Tag Archives: Lesbian

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.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Interview

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.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under poetry

happy endings and mic stands

hot java is a community coffee house in long beach’s gay ghetto at broadway and junipero. across the street from the coffee house is bixby park, a notorious park where gay men cruise (i accidentally found out it’s a cruising park). a sign is posted to prevent cruising. inside hot java you’ll see a lot of gay men and lesbians and hipsters and straights, of course. i went the first saturday of the month for the sanctuary open mic night. a poetry, spoken word, and music event. it’s hosted by two lesbians but straight-friendly. i met a poet by the name of husseldiva and a woman with brown locks whose name i can’t remember. the woman with brown locks suggested i get up on stage at the next open mic night. i’m debating if i should go. i have until may 6 to decide.

what piece would i do? my poems are typically short and really open mic/spoken word type/Def Poetry Jam pieces.

An Unfinished Zeta-Jones

Image by forklift via Flickr

somehow this reminded me of catherine zeta jones. she’s been admitted to a mental health unit for bipolar.I read she was stressed out over her husband, michael douglas’ cancer battle. that sounds more like stress and not bipolar. whatever it is sounds serious though.

it’s the stressful times that has inspired me and made my work real. when i was trying to get over the last guy i was dating i was editing chapter 4 of my new book, the taste of scars. i used everything i was feeling with him to make the characters made relatable. i achieved with memory and imagination. creative souls, that’s often, what we have to go on.

to all the crazies out there stay crazy and create.

which gets back to my original question what piece should i do? maybe i’ll write something about Catherine Zeta Jones, at least i’ll tell people it’s about her when really it’ll be about me.

 

 

 

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under poetry, save the date, The Written Word