Sweet NOLA

I have many ties to New Orleans. When my paternal family migrated from St. Kitts and St. Croix several decades ago, that is where they made home. And oooooh what a home it is. Imagine a parcel of land just west of New Orleans with an oak lined drive that ends on a cul de sac with just three homes. One uncle and two aunts of my now deceased father's total 6 siblings live on this amazing piece of land. The few visits during the childhood summers, was always a highlight and sure to be a topic of discussion in the What I Did Last Summer speech.

Now that I am an adult, the trips to New Orleans have taken a different meaning. Hanging in the French Quarter with my cousins and friends and my all too frequent business trips there have given me a new appreciation of the Crescent city.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina went from good news to bad. Immediately after the storm hit it seemed as New Orleans had been spared the level of disaster that was once expected. I had spoken to one of my cousins and a friends and all reassured me that they were ok. However waking to the Today Show this morning, I was alerted that several levies had broken and now the city often compared to a soup bowl was flooded with water.

I have unsuccessfully tried reaching any of my people in New Orleans all day while maintaining a close eye to the news reports to stay abreast of the situation.

Anti-Gay Church Protests at GI Funerals

What a way to start my Sunday... so it is 7:20am. I am sitting at my desk drinking my orange juice, reading the online news before I head out for early service at my church Metropolitan Baptist. And the second headline I get is Anti-Gay Church Protests at GI Funerals.

Members of a Westboro Baptist in Kansas say God is punishing American soldiers for defending a country that harbors gays, and they brought their anti-gay message to the funerals Saturday of two Tennessee soldiers killed in Iraq. The Rev. Fred Phelps, founder of the church, which is not affiliated with a larger denomination, is made up mostly of Phelps' children, grandchildren and in-laws. The church members carried signs and shouted things such as "God hates fags" and "God hates you."

Are you serious? God hates? I grew up in the church and in my twenty-something years, I have never once heard the phrase, 'God hates..' in reference to anyone. God is love.

After reading about the actions members of this Westboro church have taken, it makes me wonder if this is a case of inbreeding or just plain stupidity. While I totally disagree with the war, I feel protesting a soldier's funeral should be considered treason, especially since they may have been there against their will. But then again you just got to love that damn 1st Amendment.

You just don't fuck with Oprah...

Chicago Defender I hope you are listening because I will only say this to you one time... YOU DONT FUCK WITH OPRAH!!!

Recently Roland Smith, executive editor of the Chicago Defender, wrote a column published in the Chicago Defender, a historically significant black daily newspaper, which questioned why Winfrey didn't attend John H. Johnson's Aug. 15 funeral in Chicago. Former President Bill Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and many notable black media personalities attended the service.

In retaliation of the article, Oprah contacted Mr. Smith and informed him that not only was she not in town when Mr. Johnson died or was funeralized but she had sent notes and flowers to Eunice Johnson, his wife and Linda Johnson Rice his daughter. But in the response article published Aug. 25th, she made a statement for me that ended the entire controversy. Oprah stated, "I didn't have a personal relationship" with Mr. Johnson, she also said that she had the utmost respect for him and the company he built into a $500 million powerhouse.

If Oprah was not a personal friend to Mr. Johnson making comment of her nonattendance to his funeral becomes a mute point.

Perhaps Mr. Smith should be reminded of the Texas cattleman case against Ms. Winfrey back in 1998. In that lawsuit, the cattlemen claimed the 1996 show on mad cow disease, which suggested the disease could spread to people, Winfrey exclaimed: "It has just stopped me from eating another burger!" caused the cattle market to plunge to 10-year lows and cost them $11 million. Well in 2002, Winfrey was found not liable for damages and left the cattle industry with yet another black eye during an already low period for trying to go after the Queen of Daytime.

But in case that is not enough, let me remind you Mr. Smith of the recent snub Oprah faced by Hermes. Before having dinner with Tina Turner, Oprah wanted to dash into Hermes to purchase a watch for her dinner companion. While there were still shoppers in the recently closed stored, Winfrey was denied access. Management of the Paris store were allegedly quoted as stating that they had recently had problems with 'northern Africans." Although Oprah has never herself claimed racism, Winfrey’s friend, Gayle King, who was there, told Entertainment Tonight, “Oprah describes it as ‘one of the most humiliating moments of her life.”’ Harpo says Winfrey plans to discuss the incident in the context of race relations on her show this fall.

