Category Archives: Current Events Commentary

Pulling Your Own Weight

Hivaids

Most people really don’t give a shit about anything else other than their own shit…which explains why we are where we are.
Darius Clark Monroe

I work in Chelsea: a neighborhood in New York City once brimming with gays, but now yuppie central. With the introduction of the Highline and luxury high-rises, it’s now filled with young breeder couples and Asian tourists. It’s become a hotbed for canvassers seeking money, signatures and sympathy for their causes.

One particular lunch trip to Chelsea Market I was approached by a young Black woman who worked for an international children’s organization. I quickly explained I didn’t have time nor money to help her and went on my way. She decided that wasn’t an acceptable answer and followed me down the street.

At this point I was livid (and hungry). What followed was a twenty minute conversation on the politics of giving.

I explained I also worked for a nonprofit up the street and it wasn’t uncommon for me to run into canvassers from four different organization in a four block radius. On that particular day there were representatives for clean water, women’s reproductive rights, gay rights and child welfare. All causes I care for, but I didn’t have money for all this.

She explained although the black people she approached were usually less wealthy, for her purposes it wasn’t a waste of time because they always gave. The European tourists and other elite (read: White people) didn’t care about social issues.

“That’s not a long term solution!” I yelled. “You have to make those people care.”

But she was unconvinced and asked me to adopt a child. I politely declined again and went about my way. I also took the long way back to work so I didn’t curse her ass out.

I tell this story to say I believe most of the pressing issues facing Black folk aren’t going to get any better because not all of us are pulling our own weight. There’s no greater example of this than HIV/AIDS.

I’ve been doing this work for close to ten years now and it’s the same people at these conferences, same bloggers making relevant posts/videos, same celebrities lending their voices to the cause.

Everyone else is too busy worried about Brandy’s new album and the logistics of a bus driver’s decision to uppercut a disrespectful passenger.

And I’m over it.

This is also true on an institutional level: funding gets cut every year requiring those of us on the front lines to do more with less. We spent the first thirty years of the epidemic putting the brunt of the burden on keeping everyone negative; once someone turned positive they became a statistics and only used for their bodies (to test out new drug cocktails) and their testimonials (to scare other people into having safer sex, or no sex at all).

To be perfectly honest with you I feel the fight was lost when HIV became a Black disease in America. Much like Stop & Frisk, employment discrimination and other issues predominately affecting Black America, there aren’t enough sympathetic non-Black people willing to do the work to turn things around. Which leaves more for the rest of us to do fueling burnout and disillusionment.

Frank Ocean discreetly reveals he used to be in love with another man and everyone raves like it’s the second coming of the Messiah. Hasn’t been much of peep out of him about his (homo/bi) sexuality since.

Meanwhile Jamar Rogers (whom to my knowledge isn’t even gay identified!) has done countless interviews on his experience with drugs/alcohol, the importance of safer sex and taking your medication as an HIV positive person.

And that disappointment is where I think I’m at in the conversation.

I got a degree in sexuality studies to talk about sex and relationships not disease and the decimation of my people. I don’t self-identify as competitive, but I am a results oriented person. And unfortunately I’m not seeing the kind of change I would like to see in the world.

It happens to all of us really: I call it “the moment.” Everyone fighting for social justice starts with the enthusiasm of a child then wakes up one day and realizes their contribution isn’t as impactful as they once hoped. Or maybe you get out into the world and realize just how great the need really is. At that point you can choose to go all in (I was dating him for the last two years) or you can choose to dial back and reassess.

I’m choosing self-care.

HIV/AIDS work will always be a part of my life, but my time in direct services is coming to an end. I don’t have another ten years in me. It’s not like they pay us like kings in the nonprofit world.

I like vacations, I want to travel more.
I like spooning and sleeping in on the weekends, not more work.
I expected the rates to go up (especially in YMSM of color), but I expected there to be more outrage.
I expected Phil Wilson to be retired by now.
I expect when men turn HIV positive to reflect on the decisions they make, not join a porn company to have more raw sex.
I expect parents to raise their own got damn children.
I expect people to pull their own weight.

