The Association of Latino Men for Action (ALMA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower Latino gay, bisexual, and questioning men by providing support, advocacy, and leadership opportunities. ALMA has a twenty-one year history of continuous work bringing together the Latino and GLBTQ communities in Chicago. Recognizing ALMA’s leadership, The City of Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame inducted the organization in 2000 as it’s first Latino member. To advance its mission, ALMA continues to develop innovative programming and key partnerships with numerous local, state, and national communities and organizations. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com or visit our website for more information regarding our current projects: http://www.almachicago.org
Posts Tagged ‘gay’
*Purchase the book at Women and Children First
About Face Theatre continues to break fresh queer ground with its latest play Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South. It’s about time we have some colorful stage plays on this side of the city! Adapted from his book of the same name, author E. Patrick Johnson is a respite from the usual entertainment-only, Mardi Gras box that this part of the country gets when it comes to work about southern culture. Scribe and star of Sweet Tea, Johnson is a queer scholar living and working in Chicago. His play, running through May 29th at the Viaduct Theater, 3111 N. Western and directed by Daniel Alexander Jones, is a reflection on his life growing up in the South and how the complex culture has shaped his life up north. TPR was able to have an e-chat with this charming smarty pants, and his answers to my questions were SO inspiring. Tickets to the play here.
Sweet Tea tackles the topic of southern black culture and homosexuality. What kinds of things have you seen/experienced that inspired you to make this play?
The question should be more about what I haven’t seen, actually. And that is, I haven’t seen black gay southern life depicted. There have been a couple of films that have had a black gay southern character, but there has not been a film, play, or even a book, that captured the community of black gay men in the South. So, my book, Sweet Tea, and now the play is about trying to bring these stories to the fore and to give the world a glimpse into this vibrant community of black gay men in the South.
People from different regions prefer different words to describe their sexuality. I’ve found that the word “queer” is rejected by people who know it to be a derogatory term, regardless of its reclaimed status. Your play’s title also reclaims the word “Sweet,” used to refer to gay men in the south. Can you talk about these words, which you identify with and why specificity in language is important?
It’s interesting because my grandmother used the word “queer” all the time, but pronounced it “quare” (like the word “square”), but she used it to comment on someone or something that she felt was strange or odd. I then used her pronunciation of the word to write an article about queer theory to critique its myopic focus on white gay men and only issues of sexuality rather than sexuality in relation to race and class. So, I reappropriated the term “queer” from my grandmother who, incidentally, was homophobic, to critique queer theory. All that to say that I think words have meanings, but their meanings change in various contexts and according to people’s particular set of politics. I do believe that in some instances reclaiming words that were once derogatory can be empowering. “Sweet” is one of them because unlike a word like “Faggot,” which has a particular sting to it, “sweet” has so many wonderful connotations that register alongside the negative ones. But more importantly, when combined with the term, “tea,” which means “gossip” in black gay vernacular, the meaning changes completely. The South in particular is the land of euphemisms and indirection–nothing is said in a direct way, especially about subjects that are taboo. You really have to be a part of the culture to catch everything that a person is saying; otherwise, you will miss something.
The church and its culture are highly influential in the United States, both in law making and interpersonal relationships. Can you describe how the church has shaped your life, or placed limitations on your life-experience? Conversely, how has it allowed you to experience things that others might not?
I often tell people that I started going to church in mother’s womb–and that would not be hyperbole. The church was a part of every aspect of my life growing up in western North Carolina. It was where I made my first friends; where I had my first kiss; where I learned how to paint; where I was encouraged to develop my singing; it infiltrated every facet of my life until I left for college. And even then, I continued to go to a local church in the town where my university was and I also joined the gospel choir at college. It wasn’t just about worshiping God, though that was a big part of it; it was about this communal life that was always teetering between the sacred and the secular. Rather than limitations, I believe the church actually catapulted me into actualizing all that I am today, especially since we children were rewarded for doing well in school, taught to be the very best at whatever we did, and were encouraged and nurtured as young artists and citizens.
