Does Makeup Make The Man

B Scott Before and After Makeup

B Scott Before and After Makeup

In 2006, BET broadcast the 3rd season of its reality series, College Hill, and undraped its first ever openly gay personality, Ray Cunningham. Since that season BET has featured Miss Lawrence, from the Real Housewives of Atlanta, on Rip The Runway, but has lacked in airing more out talent. This year the network hired B. Scott to host the televised 106 and Park Pre-show of the 13th annual BET Awards.

Before taping started, BET asked the fashion columnist to put together a potential ensemble to wear. B. Scott requested Chris Brown’s stylist and instead BET asked B. Scott to work with their in-house stylists.

“After a few weeks of sending over mood boards and going over approved looks, we decided on a few options,” said Scott. “All of which were generally more masculine than what I would wear if I were able to decide on my own: blazers, long-sleeved dress shirts, black pants, and loafers.”

“We didn’t know at the time that Los Angeles would be in the middle of a record heat wave, and the options we selected just weren’t weather appropriate. The day before the show I spoke with BET’s style team and we agreed that it was okay to have a more weather appropriate ensemble option.”

The agreed upon ensemble was a sleeveless and button-down, long, black shirt and flowly black pants. A man or a woman could wear the outfit; it is a genderless look.

“Not only was it agreed upon among the stylists, I met with a producer of the show the night before and showed her the ensemble. She said it was acceptable and requested I send over a picture so that she could forward it to whomever she needed to. The picture of the complete outfit was sent over and everything was fine.”

But everything was not fine. After interviewing A.J. Calloway live, Scott said he was “yanked backstage” and told his “look from head to toe wasn’t acceptable.”

“I was returned to my trailer and forced to change into one of the other outfits while other producers waited outside. I changed quickly and returned to set, only to be told that I had been replaced by Adrienne Bailon and wouldn’t be going on at all.”

So what happened between the look being approved and the start of taping?

B. Scott, equally known for his gender bending look and entertaining YouTube videos, has had guest spots on various television shows such as Extra, Hair Battle Spectacular, DTLA, and even BET’s 106 and Park, where he appeared twice and in full gender bender mode. Was it the straightened hair, or the smoky eye makeup, or the high heels that had Scott yanked off air? Eventually, Scott was asked to return on-camera, in the approved and more masculine look: a navy blazer, dark dress shirt, blue slim pants, black loafers, and sans maquillage.

BET issued an official apology via the Associated Press and said:

“BET Networks embraces global diversity in all its forms and seeks to maintain an inclusive workforce and a culture that values all perspectives and backgrounds. The incident with B. Scott was a singular one with a series of unfortunate miscommunications from both parties. We regret any unintentional offense to B. Scott and anyone within the LGBT community and we seek to continue embracing all gender expressions.”

In response to BET’s statement, B. Scott said, “I want a real apology from BET. This was a not a mutual misunderstanding or miscommunication. I pride myself on being very professional.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that the fashion columnist has suffered professionally due to his appearance. Scott was asked to step down as a columnist from the website, Concrete Loop, when fans left hundreds of derogatory and negative comments. Most recently, Scott left the FoxxHole, the uncensored radio station, due to an exclusitory environment.

Will BET lose viewers over this wardrobe malfunction? Some loyal Love Muffins, the handle for B. Scott fans, have already started boycotting.

A fan on Scott’s website said, “[BET’s] actions were uncalled for and their poor choices are a reflection of why many of us choose to no longer support the network.”

Another fan said, “I pray Deborah Lee [Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BET] is made to step down, as this is unacceptable.”

Lee, who has been at BET for 28 years, has been criticized in the past for the network’s less than positive programming and portrayal of young Black people. The juxtaposition of negative portrayals of young Black people and B. Scott is interesting on many levels because B. Scott, a young Black man, is known for his inspirational advice that he provides on his website and on various guest columns. One solution to this problem would be for BET to invite Scott to appear on 106 and Park and have Lee or another network executive to better explain the last minute yank on B. Scott’s ponytail and quickly before the incident morphs into a Paula Deen-outpouring.