So with that said Mr. Smith, while your little newspaper may reach millions... Oprah reaches billions every day via her shows, her website, or her magazines. So be sure to have all the facts straight before you piss off such a powerful woman.

My Pet Peeve

I like to think of myself as a work in progress. Continuously evolving and growing. As any work in progress there are a few imperfections, I stress the word few. One of those few imperfections is my lack of patience.

This lack of patience leads to my biggest pet peeve, which is someone being inconsiderate of my time. I think that happens to be one of if not the rudest thing you can do to a person. I hate making plans with someone and for some reason they don't follow through. I totally understand that shit happens... but a responsible and considerate person should have the sense to call that person up and let them know they won't be able to follow through. And calling after a set time doesn't count. At least give me the opportunity to rearrange my afternoon to do something else.

From now on I will put a disclaimer on all my plans to let them know that if they don't follow through within 15 minutes I am moving on to something else.

So as I step off my soap box... I want you to step up there and let me know, "What is your biggest pet peeve?"

In the background: You Move Me - Cassandra Wilson

Kanye West Calls for End to Gay Bashing

Just wanted to share a "news story" that caught my eye today....

Kanye West Calls for End to Gay Bashing

AP - Kanye West says "gay" has become an antonym to hip-hop and that it needs to be stopped. During an interview for an MTV special, the 27-year-old rapper launched into a discussion about hip-hop and homosexuality while talking about "Hey Mama," a song on his upcoming album, "Late Registration."
West says that when he was young, people would call him a "mama's boy."

"And what happened was, it made me kind of homophobic, 'cause it's like I would go back and question myself," West says on the show, "All Eyes on Kanye West," set to air Thursday night (10:30 p.m. ET).
West says he changed his ways, though, when he learned one of his cousins was gay.

"It was kind of like a turning point when I was like, `Yo, this is my cousin. I love him and I've been discriminating against gays.'"

West says hip-hop was always about "speaking your mind and about breaking down barriers, but everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people." He adds that in slang, gay is "the opposite, the exact opposite word of hip-hop."

Kanye's message: "Not just hip-hop, but America just discriminates. And I wanna just, to come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, `Yo, stop it.'"

West, whose debut disc "The College Dropout" won a Grammy for best rap album, will see his second record in stores on Aug. 30.

My personal opinion: I had the opportunity tonight to catch MTV VJay Sway's interview of Kanye West. The 30 minute interview covered interesting topics from his childhood growing up in a divorced home... to art school... to one question that caught him off guard.

Sway: Do you think siding with Jay [JayZ]... was disloyal and in a way of turning your back on Dame [Damon Dash] the person that discovered you?
Kanye: (after several minutes of silence and a dumbfounded look on his face) Yeah.... Yeah

Also in the interview, Kanye veryadamantlyy condemns the prevalence of homophobia in hip hop and encourages other rappers and his friends to stop the discrimination. He relates a story of how he became homophobic trying to distance himself from his 'momma's boy' image in high school, until he found out that his cousin and his friend he brought to Thanksgiving dinners was gay. Finally a celeb is not afraid to publicly take a stand.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this statement and this interview. Will othercelebritiess speak out? Will people distance themselves from his comments? Hopefully others will notdismisss these comments and take the ignorant view of Kanye's stance as a coming out of the closet. But for what it is an African American man realizing that bigotry and discrimination is pointless.

All Eyes on Kanye repeats several times this weekend on MTV . I definitely encourage you to check it out. And check out Kanye West - Late Registration (Def Jam) August 30th.

Being Gay and Having Religion Part 1

I say part one because I know that there is no way I can cover everything that I need to say, want to say or can think to say right now.

However after visiting Intellifreak's blog, I was exposed to this Yahoo news article, Atlanta Has Become Mecca for Black Gays. Well I use to live in Atlanta, so from the title I wasn't expecting to learn anything new. In the article, the very attractive David Malebranche, a physician who teaches at Emory University, said many black lesbians and gays settle in Atlanta because they "feel ostracized from the white gay community because of racism. People will migrate to a city where there is a lot of black people in general, and then within that you find your niche."

