Thursday, July 13, 2017

Is Loving a Black Man a Revolutionary Act?

Is Loving a Black Man a Revolutionary Act?

Ashton P. Woods


*It should be noted that I am writing from my perspective, which is that of a Black, masculine presenting, same gender loving Atheist living with HIV. I will be writing about my thoughts and experiences as an activist, human and life in general. These posts will not be academic or even properly written in some of your opinions.


Black people are the most amazing humans to walk this earth and our love is revolutionary in ways that just cannot be measured. In terms of romance, Black men are some beautiful creatures, from our intellect to our immense emotional capacities, we are fucking beautiful. But, we don't say it enough. Why does our love HAVE to be a revolutionary act as opposed to something that should come natural? We have hang ups, preferences and likes that can be problematic, as well as our personal shit to contend with. So, when I ask the question,"Is Loving a Black Man a Revolutionary Act?" I am taking into consideration all of the societal bullshit place on us and the shit we place onto ourselves...

Society loves to cast Homosexuality as deviant, they call it homophobia. But, being homosexual while Black comes with its own set of circumstances and issues to deal with. Let, me start by saying that the collective Black community is not the most homophobic group in the world. Still, people who look like us can be vicious and downright annoying as fuck when they stand on their heterosexual soap box. Heteronormative society and the straight people (and those who like to walk in and out of the closet) who benefit from the privileges afforded by said society make it hard for love to be expressed freely and openly by same gender loving men.

Societal norms are heteronormative...

1. Heteronormative society has created stereotypes and boxes for same gender loving men, standards that tend to go by they measure their own relationships.

2. They reduce our complex feelings and emotions down to sex by asking the one question that makes my blood boil! Who is the man and the woman in the relationship?

3. All Black SGL men are supposed to be fem, which probably is one of THE root causes to effemiphobia among SGL men.

4. They ask if we want to be women because we identify as SGL, which is Transphobic or Anti trans as fuck.

We cannot measure ourselves by heteronormative standards! We just can't, but a lot of us do. It is highly sad and unfortunate that we do this to ourselves, because we self - internalize homophobia, and all the other oppressions that come with being Black & SGL. But here are some of the things that directly hinder us...

Interracial Dating:

We all have to start somewhere. I think that there was a moment that I almost fell into a trap of THINKING Black men couldn't handle a relationship with me. I kept seeing Black men I was attracted to exclusively with very light skinned Black men, non Black POC and White men. Been subjected to hearing they only date non Black people and even further say they only date White people. All of this as while being exposed to media on all formats that constantly show images of interracial relationships. As if  Black couples don't exist! We Exist!

I almost let this anti Blackness push me into doing the same thing a few years back. Yes black men are a hand full, but not enuf to cast them into the junk pile. I have said many times that interracial relationships don't bother me as long as the Black person is not anti Black. BUT. I have had visceral reactions to seeing Black men cling to their non Black partners when I come into the space.and their partners being more pro Black than them. it is a sad space to be in.

Effemiphobia:

Effemiphobia is the fear ^hate of men who are too effeminate in the societal view of what a true man should look, act, and speak like. In terms of being SGL, INTRA racial hate toward effeminate men is a huge issue.

"No fats, NO FEMS"


1. Certain folk like to be discreet, and I respect that until it becomes a prejudice. The side eyes and the smart ass remarks toward people who can't help but to be who THEY are.

2. I would submit that some are jealous because they put themselves on self imposed prison sentences that involve not expressing one's true self.

3.Some of you like the benefit of being seen as straight, able to walk in and out of the closet and having someone who could be their soulmate on their arm just can't be fem.

In my eyes these anti fem folks are fuck boys. I saw this posted on Facebook:

"What do you do with gay men/women who do not embrace the gay community? You love them thru. Everyone's journey is different!"


I found it to be true and problematic, because this person has many people connected to them who fit one of the 3 points that I made above. It really is easier said than done. I truly have a deep respect for people coming out as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual (and other closets) in their own time. I dont believe in outing people. PERIOD. BUT I have no remorse or respect for those who benefit from the work and struggles of people (especially fems) who are out and  open with who they are while taking part in subjugating, bashing and stigmatizing us for being out at the same time. But then there are the ones who really need to have all the seats in the nearest stadium... The ones that walk into and out of their LGBT identities when it suits them. You see them in spaces full of pride and other spaces where they won't even acknowledge your presence. Then they tone police about one being too out, sticking to certain topics and etc... all the while silent as fuck on issues that affect us. These are folks I love from a distance. Also, I can't condone folks who knowingly walk into heteronormativity without issue, and uphold societal standards that are detrimental to both our Blackness and sexual orientations.

Body Image Standards

We have so many hang ups, unrealistic standards and stereotypes that SGL men face in our own community. It really is hard to be YOURSELF in this environment. Our body size, weight, height and looks are overly scrutinized on a constant basis. The stares, taunts and injustices that we face as Black folks is compounded when you add in this madness to the equation. What makes this worse is that a lot of it comes from within our own community and it is so insidious...

"NO FATS, No Fems"

The first time you saw someone begin a statement begin a statement with "no fats," how did you feel? I want you to think about that really hard. It's EVERYWHERE you go in terms of Apps and social media. When it comes to dating, well hook ups...Grindr, Jackd, Scruff, Growlr, other apps and websites are full of fatphobic assholes who clearly have self esteem issues.

Everyone has a RIGHT to their preferences to pleasure, but it becomes prejudice when you openly post it as if you HATE larger people. There is a better way to say things, not everyone is built to be a size 32 to 36 waist, not everyone is muscular and not everyone is able to workout due to disabilities. There are a host of things like ableism and etc that people perpetuate when someone says "no fats." Let people be! When was the last time you seen a thickem or a larger guy in porn?


Thick vs ACTUAL Thick 

You know what really grinds my gears? These big boy groups, FB pages, Reddits, blogs and etc that NEVER actually SHOW images of ACTUAL thick and larger men. It is sad to see these glamorized, oil slicked dudes that are fully muscular and "flawless instead of more dudes with not so smooth skin, actual body fat and etc. Just look at these google searches either really lean and sexualized or on the larger end satire and fat shaming....no in between. Its sad.


