Tag Archives: Los Angeles

The Beauty Queen

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Twitter exploded the second Olivia Jordan was crowned Miss USA. Her gown for the evening wear segment sparked controversy (aside from Donald Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants during that same time). The dress polarized the Internet. Some loved it, while others hated it and thought she should not have won based on the dress. The dress was pink and strapless with a flowing skirt that had slanted lines of ruffles. In an interview with The Huffington Post Live, Jordan stated it was the dream dress of her five-year-old self.

A beauty queen’s dress is purely aesthetic and superficial. Her wardrobe choices are less important than who she is as an individual and what she represents. That ideology applies to Hailie Sahar, a pageant winner, whose story of triumph over adversity can be overlooked if the viewer only looks at the surface.

At In The Meantime’s pre-pride party, she dazzled the audience with her charm and hand placement-ography (choreography for a beauty queen’s hand). See her as the crowd saw her. First her dress, gray, and chic, paired smartly with an ornate gold necklace. Her sash for Miss L.A. Pride 2015 accentuated her figure. Then, her arms, bare and thin, then her flash of red hair. The spotlight caught her face at an angle that gave her the glow of a pregnant woman. She smiled, waiting for Karamo Brown to finish. They both were handpicked to be Brand Ambassadors for BrothaFest. Many of the people in the audience did not know (from only looking at her) that she was born in the wrong body and transitioned into her female body.

In a sit down interview, Sahar discussed the difficulty of being transgender, biracial, and young in L.A., being abused at a young age, and how she has overcome numerous obstacles to be a role model for girls like her.

What did it mean for you to be asked to be the Ambassador for BrothaFest?

It was touching to be asked to be an Ambassador for BrothaFest. I felt humbled. It meant that I was doing something good in life. It told me that I have a duty to be a role model as a transgender woman. Also, I saw it as a blessing.

Also, you were this year’s Miss L.A. Pride. Tell us about that experience.

It happened out of nowhere. One of the previous contestants called me the day before the pageant. I didn’t know too much about it. That experience was another blessing. Once I got there, I knew what it was working toward. And, being in the Parade was overwhelming. There were people crying and waving at me in the convertible that I was in. It furthered my belief that I had a duty to be a role model for others.

What were the components of the pageant?

There was a cocktail dress round, evening dress round, and Q&A round. The question that I was given was what was the most pivotal moment in your life as a trans person. I grew up being abused. Not too many people know that. I was also a preacher’s kid. Not too many people know that either. In that environment I was confused. I would go to church and a family member was abusing me. For me, to come out of that and be the person that I wanted to be in a religious and strict household that was my most pivotal moment. That’s why I want to tell my story. People might see me and say she’s beat or beautiful. But, no matter what I’ve been through or you’ve been through, you can still persevere and don’t let the situation mold you into a negative person.

What is it like to be transgender, young, and Black?

It is a lot of hard work. It takes discipline. As a minority and being biracial and transgender, you have to go through obstacles and then find your way in the world. As a trans person, it is often difficult trying to get people to understand who you are.

People don’t know what it means to be trans. They do not fully understand that your biological makeup can be different from your physical body. I have a doctor that I go to and l learned that there are studies looking at chromosomes when babies are born. Sometimes a child can be born in the male form, but the baby thinks in the female state. There are so many diversities of how people are born. People are visual. They trust that because you are born with a male body, you are male. But there is more to a person than their sexual parts. They are shallow-minded and see physical parts and identify that person as what they see.

Why did you come out as trans when you could pass as a biological woman?

I feel that it is a blessing to be passable. A lot of people don’t have that blessing to pass and be beautiful. I’m not saying that to be overly confident. When God gives you these gifts, you use them. I want to use my beauty and intelligence to uplift others and give back to people that do not blend into regular society. They will see someone like me and know that there are people like them that can be successful and achieve what they want in life. I’m Black and trans and am doing what I want to do. I like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock because they are going about it in a classy and elegant way. They are intellectuals and carry themselves well.

Who is the private Hailie?

I am a shy person and a workaholic. I have a hard time showing people my true self as I am. They might take me not opening up as being a diva, but that’s not the case. It takes a while for me to open up. Then you’ll see I’m a big kid. I love amusement parks and don’t take things too seriously.

