating panic that a declaration can bring. However, a declaration can also spur countries and individuals into action to do more to prevent the spread of the virus.

    Viruses that have caused past pandemics typically originated from animal influenza viruses. The 2009 swine flu pandemic is thought to have killed hundreds of thousands of people.  With no vaccine currently available, containing the spread of COVID-19 is vital.

    Although the seasonal flu can spread globally, the mortality rate is typically much lower and a much larger number of people have immunity.

    BACK TO QUESTIONS

    How is World Vision responding to the coronavirus-caused disease pandemic around the world?

    World Vision teams worldwide, and particularly across Asia, are doing all they can to keep children, families, and their communities safe. In China, World Vision aims to support nearly 1.3 million people at an estimated cost of $4.7 million. World Vision will not only respond to the rapid increase in the emergent needs for protective and hygiene items, but also to the needs for psychosocial support and future preparedness.

    “Time is of the essence,” says John Teng, the national director for World Vision in China. “… China faces one of the biggest crises it has seen in recent history.”

    World Vision is working in collaboration with local authorities, hospitals, academic institutions, and other humanitarian organizations, prioritizing the response to the needs of children, their families, and their communities, as well as local health workers.

    “With many cities on lockdown and livelihoods affected in many situations, it’s critical to ensure that people have the resources and knowledge to be able to care for themselves and their families, especially as children are vulnerable in such situations,” John says.

    Our response includes providing face masks to communities and health workers, distributing hand sanitizers and other personal hygiene items, and supporting efforts by local health authorities, schools, and local partners to communicate stay-safe health messages.

    World Vision staff member Che Zifa helped distribute surgical masks to a rural community in Honghe County on Feb. 3. Honghe County is located more than 700 miles southwest of Wuhan, China, epicenter of the pandemic. “Although we all wore masks, we still felt nervous,” Che says.

    World Vision is also working on a global preparedness plan with all its offices.

    BACK TO QUESTIONS

    How is World Vision responding in the U.S.?

    World Vision warehouses in Washington state, New York City, Chicago, Texas, West Virginia, and Connecticut are stocking up on items that its partner network of churches, schools, community- and other faith-based organizations can use to prevent infections. These supplies include liquid and bar soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, face masks, and disposable bed sheets. We are also collecting emergency protective supplies for immediate distribution to over 900,000 children, school staff, and parents. Staff members also are working on procuring additional supplies for which the demand is highest, such as disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. 

    Sara Goble teaches first grade at Reed Elementary. She’s shopping at World Vision’s Teacher Resource Center in Fife, Washington, to pick up school and cleaning supplies. Teachers at schools where a high percentage of students are on free or reduced lunch can visit twice a year and pick up free school and cleaning supplies. “I would be buying all of this on my own if I didn’t have World Vision,” she says. Sara says that having the sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer available is especially important with the new coronavirus much on everyone’s minds. “It’s been very stressful,” Sara says.

    Carol Santos-Warner teaches at Midland Elementary in Franklin Pierce. She brought her 8-year-old daughter, Jahana, with her to World Vision’s Teacher Resource Center. Jahana helps her mom pick up school supplies, including much needed sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer. “The sanitizing wipes are gold right now,” Carol says. “The kids I work with [with special needs] are more vulnerable because of the virus and the pandemic.” Carol has been coming to the Teacher Resource Center twice a year for four years now.

    Hygeia Suarez teaches English Language Learning at Four Heroes Elementary in the Clover Park school district. She’s visiting World Vision’s Teacher Resource Center to pick up cleaning and school supplies. The cleaning supplies — including hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes — are especially critical now amid concerns over the spread of the new coronavirus.

    Editor’s note:  I did not come up with the statistics for this article.  The statistics written belong to Heather Klinger and Kathryn Reid of World Visions staff in the US.

    1.     https://www.worldvision.org/disaster-relief-news-stories/what-is-coronavirus-facts

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    Domestic Violence in Gay Relationships…my story

    Home – The Hotline®

    Domestic Violence in Gay Relationships

    Twenty-nine years ago, I wound up in the emergency room of a local hospital with a busted lip and severe lacerations on the vermillion portions of the mouth.  I couldn’t believe that I was here.  Even more so, I couldn’t believe how I got here.  This would be one of the last times that we would be together as a couple.

    I had no idea that my partner was as manipulative as he was.  I knew that he was guilty of infidelity.  I knew that he had narcissistic tendencies, however, I had no idea how bad they were.  I remember going to a friend’s home in Upper Darby.  Fresh snow had fallen to the ground and I remember wearing a brand-new trench coat.  The party had a mixture of straight and gay people and one of the women was a friend of the host of the event.  She had on booties to protect her feet from getting wet, and I offered to take them off for her.  My boyfriend had struck up a conversation with the young lady and he said something to the effect that “He (meaning me) is lucky to have me.”  She responded by saying, “I think that you two are lucky to have each other.”

    We left the party shortly thereafter and I knew that something was wrong, but I didn’t know what.  The problem was the young lady.  He had wanted her to respond to him by agreeing that I was lucky to have him.  She didn’t do that.  And for my boyfriend, he needed to be the sexiest person in the room.  Moreover, he needed her to acknowledge that he was indeed the most beautiful man in the room…and she didn’t.  His anger grew when she didn’t make that acknowledgement.  And as we made our way to El train station, his anger culminated with him taking a swing at me and tearing my brand-new trench coat. In that moment, he never told me what was wrong.  More importantly, he never told me what I did.

