Tag Archives: West Hollywood

Genitalic

 

The documentary, Tongues Untied by Marlon Riggs engrained in me the importance of storytelling and using personal experience to create art. Marlon interweaves Black gay culture, poetry by Essex Hemphill and Joseph BeamSELRES_19391c97-4436-4c9f-abd1-46b2f929e1fcSELRES_646ec62c-616e-43ae-bba9-ae8b806d2647the poetry of Essex Hemphill and Jospeh BeamSELRES_646ec62c-616e-43ae-bba9-ae8b806d2647SELRES_19391c97-4436-4c9f-abd1-46b2f929e1fc, striking imagery, and a snapping tutorial. I have watched it repeatedly to learn more from Riggs.

Years later, I used some of the techniques that he used to produce my first documentary, Genitalic.

Last summer, I curated a reading at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert in Palm Springs with the writer, Dave Lara. Lara, in his 70’s, talked how he received a dishonorable discharge for being gay during the Vietnam War. I realized that I needed to preserve Lara’s story for younger LGBT generations because thousands of men like Lara were never able to share their story. I applied for a grant through the city of West Hollywood in order to film the documentary.
Genitalic centers on life for gay men in West Hollywood in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Eight older men were interviewed (seven in Los Angeles and one in London). Their narratives interweave as they discuss HIV/AIDS, race, racism, ageism, passing, daddy culture, and desire in the older male body.
The interviewees include Dave Lara, Lee Jackson, Philip Littell, Juan Castillo-Alvardo, David Friar, Clarence R. Williams, Brian Sean Gaston, and Martin Patrick. Each interviewee has a unique perspective. Dave Lara appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race on Season 5 on the military makeover episode. He was paired with the winner, Jinx Monsoon. In the documentary, he discusses the impact of AIDS on West Hollywood and how men started disappearing. He also discusses how he helped create a gay-run organization for HIV testing and prevention.
Lee Jackson, a fair-skinned Black man, discusses the three picture identification rule for Black and Mexican men enforced by doormen at nightclubs in West Hollywood. These groups of men had to present three I.D.s and without them, they were denied entry. On some days, Jackson passed for white and was allowed entry into the clubs without a problem.
There is a preview screening at the West Hollywood City Council Chambers on June 2nd at 1:15pm. It is part of One City One Pride’s A Day of History event. Watch the trailer below:

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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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Los Angeles Pride: A video tour

Being a polysemic word, Pride means something noticeably different between members of the LGBT community. Whether it is getting the masses to sign a human rights petition, dressing in drag as a cultural protest, being able to safely hold hands with a loved one in public, or donning a colorful ensemble, these acts represent Pride. L.A. Pride is a smorgasbord of the above times twenty. It is the largest gathering of the LGBT community in Southern California.

The most attended event during the 2013 L.A. Pride Celebration was the parade, where more than a hundred organizations walked. The Pride festival, immediately following, held in beautiful West Hollywood Park, featured live entertainment on multiple stages, headline performances, various dance venues, and thousands of people. A nice addition to Pride this year was Momentum, a large-scale light and interactive installation in collaboration with ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Impact Stories, The Mazer Lesbian Archives, The Lavender Effect, and The Colors of Compassion. Momentum was curated by INSTALL:WeHo, a queer art non-profit, .

In the video tour, I ask, “What is L.A. Pride?,” and hope to answer the question.

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Kontrol Magazine Interviewed Me: Check it out

Writer Victor Yates Photoshoot for Natural Gal photo 2

Photo Credit: Garen Hagobian/Stylist: Rico Cherry

Kontrol is a lifestyle, fashion, and entertainment magazine, based out of Atlanta and features new writers and/or writing projects monthly. I am the new featured writer.

An excerpt from the interview is below:

Get to know Victor

Why did you choose to get involved in this project?

