Category Archives: spotlight

Spotlight: Eliad Cohen/Papa Party

Eliadcohenbw

I consider myself an early adopter of hot men of color. I was stanning for John Cho before his sex symbol profile blew up. I still remember Jay Hernandez’s early days on Undressed. Glad everyone finally got on the Michael B. Jordan bandwagon.

But Eliad Cohen I didn’t see coming.

One day, after months of seeing him pop up in my Facebook feed, I had to ask, “Who the hell is this guy?”

Turns out he grew up in Israel and has managed to use his “tall, dark and handsome” look to launch several entrepreneurial ventures.

Gay-ville is like an LGBT airb&b. But after some research I became fascinated with his Papa Party. The branding is really smart, centered around this kind of modified hegemonic masculinity. The bodies in the imagery are very muscular, but the humor has a good sense of camp. Papa (as opposed to Papi) is loose enough to encompass multiples races and as such Papa Party has been successful all around the world including France, Brazil, Australia and Spain. I had the pleasure to go to the first Papa Party in NYC at XL last February and it’s one of the best times I’ve had in a while. The music was amazing, it was a very diverse crowd and the energy was electric. Nowadays I’m usually hanging at the urban parties, I haven’t really done the circuit party crowd since the Roxy days.

I also got to meet Eliad that night and I’m happy to report he’s really sweet! Honestly, I’m not used to the really good looking gays being nice, but he was nothing short of the adorable persona he comes across as online. Not only will I continue to support him when Papa Party comes to NYC, I want to earmark one of the international ones for next year. They look like so much fun!

His profile says he “likes to see people happy” and it doesn’t seem to be the usual PR bullshit. I personally like to keep my circle small, but he seems to thoroughly enjoy creating this worldwide brotherhood. It’s a great lesson in personal branding as well as getting paid for doing what you love.

Eliad is one of my favorite people I follow on Instagram and you can also keep up with Papa Party at PapaWorldTour.com or on Facebook.

Spotlight: Yolo Akili

Yolo Elevator

“Gender socialization is trauma.” – Yolo Akili

Ever meet someone and it feels like you’ve known them your entire life?

This is going to sound crazy, but I knew Yolo Akili before I knew him.

Like many men I follow on Twitter, I started following him because I thought he was cute. He would show up in my timeline every so often with some good wisdom…it wasn’t until about a year later I realized I was already familiar with his work.

Most of the men I look up to are renaissance men. I was first introduced to Yolo around his work around race and sexuality (naturally), but I was delighted to find out his work crosses other arenas including spoken word, yoga and astrology. How many black/brown men can I have an intelligent (intersectional) conversation about Western astrology with?! I immediately booked a reading.

My full chart was hands down the best money I spent that year. It was recorded and was supposed to be a podcast, alas we lost it due to technical difficulties. But the Ah-ha moments will stay with me forever.

I also had the pleasure of watching Yolo teach an undergraduate class at Fordham university; you could see the light bulbs going off in folk’s mind. I’ve been doing this work for so long, I take for granted most people will never take a sexuality/gender studies course (let alone with an instructor who can infuse critical race theory into the mix). Many students in the class began to unpack that very night.

His new book, Dear Universe: Letters Of Affirmation & Empowerment For All of Us has been my saving grace this year. When people get on my nerves and I have the urge to ruin their self esteem, Yolo reminds me to “give people back their crazy.”

We need more of this.
We need more people engaging in this work, especially LGBT people of color.
We need more Yolo.

You can find out more information about Yolo at YoloAkili.com including astrological services. Highly recommended if you’re into that sort of thing.

There’s a great interview with Yolo regarding his talk at the Queer Astrology Conference in San Francisco (of course). More about compatibility and power soon.

And Dear Universe can be purchased here. Makes a great gift!

Spotlight: Question Bridge

Undoubtedly, Question Bridge has been one of the highlight of 2012. Executive produced by Delroy Lindo, Deborah Willis and Grey’s Anatomy hottie Jesse Williams, Question Bridge seeks to represent and redefine Black male identity in America. I saw the exhibit at Brooklyn Museum in the spring and was humbled by audience reaction.

Created by Chris Johnson, Hank Willis Thomas, Bayeté Ross Smith, and Kamal Sinclair, it’s a conversation of sorts. They interviewed self identified Black men of various demographics who asked questions to other Black men through the camera. Those questions were then rotated to other participants and after four years the result is a slick transmedia project that offers something for everyone.

The full project includes interviews with over 160 men in roughly nine locations. I stood two hours at the Brooklyn Museum exhibit just to see one of the explicit gay questions. Last week I attended another screening at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture where Smith and Post-Production Producer Will Sylvester shed some light on the editing process.

Essentially the victim of their own circumstances, the project suffers from an abundance of representation that has to be narrowed down for certain screenings. The version I saw in Harlem didn’t include any sexuality/relationship questions except for “How did you know she was the one?” But to be fair, the 80 minute “theatrical release” did have good representation of gay black men answering other questions.

In the Q&A afterwards, two other people who work in HIV/AIDS inquired on questions surrounding sexual orientation and apparently there are a whole bunch of questions I didn’t even see in Brooklyn. There’s clearly a hunger for this type of dialogue in the Black community.

Although the runs in Brooklyn, Oakland and Atlanta are over, future exhibits are planned and there’s also a high school curriculum available and interactive website in the works. Hopefully there will also be a Question Bridge: Black Females, the biggest other critique I hear about the project.