    There was no apology…only dead silence as we walked through the slush of the snow to the train station.  It was almost as if he didn’t know or want to acknowledge what he had done.  He had no remorse and I know that no apology would be forthcoming.

    This brings me to the emergency room at the hospital.  That night, he wanted to fight.  He needed a reason to hit me.  And the moment when he did, I realized that what was whispered about him within the black gay community was true.  He was an abuser.  When he loved you, he loved you…until he didn’t.  And when he didn’t, your relationship with him became tumultuous.  Suddenly, everything that was wrong in the relationship was your fault.  He would accuse you of doing the very thing that he was doing.

    I knew that he had multiple affairs because he never felt the need to hide them.  In his mind, he wasn’t doing anything wrong.  I know now that he was narcissistic.  Everything was about him.  In retrospect, had he loved me?  At one time, I believe he did.  But not now.

    What was worse about the abuse in this relationship is not the abuse itself.  What was worse is the impact that it had on my family.  In their eyes, I was letting a man control me.  The abuse was evident, and they couldn’t understand how I could love someone like that.  I couldn’t understand it because I really loved him.  But I had systematically allowed him to alienate friends and family.  I had allowed myself to be manipulated and this man had become my whole world.

    This is part of what happens to abuse victims.  I never thought that I would identify as being a victim of domestic abuse.  But hindsight being what it is, I know that I was young and impressionable.  I had heard about the abuse but didn’t believe it.  But simply because I didn’t believe it doesn’t mean that it didn’t exist.

    Domestic abuse is more common than we care to realize.  In my particular instance it happened with warning, but I didn’t want to listen to it.  I knew that he was dishonest, but I also thought that he had redeemable qualities that would make me overlook his shortcomings…that was until he hit me.

    And then it was over.  He tried to rectify the situation without effort…almost as if by bringing me back into his life that would nullify the emotional damage that he had inflicted.

    1. 43.8% of lesbian women and 61.1% of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime, as opposed to 35% of heterosexual women.
    2. 26% of gay men and 37.3% of bisexual men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, in comparison to 29% of heterosexual men.
    3. In a study of male same sex relationships, only 26% of men called the police for assistance after experiencing near-lethal violence.
    4. In 2012, fewer than 5% of LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner violence sought orders of protection.
    5. Transgender victims are more likely to experience intimate partner violence in public, compared to those who do not identify as transgender.
    6. Bisexual victims are more likely to experience sexual violence, compared to people who do not identify as bisexual.
    7. LGBTQ Black/African American victims are more likely to experience physical intimate partner violence, compared to those who do not identify as Black/African American.
    8. LGBTQ white victims are more likely to experience sexual violence, compared to those who do not identify as white.
    9. LGBTQ victims on public assistance are more likely to experience intimate partner violence compared to those who are not on public assistance.

    The experience with my ex was the end of my being a victim.  There would be no more tears or erratic behaviors.  There would be no more wondering if he was sleeping with someone else.  It wouldn’t matter.  Domestic abuse within the LGBTQ is more common than we care to acknowledge.  I am living proof that this is true.  I was in love with an abuser who felt nothing at the time of his abusive behaviors.  I know that there are millions of men like me.  It doesn’t matter if you fought your abuser back or not.  You are not alone.  That is probably the most important thing that you need to know.

    • You do not have to wait until your partner strikes you to experience domestic abuse.
    • Domestic abuse can come in the form of verbal abuse.
    • Verbal abuse can include your partner threatening to out you to your family or your job.
    • You do not have to remain in a volatile situation.  There is help.

    800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224

    ~J.L. Whitehead

    References:

    https://ncadv.org/blog/posts/domestic-violence-and-the-lgbtq-community

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    Healing broken relationships

    Sexual Abuse & Assault of Boys & Men | Confidential Support for Men

    As a survivor of abuse, one of the things I find myself asking God is “How do you forgive the unforgivable?”  I don’t mean forgiving my abuser but in some scenarios that may be the more appropriate question to ask.

    By unforgivable, I mean finding forgiveness in your heart for the person that was supposed to protect you from the harm that was done when someone violated your trust.  I don’t blame my mother for anything that happened to me despite the fact that she was my primary care-giver while I was growing up.

    I blame my father.  I blame him because he decided to love, shelter and protect his girlfriend and her three daughters that were not his biological children.  To anyone who knew me when I was thirteen, it was obvious that I missed my father’s presence.  I know now that his presence would have been detrimental to my well-being.  My father wasn’t fatherly.  He had no idea how to be a father…but I missed him anyway.  Or rather, I miss the thought or idea of him.  But had he been there, I would not have had the need to seek guidance and friendship from any other adult.

    But how do you heal a relationship that’s fractured. How do you make room in your heart for forgiveness when your heart is broken?

    The funny thing about forgiveness is that first and foremost, it is a selfish emotion.  Forgiveness is for you…not the person that needs your forgiveness?  Think about that for a moment.

    Forgiveness is for you, not the other person that needs your forgiveness.

    You can carry anger around with you because of what the offender has done.  And the more traumatic the offense, the deeper the anger.