I personally posted this picture (below) to social media after being annoyed with what I see on a regular basis, FATphobia...


For those in the middle like me, we need to see more of this, more of ourselves.

Skinny Does Not Equal HIV


For those who like to talk bad about folks for being skinny, or thin...y'all need to stop. Often I see people on the smaller side get diagnosed with HIV by folks who buy the stereotypical image of what a 1980s AIDS patient was portrayed to look like. While most of the folks today don't progress from HIV to AIDS, HIV does not have a face, anyone of any size can have HIV! People have high metabolism and others have illnesses and its time that we become conscious of how we treat people.

Pretty privilege

It is something that must always be checked. Light skinned, Physically fit, pretty eyes, clear skin and a host of other features that people check off on a list for what appeals to them. These preferences can become prejudices, actually many are out right prejudices. It is sad that folks still treat those with darker skin tones with disregard. Colorism. Its sad that folks think that short stature equals weakness and tall equals strength....


I'm going to let Janet have the last word on this:

"Pretty privilege can give way to more popularity, higher grades, more positive work reviews, and career advancement. People who are considered pretty are more likely to be hired, have higher salaries, and are less likely to be found guilty and are sentenced less harshly. Pretty people are perceived as smarter, healthier and more competent, and people treat pretty people better. Pretty privilege is also conditional and is not often extended to women who are trans, black and brown, disabled, older, and/or overweight." - Janet Mock

HIV Stigma:

For a long time I hid my HIV status unless I knew that I will be sexually active and had always felt that it was no one's business. I walked right out of that closet, but I did not come out for me alone. I came for everyone who has been:

- Ostracized
- Made to feel nasty
- Made to feel contagious


I realized I and so many others hid (and for some, still hiding) this part of ourselves for YOUR comfort, for the random sessions of pseudo-intimacy or even for the goal of true romance. We can no longer sacrifice our sanity and unapologetic nature for the sake of being able to date, for sex or even true intimacy. I am fucking tired of explaining how this works after disclosing my status and I others like me are tired too. I'm tired of telling you how good and well I take care of myself in order to keep my health in check so YOU can feel comfortable about fucking...when you outchea doing all kinds of shit without "proper protection."

WE NEED PROTECTION FROM YOU!!!

HIV negative people are more dangerous to us than we are to them, sitting there judging us in your tiny little minds, deeming us to be promiscuous and hoeish. Just look at the posts on social media and conversations that are centered on the subject of HIV, and the stigma you all perpetuate is so fucking blatant.

"they are out sleeping with everyone and not disclosing their status"
"why do you even tell people?"
"You are too out about being POZ..."

HIV negative Negroes are comfortable and justify liking to fuck raw and random while claiming to be drug and disease free for random hookups and dont even know your actual damn health status. we should all be weary of doing anything with a dude who knows nothing about their status, it means they may have other STDs & STIs. Honestly, you should be ok with how you like to fuck, but don't stigmatize POZ people in the process.

We are not your secret.
We need to address this fear, this stigma about HIV that YOU, my fellow black SGL men have.
We need to have a real conversation about how this really works and how we hurt each other in the process.

Is loving a Black man a revolutionary act? In spite of all of the hindrances listed above and the ones not covered like religion and respect for Trans men, YES, it is a revolutionary act!


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Dear Gay Men of Color: Stop Begging Racist White Gay Men to love you.

A fellow blogger and friend was banned for THIRTY days on Facebook for sharing a PRO BLACK blog post that he published in March. I have been banned multiple times for the same reasons and WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED!

Dear Gay Men of Color: Stop Begging Racist White Gay Men to love you

By: Prince Royce Worthington

Adapted from: The Magical Beautiful Petty Black Prince


If I read another rambling think piece or watch another whiny YouTube video about some dejected and rejected Black Gay Man (or any other ethnicity of gay man for that matter) waxing poetic about how racist it is for White Gay Men to rebuke them based solely on race I am going to smash my head through a wall, seriously…

What is wrong with you people?

Are you that enamored by the white gaze and white supremacy that you will willingly subject yourselves to overt racism and constant microaggressions in order to be accepted by men who literally view you as a sexual fetish and nothing more?

Before I go into it please watch this video of an Asian Man (and a good looking fella at that) pleading with his “friends”–that he clearly wants to be more than just friends with–to stop being racist towards him and other Asian Gays…


Chile, I barely got through it. And if you search for them you will find a glut of these videos with men of color imploring their white counterparts to stop being racist towards them…

“White men, please stop objectifying me for my dick. I am a Black Man I am more than a dick.”

Or

“Dear White Men: Not all Asian Men are (insert every single Anti Asian sentiment that you’ve ever heard or seen in the gay community. Trust me there are a plethora of them)…

Or the most popular, which is clearly pandering, “Dear White Gay Men: Please stop basing your preferences on race.”

I’m sorry but I really don’t understand this foolishness. Perhaps it is because I’ve never willingly subjected myself to this. 99% of the men that I’ve dated (and still date) are Black Men (specifically other African Americans. Although I’ve dated a few dudes from abroad too). Overwhelmingly, that is what I am most attracted to and I’ve no shame in that. Granted, I’ve dated a couple of white men here and there but I wasn’t completely into the few I’ve dated so it fizzled. Primarily because, without fail, they would say and do certain things that were TOTALLY racist, and they had no clue until I came right out and told them, “Hey, that was fucked up.” So, to that end I refuse to put myself in that type of situation nor am I going to act as a race relations professor in a relationship. I want to experience: love, joy, sex, and romance in a relationship, not blocking microaggressions that will inevitably occur. Again, I am open to the possibility of interracial romance (especially if it is Chris Hemsworth. Uhm YUMMY); however, the white guy in question will have to be a super special snowflake amongst the intensely RACIST microcosm that is the Gay “Community.”

Many  gays seem to labor under this mass delusion that simply because they know what it is like to be excluded from hetero-normalcy that somehow they GET IT. They believe that they “get” what racism is, how it works, and that it can’t possibly ever be them. Most white people, gays in specific, believe that being a racist means dressing up in a Klan outfit, burning crosses, and saying “NIGGER” in front of a black person. Otherwise, it was just this horrible occurrence that was abolished when Lincoln freed the slaves and MLK said, “I have a dream.”