I was told in my recent evaluation I complain too much, so clearly I expect too much from people in general.

So this World AIDS Day, I begin to plot my escape!

Why This Whole Chris Brown Thing Is A Joke

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Remorseful McGee

The Chris Brown/Rihanna domestic violence incident was the biggest teachable moment in Black American sexuality in 2009 and we failed miserably. Yes, we all failed: the music industry, the fans and Chris himself.

The ensuing aftermath was the best opportunity to have a honest conversation about race and gender relations in the United States. Almost two years later, not only did that not happen but Chris’s recent “Twitter fight” with former B2K member RazB proved he hasn’t learned much since the incident. Let’s examine some of what went wrong:

Continue reading Why This Whole Chris Brown Thing Is A Joke

Suicide, Sick Systems and Survivor’s Guilt

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image from questionable topic

I really want to talk about all these LGBT youth killing themselves, but considering there seems to be a new suicide almost every day it’s hard to figure out where to start. Let’s see if I can provide a useful framework to help shape the upcoming posts on the issue (puts mental health worker hat on):

The United States is (and has been for a while) a sick system for LGBT people.

Just sit with that thought for a second. Let it ache you at your core so you understand the severity of the situation.

What exactly is a sick system? Let’s review the four basic rules:

1. Keep them too busy to think.
2. Keep them tired.
3. Keep them emotionally involved.
4. Reward intermittently.

It’s very easy (lazy) to look at things like victories in the courtroom over the last decade (sodomy isn’t a crime anymore WHOOPI!, we can get married in a handful of states, GREAT!) and say things will get better (and already are). But when you look at actual lived experiences, especially of black and brown LGBT folk who still have to deal with persistent racism in this country, you can clearly see that’s not the case. Telling people “it gets better” is not only lying, but it contributes to the problem as well (see #3 and #4). The way I see it, this is a classic case of survivor’s guilt.

We’ll get into this in more detail later, but one thing that disgusts me about these videos are the people (especially celebrities) who are like “…if you’re feeling down, please call/message me. There are resources available…suicide is not the answer.”

Says who?

It’s condescending (and inaccurate) to assume that someone who kills themselves didn’t have any support or didn’t try to reach out for help. Take Rutgers student Tyler Clementi:

He realized his roommate was spying on him.
Sought out advise from the “community.”
While simultaneously taking action (alerting his RA) decided it wasn’t worth it (in the end).
Then jumped off the George Washington Bridge.

Many people who commit suicide (if not most I would argue) do a cost-benefit analysis of their situation, decide the cons outweigh the pros and decide they want out. And honestly I can’t blame them. In all seriousness, the only reason I haven’t committed suicide is because I’m too lazy to kill myself.

There’s some good research analyzing the meaning of the method of suicide (I’ll try to find exact citations). These kids aren’t cutting their wrists or taking a bottle of pills. They’re jumping off bridges and blowing their brains out with guns. They’re making sure the task gets completed.

That’s how serious the despair is.

Have you all seen the documentary The Bridge? Go Netflix it right now. It’s a disturbing (yet remarkable) documentary from 2006 about people who jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. They all had someone, at least one person who cared, but that wasn’t enough to stop them from killing themselves. These people made a decision, one that makes the rest of us (still alive) very sad, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a sound decision. And that’s where the conversation needs to begin.

I just feel like if we all stopped focusing on making ourselves feel better (for a moment) we can take a critical look at what is going on and then recommend more relevant solutions.

Quotes of the Week (Special Edition) – Bishop Eddie Long Sexual Coercion Lawsuit(s)

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On Tuesday, two Georgia men sued megachurch pastor Eddie Long alleging he coerced them to have sexual relations. It hasn’t even been a full 36 hours and not only are the interwebs ablaze, but now a third lawsuit has been filed.