    Broken Hearts can mend…it just takes time.

    But the simple truth of the matter is that you are in charged of your own healing.  You can decide to be angry with what was done for the rest of your life, or you can let it go in your own time.

    I know that I make forgiveness sound easy.  It isn’t.

    And some people don’t make it.  They will stay angry for the rest of their lives and as a result miss out on so many opportunities to have true joy.  They may continue to indulge in behavior believing that this will be a good way to get back at the individual who hurt them only to realize that what they’ve done hurts only themselves.

    I remember going out with my then girlfriend, drinking too much and being reduced to tears, crying on her shoulder because the thirteen-year-old boy inside of me never healed.

    I talk about this at length to other abuse survivors because it is so important to learn how to forgive.  It bears repeating that forgiveness isn’t for the offender; it’s for you.

    Forgiveness is for anyone that has suffered at the hands of an abuser.  A rape or battered victim may have more of a difficult time forgiving their abuser.

    The last time I saw my father was two year ago.  My younger brother and I decided to drive up to North Jersey and visit him.  At the time, I had no idea that this would be my last time seeing him.  My father passed a little more than a year ago…and I never received an answer from him regarding why he chose another woman and her children to shelter while his blood family suffered.  Unfortunately, he took those answers with him to his grave which forced me to forgive him.

    I forgave him because I loved him.  I forgave him because there is too much of him in me to deny.  I forgave him because it made it easier for me to embrace the wonderful things that have happened to me since the molestation that occurred.

    My relationship with him had been fractured but I survived that as well.  I can enjoy my home, family, friends and wonderful spouse.

    But the road to where I am now wasn’t easy.  I’m not going to suggest that it is to any of you.  But the reward in forgiving someone is far greater for you than for them.

    1in6 is an organization that assists men and boys that have been the victim of physical and sexual abuse.  

    So how do you heal a broken relationship?  Forgiveness is a start.  And for many of us, it would be a great start.

    ~ J.L. Whitehead

    RAINN: 800-656-4673

  • in ,

    Who are we?

    Who have we become?  I keep asking myself this question repeatedly.  Who are we as a people?  What do we stand for?  That question revolves through my mind daily.  Things that don’t make sense are becoming a reality that is not welcomed.

    I never thought that I would see the day when we would have an avowed racist in the White House.  Nor did I ever see the day when millions of people would follow him almost as if he were a cult leader.  It has become increasingly difficult for me to turn on the news at any given time without hearing something that Trump has either said, done or had people do on his behalf. 

    My heart breaks for the men, women and children that are still locked up in cages along our border.  It upsets me that millions of people think that this is okay because this is just a result of “their” president keeping one of his many promises.

    But I keep coming back to my original question.  Who are we and what have we become?  What do we stand for?  Do we really stand for the end of the American democracy and the rule of law as we know it?  The very thought makes my head spin because what I am seeing before me…what we all are seeing before our very eyes is a man who is hell bent on getting rid of our democracy and replacing it with autocratic behavior.  He has made himself judge, jury and executioner and no one will stand up to him.

    But who are we?  Have we really fallen into the depths of devaluing our fellow human beings in the guise of keeping America safe?  Has compassion given way to greed?  After all, many people say quietly to themselves that they long for the “good ole days.”  They say this not realizing or caring that the “good ole days” were only good for white people.  The good ole days were identified as being dominated by white people in general and white men in particular. But the good ole days were only good for a few at the expense of others.

    White people in general are up in arms about too many brown people coming to this country.  Indeed, the president has made the proclamation that our country is full and is turning away people that are fleeing their own country.  He sees the black and browning of our country and is doing everything that he can to stop it.  To some, this is a good thing because it comes at a time when “white” America believes that they are under siege.  They see equality as oppression not realizing that you will not be any less white because someone of color moves into the house next door.  Your children will not be any less white if they play and associate with children of color.

    Diversity

    It is time for the foolishness to stop because white people must learn that they are living in a fallacy that never was.  Pride in your heritage is okay.  Being Italian, Irish, Dutch or German is perfectly fine.  Being white has been the reason why many people have died in this country.  Crosses have been burned on the lawns of many persons of color because of whiteness.  Men, women and children have died because of whiteness.  And now, today whiteness is the cause of people being locked in cages under insufferable conditions.  Women have been raped and children have been separated from their families due to policies administered by white people.

    And I am personally tired of white people telling people of color that if things are so horrible here, go back to where you came from.  They say this not realizing that where I come from is Newark, New Jersey…that last I heard was one of fifty states in this country.

    With all that being said, maybe the election of Donald Trump really is a sign of who we are as a people because Donald Trump has ripped the bandage off a nation that carefully hid their racism.  When it became politically incorrect to be an outward racist, racism went into hiding and no one talked about it even though it was in the minds of white America across the country.

    We still cling to racist policies that keep white people in power…and today, some white people are not willing to give up that power.  The power is in repression and ignorance.  We see it every day in the things that the president does and says…and he does it for no other reason than because he can.  He doesn’t adhere to the norms of our democracy or constitution the way that past presidents have done.  He never did and probably never will.  And yet, his name is still spoken in hushed tones among members of his party.  Some like him, many loathe him and some downright hate him.