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Movie Review: I’m So Excited directed by Pedro Almodovar

Twenty minutes into Pedro Almodovar’s new comedy, I’m So Excited, moviegoers realize that the work is a mise en abyme, in which the inner frame of the story is an exact replica of the outer frame. In the outer frame, Leon, a Peninsula Airline Operator, discovers that his wife Jessica, also a Peninsula Airline worker, has been hiding her newly discovered pregnancy. Before the discovery, Leon (played by Antonio Banderas) sees his wife (Penelope Cruz) in the face of danger, and his immediate reaction later creates a catastrophic situation abroad the plane, he is prepping for take-off, which is leaving from Spain and heading toward Mexico.

“During the 80s, I made a lot of comedies,” Almodovar said in a sit-down interview. “So this was like returning to my roots. I think I just needed to make something lighter. It’s a light, very light comedy.”

The film is a definite departure from his more recent dramatic and critically acclaimed films, Volver, Bad Education, and Talk to Her.

In the inner frame of the story, the splendid hilarity that takes place onboard Peninsula Flight 2549, is amplified through personal phone conversations to loved ones on the ground. In a comedic twist, everyone on the flight, who has not been drugged into a state of twilight sleep, can hear the conversations. Also the spoken dialogue between major characters is condensed, eliminating unneeded details and creating a fast-moving pace.

The major characters in this comedy include: the senior flight attendant who cannot tell a lie, Joserra (played by Javier Cámara); the happily married pilot leading a double life with another man, Alex Acero (played by Antonio De La Torre); a hated and highly-frequented dominatrix, Norma (played by Cecilia Roth); an aging Don Juan-esque actor, Ricardo (played by Guillermo Toledo); and a virgin and delightfully amusing psychic, Bruna (played by Lola Dueñas). Continue reading

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Video Q&A with Emerging LGBT Leader Carolyn Wysinger

The name Ruth Ellis may not be as familiar to you as Harvey Milk, but it should. Ellis, born in 1899, was the oldest living open lesbian and LGBT rights activist. Before she died in 2000, her life was documented in the film project, Living with Pride, directed by Yvonne Welbon. She came out as a lesbian in 1915 and in the 1920s she met Ceciline Franklin. They moved from Springfield, Illinois to Detroit, Michigan in 1937 and lived together for 30 years until Franklin’s death in 1973. During the three decades that they lived together, Ellis became the first American woman to own a printing business in Detroit and her home with Franklin became “a refuge for African-American gays and lesbians.”

Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis at 100 is being screened at the Art Exchange in Long Beach, this Sunday, starting at 5. Emerging LGBT leader, Carolyn Wysinger, is one of the key people responsible for putting together the screening.

Carolyn Wysinger is an activist, writer, and event coordinator, whose goal is to build bridges within the LGBT community. She earned her B.A. in English from California State University, Long Beach and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University. Organizations that she is involved with include: BUTCHVoices and Black Lesbians United. She is also active in the local Long Beach community as a member of the Leadership Long Beach Class of 2013 as well as a Member-At-Large of the Lambda Democrats.

Qulture writer Victor Yates spoke to Wysinger about the life of Ruth Ellis and Sistah Sinema as well as her community work.

Watch the video above to learn more about Wysinger and go to Qulture.org for more LGBT news and information.

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Los Angeles Pride: A video tour

Being a polysemic word, Pride means something noticeably different between members of the LGBT community. Whether it is getting the masses to sign a human rights petition, dressing in drag as a cultural protest, being able to safely hold hands with a loved one in public, or donning a colorful ensemble, these acts represent Pride. L.A. Pride is a smorgasbord of the above times twenty. It is the largest gathering of the LGBT community in Southern California.

The most attended event during the 2013 L.A. Pride Celebration was the parade, where more than a hundred organizations walked. The Pride festival, immediately following, held in beautiful West Hollywood Park, featured live entertainment on multiple stages, headline performances, various dance venues, and thousands of people. A nice addition to Pride this year was Momentum, a large-scale light and interactive installation in collaboration with ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Impact Stories, The Mazer Lesbian Archives, The Lavender Effect, and The Colors of Compassion. Momentum was curated by INSTALL:WeHo, a queer art non-profit, .

In the video tour, I ask, “What is L.A. Pride?,” and hope to answer the question.