Dr. David Malebranche

But again none of that was new news to me seeing I once lived there. What was surprising to me were the thoughts and comments by Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. In my Atlanta days I attended Bishop's Long megachurch before it was quite mega... when it was still meeting in a closed shopping center before the new megafacility was even built. The entire time I attended his church I never once new or heard his objections to gays and gay marriage. I often recall and share a fond memory of a service one Sunday....

Me and two of my friends were sitting their praising and worshiping along with the rest of the masses, slightly tired from hanging out the night before. Service had been going on for at least 20 minutes, when she walked in. Heads were turning and the men were gawking... and the kids went to whispering. As she took her seat, 2 rows in front of us with who I came to find out later was her birth mother, I knew this was going to be one ole service. The person that had caught the attention of nearly every man in service was none of ther than the transgender legend of Jasmine Bonet. As we stood in prayer, we watched the eyes of the men around us... and how they examined and lusted after Jasmine right there in service. We could only say if they only knew.

Anyway I digress, what made me want to blog this morning was the fact that a few of my friends in Atlanta are still going to New Birth. Even after their pastor and church has made a stance against them. Which reminds me of Greater Mt. Calvery Church here in Washington. The pastor and copastor have preached against and bashed homosexuals on more than several occassions.
I recall the one and only time I ever stepped foot in that Traxx with a sermon, the copastor Susie asked for men volunteers for the their mentoring or tutoring program, can't recall now, but she then went on to say "We need real men to help these kids... not any of you other men." obviously hinting to the huge gay population within the church. When she finally began her sermon her bashing continued... and all around me and all in the choir stand these homos were saying their Amens. On my way to my truck after the service right on the front steps of the church, I was approached by one of the male members asking me what was I getting into after service.
But please do not attack this church or any other church like this because the homos I have come in contact with will defend their church and gaybashing ministers to the end.

While I have grown up in church and understand that you must read the Bible and have a personal relationship with God... I have also learned that you can't believe 100% of anything that comes out of any man's mouth. But I have also learned that I shouldn't support those who do not support me. Can someone explain to me the rationale of staying in churches that preach out against you? Can someone explain to me the rationale of staying in churches that offer healing to your homosexual affliction? Are we that pressed for inclussion that we subject ourselves to unecessary treatment? Does the Bible say, "Judge not... unless you talking about homos"?

Whatever happened to them?

Well I know it has been quite some time since I have talked about the fellas from my trip to Puerto Rico and others in my life so here is an update. SoontobeSoutherner moved to Atlanta not long after our return from the beaches of Condado. While he has been getting adjusted to his new apartment in Buckhead, his new job, the night life and boys of Atlanta... we still talk almost every day. Our conversations have covered every subject imaginable. It is funny how I can talk to to someone online for months if not years... but it takes meeting face to face for those conversations to end up having substantial meaning to me. Meeting in a Puerto Rico has been one of the few highlights of the summer. I am looking forward to spending some time with him later this month in Atlanta. And now that he is down south I guess his name must change as well to ... KravingAtlanta.

Then there is Mr. WindyCity... I saw him a few weeks ago on a business trip to Chicago. A few telephone conversations, one dinner and a dance or two at the club. But nothing more was good seeing him and we have talked once since. It is always good to have friends around the country.

SoontobeEx... is official 10 times over. We haven't spoken since the last day he was in Puerto Rico. He sent a few text messages until I asked him to stop. No need in continuously riding a ferris wheel of nonsense... that is where I got off.

The past few weekends here in Washington, I have the opportunity to get out and hang out with friends that I haven't seen much and along the way met a couple new friends... in that time I met a pretty decent person. Always open to new friendships... well most of the time. Anyway we were supposed to go to the movies this Sunday with some other friends to see 4 Brothers... but it ended up just being us. We had a good time and talked most of the night until my sinus headache got the best of me. Anyway I guess I need to name him so I can reference him in future posts so he is officially..... Dancer'sThighs.

In the Background: Loose My Breath: Maurice's Nu Soul Mix - Destiny's Child (dedicated to KravingATL)

I ain't having sex with you...