    But he while he’s in office, they are getting what they want from him administratively if not politically.  They walk lock step with him because deep down, they are afraid of the ostracism they would experience if they were to speak truth to power.  They will defend their right to the power that they hold because they know that if they separate themselves from Trump, they will lose everything including their livelihood.

    So, at least for the moment, we have a president who will do as he wishes when he wishes.  He will weaponize the DOJ to do his bidding.  Ideologies and policies that we would have never thought to be considered normal are now being normalized…which some can say is the slow dismantling of democracy as we know it to be.

    Do not be surprised of Donald Trump thinks of a way where he can remain in office and thus in power forever.  As ominous as that sounds, please understand that if we don’t stop the bickering and fighting between the two parties; if we don’t stand for something in addition to making Trump a one term president, our nation will be pitched in to more chaos that we can imagine.

    So, I come back to my original question: who are we and what do we want to be?

    ~ J.L. Whitehead

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    The Aftermath of Pain

    After writing “Groomed” I took a long hard look at my life.  You know they say that hindsight is always 20/20.  I know that what happened to me was awful.  It was awful in the sense that the adult men that took away the innocence of my youth had no regard for my mental well-being.  There were three perpetrators that for one reason or another decided that a thirteen year old boy could willfully consent to having sex with them.

    The tactics that they used on me are no different than the tactics used by millions of perpetrators throughout the country.  And these facts culminate to manipulation in the guise of consent to outright rape.

    Throughout my life, I sought to find solace; first in a companion, then in alcohol, then in drugs and then finally in myself.

    I never allowed myself to heal; and in order to heal, I had to face what happened to me.  It was in dealing with that issue first that the healing would begin.

    I used to deal with bouts of sadness.  It would come out of the blue and it would take root almost as if it were a tangible thing occupying the same space as me.  I would become acutely aware of my loneliness and so I would look for happiness in any space that I could find it.  When I was younger, I hit the clubs hard looking for someone that would fill that empty spot inside of me.  The spot was something that existed ever since those three men took from me something that had extreme value.  Maybe they didn’t realize it or maybe they didn’t care.  Maybe it was a combination of the two.  It doesn’t really matter because the outcome is the same.  I lost self-confidence as well as my sense of self-worth. 

    But like most men, I had no idea what was taken.  I didn’t even know that it was gone.  I only knew the empty spot that was left behind.

    It is in this that I created the Safe House.  I needed a spot to not only look at my life in retrospect; I needed a place to apply a balm to my soul that would help me to heal completely because it is in that healing that I can help others.

    In my early twenties, I would drink to excess.  Even when I had a partner, I found solace in drinking to the point of black outs without knowing why.  I look back at that period and I now understand that the drinking was symptomatic of filling an invisible hole that my subconscious knew existed, but my active mind did not.

    Emotional pain is awful.  It rears its ugly head at the most inopportune times.  I would drink to excess and then be reduced to tears mumbling incoherently between sobs on a tear stained face exhibiting pain that others around me would dismiss as having too much to drink.  And indeed, they may have been correct in doing so.

    But it still left me trying to fill a void that remained vacant until the next time I drank too much.  Normally, I wouldn’t say this out loud.  But in order to heal, I had to say this to myself and to my readers.  I had to admit where I was so that I can be a better version of myself.

    I gave a copy of my book to one of the managers at my office.  It happened by accident.  Originally, I wanted to talk to him about my career path within the organization.  I had made mention that I was a writer…that I had published three books.  He asked me about my work and I told him about my latest work.  He asked if he could read it; and I froze for a moment.  I had no idea what he would think of me once he read my work.

    What if he thought less of me because of something that he read?  And then I thought that this would be no different than his picking up my work in Barnes and Noble.

    Still, this is part of the healing process because it is in my acknowledgement of my mistakes that I can first and foremost forgive myself.  I can let go of the guilt that sat on my chest for decades.  I’ve been walking in my truth for quite some time now.  I am learning how to take the good with the bad.  I will come across people that have hurt as well as people that have hurt me.

    Here is what I will say to you:

    Own your truth…all of it.  Remember that no one hasn’t made mistakes.  No one can hold a mistake over your head if you admit to and own it first.  It will be hard.  It will be difficult.  But you are strong enough to do it, because it is a part of the healing process.

    ~ J.L. Whitehead

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    Damaged Goods

    I’ve heard that abuse, whether it be sexual, verbal, emotional or physical, never goes away.  It may get better over time, but the effects can resurface at a moment’s notice.  It’s never the way that it’s depicted in television shows or made for cable TV movies.  In those series, the topic is almost always wrapped up in a completely neat package and the person suffering the abuse gets the help that he or she needs and then they are courted off to the arms of loving parents or guardians, never to be heard from again.

    The hurt that a person receives at the hands of someone else never goes away.  Sometimes it gets buried deep down within an individual; so deep that it appears that the person never suffered any form of abuse at all.  Sometimes it lies just beneath the surface where anything or anyone can trigger memories reducing the survivor to tears with no obvious reasons as to why.

    But we survivors know what it means.  We know more than anyone that the pain of CSA (Child Sexual Abuse) is just as bad if not worse than the actual abuse.  Because it isn’t the physical act of the abuse that’s most harmful; it’s the aftermath.