As I got older, however, I had to step back from some of the not-so-pleasant things about the church. Although my pastor never preached a homophobic sermon when I was a child (at least that I can remember), there were plenty of such sermons in other churches and I just decided not to put myself through that. There are still many aspects of the church that I miss, however. Nonetheless, I choose to worship in my own way without all of the baggage that comes with belonging to “a” church.
You’ve spoken about gender expression, and how varied it can be/should be. Can you speak to anything specific about African-American culture that you think makes it particularly open to/able to express gender and sexuality in ways different that other cultures?
Just based on the interviews I conducted with some of the men in my book, it seems to me that some of the most flamboyant and gender non-conforming men were the most accepted in their communities. One example is Chaz/Chastity, a pre-operative MTF transgendered person in my hometown who, at the time of the interview, lived as a man on Sunday to sing in the choir and as a female the rest of the week and worked as a hairdresser. Everyone in my hometown accepted Chaz/Chastity without much comment at all. So, there’s something to be said about small black communities in particular, where the focus is more on survival and keeping the community together than on ostracizing folks for their “eccentricity,” which some feel gayness is.
Your play depicts characters that span a few generations. How has identifying as gay changed over time in the south? What do you think has influenced these changes?
In the African American community the term “gay” has only become a part of the parlance I’d say in the last 40 years. Before then, I think “sissy” or other euphemisms like “that way” or “funny” were most common. In the South there are still black communities that don’t use the term “gay,” but still rely on the euphemisms because, as I said before, indirection and circumvention are a part of southern culture. “Gay” as a term is used more now because of how much it’s used in popular culture and in our everyday life. Its use now has much to do with current politics, especially gay marriage and “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Chicago has been your home for years now. What is still exciting to you about the Windy City, and how does it help shape your work?
I think of Chicago as “up South,” because there are so many southern transplants here like myself. Because I live on the South Side of Chicago in particular I feel like I’m living in an extension of the South because the community here is so close and the people are so warm and friendly like those in the South. Chicago has also been a great place for me to create performance because the arts community here is so vibrant. With over 200 theaters here and being at a university like Northwestern that supports the arts and having the opportunity to develop SWEET TEA as a fellow at the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in Arts and Media at Columbia College, has bolstered my career in ways unimaginable. I can’t think of a better place to live or create art than in Chicago. It is my South.
Way to reclaim it, girls! I’ve actually had this conversation a lot lately with my buddies Davey B and Amy Nicole about how masculinity is always prioritized in gay/queer culture. Even “edgey” pubs such as BUTT and don’t showcase femme dudes flaunting their curves, and it can get a little boring. I’m still learning about 50 Faggots, but if done right, this could be really groundbreaking–I’m particularly excited about Darell Jones’s contribution. The flyer above is for the benefit party at Hydrate on Thursday the 13th, there is also a screening of the first episode on Friday, May 14th at The Center on Halsted (6-10pm, $10) with cast Q&A afterwards!
Watch the preview over at www.50faggots.com SO MUCH CHICAGO LOVING IT!!!!!!
From the FB group:
50 Faggots is a new, online documentary series educating, exploring and celebrating how individual effeminate gay men survive and thrive in today’s American queer communities. It uses longitudinal, auto-ethnographic documentary filming and educates audiences with the unprecedented access to the lives and experiences of effeminate male activists, artists, professionals and educators perspectives rarely discussed within most cultures. The series addresses the dearth of self-acceptance among effeminate men, young and old, with humorous anecdotes, important wisdom, and inspiring models of resilience. By offering individual alternatives to dominant constructions of American masculinity and heteronormative gay lifestyles, this film illuminates the on-going issues relevant to queer communities.
The first season, located in the urban neighborhoods of Chicago, Washington D.C., and New York City, dedicates two years to documenting the stories of ten effeminate gay men. These men discuss their professional and personal lives, often in contradiction to communities that demand a rigid and binary definition of gender, particularly valuing patriarchy and an appropriate presentation of straight-acting masculinity.
Just being honest, this is the hottest new queer party to hit Chicago in a looooooong time. Make sure to come and dance your asses off!
Trikone is committed to creating community among LGBTQ South Asians and their allies in the Chicago metro area. We welcome people of all sexual orientations, and gender identities, and of all national, racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds to Jai Ho! Performances at midnight! Pics from previous Jai Ho parties here. RSVP at the Facebook invite here.
