Monday, April 29, 2013

NBA player, Jason Collins is a proud Black Gay man!

I too am happy and proud that Jason Collins has come out as a Black Gay man. I emphasize his ethnicity because I share it. There is such a social stigma that is attached to black men who are homosexual. Jason has broken through the sexual orientation barrier AND the color barrier, again. His openness will allow a lot of African Americans (specifically African American MEN) to rethink their position and understanding of who and what a homosexual man is. In his interview with Sports Illustrated, he states “I go against the gay stereotype”. He is an aggressive player on defense. This image shatters that misconception that all gay men are soft or effeminate. Not that a more gentle man should be denigrated, however, every gay man does not fit that profile. When we look at television or movies, most male gay characters are a ‘caricature’ of feigned femininity. I know it gets laughs, but as a Black man, I hate when acting roles only portray Black men as criminal, uneducated, inarticulate and the absentee father of multiple children.  None of my Black gay or straight male friends fit either of these stereotypes.  It will be nice to see a public reflection of the masculinity that I and other gay men that I know possess.

In my excitement and celebration over the news of Collins’ coming out, I shared with two of my co-workers. One is a lesbian. The other is the father to a gay son. Me: “Hey, Jason Collins of the Washington Wizards just came out!” Their responses lacked my enthusiasm. Female co-worker: “Oh, that’s nice.” Male Co-worker: “Yeah, that will be big news.” Both spoke rather flatly. Honestly, they kind of deflated my balloon. Then it occurred to me. Although the news is historic, it isn’t mind-boggling or earth shattering. Because there is nothing wrong or special about a person being same sex attracted, the news should be taken in stride. Gay man comes out. No big deal. Maybe as a society, we are growing in tolerance and acceptance.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Book Excerpt: Football Games

Football Games tells the story of a gay professional football player who is forced to choose between his love for his partner of 4 years and his successful NFL career.  As Brenton Freeman struggles to keep his personal life private, his partner Jason has other desires.  Jealousy raises its ugly head and tries to drive a wedge between the two putting Brenton’s career at risk.  Will they be able to recover?  Will Brenton come out of the closet?  Here is an excerpt for you!

 - - -

Brenton blew his tea to cool it and began to share about the series of arguments he and Jason had had recently.  Erica is the only person in the world who knows that he is in a relationship with a man.  Erica isn’t just his sister, but his best friend.

“Jason has been, sorta, uh, pressuring me…no that’s not the right word.  He…”

“Just spit it out.  We’ll make it pretty in a minute.”  Erica interjected.

“Okay…Jason is pressuring me to…to come out.”  He whispered, leaning in close.

The look on Erica’s face told him she was just as tired of Brenton having to hide his sexuality as Jason, but she fully understood why.  With the controversy surrounding Proposition 8 and now the Supreme Court weighing in on its fate, the last thing Brenton wants is a spotlight shining his way.

“What do you mean, pressuring you?”

“Well, for starters, he wants me to come out to my teammates.  He said he feels like a ghost and not a real part of my life.”

“What?  He said that!”  She yelled.

The driver of a cold black Maserati blared on his horn at a paparazzo that risked his life jumping in front of his car to get a shot.  Brenton thought Erica couldn’t hear him because of the noise, so he repeated himself.

“I heard you.  I’m shocked that he asked…is requiring that of you.”

“I wouldn’t say require…” 

“I would.  Hell!  You know I have grown to love Jason like a brother and you know that was no easy feat!  But I support him and I support the two of you together.  But does he not understand the implications public disclosure could have on your career?” 

“Can you keep it down a bit?”  He said.

“Sorry.  You know how I get.”

“I tried to explain it, but it is hard for him to hear.  Sometimes he gets so caught up in his wants and needs.”

Erica is so protective of her big brother; you would think she was the oldest.  They were silent for a moment.  Each of them contemplated the situation from their perspective.  The waiter cleared their table and Brenton began to walk Erica to her car. 

“Hey Brenton, over here.”  A cameraman yelled.

“Mr. Freeman, how does this season look so far?”  Another asked.

Brenton ignored them both, but when a little boy and his mother stopped directly in their path, he smiled, bent down, said hello and gave the boy the autograph he was asking for. 

“Your son is so well mannered.  May I give him something else?”

“Uh, sure.”  She looked down at her son who was beaming with delight.

“Give me one second.”  Brenton reached for his cell phone, pressed a speed dial button and was connected to his publicist.