    We survivors look at ourselves as damaged goods.  We see ourselves as broken and we need to be repaired but don’t know where to go to fix the very thing that’s been taken from us.  We don’t know why certain smells trigger us to cringe.  We don’t know why certain songs we hear elicit a visceral response.  Or maybe we know why but don’t want to face what happened when we first smelled the scent or heard the song.

    I’ve learned that for years I thought that I was damaged goods.  At one time, I thought that I was shattered beyond repair. But I didn’t have to remain there.  Fighting the effects of abuse is one of the hardest things that we as a people can do because unlike a Lifetime Movie, real life does not always have a happy ending where the subject is tied up in a nice, neat little bow and served with a scoop of ice cream with a cherry on top.

    Most times it’s a struggle.  You may feel worthless when you have nothing to feel worthless about.  Sometimes, seeing a sad scene in a movie can and (often times will) illicit extreme sorrow.  As men, we will hide that sorrow until we believe that we are in a safe spot to let those tears flow.

    Evaluating self-worth may become UN-naturally time consuming.  You will look at scenarios and relationships and wonder where you went wrong.  You will assume blame where there is no blame to assume.

    I know firsthand because it happened to me.  But here’s the thing…I found moments of clarity and instead of letting them pass, I built upon them.  You keep building and believing until it becomes second nature.  Eventually, you find the remnants of a self that you remembered from long ago. 

    Eventually, I found love in a man that helped me see beyond my flaws.  Eventually, I was able to see myself through his lens as opposed to the fractured lens of my own.

    I still have bouts of depression.  I still think about what happened to me when I was thirteen.  The difference is that it isn’t as often as I used to.  I think that somewhere along the line, I fell in love with myself.  I started seeing the good in me.  And more importantly, I started to believe in the good that I was seeing.  And when you believe the good in you, the more you can share that goodness.

    You never forget what was done to you, but instead of hiding in shame, what was done becomes something that lifts you up and not tear you down.

    ~ J L Whitehead

  • in

    As a black gay man, my thoughts on Mayor Pete

    Mayor Pete Buttigieg

    I like Mayor Pete.  He speaks well.  He carries himself with the air of an educated man who has served his country with pride.  He served with the blissful ignorance of not knowing that the very country he served could have cared less about his dreams and struggles as a gay man.  I don’t know Mayor Pete personally, but I know enough of him to be proud that if elected to be President of the United States, he will be the first person of the LGBTQ community to do so.


    It is this community that binds us.  We are wrapped in the same pain that every man who belongs to this community shares.  At one time or another, we shared the same triumphs and pitfalls that every man and woman who holds his or her head up and announces to the world who they are without wincing in shame.


    Mayor Pete was well into his thirties by the time he realized who he was.  I don’t know what his journey to his true self entailed.  I don’t know how many tears he shed at night before coming to terms with the fact that he identifies as a homosexual.

    We are cut from the same cloth.  But while I acknowledge willfully that I am looking forward to seeing how his potential candidacy will play out, I wonder what his nomination will mean for me personally.” ~ J.L. Whitehead


    I shed those same tears.

    Mayor Pete

    I came out of the closet in 1979; the year that I graduated from high school.  I was in awe of a world that I had hoped would embrace me.  My world became a whirlwind of disco music, socializing and late nights at the local diner. It also included writing for Philadelphia’s local gay publication, “Philadelphia Gay News.”  I found out very quickly that I was not welcome in all circles of the gay community. 

    I found out that the same group of people that welcomed me also rejected me.  I found out that some aspects of the gay community shunned Black and Latino gays by implementing questionable carding practices to keep their patronage white.  I found out that youth was not always the sign of beauty; unless that youth was white.  I became acutely aware that racism had nestled itself quietly within a community that I thought I belonged to.  Ads that ran in local gay publications for men seeking potential partners were often followed by the descriptive, “No Fats, no Blacks, no Fems.”


    And yet, this is where Mayor Pete and I come from.  So, I wonder if he is capable of seeing me; a part of his community that needs to be represented just as much if not more than the white gay community.  I am curious if he can represent me as my voice (and people like me) will be raised in the hopes of his becoming our nominee for the presidency.

    We are cut from the same cloth.  But while I acknowledge willfully that I am looking forward to seeing how his potential candidacy will play out, I wonder what his nomination will mean for me personally.

    And while I raise my voice for him, I silently wonder if he can represent a portion of my community that has always been pushed aside.  My mind wanders to the plight of trans women of color.  I can’t help but wonder if he can truly see the “us” that makes up the gay community of color.


    I didn’t know that racism existed in the gay community.  I found out very quickly that it did.  It wasn’t just because of the carding practices at some of the white clubs.  It wasn’t that at one time, the newspapers that circulated in the gay community relegated the issues and concerns of the gay community of color to a side note; a blurb buried in the middle of its publication never to be seen or addressed at all.

    Pridefest

    We are tolerated.  But we have not been fully embraced.  I don’t know what Mayor Pete’s stance is on issues that pertain to communities of color.  I don’t know if he will properly represent me as well as people that look like me.  I’m not sure of this at all.  I also don’t know if Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders will represent me either.  After all, the African American community has grown accustomed to our issues as well as what matters to us being pushed aside.  We are used to our needs and wants being dismissed as casually as someone would swat away bothersome fly on a hot summer day.