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Interview with Out Trainer Octavio Pozos

“Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave,” wrote Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet. The work is a collection of ten letters between the Austrian poet Rilke and a 19-year-old officer cadet seeking Rilke’s critical analysis. In the first letter, Rilke advised the cadet to shed his external obligations in order to expand his internal life. Rilke believed that inward concentration could help a new writer to become a great writer.

Octavio Pozos’ coming out story reminded me of Rilke’s advice to the young cadet.

At 17, Octavio’s parents found him showering with his boyfriend at their home in Mexico City and they forced him to move out of the house. Without other family members willing to take him in, Octavio moved in with his boyfriend and had to decide quickly on how to support himself. In a decision that would transform his life, Octavio decided to train to become a group exercise teacher. If his dragon was being kicked out of his family’s home and his parents not speaking to him for 10 years, then his princess is his success as a personal trainer. Octavio is also a professional group exercise instructor and has found great satisfaction in helping others improve their bodies.

Watch the video to learn more about Octavio Pozos.

Photography: Tony Wisniewski, owner of Ultra Body Fitness Gym

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You Are Not Alone: A must see documentary on black gay men and depression

You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone

The L.I.F.E Center in Inglewood attracted a record number of its congregation to attend a Friday night screening of a documentary on sex. Well not exactly sex but at the end of the 65-minute documentary the audience was up on their feet, standing, applauding the project’s ferocity and portrayal of black gay men dealing with depression. You Are Not Alone interweaves a single narrative on a man’s path to destruction with piercing interviews of over 20 gay men, mental health professionals, and religious leaders as well as a mother whose son committed suicide after being bullied because of his sexuality. The mother’s story is the most difficult to watch because her pain is visceral and present. The stories are blunt, brutal, and dark, but important and necessary to be heard by young gay men of color.

“A Black gay man dealing with depression should know that his mental illness is treatable and he need not suffer in silence; he is not alone,” said Antoine Craigwell. The interviews were conducted by Craigwell and Stanley Bennett Clay wrote and directed the project.

Craigwell has screened the movie in New York City, New Jersey, Oakland, and Washington, D.C. to raise awareness surrounding homosexuality, stigma, and depression. Mental health is often neglected in the black community. Sufferers are often looked down upon for seeking treatment and those who seek treatment often don’t continue.

The documentary traces the life of Cedric, a young professional whose early expressions of his sexuality were stomped on by his father. His father beat him mercilessly in an effort to eradicate any perceived traces of homosexuality and to force him to conform to his expectations. In a world that has become homophobically rabid, Cedric’s father’s violence lends itself to a segment of society that condemns and ostracizes anyone who demonstrates a departure from what is considered the norm. This father typifies many parents, whose reactions to their sons, are born out of fear of  homosexuality or how society will view their child. Cedric struggles to understand and accept himself, and is forced to live two lives: a hardworking businessman and a drug abuser, both collide and he doesn’t feel he has any reason to live.

You Are Not Alone started out as a book project. Craigwell interviewed a number of black gay men who experienced depression. The project changed shaped and Craigwell recorded some of the men who he had previously sat with. The film features Rob Smith, DJ Baker, Ty Martin, Jamaal Stone, Taylor Siluwe’, Rev. Kevin Taylor, and others.

“During many of the interviews, while the camera was over my shoulder, and as I was asking questions, I was also wiping tears from my eyes as I listened to the stories,” said Craigwell.

I had the pleasure of moderating the panel after the screening. The panel included: Antonie B. Craigwell, Stanley Bennett Clay (who wrote and directed the re-enactments), Lester Greene (who plays in the documentary), and Rev. Russell Thornhill of the L.I.F.E Center.

Check out the discussion below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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3 Writing Tips: How to bring your writing above the page

“In order to understand, I destroyed myself.” – Fernando Pessoa

Writing Workshop is where writers can present their work (finished or unfinished), experiment, and receive critical analysis. From my first day of workshop to now, the way I approach writing has changed. The process, working through a scene, heightened, and is more aware of itself. I have encountered challenges and tried to experiment with language, native and foreign. Last week I received 3 great tips from my workshop instructor that I wanted to share. I think that these could help new (and possibly established) writers improve their writing to make it urgent. Click on the video to see the tips.

Also check out these helpful writing bibles:

1.The Art of Writing: Lu Chi’s Wen Fu

2. Writing the Breakout Novel

3. On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft

4. The Book of Disquiet (Penguin Classics)

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