Category Archives: Interview

My Interview with Fiona McVie

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Two days ago, I was interviewed by Fiona McVie of Author Interviews. Here is a brief snippet of the interview:

Fiona: Tell us a little about yourself i.e. your education, family life, etc:

I moved from Jacksonville, Florida to Los Angeles, California to be part of the larger writing community on the West Coast. I could not find a writing job in Florida. Once, I moved I realized I had to enter a writing workshop to be a writer. I researched schools and found Otis College. Being in Otis’s Writing Program allowed me to become a writer, in the sense of the word. Since graduating, I have taught several writing workshops, I freelance write for three local magazines, and I published my first book.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

In November, I published my debut novel, “A Love Like Blood.” The book was a ten-year obsession. I thought of the idea when I started working at the Ann Arbor District Library. I started reading “how to write” books and read more to help me start writing the book.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing at the age of 14. I read a poem by Maya Angelou. I do not consider myself to be a poet, but I won first place in the Elma Stuckey Poetry Awards and have two poems published in “For Colored Boys,” which was published by Magnus Books in 2012.

To read the full interview, visit Author Interview.

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South African blog, Queerlife Features “A Love Like Blood”

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South African blog, Queerlife featured “A Love Like Blood.” The blog bills itself as South Africa’s “largest Gay, lesbian, trans, bi and other queer folk portal.”

The post is copied below:

What happens when a Muslim family converts to Catholicism to be more American? Or, when a son removes himself from his family to avoid an honour killing? Or what about being pummeled, close to death, is confused as love?

Author Victor Yates answers these questions and more in A Love Like Blood. Half Somali and Cuban, 17-year old Carsten Tynes, deals with the intricacies of race, Americanism, syncretism, migration, and sexuality under his dying father’s abusive hand in A Love Like Blood. Set in 1998, his family relocates to Beverly Hills, MI to expand their photography business. His father has lung disease and promises to give him the business if he marries his ex-girlfriend. Faced with an unwanted marriage and the slow death of his father, Carsten retreats behind his camera. His camera becomes the loose thread that slowly unravels his relationship with his father and reveals the unseen world of “men who move at night.” However, it is his infatuation with his neighbor, Brett that severs the symbolic umbilical cord between his father and him. When death pushes his father and Brett together, he makes a dangerous decision to protect them.

Victor Yates was raised in Jacksonville, Florida and now lives in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in Windy City Times, Edge, and The Voice. As a graduate of the Creative Writing program at Otis College, he is the recipient of an Ahmanson Foundation grant. He is the winner of the Elma Stuckey Writing Award (1st place in poetry) at Morehouse College. He received an Oprah Winfrey scholarship and appeared on Oprah’s Surprise Spectacular show. Two of his poems were included in the anthology, “For Colored Boys,” which was edited by Keith Boykin. The anthology won the American Library Association’s Stonewall Book Award. 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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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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Music: Live Show Preview – Mika

Origin of Love Album Art

Origin of Love Album Art

The first time I heard of the singer Mika was on Perez Hilton’s blog and since then the refreshing pop singer has transformed himself and his artistry into a global brand. I spoke with Mika, for Campus Circle magazine, in a quick phone interview about his tour stop in Los Angeles. The intimate interview is below:

After the global success of his visually striking Imaginarium tour, Mika is back with a more stripped down yet equally delicious show for his faithful fans. The airy singer will be performing at the El Rey Theatre on March 27. Mika spoke to Campus Circle excitedly about his upcoming show in L.A., which is part of his new North American tour. For anyone who has not had the pleasure of attending one of his concerts, Mika described his live performances as theatrical, stemming from his childhood experiences of attending church in London. Interesting enough, his performances tend to follow the order of a church service. Traditionally, church services open with praise and worship, followed by a greeting, an offering, communion, the message, prayer for needs, then the closing, which can be dressed in dramatic make-up and the more dramatic, the more beautiful. Beautiful can describe a Mika show, but psychedelic sing along is much more accurate.

The standing room only show at the El Rey Theatre will be realized in the same way as Mika’s last concerts. Standout set designs from the Imaginarium tour, were the moonscape and outer space sequences. This time around for his new North American tour the microphone, piano, and guitar are front and center. Think old-Hollywood lounge singer: low lights and Mika in shadowed profile, white starched shirt, fedora hat, with animation creating a playful narrative behind him.

Mika said to bring the set to life he will start planning out the design with the stage technicians at the El Rey and in about four to five hours the set will be complete.

The art deco theatre is an effectual match for this intimate concert and is in harmony with the artistic products that Mika has created as of lately including: the dreamy “Origins of Love” music video directed by Christián Jiménez shot in Chile, the colorful Luvluvmi Doll made in collaboration with DEVILROBOTS, and the breathtakingly gorgeous Imaginarium tour book.

The North American tour kicked off in Vancouver, British Columbia on the 22nd of March and ends mid April in Boston. Altogether there will be seventeen live shows, with the state of California having the most shows in the U.S. (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Solana Beach).

Curious MFers (Mika Fan Club members) will be delighted to know that the only cover song that Mika will be performing at the El Rey is “Popular Song.” Originally composed by Stephen Schwartz for the Broadway musical hit Wicked, “Popular Song” is not really a cover, but more of Mika’s sugary interpretation of the Galinda song made popular by Kristin Chenoweth. MFers can expect to hear Mika’s more radio-played songs like “Grace Kelly,” “Love Today,” “Relax (Take It Easy),” “Rain,” and “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)” as well as across-the-board fan favorites such as “Billy Brown,” “Lola,” “Stardust,” “Love You When I’m Drunk,” and “Blue Eyes.”

Mika - Relax, Take It Easy -Re-Release-

Mika – Relax, Take It Easy -Re-Release- (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In shows for his first and second albums, Mika said he often performed cover songs, and with the release of his third album, The Origin of Love, Mika pulled from his own catalogue of music on the Imaginarium tour and even cut out an opening act.

When we asked the singer, from where do you pull inspiration to create your work, he answered with “from anger and vengeance,” which he transforms into infectious bubblegum pop tunes. Continue reading

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