Happy Black Gay Pride!!!

27 04 2012

This is my favorite weekend in Philadelphia. For at least the last 60 years, Black LGBT men and women would travel to our great City for the annual Penn Relays at the University of Pennsylvania (which have been celebrated since 1895). Even at turbulent times when it wasn’t safe to be Black or gay in America, our elders would gather in private homes and at the City’s finest ballrooms (in West Philadelphia) for the best parties, dinners, award shows and other happenings.

We continue that tradition today. During this weekend, the local family will come out–the weekly bar hoppers and socialites, as well as those who make an appearance once or twice a year. Many will visit Philadelphia for the Relays, and enjoy the host of parties planned by the Philadelphia black gay pride organization. Even the ancestors will gather–remembering when they were “there” and bidding wishes of fun, laughter, safety, responsibility and love to all of us .

If you’re in Philadelphia this weekend, there are plenty of opportunities to learn our history, while taking in the sights of Penn Relays and Black Gay Pride. Take lots of photographs. Make new friends. Meet your new lover. Network. Create new opportunities. Continue the tradition.

Philadelphia’s Social Scene for Black LGBTs: 1950s to the present, photography exhibit, FREE, now till 5/19,  click here.

Philadelphia Black Gay Pride weekend events, click here.





Bayard Rustin Centennial Planning Meetings in Philly, April 4

1 04 2012

This is a great way to celebrate our local and national histories:

 

From: Mandy Carter, Bayard Rustin Centennial Project of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and Candice Thompson, William Way LGBT Community Center

Re: Invitation to Bayard Rustin Centennial Planning Meetings

Wednesday, April 4, 2012. 12pm-1:30pm & 6:30pm-8pm

William Way LGBT Community Center. Philadelphia, PA

Save the date! Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bayard Rustin Centennial Planning Meetings

Afternoon Meeting. 12:00 pm – 1:30pm

Evening Meeting. 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

William Way LGBT Community Center Ball Room

1315 Spruce Street Philadelphia, PA 19107

Phone: 215-732-2220

www.waygay.org

 

March 17, 2012 marked the 100th birthday of the late civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (1912-2012).

Bayard Rustin was born March 17, 1912 in West Chester, PA. While perhaps best known as the architect of the historic 1963 March on Washington where Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. It was also his remarkable 60-year movement career that not only included his leadership in the civil rights movement but also the movements for economic justice and peace here in the U.S. and internationally—all the while being a Black openly gay man.

In preparation to engage Pennsylvania’s communities and campuses for the year-long series of Bayard Rustin’s centennial events there will be two planning meetings held at the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia, PA.  One in the afternoon and one in the evening to accommodate people’s schedules for attending. Or, folks are welcome to attend both.

Please RSVP to Candice Thompson cthompson@waygay.org, Director of Center Services, and indicate which of the two meetings that you are attending.  Or, folks are welcome to attend both. Can’t make the meetings but are interested in staying in touch? We’ll make sure to add you to the contact list.

Founded in 2003, the National Black Justice Coalition is a national civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.  Our mission is to eradicate racism and homophobia.

The Bayard Rustin Centennial Project of the National Black Justice Coalition is collaborating with Walter Naegle, Bayard’s surviving partner and Executor/Archivist of the Estate of Bayard Rustin.  And, with Nancy Kates and Bennett Singer, co-producers/co-directors of the award-winning film “Brother Outsider-The Life of Bayard Rustin”. (Bayard Rustin: March 17, 1912- August 24, 1987)

info@nbjc.org . www.nbjc.org . www.facebook.com/nationalblackjusticecoalition





Former Miss West Set & Philadanco Founder Discusses Her Life in Dixon Gottschild’s New Book [1/14/2012]

13 01 2012

Brenda Dixon Gottschild, a supporter of the work of the Archivists Society, has written a new book that discusses the life and achievement’s of America’s Black Ballerina Joan Myers Brown. The book is entitled “Joan Myers Brown & the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina: A Biohistory of American Performance”. Brown is the founder of Philadanco and a former Miss West Set–a designation awarded to women of notoriety by the Gentlemen of the West Set. The West Set was one of Philadelphia’s first black gay organizations.

This Saturday, January 14, 2012, The Brother’s Network, will host a discussion featuring author Brenda Dixon Gottschild and Joan Myers Brown.

WHERE: Moonstone Arts Center, 110A South 13th Street, 2nd floor, Philadelphia WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, at 1 p.m. Contact The Brother’s Network for more information at comments@thebrothersnetwork.org .