However, what we fail to understand is that, before we are gay, we come from the same White Supremacist pathology that saturates the united states of America (the globe for that matter, but for the sake of this writing I am using America for specificity). White Gay Men are still, first and foremost, White Men in a society that privileges Whiteness and Maleness, period. They grow up in the same culture that prioritizes whiteness and degenerates blackness. They grow up in the same racist communities that their heterosexual counterparts do. They have that same racist white uncle who makes anti Black/Asian/Mexican jokes at holiday dinners. Before anyone knows that they are gay they are first and foremost white, and by proxy, whiteness is central to their identity…

Which is why I do not understand you Black and Asian men, with your GRINDR accounts, looking to hook up with White Men (because in certain regions GRINDR is totally white) and being disgruntled when you see, “No Blacks, No Asians, No Fats, No Fems…Just a preference” on every other profile. What do you expect? The gay world prioritizes White Frat boys with blond hair and chiseled abs. You don’t fit into that all. Instead most of them see you as a fetish or potential flavor of the month. When they want to indulge their “Kink” more often than not you are the kink. But hey if you are one of those Negroes that enjoys being fetishized by white gay men then more power to you, nobody is stopping you. But be honest with yourself and stop placing this onus on racist white men.

Racist white men are going to do them (literally and figuratively). Racism, sexism, and all of the other isms do not impact them. They live in their little bubble where the only thing they’ve had to overcome is homophobia. So when that is no longer an issue why do you think that, all of a sudden, those who are raised in a macro-system that prioritizes them and denigrates YOU, they are going to give you their unrelenting support, including their asses, dicks, and hearts? No, that is not how racism and privilege work boo!

What I implore Black (the entire diaspora), Asian, Non White Latinos, and various others to do is to begin unpacking their own baggage. Why is it so important for you to acquire the affections and attentions of white men? Granted, this is a rhetorical question (we are all mired down in white supremacist pathology) but why don’t you stop to think about where it all comes from.

What would make you sit in a room full of white men and listen to, “Not to be racist but…” (and everything that follows will be vehemently racist) Why would you want to be viewed as just your Big Black Cock and how you fuck or your stereotypical ability to be the submissive Asian bottom? Moreover, why do you willingly and continuously reject beautiful men that look like you and have more in common with you just to acquire the white gaze.

If you say that, “It is just a preference” you are a damn liar. Preferences are acquired. They don’t happen in a vacuum. Preferences are like ice cream. I may PREFER vanilla but occasionally I am willing to try Strawberry and find that I like it too. Preferences can and do change and the idea that someone can be born and raised in a Black and or Asian community and suddenly grow up to ONLY “prefer” people who do not look like them as lovers and partners is indicative of a larger issue.

So before you write the next maudlin think piece about why racist white men don’t want you (easy, it’s because they’re are racist) ask yourself why you don’t want yourself. That is the most important inqueery (misspelling intentional. I just thought that was cute).

Prince

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dear Houston City Council Member Dwight Boykins

Dear Houston City Council Member Dwight Boykins,

I saw you write a post on Facebook that made my blood boil just like the other times you did some disappointing shit. Here is what you said:

"Last night I had the opportunity to ride along with the Houston Police Department’s Southeast Station on their night shift from 10PM to 6AM. I did this to not only have a viewpoint of being a constituent within District D but also that of our law enforcement. My number one concern will always be the safety of my constituents but we also have to be sure to that we aren’t attacking law enforcement and it won’t be tolerated. This ride along gave me the opportunity to see first-hand what residents have to experience when approached by HPD and the relationship that they have with the community. I am also always looking for ways to improve safety by bridging the gap between the community and law enforcement, providing better lighting in dark areas, provide sidewalks so residents don’t have to walk in the street, and make sure that City Departments are aware of the everyday concerns of my constituents. I would like to thank Cpt. Deese and his team for taking me on their night shift and I look forward to continuing moving District D forward. Be on the lookout for more information from ABC 13."


I have a major issue with how you have stepped out on a limb to protect law enforcement, the Houston Police Department in this post after you shared concerns about the same police dept. last year. I am sure that you remember the murder of Alva Braziel at the height of a very bloody week. You told ABC-13 that "The biggest gorilla in the room is very clear. We need to put officers in neighborhoods that reflect the neighborhood." It is clear you came to the conclusion that white law enforcement officers are not healthy for your district, a majority BLACK district. But somehow your overnight ride along instantly changed your heart. Or is it that you tailor your statements for that moment in time, to maximize the optics that you somehow really care about your constituents?

You said that you "did this to not only have a viewpoint of being a constituent within District D but also that of our law enforcement." Did Ray Hunt get to you? Fuck the police, they volunteered for this job, it aint noble nor is it worthy of the halo you and many delusional folks give it. You were elected by the people of District D, so the idea that you have the audacity to say that your "number one concern will always be the safety of my constituents but we also have to be sure to that we aren’t attacking law enforcement and it won’t be tolerated." Who made you god (I am an Atheist, its lowercase on purpose) and GAVE you the right to deem what will and won't be tolerated? Law enforcement in Houston needs to be rudely awakened to the fact that they, like you, are accountable to us. They have been abusive and have hidden their wrong doings for years, decades and you expect us to change our hearts and mind because YOU will not tolerate what is a legal right of EVERY citizen? How exactly are we attacking the police? We demand justice Mr. Boykins, we are not asking and begging for it. FUCK THE POLICE.

Answer this for me, how exactly did "This ride along gave" you "the opportunity to see first-hand what residents have to experience when approached by HPD and the relationship that they have with the community." You were elected three times with the LIVED EXPERIENCE of a Black man, in a majority Black district. You are in fact Black, aren't you? you have had five years to hear from your voters about their experiences with the police and instead you go this route. The police does not have a good relationship with us, you are toeing the line for Mayor Turner's effort to give houston the image of being a welcoming city. Well guess what? We see you, I see you and I dont like what you are doing here. This is grounds to start a petition to trigger a recall on your ass. You have to be out of touch to think that "...providing better lighting in dark areas, provide sidewalks so residents don’t have to walk in the street, and make sure that City Departments are aware of the everyday concerns of my constituents," will be accomplished "by bridging the gap between the community and law enforcement."

