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black lgbt artsy event: san francisco: 4/21/11: tongues untied film screening @ GLBT History Museum

**Updated Info Below**

One of the perks working at the Ann Arbor District Library was having an unlimited amount of time to check out materials. I abused that policy. Especially with DVD’s. Marlon Riggs‘s film Black Is Black Ain’t stayed on my work desk for about a month. I accidentally discovered the film shelving a documentary. The cover caught me. I flipped it over to the back. The description read:

BLACK IS… BLACK AIN’T is an unabashedly frank look at black identity in America. In his final project before losing his battle with AIDS, acclaimed director Marlon Riggs challenges the traditional definition of blackness while issuing a ringing call to African-Americans to celebrate diversity within the community.

A powerful and intelligent critique of racism, sexism, and homophobia, the film trains a bright spotlight on the exclusiveness and rigidity of the black institutions of family, church, and community.

Winner of the Sundance Film Festival‘s Director’s Trophy, BLACK IS… BLACK AIN’T is embracing and at moments mystical.

Black Is Black Ain’t shows there isn’t one Black experience. Intermixed with commentary from Bill T. Jones, Essex Hemphill, bell hooks, Cornel West, and Angela Davis is an un-tutorial on creole cooking and Riggs tied to machines battling AIDS and shots of Riggs running naked in the woods. His running in the woods naked represents vulnerability and “yearning to break free of confining notions of identity into an open, inclusive embrace of all that black is,” according to Riggs.  The reoccurring “motif reinforces the underlying point of the film.”

Cover of "Tongues Untied"

Cover of Tongues Untied

One of the best moments of the film for me was discovering Essex Hemphill. Hemphill was a black gay poet and activist best known for his book, Ceremonies.  Ceremonies addressed “the sexual objectification of black men in white culture.” Hemphill reads his poem, I Cannot Come Home As I Am, which talks about his relationship between him and his father and the distance that being black and gay can force in

between families. His voice still follows me around. Lines from his poems tied in the gay/black experience to the black experience.

Silence is
Our deadliest weapon
We both use it.
Precisely.
Often.

Riggs asks, “if people are like gumbo, then what is the roux, that special ingredient that binds and gives everything its unique flavor? Riggs refuses to tell us; he keeps his recipe for roux secret.” “Like gumbo, black communities are made up of many contrasting ingredients. Riggs asks us to reject the idea of a single model of blackness and accept and value black America as an inclusive and dynamic world.”

Riggs died the film was completed. Black Is… Black Ain’t was completed by his co-producer Nicole Atkinson and editor/co-director Christiane Badgely from footage and notes Riggs left behind.

Rigg’s second major work, Tongues Untied (58 min, 1989), shot him into the public funding of the arts debate. “Though acclaimed by critics and awarded film festival prizes, its broadcast by the PBS series P.O.V. was immediately pounced upon by the Religious Right as a symbol of everything wrong with public funding for art and culture, particularly culture outside the mainstream,” according to Larry Adelman, co-director of California Newsreel, the country’s oldest non-profit documentary production and distribution center.

A special screening of Tongues Untied is being held at the GLBT History Museum in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood. There’s also a panel discussion (not sure if it’s before or after)

Description: This special screening of Marlon Riggs’ 1989 film revisits the relationships of gay Black men 22 years later. How have Black lives and love among African American men changed since the release of the Riggs’ film? What can we learn from history and current generations about love in the Black community not just among gay men, but among all Black men? What can we learn about relationships between Black men and other gay men of color?

Location: GLBT History Museum, at 4127 18th St. in the Castro District

Time: 7pm-9pm

Phone Number: 415.777.5455.

Price: $5.00. Admission to the museum is $5.00; there’s no extra charge for the film program.

The GLBT History Museum was recently in the news when Britney Spears visited making the museum her first stop on her lightning tour of the Castro on Sunday, March 27 (the footage aired on ABC’s Good Morning America and can be seen on ABC).

The archives, reading room and offices of the GLBT Historical Society, the parent organization for the museum, are at 657 Mission St. in San Francisco.