The book description (from Amazon.com): “Founder of the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) and the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts, Joan Myers Brown’s personal and professional histories reflect both the hardships and the accomplishments of African Americans in the artistic and social developments through the twentieth century and into the new millennium. Dixon Gottschild deftly uses Brown’s career as the fulcrum to leverage an exploration of the connection between performance, society, and race—beginning with Brown’s predecessors in the 1920s—and a concert dance tradition that has had no previous voice to tell its story from the inside out. Augmented by interviews with a score of dance professionals, including Billy Wilson, Gene Hill Sagan, Rennie Harris, Milton Myers, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and Ronald K. Brown, Joan Myers Brown’s background and richly contoured biography are object lessons in survival—a true American narrative.”




COLOURS Board Announces Passing of Robert K. Burns, Exec. Dir.

8 12 2011

From the article, "Hell to Pay" in the Cleveland Scene (click for article)

The following message was posted to the Facebook page of the COLOURS Organization, Inc. concerning the passing of our brother Robert K Burns (36 years old):

The Board of Directors and Staff of the COLOURS Organization, Inc. sadly announce the passing of its Executive Director Robert K. Burns, which occurred Thursday, December 8, 2011.

Robert K. Burns, a Cleveland, Ohio native, served as a leader in Philadelphia’s LGBT community. In the past years, Robert became an integral part of the development of HIV prevention programs and research in Philadelphia for LGBT people of color, specifically African American MSM.

The Board of Directors and Staff members are committed to continuing the passion and dedication to the health and empowerment of LGBT people of color that Robert exemplified.

Sincerely,

John F. Clayton Jr.
President of COLOURS Board of Director

 





RIP Robert K. Burns: friend, brother, fighter

8 12 2011

RIP Robert K. Burns

This morning, I learned of the death of our community leader, my brother and our fellow co-labourer, Robert K. Burns. He passed around 4:30am, surrounded by his friends and fellow members of the House of Blahnik.

Robert served the Philadelphia community by being a voice for many. He often echoed the call and sounded the horn on why we must lower HIV rates and remain community-minded throughout the stuggle.  I first learned of Robert K. Burns when I picked up one of his vogue-beat CDs over eight years ago, long before he and I would later become friends and “neighbors” in Philadelphia [and while I never joined a house or even vogued in public, I still “vogue down” when any of those songs from that CD come on my playlist]. Accepting that death is a functional part of life is reality. Accepting Robert’s passing is sobering.  Love and prayers to his family and the COLOURS organization.

Here’s more on Robert’s life: https://archivistssociety.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/presenting-community-leader-robert-k-burns/

PGN Family Portrait: http://www.epgn.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Family+Portraits-+Robert+Burns+&id=10691582#comments_10691582

Kevin Trimell Jones

December 8, 2011

9:08am





The Legendary Crystal Ball Programs, 2000-2004

4 06 2011

Visit the online exhibit of Crystal Ball Programs from 2000 to 2004: https://archivistssociety.wordpress.com/crystal-ball-2000-2004/

The Crystal Ball 2000

Invite - Aug 19, 2000

"Fearsome Threesome" Program

"Fearsome Threesome" - Aug 19, 2000





An Epic Return to the Crystal Ball (Sat, June 4, Philly) FREE

4 06 2011

The community is buzzing about the return of the Crystal Ball–an effort by the COLOURS Organization to creatively incorporate HIV prevention messages within a free ball. The first Crystal Ball took place in 1997. Tonight’s return is historic.

Check out this great coverage by the Philadelphia Gay News.

Link: http://epgn.com/view/full_story/13524997/article-Colours-Crystal-Ball-looks-into-the-future?instance=home_news





Archivists Founder Discusses HIV Vaccine Awareness Day–May 18th

18 05 2011

Today marks HIV Vaccine Awareness Day. As many know, HIV/AIDS is still a public health concern and it affects and infects far too many. Watch this video, featuring Kevin Trimell Jones, as he talks about his work and interest in the development of a safe and effective HIV vaccine.





Free Screening of ‘NO!’ with Aishah Shahidah Simmons (2/8/11)

8 02 2011

From the University of the Arts

Student Development & Activities welcomes Documentarian Aishah Shahidah Simmons for a viewing and discussion of her film No! The Rape Documentary. This groundbreaking award-winning documentary explores the international reality of rape and other forms of sexual assault through the first person testimonies, scholarship, spirituality, activism and cultural work of African-Americans. Winner of a Juried Award and an Audience Choice Award at the 2006 San Diego Women’s Film Festival and the juried Best Documentary Award at the 2008 India International Women’s Film Festival, NO! also explores how rape is used as a weapon of homophobia.

Location Information:
Main Campus – Dorrance Hamilton Hall  (View Map)
320 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Room: CBS Auditorium
Contact Information:
Name: Steve Scaduto
Phone: 215.717.6615
Email: sscaduto@uarts.edu





At Least We’re Not Dying From AIDS: A Retrospective by Michael Hinson

7 02 2011

Grant, MICHAEL HINSON, Smith, Haskins and Carson

Today marks the 11th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Community leader Michael Hinson offers this incredible reflection on how far our communities have come since the first cases of HIV/AIDS were recognized. It includes an original piece by Arnold Jackson (August 25, 1957 — May 3, 1998).