You had YEARS to improve safety, provide better lighting in dark areas and provide sidewalks, among other things for residents of your district. I recall you being more concerned about being anti Trans and making accusations of there being an LGBT agenda, when those people you attacked showed you that they lived in your district and were Black. According to the Houston Press you never mentions sidewalk and lighting, you were discriminating:


Moving on, it seems that you are really only concerned about the prettier side of District D, where the museums and Hermann Park are. You only seem to care about safety when it comes to your white constituents and their discomfort with the homeless community. A community currently under attack by you and the rest of your elected buddies in the horseshoe at city hall. Remember that 90% of Houston's homeless is Black and you had this to say about people who only wish to get help?

It scares me that individuals walking around needing mental health counseling can approach my wife,” Boykins said.



So in crowded room with people anxious to hear solutions, Boykins and police brass told neighbors change will come by the end of the week." - KHOU

You have stood with white and conservatives more that those in your own district, and now you are fighting for cops instead of helping to get justice for Alva Braziel, and everyone else who lives in your district. Why aren't you talking to the County Commissioners Court, TXDOT and other entities that can help build infrastructure in your district? That's how you get sidewalks and better lighting, but it damn sure aint gonna improve the relationship of police and the Black community. Do your job instead of serving those special interests you contribute, after all you gave them money, so why aren't you using them to benefit your community? Let me remind you:


Going Back to 2004 you have donated to conservatives that have hurt the Black community, people with verifiable history of being anti Black racists, anti women, anti LGBT and now here you sit as a city council member doing their bidding. I sincerely hope not, but it looks that way. The time has come for you to do your job, and do it right for your voters. Tell your police friends and other interests that have your ear to sit in the back or we will make your life hell. Ride along with that.

Thanks

Ashton P. Woods
Black Lives Matter: Houston

Monday, March 27, 2017

Fuck You & Your HIV Stigma

"For a long time I hid my HIV status unless I knew that I will be sexually active and had always felt that it was no one's business. I walked right out of that closet, but I did not come out for me alone. I came for everyone who has been ostracized and made to feel nasty. We are not fucking nasty! We are not contagious! I realized I hid this part of myself for YOUR comfort, for the random sessions of pseudo-intimacy or even for the goal of true romance. I can no longer sacrifice my sanity and unapologetic nature for the sake of being able to date, for sex or even true intimacy..." - APW


Fuck You & Your HIV Stigma


Fuck you and I mean it, we have had decades to understand that HIV the virus that causes AIDS has been under control for some time now. YET, we still find a way to be willfully ignorant and inhumane towards those living with HIV and AIDS. I write this wondering if the stigma a lot of you push was institutional and systemic, or if yall are just naturally assholes.  It was in 1991 at 7 years old, that I first heard about HIV when Magic Johnson announced that he was HIV positive.

Before I continue, when I say institutional and systemic, I am speaking of government and community organizations like churches. I am sure that many Black folks were affected by the HIV/ AIDS epidemic. But, it wasn't until Magic Johnson held that press conference on November 7, 1991 and made a public announcement that he would retire immediately, HIV/AIDS was a very white and gay thing. The stigma that HIV/AIDS was a gay white disease completely overshadowed the catastrophic effects on the heterosexual community and the Black community as a whole.  At that time, it was said that a small percentage of HIV positive men had contracted it from heterosexual sex. With that percentage being so low (probably inaccurate reporting) Johnson was accused of being gay or bisexual, stigma...

"why do you even tell people?" - Random Idiot


It seems like people knew more about it back then as opposed to now. why is that? Even with all of this science, all of these organizations and educational materials out there it seems that we have come to a very dangerous pause. I am not referring to PrEP or raw sex, I am talking about the lack of outreach in the Black community. There are literally college students who are taking basic biology as a required course and cannot grasp HIV and how it works.  Does this make me an outlier? Or was it because I had better access? One thing is for sure, ONE THING...shit like this should not even be a thing, stigma...

"I see how dangerous you are when I read posts on social media and hear conversations that are centered on the subject of HIV, the stigma you all perpetuate is so fucking blatant. When you say shit like, "they are out sleeping with everyone and not disclosing their status" in such a general way, it stigmatizes us all." - APW


The first time I fully understood what HIV was, it was the fall of 1993.  I was around 8 or 9 years old and one day I caught a bug and I had to stay home from school. There was a soap opera on that I had been watching and It cut to a scene that made me ask a lot of questions to myself. It was a scene of a Straight white man laying in bed with family beside him as he spoke his last words. The cause of death was complications from AIDS, that weren't fully explored. Around this same time there was a Back girl group on the rise that went by the name of TLC, they wore condoms on their outfits in their music videos and it didn't hurt that they made some good ass music. Yes, the concept of safe sex existed back then. So what the hell happened?!

The whole idea that safe sex was as thing back then baffles the hell out of me now. It baffles me because depictions of Black folks dying from AIDS or living with HIV was kept to minimum. It baffles me because one of my favorite rappers Eazy E was diagnosed with AIDS. He announced his illness in a public statement on March 16, 1995 and 10 days later on March 26 died from complications of AIDS. Eazy was 30 years old at the time and not long after his death, that summer of 1995, TLC released a song and music video called Waterfalls that tackled violence and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. While the storyline with the Black man resonated with me, the scene with the white, straight couple spoke to me more. The woman convinced her partner not to use a condom and the next scene is him staring into the mirror and sees that he has an early symptom of AIDS visible on his face, in the form of Kaposi's Sarcoma. What frightened me is the small photo frame on the dresser showing or flashing images of all the people she had sex with. In the final scene with the couple, the man's face eerily faded from the picture as the woman was sitting alone on the bed. Then finally,  she fades away, inferring that they both died from AIDS...


