Tag Archives: AIDS

Video: East Los High Actress Tracy Perez talks about Jennifer Lopez, Meryl Streep, the Industry, and HIV

Actress Tracy Perez from the hit Hulu show, “East Los High” speaks to Camp Hollywood Heart in Malibu Hills about Jennifer Lopez, Meryl Streep, being Latina in the entertainment industry, how to break into the industry, and what it means to play a character with HIV on the show.

“East Los High” is a drama series produced and written by Carlos Portugal about teens growing up in East Los Angeles from the American-Latino perspective. The show is the only all-Latino cast show on Hulu.

Perez plays Vanessa De La Cruz. In Season 1 Episode 1 her character is videotaped having sex in a parked car and the video goes viral. The show also stars Janine Larina, Gabriel Chavarria, and Alicia Sixtos.

The founder of The Wall-Las Memorias Project, Richard Zaldivar spoke before Perez at the event. Zaldivar discussed the important of HIV/AIDS advocacy and why the The Wall-Las Memorias Project was important to build in East Los Angeles. Perez’s character contracts HIV from having unprotected sex.

Watch the video to learn more about Tracy Perez and her controversial character.

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L.A. Pride for the First Time: A story for HomoCentric Reading Series

A Story for the Homo-Centric Reading Series
Read for the One City, One Pride Arts Festival
In Celebration of West Hollywood’s 30th Anniversary

Being a polysemic word, Pride means something different between members of the LGBT community. Whether it’s getting the masses to sign a petition, dressing in drag as a cultural protest, safely holding hands with a loved one in public or donning a colorful ensemble, these acts represent Pride. Los Angeles Pride is a smorgasbord of the above times twenty. At my first L.A. Pride, I had the opportunity to walk in the parade with Erase Doubt, an L.A. County-wide safe sex campaign. For the parade, I had to bounce a giant black beach ball that towered over my head. To launch it high up in the air, I lifted the ball above my head and smashed it to the ground. My arms cramped up from exhaustion after two minutes. Another guy had a matching beach ball. Printed prominently on our black balls was the AIDS virus.

Before the parade, I practiced what I would say to attract attention to our group. I settled on, “come stroke my black balls” and “don’t you want to juggle these?” Other people from our group would pass out condoms, beads, t-shirts, and drawstring bags with AIDS ribbons.

I was expecting a large crowd, but what I wasn’t expecting was the number of people that would greet us from the sidewalk. Thousands cheered, waved, high-fived us, stroked my ball, asked for pictures, and selfies. After the parade, an on-looker said it was quite a sight to see two colossal black balls bouncing toward The Abbey.

This year Pride turns forty-five, and that experience made me think about the first Pride in West Hollywood. How did those first walkers feel being greeted not only by the cheers of hundreds, but also hundreds of protesters? It must have been the disquiet that promised to suck the air from their lungs faster than a thumbtack through a balloon. For those brave men and women, I proudly bounced my giant black ball through West Hollywood.

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Essex Hemphill: Brother From Another Planet

The first time I heard Essex Hemphill‘s name was in the documentary Black Is… Black Ain’t by Marlon Riggs. His poetry was interwoven into the documentary beautifully. Hemphill began writing at age 14 and studied English at the University of the District of Columbia.

Not only was Hemphill a poet but also an activist for equality and gay rights. In 1980 Hemphill outed himself during “a poetry reading at the Founders Library at Howard University. From the mid-1980s until his death, Hemphill became perhaps the most well-known Black gay male writer in the United States since James Baldwin,” according to Dr. Wilfred D. Samuels, General Editor of A Gift of Story/Encyclopedia of African-American Literature.

Watch When My Brother Fell Performed by a D.C. Native

Hemphill “first gained national attention when his work appeared in the anthology In the Life (1986), a seminal collection of writings by black gay men. In 1989, his poems were featured in the award-winning documentaries Tongues Untied and Looking for Langston.” In 1990 Hemphill finished compiling Brother to Brother: New Writings by Black Gay Men, started by Joseph Beam. Beam died to AIDS-related complications in 1988. Brother to Brother won a Lambda Literary Award. Hemphill later published Ceremonies: Prose and Poetry (Plume/New American Library), which was awarded the National Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual New Author Award in 1993.

