Tag Archives: Stanley Bennett Clay

You Are Not Alone: A must see documentary on black gay men and depression

You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone

The L.I.F.E Center in Inglewood attracted a record number of its congregation to attend a Friday night screening of a documentary on sex. Well not exactly sex but at the end of the 65-minute documentary the audience was up on their feet, standing, applauding the project’s ferocity and portrayal of black gay men dealing with depression. You Are Not Alone interweaves a single narrative on a man’s path to destruction with piercing interviews of over 20 gay men, mental health professionals, and religious leaders as well as a mother whose son committed suicide after being bullied because of his sexuality. The mother’s story is the most difficult to watch because her pain is visceral and present. The stories are blunt, brutal, and dark, but important and necessary to be heard by young gay men of color.

“A Black gay man dealing with depression should know that his mental illness is treatable and he need not suffer in silence; he is not alone,” said Antoine Craigwell. The interviews were conducted by Craigwell and Stanley Bennett Clay wrote and directed the project.

Craigwell has screened the movie in New York City, New Jersey, Oakland, and Washington, D.C. to raise awareness surrounding homosexuality, stigma, and depression. Mental health is often neglected in the black community. Sufferers are often looked down upon for seeking treatment and those who seek treatment often don’t continue.

The documentary traces the life of Cedric, a young professional whose early expressions of his sexuality were stomped on by his father. His father beat him mercilessly in an effort to eradicate any perceived traces of homosexuality and to force him to conform to his expectations. In a world that has become homophobically rabid, Cedric’s father’s violence lends itself to a segment of society that condemns and ostracizes anyone who demonstrates a departure from what is considered the norm. This father typifies many parents, whose reactions to their sons, are born out of fear of  homosexuality or how society will view their child. Cedric struggles to understand and accept himself, and is forced to live two lives: a hardworking businessman and a drug abuser, both collide and he doesn’t feel he has any reason to live.

You Are Not Alone started out as a book project. Craigwell interviewed a number of black gay men who experienced depression. The project changed shaped and Craigwell recorded some of the men who he had previously sat with. The film features Rob Smith, DJ Baker, Ty Martin, Jamaal Stone, Taylor Siluwe’, Rev. Kevin Taylor, and others.

“During many of the interviews, while the camera was over my shoulder, and as I was asking questions, I was also wiping tears from my eyes as I listened to the stories,” said Craigwell.

I had the pleasure of moderating the panel after the screening. The panel included: Antonie B. Craigwell, Stanley Bennett Clay (who wrote and directed the re-enactments), Lester Greene (who plays in the documentary), and Rev. Russell Thornhill of the L.I.F.E Center.

Check out the discussion below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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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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