Is the transgender community in L.A. connected or disconnected and how so?

In general, the transgender community is a bit disconnected. A lot of trans people are afraid because they do not know how they will be treated after they come out. They might be ridiculed. But I will say, this year there have been a lot of people in the public eye like Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, Isis King, and Janet Mock. People like me; we see more of it. I see it in the city and when I meet girls like myself, I see a spark in their eyes as we talk about the movement.

Do you have any trans mentors that have helped you during your transition?

I did not have a trans mentor to help me during my transition and do not now. In that sense, the trans community is detached. There is not a lot of help. I thank God that I have the mother that I have and my brother. My mother has helped me in my journey.

Last year, there was a huge scandal concerning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and with the words “tranny” and “she-mail” being used. What are your thoughts on those words?

She-male is a pornographic term like cock or the p-word [or the female anatomy]. These words are used in a sexual environment. The word tranny is equivalent to the n-word. When someone says tranny, I hear the n-word. A lot of people are not educated. A lot of Black people aren’t educated [on the history of the n-word]. Also, a lot of trans people aren’t educated [on the history of the word tranny]. They go along with it and use it, not knowing that it means something sexual.

What would you like to leave our readers with?

I am following all my dreams. I am working on some acting projects, getting more into music, and doing more pageants. Follow my journey on Instagram at Hailiescommet and on Twitter at 213sahar.

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Author Marketing: A how to guide (sort of)

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Google author marketing and a rabbit hole will magically appear that Alice wouldn’t want to dissappear into. Nothing prepared me for the world after my novel was published and one article won’t either. Fortunately, I have read several and I am working my way out of Wonderland to meet my marketing goals.

What I have learned thus far:

– My pricing was wrong (Anything over $10 is a luxury to potential readers, yet the same potential readers will buy $100 Adele tickets. Yes, that was shade.)

– I need a publicist  (Because news organizations are bombarded by press releases, events, and various emails. An email from a long standing contact or a professional  is easier to get through to a news organization)

– I need an assistant and a street team and a stylist (For obvious reasons)

– I need a strong social media presence on every platform  (Even Periscope. Why, I still have not figured that part out)

 

– I need a generous benefactor so I can quit my full-time job and part time jobs  (So I can devout the next few months to falling down the rabbit hole)

 

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Excerpt from A Love Like Blood

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If you enjoyed this excerpt, then you will love the book. You can purchase “A Love Like Blood” at any of the links below.

Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Like-Blood-Victor-Yates/dp/0692553312/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1447353518&sr=1-1

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Like-Blood-Victor-Yates/dp/0692553312/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1447353518&sr=1-1

If you have Kindle Unlimited the book is free.

Create Space: https://www.createspace.com/5793911

Use the code XBFGEU69 to receive $10 off.

 

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Our Odyssey: A Reading of Homer’s Epic By the People and For the People at the Downtown Public Library

“Tell me, Muse, of the man of many devices, who wandered far and wide after he had sacked Troy’s sacred city” … are the first lines of the Odyssey that I had the pleasure of reading at the Los Angeles Downtown Public Library. I was asked by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles to be one of two hundred readers to reading the Odyssey in its entirety (1200 lines). The voice of Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) provided running commentary. Cloris Leachman, Rhea Perlman, Bradley Whitford, Susan Sullivan, Roger Guenveur Smith, and Lisa Loeb read. Also, magician Ricky Jay, KCRW traffic reporter Kajon Cermak, and musician Lol Tolhurst read as well.

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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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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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It happened. Reading at the Downtown Los Angeles Library for ALOUD

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Breaking out into a sweat, from running, into the auditorium is how my reading started. I was late for the sound check. Actually, I was the last person to arrive. I sat in my seat in the front row and listened to the first reader read the first five sentences of her piece. Then it hit, it was really happening. I was reading in the ALOUD series at the Downtown Los Angeles Central Library.

I had known about it for about five months and I pushed it to the back of mind. Work (my numerous gigs) came first. Turning in my thesis project for school was a priority as well.

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When I sat in the seat, my nerves tightened and made me question everything I had practiced for my performance. I stood when it was time for my sound check and everything came rushing out.

What follows is from later that day. Continue reading

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