“What is your name?”  He asked the mom.

“Martha.  Martha Jackson.”

“Destiny.  Can you have 4 tickets available at will-call for Martha Jackson and family for our next home game?  Okay.  Thanks.”  He disconnected.

The little boy and his mother were beside themselves with excitement.  Brenton grabbed Erica’s hand and they continued walking to her car.  They sat down as cameras continued to click and whir from a distance.

“Brenton, do not let Jason bully you into doing something you are not comfortable with.  You haven’t even come out to Mom and Dad yet!”

“Not officially, but you know they know.  Mom has finally stopped begging for a grandchild, so I’m sure she knows.”

“Of course they know.  You are a millionaire football player.  Why would you need a roommate?  They may be in denial, but they are not stupid.”

“So that means, you are going to provide all of the bio-grandkids Mom needs.”  He joked, trying to lighten the mood.

Erica gave him an obligatory smile.

“Gay men can have biological children, Brenton.  And you are the only one of us who actually has a man!”

He laughed.  “I know, but I don’t even know if I want children.” 

“Or do you mean you are unsure of having children with Jason?”

That question was a punch in the gut for Brenton.  He loves Jason, but if he were honest with himself, he was not sure he could trust Jason enough to parent with him.  He would never admit to it though.

“Right now, children would impede on my pseudo-bachelor lifestyle.”

They both laughed at that.

He continued.  “During season, I’m so busy.  And you know how I love to travel during the off-season.”

“Just excuses, Brenton, but anyway…”

“My name is not Susan?”  He sang.

“Okay, those broad shoulders, fancy feet and three 100 yard games last season might have others fooled, but you are definitely gay!”  She said, laughing.

“Hey! Hey!  Whitney was the best singer of all time.  Everybody knows that!”

“Yeah, but everybody doesn’t know her complete musical catalog like you do!”

Brenton lifted his large, strong and heavily insured hands in mock surrender.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Leaders of the Ex-Gay Movement are (and have been) changing their minds. Part 1

As I mentioned in the previous post, I am sharing posts about various leaders in the Ex-Gay Movement.  Exodus International is an umbrella organization over many of the ex-gay ministries.  John Paulk managed the ex-gay conference entitled Love Won Out for the organization, Focus on the Family.  He and his wife Anne wrote a book under the same title.  John spent many years in ex-gay ministry.  He and I met one year at an Exodus Conference and he later wrote a piece for a publication of mine.  In recent years, he ceased his ex-gay work, as I did.  He has been portrayed in the media in not so favorable light, as he has moved on, changing his career and life.  According to The Advocate, John has renounced his involvement with the ex-gay movement and has apologized for serving as an advocate and spokesman.  In the article, John made a statement that echoes true in my life experience as it relates to my ex-gay involvement.  “And while many things in my life did change as a Christian, my sexual orientation did not." 

John is only one of these former leaders that have walked away from the world of ex-gay.  He appears that he accepts his sexuality and understands that it is not incongruent with the love of God.  Acceptance and understanding are good things to have.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gays are coming out and Ex-gays are going away

Although the climate is changing, it can still be said that individuals who can identify themselves as either gay, bisexual, lesbian, intersexed, transgendered or simple queer, find it challenging to be self-accepting of their sexual orientation.  Those who may not (or don’t care to) understand Maslow’s Hierarchy ofNeeds, find it hard to understand why ‘those’ people want to come out and throw it in everybody’s face.  Well, those people do not necessarily want to come out to ‘you’.  They want to come out to themselves.  According to Maslow, after our physiological and safety needs are met (you can click here if you are unfamiliar with this psychological theory), all people need to experience a sense of belonging, esteem and self-actualization.  When we have to deny and lie to ourselves about a characteristic from one of these elements, all the other elements are affected.

For example, if I believe I am ugly or stupid, I will have a hard time accepting positive messages from others about myself (esteem and self-actualization), which can affect how I relate to those around me (sense of belonging).  I view myself with a deficit and/or defect that will stunt my development and social interactions as a human being.  A similar negative internalization occurs when LGBT persons have to suppress their sexuality.

There are plenty of sources from where these negative messages originate.  One source I am personally familiar with.  I will be discussing this source over a series of future blog posts.  This source is religion.  In my specific life experience, it has been the Christian church.  Before I continue, I will state that I am not bashing Christianity as a religion as I identify as a practicing Christian.  Where Christianity and homosexuality collide is in the centuries-old misinterpretation / mistranslation of scriptures from the Bible which results in the problem of negative self-imagery.  (For all of my devout Christian readers, we will discuss theology in future posts.) 