*Portraits of gay men and lesbians in the armed services, faces hidden, were taken by Jeff Sheng for his book, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
I can’t really put into words the inspiration displayed by this anonymous, gay armed services veteran keeping an online journal. Ultimately, it’s stories like these that put my cushy life into perspective and shed light on the privelage it is to “make art” or “complain.” Here is the description, and some quotes below it. Read RD’s journal entries here.
RD is the pseudonym of a 10-year armed services veteran recently returned from Afghanistan. A psychologist and long-serving veteran, this officer had to deal with both the traumas of the troops in front of him, and the psychic wound of his own situation: the risk that if he spoke frankly about his life to any colleague, he could find himself ejected from the war and the army.
“Moral laws do not force people to lie or pretend to be something they are not (a kind of lie itself). Even worse this law creates barriers between people and mandates a certain level of isolation and loneliness. It will drive me from the military. It is the main reason I am leaving the service when I return from Afghanistan. Despite a severe shortage of psychologists and two wars the military will lose me.”
“…the religious fundamentalists in Afghanistan are strikingly similar to religious fundamentalists in America – who are also trying to force their literal interpretation of Holy Scripture onto everyone else through laws. While I served in Afghanistan the American “cultural war” exploded with California’s Proposition 8 and the pending discharge of an 18-year decorated combat pilot under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.
“One soldier stated the only way Command would ever realize how overstretched his men are would be if he started killing people. He then stated he was so angry he would kill his Commander and no one could stop him.”
I’ll NEVER forget. I was in highschool, and there was a blood drive. I went in, wanting to do my part, eat some cookies, get out of class, hang on a couch with my friends and it would be good deeds done cheap, right? Then and now, if you go to donate blood and are male, they are required to ask you if you have had sex, even just once, with another man since 1977. If you say yes, then you are not eligible to give blood. I was just a kid (and yes I had already done the deed, PROTECTED, mind you) and I answered the questions honestly. When the nurse told me I was not eligible, I asked why, and she merely pointed at my answer on the page. I quietly excused myself and discreetly talked to my friends about it later. It was one of my first tastes of the subtle, embedded and non-violent ways that gay people are discriminated against and yeah, it hurt. Years later, I was social worker, and there was a blood drive at my job. My friend had organized it, and urged me to give. I told her I wasn’t allowed, and she thought I was full of it and just not thinking it was an important thing to do. She was embarrassed after going to the nurse on staff and asking if that was true. Since then, I’ve made sure to let anyone that asks me about giving blood that gay men aren’t allowed, and it’s always an eye-opener. You should try it!
John Kerry was in the news today, going on record for the repeal of such discrimination, but who the hell knows what will happen. They could at least list that question in the eligibility section of the Red Cross website, but they don’t. I guess it’s embarrassing.
Literally, I had just joined Gilt Groupe (thanks Harrison Cheairs) and not a few minutes later I get an email saying Alexander McQueen killed himself. Bryant Park is happening RIGHT NOW, and Mcqueen was about to unveil his newest collection in Paris. Full disclosure: I’m not a label whore, I normally wear the same pants every day and probably only have a few concert T’s in rotation in any given month. However, I do watch Project Runway and will critique someone’s look at a party, if indeed someone is trying to rock a look. But why? Why do I, and a lot of other people fucking care about fashion?
The Onion A.V. Club had a great interview with Parker Posey the other week, and they asked her about fashion. She said, “…fashion is very popular now. Really overly popular. It’s like New Age music in the ’80s, or art. And then independent film. Now everyone’s a fashion designer. It’s had a big effect in New York, in our culture. I was just doing an interview with a girl who’s 25, and she says that everyone she knows is a fashion designer. She’s like, “Where do you get your clothes?” Why do they ask that? Everyone’s asking that. You go to these things and people always want to know what you’re wearing, instead of what you’re reading, or what you’re thinking.” I couldn’t agree more with Posey — it’s a trend, most ”designers” are talentless and her experience is the result of vapid people having nothing to talk about. The fashion industry is one of the major sources of low self-esteem, the only reason sweat shops exist, and probably the biggest cause of general preoccupation with aesthetics over larger world issues–I love that jacket but what about Haiti?