Today, February 7, 2011 is National Black AIDS Awareness Day, a day of reflection about HIV disease in Black communities all around the world. As I have reflected over the past couple days (knowing this day was coming), I m reminded about my own journey from not knowing about the disease to knowing and at times cycling back to not knowing again and then back to knowing.  I am reminded about my cousin’s, two black gay men and two heterosexual black mothers who lost their lives to HIV in the prime of their life. I am reminded that we are not only reflecting on tragedy of too many Black lives lost or on the lives of Black Gay Men hanging in the balance, but we are also reminded about the bravery, the triumphs and successes in our communities that inspire us to be liberated from our own fear, that we might inspire the liberation of others as referenced by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inauguration speech.

Personally I am reminded about Rashidah Abdul Khabeer, about David Fair, about Tyrone Smith, about Arnold Jackson and so many others who inspired my liberation. I am reminded that without their nurturing, their tough love, their gentle nudging, I too might be the subject of a hushed conversation in my southern hometown, as Arnold’s 1992 piece entitled “At Least we’re Not Dying From AIDS” suggest.

In their unique ways, this Philadelphia based herstorian and historians inspired the greatness that I humbly acknowledge and accept as my own personal destiny for which I am thankful. I am thankful for Rashidah’s gifts of strength, bravery and consciousness. I am thankful for David’s intellectual, strategic and unwavering commitment gifts. I am thankful for Tyrone’s “I’m Black, Gay and Proud” and “Hey, baby it is gonna be okay” gift’s. I am thankful for Arnold’s gifts of wisdom, communication and retrospect.

The theme for this year’s National Black AIDS Awareness Day is one we all know very well—”It Takes A Village to Fight HIV/AIDS!  As the Centers for Disease Control’s press release states “it is a call to action for a collective and integrated approach at the individual, community and national level to prevent the spread of HIV in African American communities”. I am thankful that my “village” understood this notion some twenty years ago and that I understand it today. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the solution.

I am also reminded in my reflection today that African Americans who represent 14 percent of the population, account for 52 percent of the diagnoses in 2008 representing almost half of those living with and dying from HIV. I am reminded that African American men are 9 times more likely to have HIV than white men and I am reminded that African American women are 18 times more likely to have HIV than white women.

Today, as you reflect on what this day and this disease means to you, be encouraged. Many of us are also reflecting. Many have joined the “village” to fight this disease. Many are living with, not dying from this disease.   Many are opening the doors of opportunity and closing the doors of inadequacies in our health care system, the high incarceration rates, low income, low educational attainment, racism, stigma, and homophobia.

As I have been encouraged by my mentors, I encourage you to mentor — to be an encouragement. Tell someone today, they matter.  Tell someone today that HIV is preventable.  Tell someone today that HIV doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Tell someone today that their future holds a greatness that was given first as a gift from God. Tell them that their life never has to be a hushed conversation, emblazoned in the stigma that my friend Arnold wrote about almost ten years ago.

Below is the article my dear friend Arnold wrote in 1992, which reminds us of the HIV stigma still present today in many Black Communities. Thank you Arnold for reminded us to be the solution!

At Least We’re Not Dying From AIDS

by Arnold Jackson (August 25, 1957 — May 3, 1998)

It’s early 1992 and we African-American men and women, children and youth are dying at an alarming rate. This is not news. Everybody knows that, comparatively speaking, we don’t live as long as whites. And we all know why: disproportionate rates of poverty, drug and alcohol addiction, intra-racial violence, homelessness, hunger, lack of access to medical treatment. The list goes on.

But I’m happy to report that one thing we’re not dying from is AIDS.  Excuse me? You don’t believe me?

Then ask Rev. Jones, who funeralized Mrs. Brown’s 35-year-old son Jeffrey last week. Ask the neighbors and relatives who turned out for the service. You can even ask Mrs. Brown herself. They’ll all tell you the same thing. Jeffrey died from cancer.

Then there was Damien. He died four days ago. He was 23. Leukemia, that’s what his sister said. Go ahead, ask her.

Sherman, he passed two weeks ago. A fantastic designer. Everybody in the neighborhood loved him. He made a lot of clothes for a lot of people and all for free! I read his obituary in the paper. He died of a long illness.

Vanessa was 28. She used to shoot up. She got pneumonia.

Mr. Harris still can’t sleep too well these days and it’s been a year and half since his 40-year-old daughter who was married to that addict Maurice died of the same thing that killed Vanessa–complications from respiratory disease. At least that’s what the funeral program said.

I know a lot of other young black people who’ve died recently. Their parents, brothers, sisters and friends miss them a lot. They get depressed but don’t, want to talk about it too much. It’s painful when you lose a loved one.

But at least they didn’t die from AIDS.