Post-Same Sex Marriage: Why are Some Gay People Mad?

Marriage equality protest in D.C. Photo by Elvert Barnes.

Marriage equality protest in D.C. Photo by Elvert Barnes.

Every single American – gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender – every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society. It’s a pretty simple proposition,” said President Barak Obama at the Human Rights Campaign national dinner in 2011. Seated in the audience were a number of Black gay men, including LZ Granderson, senior writer for ESPN magazine; Alvin McEwen, contributor to The Huffington Post; Justin Stewart, producer for WJLA-ABC 7 News; and Michael Crawford, Digital Director of the Freedom to Marry campaign. Some of them applauded, while others choose not to after the president’s statement. Even though, they all were concerned about the possibility of marriage for all, none of them thought they’d see it during their lifetime.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry. The unprecedented decision was a period at the end of a forty-six year old sentence, which started when patrons at a gay bar rallied after a police raid.

So what does the ruling mean for Black gay men?

Same-sex couples can now apply for veteran’s benefits and Social Security. The Social Security Administration issued a statement encouraging “spouses, divorced spouses, or surviving spouses of a same-sex marriage or non-marital legal same-sex relationship” to apply for benefits right away.

According to Kathleen Michon, a lawyer, “ a surviving spouse of a worker entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits may be entitled to receive retirement benefits based on the deceased spouse’s earning record.”

Michon added, “for retired married couples, a person whose calculated Social Security benefit is lower than that of his or her spouse may take half of his or her spouse’s higher benefit, rather than receive the amount calculated from his own earnings.”

Other benefits that same-sex couples can benefit from include: tax benefits, estate tax and estate planning, immigration benefits, education benefits, and federal employment benefits. Continue reading

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Check out my Interview with George Unda from “Where The Bears Are”

I sat down with actor, George Unda, from the hit web series, Where the Bears Are, to discuss his role as Detective Martinez and being a queer person of color within the larger bear community on the show. Other queer people of color who have appeared on the show include: Margaret Cho, Ray Singh, Karamo Brown, Bruce Daniels, Piankhi Iknaton, and Dylan Hafertepen. Unda also talks about memes, Guillermo Diaz (of Scandal), and much more.

Where the Bears Are is a comedy-mystery web series, which premiered in 2012. The series was created, written by and stars Rick Copp, Joe Dietl and Ben Zook. Currently, the series has three seasons. Unda became a cast member during the second season. As Detective Martinez, he works with Detective Chad Winters (Chad Sanders) as his partner.

The show has been described as a cross between The Golden Girls and Murder, She Wrote.

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Check out my Qulture Video Blog


This week, a number of major stories dominating the headlines concerned the LGBT community. Qulture staffers, Antonio Garcia and myself met to ruminate over those stories. The stories include: the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on Marriage Equality; GLSEN’s LGBT harassment report; and Zachary Quinto’s thoughts on the gay community and PREP (in Out Magzine’s 100 issue). As well as the HRC’s Equality Index; a lesbian couple’s wedding nightmare; and husbands, Scott and Daniel Wall-Desousa receiving retaliation from the Florida DMV for changing their drivers licenses.

Our opinions on these issues may shock you. And if they do, please leave a comment below to join the conversation.

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Writing Prompts for Fiction and Poetry

I have compiled writing prompts that I use often to generate new work and/or for writing workshops.

1. Write about an emotion without stating the emotion. Avoid stereotypical responses as well; if your character is sad, convey it in a different way than making them cry, or if they’re happy, show it besides them smiling.

2. Poetry prompt: Write on the page What I really want to say is ….then continue on with your words

3. Think about an object that is of iconic or central importance to your culture. Write that object as a spoken word piece (or fiction).

4. Write about a place you know well or a place that is foreign to you?

5. Sit in total silence for five minutes and observe the things around you. Write a story about the sense of awareness this brings you.

6. Write about an experience that occurred outside of your current state or country that changed you in some way.

7. Think of your favorite movie, book or short story – it may even be one you wrote. Now condense it to a piece of flash fiction. Start with writing only 500 words, then see if you can get it down to 100.

8. Pick up a random object in the room where you are sitting, or rummage around a junk drawer or toy chest and draw out a random object. Now write a story from the point of view of this object. What has it seen? What role did it play?

9. Let your dictionary fall open randomly and point to a word on the page. Use it to inspire a story.

10. Write a story with no dialogue.

11. Develop your own prompt and respond to it. Include your self-created prompt at the top of your paper.

12. Think back to your childhood, to the stories you remember being told. Was there a particular story you wanted to hear over and over? Try and remember that story, and choose one of the characters from it. Take that character and write an entirely different story centered around new obstacles. For example, if you choose Pippi Longstocking, write a story in which she is raising her own family, or has become the captain of her father’s ship after his retirement.