The lyrics have always haunted me like an omen, my 10 year old self was scared shitless:

[Chorus]
Don't go chasing waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to
I know that you're gonna have it your way or nothing at all
But I think you're moving too fast
[Verse 2]
Little precious has a natural obsession for temptation
But he just can't see
She gives him loving that his body can't handle
But all he can say is, "Baby it's good to me"
One day he goes and take a glimpse in the mirror
But he doesn't recognize his own face
His health is fading and he doesn't know why
Three letters took him to his final resting place
Y'all, don't hear me
[Chorus]
Don't go chasing waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to
I know that you're gonna have it your way or nothing at all
But I think you're moving too fast


While I accept the message that TLC put out there, in hindsight the representation of the Black man selling drugs and the depiction that promiscuity among women (and men) may have sent the wrong message to some. Looking at how people react to HIV in the present day, we have work to do! Because of stigma and misinformation we have lost great and talented people. Instead of lifting each other up, we have sought to demolish each other with slander, rumors, and even exposure. Take for example, a group that recently popped up for Black gay men on facebook. In a matter of days the group had over 20k members and in that short time it was full of HIV stigma until the admins removed the posts. I quietly joined the group and got some screenshots as this took place (here are a couple of the nice ones):



"I REFUSE to be your secret, whether you are POZ or not, we are in the eye of a storm and I am an activist with a very public life. we need to address this fear, this stigma about HIV that YOU, my fellow black gay men have. We need to have a real conversation about how this really works and how we hurt each other in the process."


To be honest, when dealing with HIV outside and within the Black community, stigma has a stronghold. The lack of HIV 101 plays a large part in why stigma is such a huge issue, it is saddening. It is one of the reasons that came out of the HIV closet, which was for everyone who has been ostracized and made to feel nasty.  While many of us who have HIV are healthier than most out in the general population, Black gay men die at a higher rate from HIV than those who are in the group where HIV infection is actually the highest. Now think about how the Black heterosexual community is affected, especially Black women. People living with HIV are not nasty people, we are not contagious, we are doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers! Yes, we are HIV positive and we live a healthy life, We are human beings and we exist. The data showing how HIV affects the Black community is staggering. So fuck you and your stigma.

HIV - stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV. That means that once you have HIV, you have it for life.

AIDS - HIV disease becomes AIDS when your immune system is seriously damaged. If you have less than 200 CD4+ cells or if your CD4 percentage is less than 14%, you have AIDS.

TRANSMISSION - Only certain fluids—blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk—from an HIV-infected person can transmit HIV. These fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the bloodstream (from a needle or syringe) for transmission to possibly occur. Mucous membranes can be found inside the rectum, the vagina, the opening of the penis, and the mouth.

In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by

Having sex with someone who has HIV. In general:
- Anal sex is the highest-risk sexual behavior. Receptive anal sex (bottoming) is riskier than insertive anal sex (topping).
- Vaginal sex is the second highest-risk sexual behavior.
- Having multiple sex partners or having other sexually transmitted infections can increase the risk of infection through sex.
Sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment (works) used to prepare injection drugs with someone who has HIV.

SEROCONVERSION:

- Seroconversion is the period of time during which HIV antibodies develop and become detectable.
- Seroconversion generally takes place within a few weeks of initial infection.
- It is often, but not always, accompanied by flu-like symptoms including fever, rash, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms are not a reliable way to identify seroconversion or to diagnose HIV infection.

My name is Ashton P. Woods
&
I am HIV positive.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

#CABQ: Why Have We Turned Our Backs On Our Trans Family?

The Chronicles Of An Angry Black Queer


It should be noted that I am writing from my perspective, which is that of a Black, masculine presenting gay man who happens to be an Atheist. I will be writing about my thoughts and experiences as an activist, human and life in general. These posts will not be academic or even properly written in some of your opinions.

Transgender - An umbrella term for people whose gender identity or expression is different from those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth (e.g., the sex listed on their birth certificate). Not all people who consider themselves (or who may be considered by others as) transgender will undergo a gender transition.


Entry #9: Why Have We Turned Our Backs On Our Trans Family?


"If you want to learn about trans women and our lives, how about doing the simple thing of actually talking to a trans person, reading our books, inviting us to speak (and paying us fairly to do so) on college campuses and having us do the media interviews to talk about our lives." - TransGriot

First, let me start by stating that I honor the memories of Chyna Gibson, Ciara McElveen, Jaquarrius Holland and so many other Trans siblings who have fallen to violence. Their lives were taken within days of each other and while these tragedies occurred, states like Texas are looking to institutionalize Transphobia. The women mentioned earlier are Black and it should be alarming to all of you that the state and the community are working hand in hand to sanction violence toward people who only wish to be respected in their existence. The fight for Trans lives is and should be included on every level of activism, the Black Lives Matter movement, feminist and other movements in an intersectional way. In wake of all that has happened, a popular feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie demonstrated how Trans exclusionary we can be in the activist and Black community at large...


Then she released a problematic statement in response to the backlash:


"CLARIFYING

Because I have been the subject of much hostility for standing up for LGBTQ rights in Nigeria, I found myself being very defensive at being labeled 'transphobic.' My first thought was – how could anyone think that?

I didn't like that version of myself. It felt like a white person saying 'I'm not racist, I supported civil rights.'

Because the truth is that I do think one can be trans phobic while generally supporting LGBTQ rights.

And so I want to put my defensiveness aside and clarify my thoughts. To make sure that I am fully understood.

I said, in an interview, that trans women are trans women, that they are people who, having been born male, benefited from the privileges that the world affords men, and that we should not say that the experience of women born female is the same as the experience of trans women.

This upset many people, and I consider their concerns to be valid. I realize that I occupy this strange position of being a ‘voice’ for gender rights and so there is an automatic import to my words.

I think the impulse to say that trans women are women just like women born female are women comes from a need to make trans issues mainstream. Because by making them mainstream, we might reduce the many oppressions they experience.

But it feels disingenuous to me. The intent is a good one but the strategy feels untrue. Diversity does not have to mean division.

Because we can oppose violence against trans women while also acknowledging differences. Because we should be able to acknowledge differences while also being supportive. Because we do not have to insist, in the name of being supportive, that everything is the same. Because we run the risk of reducing gender to a single, essentialist thing.