    Will he gain the support of the African American community?  Will he talk to us and address our needs and wants?  Or would his support of the very community that he comes from condemn his elect-ability? 


    I’m not sure.  Only time will tell.

    ~J.L. Whitehead

  • in

    Emma Bunton announces Christmas Party!

    Spice Girl Emma Bunton has announced a special Christmas Party at the Royal Album Hall.

    Fresh from the Spice Girls’ reunion tour, the singer is going it alone and bringing Christmas home with style.

    The gig will take place on December 6th and will see Baby Spice celebrate Christmas with a special show full of her own material and all her favourite Christmas songs too.

    Special guests have been teased but have not yet been confirmed.

    Emma Bunton Christmas Party (Copyright: @EmmaBunton twitter)

    Earlier this year Bunton released her latest solo album ‘My Happy Place’ and it contained duets with the likes of Jade Jones, Will Young and Robbie Williams.

    Tickets and more information can be found here.

  • in

    Strictly stars Gorka Marquez and Karen Hauer announce Firedance

    The dance duo are set to join forces for the first time to bring new tour to the UK.

    Strictly Come Dancing stars Gorka Marquez and Karen Hauer are teaming up for a brand new national dance tour.

    The dancers will travel across the UK with Firedance, the new Latin tour, beginning in March 2020 and is scheduled for 18 dates across the country.

    The show has been advertised as having “seductive choreography and passionate performances”.

    Karen Hauer and Gorka Marquez (Handout/PA)

    Hauer said: “I am beyond excited to be going on tour with a brand new show alongside Gorka.

    “We have been working very hard to put on a show that will leave everyone feeling all the passion, excitement and energy that we feel when we are dancing.

    “We can’t wait to travel around the UK and to meet you all.”

    While Marquez added: “I can’t wait to get out on the road with Karen for this very exciting new tour.

    “We are both really passionate about Latin dance, and this tour will really showcase that.”

    The tour dates are as follows:

    6 March High Wycombe Swan – 7.30pm
    7 March Guildford G-Live – 7.30pm
    8 March Manchester The Bridgewater Hall – 3pm
    10 March Ipswich Regent Theatre – 7.30pm
    12 March Sheffield City Hall – 7.30pm
    15 March Basingstoke The Anvil – 7pm
    16 March Bromley Churchill Theatre – 7.30pm
    19 March Scunthorpe Baths Hall – 7.30pm
    20 March Grimsby Auditorium – 7.30pm
    21 March Dartford Orchard Theatre – 7.30pm
    22 March Bournemouth Pavilion – 3pm

    23 March Northampton Royal & Derngate – 7.30pm
    25 March Peterborough New Theatre – 7.30pm
    26 March Chatham Central Theatre – 7.30pm
    27 March Glasgow Royal Concert Hall – 7.30pm
    28 March Dunfermline Alhambra – 7.30pm
    4 April Cambridge Corn Exchange – 7.30pm
    5 April Southend Cliffs Pavilion – 3pm

    Tickets go on sale on Friday 13th September and are available from firedancelive.co.uk

  • in

    This same-sex couple is establishing the world’s first LGBTQ cartoon channel

    Turn on Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel and the chances are you’ll be presented with some well-known friendly faces from all backgrounds and walks of life. Whether it’s cartoons or real-life stories, kids’ TV channels have come a long way in recent years, but one area of contention is sexuality, and whether or not to introduce children to LGBTQ+ issues at a young age.

    Canadian-American kids’ TV show Arthur, which began back in 1996 and has run for more than 246 episodes, hit the headlines earlier this year when it featured a gay wedding for the first time, a huge leap forward in kids’ programming. However, the episode received almighty backlash – and 18,000 moms signed a petition to “cancel this controversial content immediately” – although PBS Kids nor the shows’ creators are backing down.

    “I am outraged that PBS Kids would use their children’s network to promote same-sex marriage,” said one mom after watching the show. “It is offensive to me and my family that the network would glorify the homosexual lifestyle.”

    Another added: “Just because an issue may be legal or because some are choosing a lifestyle doesn’t make it morally correct. PBS Kids should stick to entertaining and providing family-friendly programming, instead of pushing an agenda.”

    We hate to highlight hatred here at Gay Boy Bible, but such comments demonstrate how far we have come as a society, yet how much further we have to go to normalize LGBTQ+ and make it an acceptable part of children’s’ programming in the United States and elsewhere.

    Let’s counterbalance that hatred by highlighting something a whole load more positive: the launch of a new cartoon channel focused on LGBTQ. The brainchild of same-sex parents of a two-year-old, Transparency TV is on a mission to represent LGBTQ families, with shows, nursery rhymes and stories depicting households of all backgrounds and makeups.

    Speaking of the launch, the Transparency TV team said: “We created Transparency TV to bring content that represents the LGBTQ community to the world, while building a platform that empowers those around us to share their truths, start a dialogue and feel supported on their path.

    “We are committed to ensuring the wellbeing of LGBTQ youth, and we strive to promote positive mental health in order to end the suicide epidemic plaguing our country.”

    The first of its kind, Transparency TV is hoping that parents will join them in a new era of TV – where children can see themselves and their families reflected in new stories, and indeed old stories adapted for today’s modern times.

    Their launch comes at a time when families are ‘cable cutting’ at unprecedented levels, turning to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube for their content instead.