Hemphill’s poetry is in the new anthology, Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDSPoetry Anthologies), edited David Groff and Philip Clark (Alyson Books). Their have been readings from the anthology in San Francisco, D.C., and New York. Other poets anthologized in Persistent Voices are: Melvin Dixon, Chasen Gaver, Jim Everhard, Tim Dlugos, Reinaldo Arenas, Tory Dent, James Merrill, Paul Monette, and Joe Brainard.

“Persistent Voices is more than a catalogue of strong poetry by poets who were equally strong (in many ways),” Bryan Borland, an Amazon reviewer wrote. “Persistent Voices reminds us of the importance of poetry, of its place in society and of how it creates a degree of immortality. It teaches us, again, of how, with pen and paper, the truly persistent voices of these men and woman continue to be heard, to change lives, and to touch souls.”

Hemphill’s poetry is immortal. His poems have appeared in Essence, Black Scholar, Callaloo, Obsidian, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Advocate, and numerous other journals. His poems Dear Muthafuckin Dreams, Where Seed Falls, and American Wedding are in the anthology. In American Wedding Hemphill says:

They don’t know
we are becoming powerful.
Every time we kiss
we confirm the new world coming.

A powerful statement.

Watch Justin Vivian Bond Performing American Wedding

At an event titled Take Care of Your Blessings curated by Black Gay & Lesbian Archive Project, rare and unpublished manuscripts of Hemphill’s were featured. “Hemphill left three projects uncompleted: Standing in the Gap, a novel in which a mother challenges a preacher’s condemnation of her gay son who is suffering from AIDS; Bedside Companions, a collection of short stories by black gay men; and The Evidence of Being, narratives of older black gay men, which he had been working on since the early 90s in order to satisfy his curiosity about cultural and social history before the term “gay” entered popular usage.” Hemphill died in 1995 to AIDS-related complications.

One of my favorite Hemphill poems is The Father, Son and Unholy Ghosts. Read The Father, Son and Unholy Ghosts below and watch two YouTube performances of Hemphill’s work.

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The Other Brazil: DVD REVIEW: Madam Sata

Madame Sata Movie Trailer

The directorial debut of Karim Ainouz’s, Madame Satã, is a pictorial marvel detailing the life of João Francisco dos Santos, a black Brazilian man living in 1930’s racially and socially oppressive Lapa (northern Brazil). João (Lazaro Ramos), along with Laurita, (Marcelia Cartaxo) his best friend and Tabu, (Flavio Bauraqui) his pseudo household maid, construct a colorful yet restrained, irrational yet tender, spellbinding yet dark world through prostitution, drug usage and fantasy. Having the desire to rise above his meager lifestyle, Joao aspires to be a celebrated stage entertainer (drag queen) and loved by the public. Madame Sata illustrates how João “negotiates being in the world,” reacts to its judgment and the harsh realities that hauntingly follows. Ramos and the entire cast of Madame Satã, unforgettably breathe life into the sounds, sadness, beauty, and personal narrative of the human experience. The movie alluringly captures the multifarious textures, shades, and rhythms of Brazil in dramatic lighting and cinematography.

Madame Satã (film)

Image via Wikipedia

Emotional Scene from Madame Sata

Madame Sata is subtitled, it’s a Brazilian film in Portuguese. After the first five minutes it’s like you’re watching an English language film. The movie was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film – Limited Release and won Cinema Brazil Grand Prize’s top prizes Best Actor (Melhor Ator) and Best Actress (Melhor Atriz).

The name of the movie is taken from Cecil B. DeMille‘s movie Madam Satan about a woman trying to seduce her unknowing and unfaithful husband and teach him a lesson. In the movie João dresses as the character from Madam Satan.

Lazaro Ramos also stars in one of my other favorite movies, Carandiru, about Brazil’s largest prison in São Paulo. I only own two DVD’s Madame Sata and Carandiru.

Carandiru Movie Trailer

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