Perhaps I should have said trans women are trans women and cis women are cis women and all are women. Except that 'cis' is not an organic part of my vocabulary. And would probably not be understood by a majority of people. Because saying ‘trans’ and ‘cis’ acknowledges that there is a distinction between women born female and women who transition, without elevating one or the other, which was my point.

I have and will continue to stand up for the rights of transgender people. Not merely because of the violence they experience but because they are equal human beings deserving to be what they are.

I see how my saying that we should not conflate the gender experiences of trans women with that of women born female could appear as if I was suggesting that one experience is more important than the other. Or that the experiences of trans women are less valid than those of women born female. I do not think so at all – I know that trans women can be vulnerable in ways that women born female are not. This, again, is a reason to not deny the differences.

Why does this even matter?

Because at issue is gender.

Gender is a problem not because of how we look or how we identify or how we feel but because of how the world treats us.

Girls are socialized in ways that are harmful to their sense of self – to reduce themselves, to cater to the egos of men, to think of their bodies as repositories of shame. As adult women, many struggle to overcome, to unlearn, much of that social conditioning.

A trans woman is a person born male and a person who, before transitioning, was treated as male by the world. Which means that they experienced the privileges that the world accords men. This does not dismiss the pain of gender confusion or the difficult complexities of how they felt living in bodies not their own.

Because the truth about societal privilege is that it isn't about how you feel. (Anti-racist white people still benefit from race privilege in the United States). It is about how the world treats you, about the subtle and not so subtle things that you internalize and absorb.

This is not to say that trans women did not undergo difficulties as boys. But they did not undergo those particular difficulties specific to being born female, and this matters because those experiences shape how adult women born female interact with the world.

And because to be human is to be a complex amalgam of your experiences, it is disingenuous to say that their being born male has no effect on their experience of gender as trans women.

Of course there are individual differences. But there are always individual differences. We speak of ‘women’s issues’ knowing that while there are individual differences, the truth of human history is that women as a group have been treated as subordinate to men. And we speak of male privilege acknowledging that individual men differ but that men as a group are nevertheless accorded privileges by the world.

I think of feminism as Feminisms. Race and class shape our experience of gender. Sexuality shapes our experience of gender. And so when I say that I think trans women are trans women, it is not to diminish or exclude trans women but to say that we cannot insist – no matter how good our intentions – that they are the same as women born female.

Nor do I think that we need to insist that both are the same.

To acknowledge different experiences is to start to move towards more fluid – and therefore more honest and true to the real world – conceptions of gender."
 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


These comments were misinformed, ignorant and bigoted in my my opinion. YOU do not have to agree with a person transitioning their Gender Identity, but please stop mixing SEX and GENDER!

Sex:
Refers to biological differences; chromosomes, hormonal profiles, internal and external sex organs.
   
Gender:
Describes the characteristics that a society or culture delineates as masculine or feminine.
    
Gender identity:
A person's private sense and subjective experience of their own gender. This is generally described as one's private sense of being a man or a woman, consisting primarily of the acceptance of membership into a category of people: male or female.
Gender expression

I would advise many of you without a clue to get one and fast, you may think your opinions are from a good place, but this shit is endangering our Trans family. Especially Black Trans folks who just want to live and be themselves, who have to hear and read this vitriol, and get killed by people who are emboldened by this vile anti Trans language.

"We pull back, bind down and put on this persona, only to be knocked down. We are used for our talents and bright personality, but overlooked for promotions. Any transgender woman who wants to make an honest living, wakes up every morning and is forced to transition back into a male presentation. For years, I believed I was doing the right thing by tying my natural hair back, and binding my chest down. Believing that hard work and a great personality would open doors to advancements, and let me just say that I’ve seen my share of people cutting me in line and/or doors slammed in my face when it comes to opportunities. Recently, I was told the only way I would receive any type of promotion would be if I cut all of my hair off, appear more masculine and traditional. Assuming something and finally hearing it are two different things and I  don’t care how strong of a person you are, you’re never prepared for discrimination. It made me second guess my transition and even allowed thoughts of giving up my happiness, but I remember there will be another woman like me and it’s my duty to help pave the way for her just like it was done for me. This is only the beginning of my fight to end discrimination against Trans women in the workplace so that the next generation will be one step closer." - Lola Mo'na

Please stop misgendering folks in a jacked up attempt to perpetuate the lie that Trans folks are out to deceive Cisgender men and women and get into relationships based on lies. While many of you want to believe that bullshit, please know that Trans men and women don't do shady things like that and its just a few bad apples. Learn to think for yourselves and use non anecdotal sources to read up on people who are different and don't fit into what your socially constructed norms are. Trans folks can speak for themselves...


Over the years I have had the privilege of meeting some great people who just so happened to be Transgender. Chyna was one of them, I came out early and during that period in my life Chyna was one of the many people I crossed paths with and now she's gone. During part of that time, I was homeless and witness the hate first hand that Trans women would encounter on the street. Many did not trick themselves out for money as you would assume, while some did, it was about surviving. So when people say things like what Chimamanda said, and others spout hate about people who experience misogyny, patriarchy and etc it fucks with me. Again Trans folks can speak for themselves, Get em Raquel (one of my favorite people)...






It is the Black Trans folk who come to our aid, my aid. There was a that time I was nearly raped on the first of many nights having to sleep out in the streets. A man held a knife to me in order to force me into having sex with him until I saw this tall statuesque woman come up from behind to take the man down. She told him "Don't mess with this baby..." and she literally took the knife out of his hand and sent him away bloody. Honestly, it was all a blur, but she saved my life and I never knew her name, she saved my life. She was in transition and she let it be known during a short conversation over food that she bought me after convincing me to go and eat at Clover Grill. Life has a way of putting people in your presence in order for you to truly understand the nature of being human and what comes with it. I guess, I never tried to understand what it meant to be Trans-Masculine or Trans-Feminine, only that people are people, PERIOD.

When will we stop being so Transphobic and disrespectful to our Brothers and sisters?