I wanted to be involved in the project, because I believe it is important to start having more open conversations in families where sexuality and/or sexual abuse are taboo. The book form is a great package to hand to someone and say read this and get back to me. Books make great gifts, for any occasion, and speak when people cannot. I know of so many households where kids, growing up, were not allowed to talk about being gay. Because if they talked about homosexuality, they were talking about sex and sex talks were a no-no. The feedback from the project has been overwhelming. Different readers saw themselves or found similarities in their experiences with specific pieces. I’ve had two readings in L.A. so far and people have come with their mothers or bought a copy for a relative with children. Someone even told me they were buying a copy for their job.

Read the full article at: http://www.kontrolmag.com/author-conversations-with-victor-yates-kontrolreads/

 

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Reading at West Hollywood Library

West Hollywood Library Grand Opening & Dedication

West Hollywood Library (Photo credit: City of West Hollywood)

Recently I read from For Colored Boys at the West Hollywood Library with Antonio Brown and Jonathan Kidd (contributors to the anthology), and actor Jorge Ortiz. I edited and posted the reading on YouTube; please watch the videos and comment. I will be reading again at the West Hollywood Library during  the City of West Hollywood’s ‘One City/One Pride’ Festival in June.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Question and Answer Session

Stay tuned for more information on the West Hollywood Library reading in June.

US iTunes, App Store, iBookstore, and Mac App Store

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Signing My First Autograph

At the West Hollywood Book Fair

What I wasn’t expecting walking into the Green Room, was to have a writing gig handed to me (an unusual one at that. that story will be told later). The West Hollywood Book Fair, on September 30, turned out to be what I imagined it would be, brain-candy for my literary sweet tooth.

I was reading my work at the same event with Deepak Chopra (Ageless Body, Timeless Mind), Heidi Durrow (The Girl Who Fell From the Sky), Douglas Kearney (Black Automaton), Gigi Levangie Grazer (The Starter Wife), and other respected authors.

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The reading for, For Colored Boys, turned out better than expected too. Each L.A. contributor to the book showed as well as the actors.

When the microphone was handed to me, I froze. My speech, scribbled on notebook paper looked like German, werden, müssen, eigentlich, and the words I rehearsed came to me in spurts, Magnus Books, Keith, thank you, Skylight Bookstore. That wasn’t an intelligible sentence.

After I read my two poems published in the anthology, I searched the audience for signs or signals. Then I looked down the panel at these brilliant writers and actors, Jonathan Kidd, Antonio Brown, Doug Spearman, Stephen Anthony Williams III, Nic Few, and my fears of not being seen as a serious writer, floated up out of me and blew away like a soap-bubble.

 

It wasn’t until I got home and showered that I realized I signed my first autograph.

I can’t wait to read at the West Hollywood Library in December.

 

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11th Annual West Hollywood Book Fair

What would a conversation with best-selling spiritual writer Deepak Chopra, chef Rocco Dispirito, and original ‘Dream Girl’ Sheryl Lee Ralph sound like?

Find out at the 11th Annual West Hollywood Book Fair on September 30th, taking place at the resplendent West Hollywood Library. The event, co-produced by the City of West Hollywood and the Authentic Agency,  takes place from 10am – 6pm, featuring 10 stages, a children’s theater, local Los Angeles writer’s panel, and writer’s workshop.

The stages include: Park Stage, Fiction Pavilion, Culinary Pavilion, Toddlers, Tweens & Teens Stage, Mystery, Comics & Sci-Fi Stage, LGBT Lounge, Poetry Corner, and Eclectic Café.

At last years Book Fair the West Hollywood Library was unveiled and this year promises more spectacle.

Highlights include: a conversation with writer Gigi Levangie Grazer, actress Lisa Rinna, and Beverly Hills Housewife Kyle Richards; author of ‘The Girl Who Fell From the Sky’ Heidi Durrow; actor Patt Morrison; and poet Douglas Kearney.

I’m reading at the Book Fair as well from an anthology I had two poems published in, For Colored Boys, edited by Keith Boykin and published by Magnus Books.

Details:

Where: West Hollywood Library
Address: 625 North San Vicente Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Reading Location: Toddlers, Tweens, and Teen Stage
Reading Time: 4:00-5:00

Book Signing: Immediately after reading (by contributors)
Book Signing Sponsor: SkyLight Bookstore

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