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GBM news Top 15 Most Powerful People of Color in LGBT Community

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Image by Indiewench via Flickr

Nathan James of GBM News compiled a list of the “Top 15 Most Powerful People of Color in the LGBT Community” in response to MSN Wonderwall’s article on the “The Most Powerful Gay Celebrities.” Included in MSN Wonderwall’s list TMZ creator Harvey Levin, Blogger Perez Hilton, music legend Elton John, actress and TV Host Ellen DeGeneres, fashion consultant Tim Gunn, and Interior Designer Nate Berkus . The list did not however include one people of color or a transgendered person.

“The list’s lack of diversity is representative of the ongoing problem of limited gay and transgender visibility in minority communities,” stated Kimberley McLeod, GLAAD‘s Communities of African Descent Media Field Strategist.

A commenter from GLAAD’s website said “I believe there’s something called ‘racism’, whether conscious or unconscious. MSNs people are either extremely ignorant or plain lazy in their researching–which amounts to racism by any other name. And, one pathetic and detrimental reality is that too many of us white folks still only see who looks like us.”

One celebrity of color who made Nathan James’ list, Ricky Martin received the Vito Russo Award from GLAAD at their 22nd Annual Media Awards (presented by Rokk Vodka) on March 20 2011 in New York. GLAAD also presented Russell Simmons with the Excellence in Media Award. “The Excellence in Media Award is presented to individuals who, through their work, have increased the visibility and understanding of the LGBT community in the media,” according to GLAAD. Simmons “has repeatedly spoken out on issues of concern to the LGBT community, urging Americans to support full equality.” Essence.com received the Outstanding Digital Journalism – Multimedia award for “Bridal Bliss: Aisha and Danielle” by Bobbi Misick and blogger Rod McCullom of Rod 2.0 was a GLAAD nominee.

Nathan James and GBM News Top 15 Most Powerful People of Color in the LGBT Community includes:

  1. Film producer, television producer, and entertainment attorney Nathan Hale Williams
  2. Director Maurice Jamal
  3. Taiwanese Designer Jason Wu
  4. Author and commenter Keith Boykin
  5. Army officer and face of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Lt. Dan Cho
  6. Comedian Margaret Cho
  7. Pro-basketball player Sheryl Swoopes
  8. Emory University HIV/AIDS researcher Dr. David Malebranche
  9. Director and screenwriter Patrik-Ian Polk
  10. Singer Ricky Martin
  11. Author E. Lynn Harris
  12. Radio Personality DJ Baker
  13. Fashion Icon Andre Leon Talley
  14. Pastor, TV producer, and author Rev. Kevin E. Taylor
  15. Actor and author Stanley Bennett Clay

Some of their profiles:

E. Lynn Harris is the author of Just As I Am and Basketball Diaries and mentor to many black authors, gay and straight. His first book, Invisible Life, helped launch the careers of author black gay authors such as Terrence Dean, Clarence Nero, and James Earl Hardy (best known for the B-Boy Blues series).

Nathan Hale Williams is best known for co-starring in the Sundance Channel reality series Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and worked on the film, Dirt Laundry. He’s the iN-Hale Entertainment.

At 26, Jason Wu was asked by Andre Leon Talley to design Michelle Obama’s dress for her Inaugural Gown. Now his designs are available at Bergdorf Goodman.

DJ Baker is a radio personality and creator/producer/host of Da Doo-Dirty Show, a hip/hop and R&B radio show (All Digital Radio Network, Qnation.fm, and K-Zone 187.1) which features news, gossip, and showcases LGBT and indie artists.

Directors Maurice Jamal and Patrik-Ian Polk are best known for their projects Ski Trip and Noah’s Arc. Maurice Jamal is the creator of the GLO Network, the world’s first Urban LGBT network. GLO offers TV programming and movies online currently. Patrik-Ian Polk is currently developing a Noah’s Arc series spin-off for Logo TV and a drama series for BET.

David J. Malebranche, MD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University’s School of Medicine, HIV researcher and advocate, and “is known as a dynamic speaker nationwide and has appeared in documentaries on CNN, ABC News Primetime, TV One and BET for his expertise on HIV in the Black community. Malebranche wrote “A Letter to Oprah” after watching her show about a woman who sued her husband for 12 million dollars because she contracted HIV from him. Read the entire letter below. Interesting enough The Oprah Winfrey Show received Outstanding Talk Show Episode from GLAAD for the episode “Ricky Martin Coming Out as a Gay Man and a New Dad.”