We’re going to keep a close eye on this story, but I wanted to give you all a snapshot of the conversation so far. I present to you a special Eddie Long edition of the Quotes of the Week:

I don’t know what happened, so I’m gonna say allegedly…Eddie Long had sex with some trade and the trade got upset!
Drama Dupree

Bishop Eddie Long Stroke is a Kappa! Enough said!
KlothezMinded via Twitter

The real reason why I’m movin to Atlanta next week is because I’m Eddie Long’s newest “spiritual son.” There I said it! A nigga tryin to get paid!
Adam Benjamin Irby via Twitter

i went on MediaTakeout…You saw how fine that boy was?!?! Yeah he sucked that cock.
commenter 9thwardtea getting in on the action

I hope Eddie Long didn’t manipulate John 12:14 to be gay. That scripture does state “When Jesus found a young ass he sat on it.”
Charlamagne Tha God via Twitter

Ask a member of the “original” New Birth what happened to the last pastor…and how Eddie Long got on. Do some research. (clutching pearls)
TheRealLuxe via Twitter

King James had sex with men and commissioned the Holy Bible. Why is [everyone] surprised by Eddie Long?
Mr. Jones via Twitter

How much interaction will the LongFellows have with Bishop Long?
Bishop Long loves mentoring and is very involved when his schedule permits. (my emphasis)
Long Fellow Youth Academy FAQ

Somebody in my family just said they wished Bishop Dick Tracey Long had “just cheated with some women.” I. QUIT. BLACK. AMERICA.
HypnotiqOne via Twitter

This Eddie Long scandal has the makings of an epic screenplay…the “Black Brokeback Mountian.” I see NAACP Image Awards people!
D0wJ0nEs via Twitter

Mark my words, this is going to turn into an episode of Law & Order: SVU!
Sir Daniel via Twitter

The news reports are salacious. I support you whether or not the accusations are true or not. If true, repent. I forgive you like God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. How do we forgive? We forgive, forget and move forward. Flesh cannot destroy the spirit. (also my emphasis)
Bonnie Campbell via Eddie Long’s Facebook

Shame on Eddie Long’s spokesperson. Jesus too hung out with folks who knew “the wrong side of the law.” He just didn’t coerce them into sex.
KT Jones via Twitter

Now clearly the claimants could be lying, exaggerating or just doing satan’s work, but the “appearance of impropriety” is in the details.
Star Jones via Twitter

The case is about Bishop Eddie Long but the situation is about “power”, “leaders”, and the “black community” that looks up to them.
Tron via Twitter

If this is not a clear indication to blacks everywhere that Christianity and religion can not save/protect you, I don’t know what is.
Trent Jackson via Twitter

What is it going to take for the black church to have an honest discussion about human sexuality? Another scandal?
Darian Aaron via Twitter

Disappointment is the difference between expectation and reality.
Bishop Eddie Long (himself) via Twitter

There will be more, fasten your seatbelts!
Rod McCullom via Twitter

When Comedians Become Medical Experts

(An open letter to Barbara Walters)

Dear Ms. Walters,

Hi, my name is Tony. I have a background in journalism, but have been doing social science based HIV/AIDS research for the last seven years (mainly concerning gay/bisexual men of color). Making sure accurate and current information about sexuality reaches the general public is so important to me I am pursuing a masters degree to supplement my media training. Continue reading When Comedians Become Medical Experts

Quotes of the Week: Special Tiger Woods Edition

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You knew it was coming. The story that has consumed mass media all over the world for the last week or so. There is so much to talk about with this Tiger Woods scandal, it’s hard to know where to start.

Continue reading Quotes of the Week: Special Tiger Woods Edition

Quotes of the Week: Special Morehouse Edition

Story time!

I graduated high school in the Top 10 of my class. Not an easy feat considering this was when my parent’s divorce was coming to a head. I spent my freshman year at Penn State, then ranked a top 20 university (nationally). After that first year, I could no longer go (for various reasons) and my mother encouraged me to attend a HBCU (Historically Black College/University) to finish my undergraduate degree. I gave her the side eye. Continue reading Quotes of the Week: Special Morehouse Edition