    With the launch of platforms like YouTube Kids, there’s never been a better time for Transparency TV – and we can’t wait to see what Transparency TV gets up to this year.

    Also in the works are a number of children’s books, launching with the same purpose – to reflect our society and safeguard our youth. Find out more about this fantastic initiative on their official website, and check back to Gay Boy Bible soon for updates on their progress.

  • in

    Pornography as Sex Education

    Growing up, sex was made to feel robotic, awkward and taboo. It was frowned upon to talk about sex, never mind the idea of pleasure, self-love, and especially not gay sex. So as curious little teenagers browsing the internet, we would eventually find our first porn video. If porn is going to continue to exist, it should have more realistic depictions of what sex is actually like as opposed to the exaggerated theatrics porn currently produces.

    Porn As It Is

    Through the years, and especially in more modern culture, porn has helped us explore deeper into our fantasies in the comfort of our own home. It’s been one of the few outlets gay people have been able to safely use to understand their bodies and what feels good to them, besides being with another person. There is an openness in each scene that lets the two (or more) people accept one another for their desires.

    In porn at least, there is no hiding oneself; everyone is unapologetically gay. But as many positive outcomes pornography has, there are just as many unintended negative ones.

    What Porn is Doing to Us

    Pornography isn’t meant to be used as legitimate sex education. www.FightTheNewDrug.org found that 60% of students in high school turn to porn for information about sex, “despite almost 75% even admitting that it creates unrealistic expectations”. Watching porn creates a subconscious “Fuck Like a Porn Star” expectation which in turn creates some level of anxiety and can interfere with performance. Don Shewey explains this further in his book “The Paradox of Porn: Notes on Gay Male Sexual Culture.”

    “It offers a distorted picture of what constitutes sex and what normal bodies look like, and it leaves out many of the social and emotional elements that make an erotic connection truly satisfying”

    Shewey, pg. 32

    Excessive watching of porn could lead to mild to severe performance anxiety or to the extreme, porn addiction.

    “Guys who are so accustomed to masturbating looking at porn, [they may] find it difficult or impossible to climax in someone else’s presence and/or to climax any other way than stroking themselves”

    Shewey, pg. 32

    It creates a distorted image of what actual sex looks like. Porn makes it seem like everyone can easily be easily seduced and everyone is DTF. The men usually have erections longer than 6 inches, hard or soft. There is no talk beforehand of likes and dislikes, what’s allowed and what isn’t, there is no build up into sex of trying to seduce the other person, and the actors seem to last forever. The actors also contort themselves to make sure that the camera can see every angle during each uncomfortable position.

    What We’re Doing About Porn

    If people are going to continue to use pornography as their sex education, there needs to be some kind of specialty porn that could be used in more realistic ways. Without taking away any of the eroticism that porn usually provides, it could also subtly teach its users to talk to each other about consent, pleasure, and stimulation. It should feature  real people with more realistic body types or at least show different scenes with different people of different bodies.

    YouTube personality Davey Wavey actually started a program like that called “30 Days of Pleasure”. It was a series of videos, podcasts, and instructional guides, all filled with fully nude men, all about how to seek and find pleasure for yourself and your partner. The initial 30 Days of Pleasure was taken down, but expanded upon in the website www.Himeros.Tv.

    The title is a playoff of Himeros, the greek god of sexual desire. It features similar types of models you would see in regular pornography but it does diversify with models of different races.

    The intent of porn is to arouse you and make you cum. It’s a worthwhile pursuit and something we all love! However, the intent with Himeros.tv is to enhance your experience of sex and sexuality. Himeros.tv shows you new ways to experience pleasure, discover your desires and express yourself in ways that bring you joy and ecstasy.

    The ABOUT section of Himeros.TV

    In one video about finding your prostate, the video shows you how to help relax your sphincter before sticking anything in your ass, and how to gently massage your way in, and then the location of the prostate and how to stimulate it. It doesn’t take away any of the eroticism that is expected of porn while at the same time, teaching the user how to safely perform for yourself or your partner.

    Pornography isn’t going away anytime soon. By showing people that sex can be safe, pleasurable and nothing to fear, it’ll make for a much better and easier time for all of us. Although Himeros.tv doesn’t show diversity in body types quite yet, it is a step in the right direction away from the exaggerated porn we are normally used to seeing. Future pornography could potentially be used as sex education, if produced and used correctly.

    Want to add to the conversation? Let us know on twitter using @GayBoyBible and @Strangelyweirdd

  • in

    Gay Boy Bible Review: Rocketman

    Music biopics are in – the long anticipated, much hyped’ Freddie Mercury story ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, was of course, a massive success.

    Hot on its heel’s, is ‘Rocketman’; a musical fantasy based on the life of Elton John – an equally flamboyant and notoriously excessive popstar, who like Freddie, also faced controversy and struggle over his sexuality during the 1970’s and 1980’s.

    Unlike Freddie however, who sadly fell victim to the devastation of H.I.V and the AIDS crises; Elton manage to survive the hedonism and excess of his peak – famously going to rehab at the turn of the 90’s to deal with his numerous and gargantuan addictions. As well as the usual booze and drugs, it was also sex, food and shopping.

    And here is where the film begins, and cleverly hangs around – with Elton arriving in rehab dressed in one of his most famously ridiculous stage costumes (and he had a few).  

