Hey 2016: Hello From The Other Side

It’s the end of the year. The end of 2015! 2016 is just a few hours away, depending on where in the world you are. That last line I feel the most right now. I’m reminded how I get to see nonstop celebrations about the new year on social media because of my friends all over the world — old and, especially after this year, new. Shout out to the Philippines!

Sempre um intercambista 

Where has this year gone? I’ve done so much. Been to so many places. So many things. And yet I still have a lot to learn.

I have NO idea what 2016 has in store for me. It shall be one hell of an adventure though, I’m sure.

Positive energy for that one.

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Raven-Symoné: “I’m An American, Not An African-American”

I love Raven-Symoné. I always have. As Olivia, she was my favourite character on The Cosby Show (until the adult me realized the legendary-ness of Mrs. Claire Huxtable), I shared middle and high school years with her as Raven Baxter on That’s So Raven, and I even have some of her discography on my iTunes. But all of those things aside, I have loved Raven-Symoné as an individual who has always held a strong head on her shoulders despite whatever madness may be going on around her in celebrity culture.

So when I found out she sat down with Oprah for a “Where Are They Now?” segment, I knew I’d be all about it.

In this recently aired special, Raven stirred the waters when she said, “I’m an American, not an African-American.” Now before I dive into this loaded statement, I want to make sure you all understand the context in which she says it. In this case, Raven was answering a question Oprah was posing to her in regards to her sexual identity—since August 2013 when she made a tweet saying she could marry whomever she loves with the support of the government, Raven’s sexuality has been a question people have been dying to have an answer to.

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We Are One Beloved Community

Last week I was in Washington, DC to attend/volunteer for the National Black Justice Coalition’s OUT on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit, a four-day long summit that convened key stakeholders in the Black LGBT community, including elected officials, policy advocates, activists, and emerging leaders. To say it was an amazing experience would be an understatement—it was beautiful, uplifting, and most of all, empowering.

For the first time in my life, I was around people who both looked like me and identified in the same community, who I could reach out and talk to with open arms.

From the moment I walked in on the first day, I was embraced with a “hello” and a “Yasss honey, WERKK!” (in reference to my Beyoncé pin I adorned all week). From that moment on, I felt around family. Continue reading

Investing in the Invisible: My Pledge to Empower the Black LGBT Community

Today, I saw a magazine cover targeted to the LGBTQ community (this time, it was specifically towards the men having sex with men spectrum), and there was one very obvious thing to me: there were no men of colour. You can argue the colour scheme chosen for said cover eliminates the ability to view race, but I’d have to call bullshit on that.

As soon as I saw it, I just put my head down, shook my head, and sighed. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but to me, it is so much more than a magazine cover. It’s the overwhelming feeling that I, as a gay Black man, am invisible to the greater LGBTQ community. And this is not the first cover to do this. In fact, if you Google image search “gay magazine covers,” you’ll see the same thing: an alarming number of white men. Now don’t think I am against white gay males (I’m known for being down with the swirl myself), but how am I supposed to feel included with the marginalized community I belong to, if I can never see any fair representations of myself?

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Redefining Realness: How Janet Mock Is Teaching Me To Be A Better Trans Ally

The following is a repost of a piece I wrote three months ago for Believe Out Loud about trans activist Janet Mock’s book Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More.

Be sure to check out my thoughts at the end on what this piece has meant to me since publishing, and a reflection on where we are today as a society in protecting our trans brothers and sisters.

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