Well like I needed yet another reason not to have sex... I got one last week. A friend forwarded me a press release from the DC Appleseed Center, a public policy and research center here in Washington. When I read the title, DC Appleseed Calls for Major Changes to District of Columbia's Response to HIV/AIDS Crisis, I was immediately like ok this is old news. Everyone who knows anything about DC and HIV knows there has been a crisis going on for awhile. But yet like voting rights... it always goes overlooked. So of course I didn't read the press release because this was old news to me.

So this morning as I am standing in line at the post office... I hear NPR in the background discussing this new report by DC Appleseed. Hearing the discussion made me want to read the report as soon as I got back home. Some of the most disturbing lowlights of the report were:

  • The District's annual rate of new AIDS cases is over 10 times the national average and is
    believed now to be the highest of any major U.S. city.
  • Unfortunately, even these numbers fail to capture the extent of the epidemic because
    they do not include HIV-positive people in the District who have not developed AIDS.
  • District public health officials estimate that 1 out of every 20 District residents is infected.

While those facts are surprising the most interesting part of the report discusses the District of Columbia's efforts in addressing this epidemic. The report details how the District is not systematically collecting and analyzing data about the epidemic in a way that would allow it to plan prevention and care effectively. It also states that the current HIV/AIDS services are not sufficient for the population including efforts in schools, jails, and among drug users.

With all this said... get tested, ask your partner, and use protection... just like you wear a seat belt, look both ways before crossing a street.... take the initiative to protect your own life.

Time to let go...

Me and one of my bestfriends and his boyfriend for two years were leaving a party a party a few weeks ago, when we started discussing my ex that appeared at the party with his new beau. I was quite upset that he would bring this new person and try to appear so happy in a party I organized without at the very least giving me a headsup. What made the evening even more disturbing was the fact that in his hug goodbye his hands went to places that would have gotten him knocked out if it didn't feel so gooooood.....

Anyway back to the car ride home... we were discussing my perpetual state of dating someone for a few months before casting them to the side because they do not live up to my expectations. It was on this ride home that he said something that I can still here ringing in my ears, "Just as like we sit here discussing other people at the party... someone is discussing us and you as well. Have you ever thought that the reason people are not coming into your life is because they can see all the baggage you are carrying."

I sat there in complete quiet just saying over and over.. "damn ..... I never thought about that."

So that conversation, the trip to Montreal, yoga this past Saturday and the conversations I have had since I have been home, have driven me to finally let it go. I have tend to give so much of myself in relationships that I always feel the desire to keep the exs around if for nothing more than friends. But at the same time always wondering what if.... Sometimes this has brought nothing but headaches but yet I deal. But not anymore I am letting it go... releasing that energy that is binding me and opening the window to the new opportunities that have recently presented themselves.

Damn I hate the first of the month...

Ok so I left work early today (what else is new) to meet a friend for lunch. At the last minute I decided that I would cook instead (don't ask me why because everyone knows domestic work isn't me). So I go to the Safeway not far from my house (why I have no clue I never go to this ghetto ass store but for some reason today I was being lazy). As I walked around the produce looking for some potatoes, I started listening to a conversation next to me.

Woman #1: This baby stinks... did you change her diaper before we left.
Woman #2: No she didnt stink when we left.
Woman #1: Well she stinks.
Woman #2 walks off to another aisle

about 3 minutes later I am searching for some fish in the seafood section only to be encountered once again by the women and kids....

Woman #1: Yes Sheniah (0r however you spell those shenene names) u stink
Woman #2: Why you broadcasting to everyone that she smells
Woman #1: Shit everyone can smell it.
Woman #1 adds 3 packs of bacon to her nearly full cart.

I never understood why people wait till their pantry is nearly empty to come to the grocery store and stock up with an overflowing basket of food. Lucky me the ghetto Safeway only has 3 lines open and once again I find myself with my 12 items behind the women and kids....

Cashier: Do you have a bonus card?
Woman #2: No but let me enter my phone number instead.
Cashier: (several minutes later) Your total is $298.23
Woman #2: I have my card (she swipes what looks to be a credit card but has no visa or mastercard logo... hmmm food stamps)
Cashier: Your total is $36.12
Woman #1: You need to put something back... put those pampers and plates back we can get some from the dollar store up the street.
Cashier: (obviously annoyed)... umm hmm your total is $22.84

God knows I hate the first of the month. Damn I forgot the dishwashing liquid.

In the Background: some annoying reality show