The first thing that we must understand is not how and why a person decided to transition, but how we can help our brothers and sisters in that transition and respecting it. We can't continue to sexualize Trans persons out of curiosity of what their genitalia may or may not look like!

Can we come to agreement that we should try to respect and understand others' choices to transition without stereotyping, demeaning and attack our Trans brothers and Sisters?

For those of you SGL/LGB Cis folks in the community negating, demeaning and attacking Trans folks, just remember that Marsha P Johnson, a BLACK TRANSWOMAN kicked of the Stonewall Riots in 1969. So no, it isn't a Trans supremacy movement...


It is a movement that includes all of us and now is the time for us to use our privilege to help the "T" in SGL-BT/LGBT and understand that it doesn't take away from our main struggles and only serves to benefit all.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Jeff Sessions Takes Pro - Police Stance & Targets Black Lives Matter Movement

“We’ve also heard from law enforcement leaders, including the FBI Director and many police chiefs, that something is changing in policing. They tell us that in this age of viral videos and targeted killings of police, many of our men and women in law enforcement are becoming more cautious. They’re more reluctant to get out of their squad cars and do the hard but necessary work of up-close policing that builds trust and prevents violent crime.”

- Jeff Sessions (DOJ)


Police Brutality, Accountability & Crime Rates


"I've done that as united states attorney to prosecute police officers who do wrong, but we need so far as we can in my view, helpful police departments. Get better, not diminish their effectiveness. And I'm afraid we've done some of that."

On Tuesday Attorney General Jeff Session made clear that he wants less police accountability and wishes return to the days of law enforcement that decimated the Black community. He talked about how our actions to get justice those who have fallen prey to the violent hand of racist, rogue cops. He makes his feels that "we undermine the respect for our police. And made often times their job more difficult and it's not been well received by them."


When In the hell did holding pigs accountable undermine policing???



Sessions is taking a different direction from that of Lynch and Holder, "We're going to try to pull back on this and I don't think it's wrong or mean or insensitive to civil rights or human rights." He honestly thinks the concern should be "to make the lives of people in the the four minority communities to live a happier and safer life." But, he said this while him and the Trump administration has vowed to attack minority communities. How can we be able to have children outside and in safety when children like Tamir Rice are gunned down for being a child while Black? His concern about being able to "go to the grocery store in safety and not accosted by drug dealer" are laughable. Try shopping while Black in any venue that practices the exchange of good and services. The only "gangs and cross fires" we need to worried about are the police and white men like Sessions.


While taking his pro police stance he spoke of a time when "People never locked their doors before." Invoking the 1950s which was before things like civil rights legislation, Voting Rights, interracial marriage and desegregation were commonplace. A time where we were still openly called niggers, hung, raped, violated and forced to live in shacks. A time when overt racism was the norm and police brutality was a standard expectation for Black folks. That period when women and especially Black women worked in conditions and live under societal standards that today is illegal in some cases.

He means these 1950s:


In his nostalgia for the 1950s he rambled on an on about how there was a period of time where things got bad as it pertains to crime. One could guess that he was referring to the era when the Civil Rights movement kicked into high gear and slowed down during tenures of presidents from Nixon to Bush 43. It was during that era that drugs and the war on drugs was used to attack the Black and activist communities which created crime. This led to the incarceration of Black men at an exponential rate and Black women (while the rates are smaller, must be inclusive. The 1980s and 90s saw the highest spikes of mass incarceration, which heavily affected the Black community. Sessions framed that period like this:

"...and so this was a big change. We began to focus on how to improve law enforcement. Something I've just kind of watched. I've had an interest in over the years. And it took some time, maybe 20he years, but the murder rate was half in America than what it had been. Drug use was down among kids. We had prevention programs in every community and many of you and I spent a lot of my time working, try to create a message of the danger of the illegal drugs and the crime does tend to follow drug use, anybody observed history, they know that's true. So we made progress.

And then we got better policing techniques. You know, new york still incredibly effective reversal of the crime rate in new york city. Community policing, broken windows, all the new techniques that came along that put police in the streets out there doing the things that are necessary. But now we are at a time, it seems to me, crime is going back up again. Overall crime rate increased 3.5%. One of the bigger increases since 1991. Murder rate up 10.8% Nationwide and if you've seen in the papers, "the wall street journal" had a big article about it. Major cities see dramatic, I mean really dramatic increases in murder rates. Chicago, Baltimore. New Orleans. It's lots of this out there that's driving a sense that we're in danger. I say we need to return to the ideas that got us here, the ideas that reduce crime and stay on it. Maybe we got too confident. You've been part of the movement that's made our communities and counties safer and we save how many thousands of lives have not been lost."


The Broken Windows Theory:

A criminological theory of the norm-setting and signaling effect of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crime and anti-social behavior. The theory states that maintaining and monitoring urban environments to prevent small crimes such as vandalism, public drinking, and toll-jumping helps to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby preventing more serious crimes from happening.


Racial Profiling:

The use of race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed an offense.


Implicit Bias:

Is the bias in judgment and/or behavior that results from subtle cognitive processes (e.g., implicit attitudes and implicit stereotypes) that often operate at a level below conscious awareness and without intentional control.

"How many thousands of people have not been injured? How many people have not seen their financial situation damaged severely by crime? We've done a lot of good. We need to not give up on that progress. That is the thing that's concerning me the most. I do not believe, maybe I'm wrong, but I do not believe that this pop in crime, this increase in crime is necessarily an aberration, a one time blip. I'm afraid it represents the beginning of a trend and I think what really concerns me in the bottom of all that is also the increase in drugs in America. So they tend to follow one another. That's what happened in the '60s and '70s. And I think it could happen now. I think while we all have a charge to do better, President Trump issued an order. He doesn't issue modest orders. He said to the attorney general, he said, the policy of this executive branch is to reduce crime in America. That's a pretty good goal. I like that."

"Dubious About Marijuana"


Dubious: hesitating or doubting.