This is a time when you can totally throw a cliché on the table and avoid silent grumbles: “Fashion is art.” Or rather, it can be. I don’t see art at the stores I shop at or at the bars I go to – functional cloth is indispensible and most people just try to be comfortable. But when you dig a little into all the fuss, the moments of heightened expression that are rare in all forms of art can be found in fashion. Chances are, when you find that moment on a runway, you are looking at something designed by Alexander McQueen. His fashions aren’t clothes. They are glimpses into dreams — they can terrify or comfort and succeed in transporting you to another time and place without being a costume. BUT it wouldn’t be you dressed as someone else or teleporting to another era or planet. No, trying to do that with a McQueen design would be like throwing a dour smirk and thinking “I’m the Mona Lisa.” His collections embody the mood of an artist, and each one was a gallery opening. Alexander McQueen’s work is why we care about fashion because it’s not about what we’re wearing, it’s about what we’re feeling. His death has not yet been absorbed, by the industry or history.
Not yet having a stable home, Trikone is set to deliver its latest installment of Jai Ho!, Chicago’s only queer Bollywood dance party, on Friday January 29th. From the Facebook Event:
Trikone is committed to creating community among LGBTQ South Asians and their allies in the Chicago metro area. We welcome people of all sexual orientations, and gender identities, and of all national, racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds to Jai Ho!
I accidentally found myself at the first one last year in July, and I gotta say it was one of the most fun nights out I have ever had in the city. The crowd was as diverse as it gets, there was a nice spread of club/fancy/traditional/sports wear, and the music went from Bollywood show stoppers to tolerable mainstream. Organizer Kareem Khubchandani curates a drag show at midnight (and performs as LaWhore Vagistan), and if you care to chat with him, he’s a complete sweetheart. This party’s proceeds go to Haiti relief, DJ Sachin spins and there is a $5 suggested donation.
After years and years of hints and unconfirmed speculation in the pages of Marvel Comics X-Force, writer Peter David finally decided to tackle Rictor and Shatterstar’s relationship with issue #45 of X-Factor. In this issue, Shatterstar made his return to the fold after being absent for some time and had a jaw-dropping reunion with Rictor, as they greeted each other with a hot kiss and a warm embrace. Finally readers suspicions were validated! When Peter David outted Shatterstar Rob Liefeld (Shatterstar’s original creator) was not too pleased with that character development, and made mention on his message board that he had no problem with gay characters if that’s where their true origins were, insisting that Shatterstar’s weren’t, and further stating that he could not wait to someday undo this, which would entail “ungaying” Shatterstar. Well praise the comic gods that Rob Liefeld has no say as to what happens to Shatterstar, as Marvel Comics Editor in Chief, Joe Quesada, commented in his weekly segment “Cup of Joe” on the Comic Book Resources website, that Marvel owns the character not Rob and although Rob is entitled to his opinion, Mr. Liefeld would have to wait to address that with Marvel’s NEXT editor in Chief. Snap!
There haven’t been any major developments as of late in the Ric-Star coupling but writer Peter David is promising to explore their relationship further, not only from formerly asexual Shatterstar’s and suddenly queer Rictor’s eyes, but also through the eyes of their teammates. Check out Lyle Masaki’s interview with Peter David over at Afterelton.com for more deets on Ric-star and be sure to check out January’s “Nation X: X-Factor” one-shot where it is rumored that Ric-Star’s relationship as well as Longshot and Dazzler’s (the unconfirmed rumored parents of Shatterstar) will be further explored!
No secret: TPR hates Lady Gaga. She’s Matthew Barney snapped into a slim jim. A short mannequin whose outfits wear her, not the other way around. If her songs had anything going for them, it’d be a different story but she sounds like late-period Madonna, nothing at all to be proud of. That, and her infinite costumes have no context–they are there to shock, not rooted in any kind of movement except cold hard cash. If my gays could please take a pause and stop acting like Grace Jones never happened, I’d be really happy. The above video takes Gag’s song “Poker Face,” and makes it into a font ode. More lip synching otters and art homos, please.