You have to go see Question Bridge when it comes to your area!

QBDuBois

Spotlight: RDA

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This weekend in Miami I had the pleasure meeting one of my favorite internet obsessions: RDA. Three sexy, smart, entertaining brothers doing their thing. And they seem to actually enjoy each other’s company!

Rashad
What a sweetheart. Come for the body, stay for the dimples. When you look up Southern hospitality in the dictionary you get Rashad’s picture. I love his sensual music videos.

Deon
I want his teeth!
You may remember Deon from The Best of Youtube Grinding, but his channel is more than just him half naked. His instructional videos were very helpful when I started cutting my own hair. I am very grateful for that.

Anthony
Sexier and funnier than I’ll ever be: I often have an erection while I crack up watching him. Like Trent recently mentioned on his show, there’s just something special about Anthony.

I first heard about RDA on Newnue’s YouTube channel about two years ago. Since then both accounts have been compromised, but there are still some gems on RDA’s channel (they used to have a lot more videos, but haven’t re-uploaded them yet). Check it out and follow the boys on Twitter.

We need more of this: positive black men sharing their shenanigans on the interwebs.

Spotlight: Youth Pride Chorus

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You know what’s better than Glee?
The real thing.

Youth Pride Chorus (YPC), part of the LGBT Center’s Youth Enrichment Services (YES) programming here in New York City is one of the most inspiring things I have ever witnessed.

We take for granted even today, many kids get kicked out of their home simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. And with youth coming out younger and younger, many of these kids end up on the street. Even worse, with the budget crisis affecting municipalities across the country, LGBT youth are often a population thrown under the bus.

Although my parents were never really there for me emotionally, thank God I always had the basics (roof over my head, clothes, food). I can’t imagine being homeless at fifteen. It takes a lot of courage to stay positive with so much to deal with.

Under the leadership of Wes Webb (artistic director), Matthew Fetbrandt (music director) and YES staff members, the kids put on two major concerts a year as well as special performances around the city. It’s an intervention really; they get to socialize, learn leadership skills and obtain the social support many of them don’t get from their families.

I fondly remember my time in band in junior high and high school. I played the clarinet (womp womp) and it was one of my favorite classes as a young adult.

The performances are a mix of classic and current pop, rock and folk songs. YPC also has the distinction of performing my favorite cover of Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful. I saw it in person and was in tears. It’s no coincidence the song was recently named the most empowering song of the last ten years, according to a poll conducted by Stonewall, an organization striving for LGB equality. You can check out the performance below.

I’m so proud of “the baby gays.” For more information on YPC, check out their facebook page. And if you’re able to, please donate to YPC and help support the next generation of LGBT superstars.

Spotlight: Beyond Masculinity


As fabulous as I am, it’s about time I introduce you to some other sex masters doing great work.

Trevor Hoppe, a fellow critical masculinity scholar edited this really great anthology called Beyond Masculinity. It’s a wonderful collection of queer men’s essays on gender and politics.

With a wide range of topics, experiences and decent racial representation, there is something for everyone. My favorite (natch) is a piece by Keith M. Harris: IN THE LIFE ON THE DOWN LOW: Where’s a Black Gay Man to Go?

Do we really think that the worst thing that can happen to a black man is that he be called a faggot?

Several of the essays are in audio form, you can subscribe to the feed on iTunes.

A true Renaissance man, Trevor has a lot going on. He has a Youtube show: The View From The Bottom (womp womp), a blog and is working on more degrees. If you like Beyond Masculinity give him a shout on his site or leave a comment below.

Spotlight: ilikejoaquin

In an effort to give you more of why you’re probably here; to explore the intersections of race and sexuality, we’re introducing this new category. I can’t think of a person I’d like to share more with my readers.

I started watching Joaquin in 2008, in the heydays of YouTube. I was arbitrarily searching for homo-related content and stumbled upon his original Gay Series.

And yes he’s cute and all that, but if you actually listen (like I have for over three years) you begin to see he actually has something to say.

I think gay men of color take for granted the access we have to one another today. When I was a teenager there was no Youtube, no Noah’s Arc, no Grindr. I had to figure it out pretty much by myself. With so many people sharing their stories online today, it’s easy to find a gay boy who looks like you (even ethnicity wise).

He discusses relevant issues, but isn’t preachy. I don’t think people realize the power of just documenting your life, whether you do it for yourself or some other reason.

In the research we call this lived experience. How do young gay/bi Filipino men negotiate their masculinity (for example)?

Some of my favorites:

And You Are?
I’m bias because I’ve seen it live, but yeah, it still makes me smile.

I’m Gay & Confused
They say you never forget your first…(the Gay 001 video)
But yeah, speaking of Noah’s Arc, not having a lot of gay friends and being single at 28, 29, 30, LOL

Being Gay and at Your Best
Perhaps I just needed to hear this tonight, but of all his self worth/self love videos (and there are a few) this one is my favorite.

If you don’t put your best in something, then what are you doing?

He just started a new series: growing up gay. And extra stalker points if you want to read his writing on his WordPress.

Summary
Demographics: gay, Filipino, 20s
Location: The Bay Area, California
Highlights: poetry, dance, drag, self reflection (Variety)
Tagline: We from the Bay Y’all, We Da Best

Scavenger Hunt: There’s actually an interesting story about where the name of his channel comes from. Bonus points if you find the video with the explanation.