This is where the ex-gay movement comes in, which is the true subject of this and future posts.  It believed that Exodus International is the non-profit organization that started this movement back in the 1970s.  I have first hand experience, as I have been a participant and facilitator in the ex-gay movement through one of their affiliate ministries.  It took me many years to understand and accept my sexual orientation and to stop trying (unsuccessfully I might add) to change it through prayer and reparative therapy.  God didn’t answer those prayers because there is nothing wrong with my sexuality and reparative therapy doesn’t work.

I cannot stress my love and appreciation for my Christian faith.  However, I struggle because I know there are many LGBT Christians who continue to live on that ex-gay treadmill. 

“The church says that the Bible says that my sexuality is wrong.  They must be right.  I will suffer in silence, engage in clandestine activities, or engross myself in destructive and risky behavior, hoping my feelings will change.”

This is not the correct message found in the Bible.  And this is no way to live.

Over the next few posts, I will talk about some of the founders and leaders within the ex-gay movement, why they have walked away and why you can too.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It is not National Coming Out Day, but it is a season of courage and change.

The closet door has swung open and Nevada Senator, Kelvin Atkinson, stepped out as he debated Nevada’s ban on gay marriage. Although, he is not the first member of the Nevada legislature to come out, we are glad the climate is changing where it is becoming easier. As a gay black Christian writer, I can say, that religion and the church has been a major influence on the decision that society and lawmakers make regarding the right for gays and lesbians to marry. Many in religious camps suggest that changing the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples is a threat to traditional heterosexual marriage. As reported by the Las Vegas Sun, Senator Atkinson gave a great response to this position.

"If this (gay marriage) hurts your marriage, then your marriage was in trouble in the first place," he said.

Thank you to Senator Atkinson for your continued support for the LGBT community and your fight for the civil rights for all.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Tales of Closet Abuse, part 2

What is the reason for Russell ‘Hollywood’ Simpson to put Kerry Rhodes on blast? 

As a gay man, he should understand the reasons why, Black men specifically, are relegated to the closet – right, wrong or indifferent.  Hollywood claims he is making Rhodes relevant by putting his name out there.  Rhodes is a football player who is a free agent!  A gay scandal is not going to get him a contract!  Stop playing boo!  There is a different motive here.  Kerry Rhodes sexuality IS his own business.  Why is it necessary for Rhodes to publicly acknowledge that he is gay?  How would that validate Russell Simpson if they were no longer together?  B.S.!  Obviously, Rhodes felt comfortable with PDA in certain situations around certain people.  That’s should have been enough.  Friends do hold other friend’s confidences.  Hollywood claims that Rhodes’ teammates were aware of his sexuality.  If so, isn’t that enough?  If these two were in ‘love’ or whatever, why couldn’t that be sufficient, given the climate in professional sports?  Rhodes denying his sexuality, is NOT outing himself.  That’s B.S.!  Rhodes was employed in a heterosexist and homophobic industry.  When we have ignorant comments made by public officials and other NFL players (and the awesome responses to them), it is understandable why Rhodes would keep his sexuality on a need-to-know basis.  Kerry, I support you.  I cannot say that you are gay, because I do not know you.  From the pictures floating around the Internet, I come to a different conclusion.  If, and when you do come out, there are plenty of people out there who will have your back. If you haven’t already, reach out to Brendon Ayanbadejo.

Attempting to ‘Out’ someone is such a public way, is another form of Closet Abuse.  We are locking people in these closets and then ripping the doors off.  Everyone who is around Rhodes or any other professional male athlete has heard, seen and understands the potential impact that a public admission of homosexuality can have on their career.  This pressure to keep their life compartmentalized, forces them to live in a ‘closet’, until the pressure is too great, leading to some disastrous outcome.  It is unfortunate that in these situations, someone else thinks it is their right or responsibility to disclose another’s personal information.  Wrong!  Hollywood knew who Rhodes was when he got into their ‘situation’. 

We know that Rhodes (if he is gay) is not the only gay professional male athlete.  Between statistics and the retired players who have come out, there has to be other active players who are also gay.  And again, there is nothing wrong with that!  One of these players is going to come out.  There will be media hype around it for a while and then it will be as normal as female reporters in the locker room and showers after the games!