For more profiles go to GBM News.

Unfortunately Nathan James’ list did not include any transgendered or gender queer leaders and/or personalities of color. The list could have included RuPaul legendary drag performer, musician, and creator of the amazing Rupaul’s Drag Race on LOGO. Rupaul’s next album, Glamazon, is set to be released later this year (I know it’ll be “fierce fierce fierce).

Prominent transgender and gender queer celebrities include icon Amanda Lepore, Brazilian model and muse of Givenchy’s creative director Riccardo Tisci Lea T who posed nude in French Vogue, appeared in Givenchy’s Fall 2010 ad campaign, and famously interviewed by Oprah, actress and performer Candis Cayne, transman pornstar Buck Angel who bills himself as “The Man With a Va jay jay,” transman photographer and activist Loren Cameron, and New York performer, actress, and producer Laverne Cox who appeared on “I Want to Work For Diddy” (which won a GLAAD award for “Outstanding Reality Show) and co-produced Being T, a documentary looking into the lives of 12 transgendered New York women. Being T was executive produced by Janet Jackson. Cox has appeared on HBO’s series “Bored To Death” and the documentary “I Am The Standard.” Also Andre J international personality most-known for his cover of French Vogue and his gender bending style.

Maybe MSN’s WonderWall or Nathan James’ list for next year will include trans or gender queer leaders and/or personalities.

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When does the editing process stop

Letter from Lady Helena Gleichen addressing th...

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I think getting rejected by literary agents has made me a better writer.

My first rejection came two years ago. I was waiting on my editor to send me his inked up thoughts on the last five chapters. I had the publishing bug. I couldn’t wait any longer. I wanted to be published no matter what my editor thought. I submitted a query letter to an agent at Writer’s House. I studied some website I googled on how to write a query letter and wrote what I thought was brilliant.

Hardcore rapper 50 Cent meets Zane and realizes he’s gay

Dear agent,

Xitonce (pronounced existence), my novel, is an urban story about a young African American male caught in a love triangle with a man who suffers from panic attacks and a politician on the down low (dl) running for public office. From their story, a gripping story unfolds from a love letter that catapults the reader through an unforgettable tale of Detroit’s Black upper class community, homophobia in Peru, faking a marriage to gain citizenship, and two detectives trying to find a sadistic killer.

Like all urban novels Xitonce includes personal reflection, sex, crime, and revenge. However it veers from other works such that five very different characters reveal through their own stories how there are no coincidences in life but a single line of events that connect people.

Xitonce is one of few down low fiction works that is literary first, where many down low books falter and written to appeal to the mainstream literary audience. The result is a roller coaster showing how emotions can lead people to the lower depths of society.

As a young writer, I am looking for an experienced agent and I am thoroughly impressed with your agency.

The novel is 48,338 and fully complete. I am sending you the first five pages of Xitonce as stated in your submission guidelines.

I thank you for your time and consideration.

The agent responded less than five yours later.

Thanks, but I’m afraid this isn’t right for me.

By the way, the manuscript looks too short. Most novels should be closer to 70,000 words at least.

I was upset at first but relieved too. It wasn’t time for my book to be released.

I started sending out a new query letter two years after I sent my query to Writer’s House. I have received about five rejection letters. With each letter, I have thought over some of the dialogue and descriptive paragraphs that didn’t flow or fit well with the rest of the story. I have revised almost 20 chapters since I thought I was finished with the book.

Last week, I sent off an updated query letter to my editor. My last query letter was a little boring. I let my editor reader it. He said it wasn’t suspenseful enough. I rewrote it and rewrote it. The final current version is more suspenseful than the other versions have been.

I wanted to get my editor’s approval before sending off the new query letter to another agent. One agent I was interested in sending a query letter too requests that new writers send her the first 50 pages of their work. I reread chapter 3 (pages 30-49) and realized that I didn’t love the chapter.

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