13. Sci-fi prompt: The Earth’s ice caps have melted. All but the tallest mountain ranges lie underwater. The majority of the human race (what remains) has adapted to a sub-marine environment (gills, amphibious living, etc.) Create the shape of the new world and the odd culture clashes that might occur between groups who have found different solutions.

14. What would you do if you were able to communicate with animals?

15. Design some gadget, machine, building, or other creation that might enrich the future. What does it look like? What does it do? How does it function? In what ways might it benefit people?

16. Write a short biography of your mother.

17. Describe the most difficult thing about being your age.

18. Word list prompt: Use all these words in a story (vestibule, strident, sophomoric, panacea, slaphappy, flounder, bedizen)

19. Write a story about a character who has an obsession with their appearance and this character can no longer see their appearance.

20. Hello Kitty is not a cat but a human girl, take a moment to think about how leaving certain details ambiguous could enhance or detract from a character’s impact in a story. Write a story about an ambiguous character.

21. Write from the perspective of a character that is your complete opposite. First, make a list of all the qualities you identify with yourself, and then make a list of qualities on the other end of the spectrum. For example, if you are a woman who lives in the country, write from the point of view of a man who lives in the city. Try to avoid using stereotypes to describe this character’s actions or ideas, and instead try to embody this character—climb inside his or her head and live there a while.

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Models of Pride 2014 at USC

This Saturday, USC will host Models of Pride (MOP). MOP is a free one-day conference for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth up to age 24, and their allies. The event includes: workshops, a resource fair, free food, a dance, and entertainment. For the entertainment segment, Alex Newell of “Glee” will be performing along with a number of surprise celebrity guests. There will be appearances by William Belli (of Rupaul’s Drag Race), Michael J. Willett (of Faking It), and immigration activist, Ronnie Veliz.

Also, I will be leading a creative writing workshop during the second session. In the workshop, I will be teaching participants good writing habits, how to use writing prompts to create poetry and prose, effective journaling tips, and next steps for their writing careers.

There are over 40 different workshops; with 10 writing-related workshops. After my writing workshop, I will be sitting in a zine-making workshop.

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Why You Should Attend the 4th Annual Literary Soul Symposium?

If the opportunity ever presents itself that I could write all day long, I would snatch it. For me, writing isn’t about having an outlet to express my thoughts, writing is an act of faith. And, after attending the 3rd Annual Literary Soul Symposium, I asked myself, why haven’t I attended more writing conferences. The Literary Soul Symposium was my first writing conference and it was a cathartic experience. I was able to meet writers, who I respect and follow their work (like Frederick Smith, Toni Newman, and Donta Morrison), and was introduced to new writers.

Booked Los Angeles Book Club (Los Angeles, CA), Brother 2 Brother Book Club, (Houston, TX), Novel-lites Book Club (Washington, DC), and The View of Dallas Book Club (Dallas, TX) hosted the Literary Soul Symposium. Each year the symposium is held in a different city and fortunately, it was held in Los Angeles this year. In The Meantime sponsored the event and provided the space, The Carl Bean House on West Adams Street.

The symposium included a keynote address by Rev. Alfreda Lanoix, mini writing workshops, a riveting speech by Daniel Black (of “A Perfect Peace”), a literary cafe, and a Q&A moderated by the Brother 2 Brother Book Club. Also, there was a mixer at Rockwell in Silver Lake, a spoken word/open mic event, and a brunch.

The highlight of the event was the mini creative writing workshop led by Frederick Smith. In the workshop, Frederick should twenty questions as prompts to generate writing. It allowed me to work on a piece that had circled around in my head. I will definitely return back to that writing exercise. Next year, the 4th Annual Literary Soul Symposium will be hosted by Novel-lites Book Club in DC. I will definitely be attending and you should too.

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The Importance of Professional Writing Workshops

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Sign Outside of Beyond Baroque; the Piece I Workshopped

My undergraduate degree was in Psychology. In high school, no one, not my counselor or none of my English teachers, told me that I could actually major in English or creative writing. I wrote constantly throughout middle school and high school. I discovered creative writing programs existed long after I graduated from college and wanted to enter into one. My main reason for entering a creative writing program was to enter the professional writing community. Yes, I had freelanced for various newspapers and magazines, but I did not think of myself as a professional writer.

After enrolling in the creative writing program at Otis College, I learned why professional writing workshops are important. Before the program, I edited my work and would look over drafts countless times before submitting my work to literary journals and magazines. I never understood why I did not hear back from them. After entering the program, I realized my problem (well several of them). Punctuation, lack of moving my writing into a more poetic realm, and my characters did not have a beating heart.

Now that I have completed the Writing Workshop at Otis and have created new material, I have craved sitting in a new writing workshop. I discovered the fiction workshop at Beyond Baroque and took copies of my new short story, “White Justice” there. I was worried my piece would not get read, but it was and the workshop leader echoed all the comments that my workshop leaders at Otis have told me – I have the tendency to over-describe and add unnecessary words. I’m not sure if that will ever leave me, but I know I’m going back to Beyond Baroque.

 

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