"I am dubious about marijuana. States can pass whatever laws they choose but I'm not sure we'll be a better healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store. I just don't think that's going to be good for us and we'll have to work our way through that." That's what sessions had to say about Cannabis this guy missed the bus for continuing education, findings, research and common sense in general. Never mind the existence of substantial evidence that cannabis can be used in treatments for HIV, chronic pain, prevent nausea in cancer patients under chemotherapy, and etc. Instead Sessions' "... best view is we don't need to be legalizing marijuana and we need to crack down for effectively on marijuana and fentanyl and other drugs and part of the federal leadership will be drug distribution networks, cartels that threaten the very government of nations to our south and less money they extract out of American, less danger they present to their governments and their people and fewer people that are addicted."

The Drug Thing & Xenophobia


I will just sit his problematic words right here:

"The drug thing, the president also given me a direct order to take charge and lead an effort against drug cartels, international drug cartels and they are growing in strength. And we got so much of it coming right across the Texas border and all across the Mexican border and we can do better there...We can do better attacking the the distribution networks and we have to start generally from my experience as a federal prosecutor, with state and local cases, where someone catches a person and turns out, they identify them as a major part of an organization and the federal government, DEA, and other agencies have subpoenas and follow up on leads at the local sheriff or police chief can't do and we work together to achieve progress. I am fully aware that, what, 85% of law enforcement in America is state and local. We're not going to fight effectively just from Washington, DC. That is obvious to anybody who can see that the sun is shining. So this is a big deal for us to work together. We have had tremendous partnerships over the years. It started, actually, excuse me, when I became united states attorney in 1981, Rudy Giuliani was the associate who had supervision over U.S. Attorneys in those days..."

"I believe there's nothing wrong legally, morally, or intellectually with a lawful system of immigration. It serves the national interest. What's wrong with that? Why shouldn't we aspire to that good goal and the president made clear his view on it and it's been mine for some time and we're going to make progress about that and then in particular, people who come here unlawfully who commit crimes are going to be out of here...The law says they have to be deported and we're going to insist that that happens and some of these countries that are refusing to take them back, we have the ability and the power and the legal requirement to confront them and take action against them if they don't take them back, we're housing a lot of people who committed serious crimes who entered the country unlawfully and long since due to be deported. We're told we're holding them because these countries won't take them back. There's a lot of things we can do in that regard."

The Conclusion...


We have a fight on our hands in Black (& Brown) community and it will require an "all the above" strategy to defeat this resurgence of white male fuckery. Part of that fight is with the Department of Justice and its new Confederate Attorney General...

Friday, February 17, 2017

#CABQ: James Charles, Racism & Mediocrity of the White LGBT Community

The Chronicles Of An Angry Black Queer


It should be noted that I am writing from my perspective, which is that of a Black, masculine presenting gay man who happens to be an Atheist. I will be writing about my thoughts and experiences as an activist, human and life in general. These posts will not be academic or even properly written in some of your opinions.

"Whites like to believe “I do not see race” and “we are all the same”. In a colour-blind world there is no white gaze. They believe, want to believe, in a colour-blind world, which means the white gaze should not be, therefore must not be."


Entry #8: James Charles, Racism & Mediocrity of the White LGBT Community


"You like to think that you are more intelligent than us, but your mediocrity always shines through when you use terms and phrases coined from your white gaze." APW

When I found out that James Charles was the new cover boy for Covergirl, I was less than excited because he represented the white, mediocre, mainstream ideals that are so prevalent in our society. I have been out since I was fifteen years old and one of my most consistent experiences is racism from my white counterparts in the LGBT community. I learned early that in the Black community I would be seen as other and that in the LGBT community that I'm still a nigger. James Charles perfectly illustrated this point when he announced via Twitter that he would be working in South Africa on an upcoming project:


Often gay white men and (their lesbian, bisexual and trans) counterparts culturally appropriate Black women, Black men, and Blackness while perpetuating racism. Yes, Ebola is a deadly disease that has been controlled for sometime now, but James' disease of white gaze and privilege is out of control. His statement via Twitter illustrates how racism is used to make Blackness appear as savage, diseased, and ready for colonization. This is white gaze, looking at the world through a white person’s lens and in his case a cisgender, white, male lens. Most people like James do not see it, but this is how white privilege and mediocrity works, it is just the world as it is to HIM and white people in general.

So why would he apologize? I ask.

It is the world according to white people, which is why I do not expect Covergirl to get rid of James, let alone hire Black Queer models to serve face instead of having them beautify white faces backstage.




He lives a world constructed to his benefit where he only has to exert little to no effort to get maximum benefit, a white world. A world where their white gaze and privilege are rarely challenged, which is why they do not even notice that it exists. Only certain black voices make it through into that world, mostly those of rented Negroes, new Negroes and coons.

Exhibit A: He does what is typical of white people when they fuck up and are checked by Black people...


Exhibit B: And when he finally apologized:


Now let me backtrack a little bit to the part where he is going to be working in South Africa:


South Africa is one of the Whitest countries on the continent of Africa and has a history of extreme racism. Did James, like most white people skip history class? Has James heard of apartheid? Has he heard of Nelson Mandela and the other activists that fought for racial equity in South Africa?

Apparently NOT!

I expect white LGBT folks to be just like their straight counterparts, racist as fuck. Aside from much needed world history and geography lessons for James, the fact is that we deal with racism from a group that we are supposedly part of and are “welcome” to. This group is the mainstream LGBT community in which we are shut out of by being excluded from the process in politics and other matters. They want nothing to do with us unless we bring something to the table that they just cannot function without, DIVERSITY.

We are only needed when it’s beneficial and they erase us when we are not. When legal battles in the LGBT community take place they are very whitewash and cisgender in nature. We don't see very many Trans persons, let alone Trans People of Color in the forefront of our movement and an overall lack of  Black and nonBlack People of Color being represented in this community. There was a time when I witnessed a Houston City Council member say that the LGBT community is not involved in issues pertaining to the Black community.

Now why would the council member say that?

It was a statement of erasure, erasure that goes on in the Black community because being LGBT is attributed to whiteness. This is a huge issue for Black LGBT folks who do great work, only to be told by both sides that we "did great work," only to erased in the same breath. Erased while people like James Charles says heinous things that I nor any of my Black counterparts would be excused for. This is what white privilege, mediocrity, and racism looks like...