    Taron Egerton hams up Elton’s famously volatile and diva-ish’ behaviour, at first scowling and protesting about being in the group therapy session, before proceeding to tell the story of his life; from childhood, his journey to stardom, and subsequent descent into addiction at the peak of his career – via flashbacks which make up the film’s main action.

    ‘Rocketman’ is not a straight-ahead biopic, it is a musical that uses fantasy and surrealistic touches to give an entertaining and colourful-look at Elton’s life.

    Neither does the film strictly follow the timeline of events in Elton’s life, employing artistic license with the historical accuracy of some events, with his songs being brought to life in highly choreographed sequences – where they fit the story, not necessarily at the chronolgical point in which they were released.

    The arrangements are great, and the songs sound thrilling; reminding us that pre-the red glasses, artificial thatch, and Vegas residency – Elton really was a brilliant songwriter and performer. Tunes like ‘Your Song’, ‘Tiny Dancer’ and ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting; have a vibrancy and emotional resonance that are peerless.

    Taron sings the songs himself (with help from the other characters) and impressively makes them his own.

    Meanwhile, the two actors that play the young Reginald Dwight (Elton’s real name) – or Reggie as he was known, Kit Connor and Matthew Illesley;both have tons of presence, especially the later who as boy Elton is a real standout star of the film.

    Taron is superb, managing to give a beleivable mix of vulnerability and arrogance to the part of Elton.

    Bridget Jones’s mum aka actress Gemma Jones, is suitably warm as Elton’s grandmother Ivy – the one ray of love and support of his musical ambitions.

    Meanwhile, Bryce Dallas Howard gives a highly watchable portrayal as his apparently vain and self-serving mother.

    Taron is superb as Elton, managing to convey him with an appropriate mix of vulnerability and stroppy arrogance.

    He even manages to look uneeringly like the singer – particularly impressive considering how little he resembles Elton in real life (I mean Taron’s is a bit of a heartthrob isn’t – and well let’s be honest, without wanting to be cruel, Elton’s appeal was never based on his looks), right down to his piercing and darting eye movements.

    UK’ TV-favourite – Steven Mackintosh is his seemingly cold and remote father Stanley, who leaves when Shelia is discovered to be having an affair with a man named Fred (who subsequently becomes Elton’s stepfather).

    There is a particularly poignant scene, after Elton has become rich and famous, and goes to visit his father– now remarried with young sons – in his chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce. Father and son are like strangers, and Stanley seems to view Elton only as some kind of trophy, asking him to autograph an album for a work colleague.

    Dick James, the music publishing mogul ultimately signed Elton and guided his early career – is given a comic-touch by Stephen Graham; as a straight-talking, blustering, who, less amusingly (but unsurprising for the era) is a bit of a homophobe.

    Jamie Bell convinces as the affable, gentle straight-guy Bernie Taupin – the lyricist who has written the words to the majority of Elton’s back catalogue, and been an (almost) constant through his career.

    The chemistry between him and Taron makes the dynamic between Bernie and Elton highly believable. The scene where they first meet in a café and bond over their shared loved of music feels particularly real and touching.

    After initially being taken aback by the revelation of Elton’s preference for men, he sweetly takes it in his stride when Elton develops a crush for him and tries to make a move. A scenario that many a gay man has surely experienced at some point in his life.

    Elton’s landmark gig at the infamous Troubadour club in L.A, the point from which his career is said to have really begun to soar from – is one of the film’s (many) highlights.

    Tate Donovan is hilarious as the leering, camp club owner Doug Weston. Meanwhile, the fantasy element is upped to the max as a nervous Elton is suddenly propelled into the air, as if he really is a ‘rocket man’.

    This is also where – the not exactly uneasy on the eye – Richard Madden appears as John Reid, who goes on to be Elton’s first gay partner, as well as his long-term manager. Richard delivers a solid performance, playing Reid as an initially seductive, but ultimately hard-nosed and ruthlessly cruel character, who sees Elton as his cash-cow and flaunts his other conquests under the singer’s nose.  

    Unlike ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Rocketman’ doesn’t shy away from the gay aspect of its subject’s life. There is a fairly graphic sex scene between Taron and Richard, which has – understandably – has got some cinema goers more than a little excited.

     As his relationship with John unravels, and Elton feels controlled and exploited, we see him begin to unravel as he seeks solace in booze and drugs.

    Following a temporary split from working with Taupin, who was burnt out from being on the road with Elton; the singer has the obligatory late ‘70’s foray into the disco scene. Both musically, and ‘erm, socially.

    Here we see Taron/Elton in a particularly electric-fantasy sequence, being held aloft in a club by sea of topless gay men – apparently lost in a hedonistic haze.

    Elton finds temporary ‘redemption’ in the ‘80’s – when he tries to go ‘straight’ by marrying the poor Renate (such different times, thankfully) before, as the film concludes, finally coming to terms with his sexuality and going to rehab.

     ‘Rocketman’ has its flaws, but it does Elton and his music justice. It’s fantastic entertainment – making you want to dance, cry, leaving the cinema feeling like you’d quite like to watch it all over again.

    Have you seen ‘Rocketman’ yet – what are your thoughts? Let us know on Twitter @GayBoyBible

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