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Friday, September 30, 2011

Shani Mootoo: Writing, Difference andthe Caribbean’


DENISE DECAIRES NARAIN, ALISON DONNELL
AND EVELYN O’CALLAGHAN
The idea for this special issue on the work of Shani Mootoo came out of a one-day symposium organised by the Department of Language, Linguistics and Literature, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados on 19 November 2008. This event brought together academics and postgraduates from all three campuses of the UWI, Alison Donnell from The University of Reading, UK and Denise DeCaires Narain from Sussex University, UK, as well as Shani Mootoo herself.
The symposium offered a Caribbean-based venue for a discussion of Mootoo’s fiction and a regionally specific consideration of her writings. This is particularly significant as Mootoo’s work is often critically received within frameworks of disaporic, queer or Canadian writing. Yet, born in Ireland, educated in Trinidad and based in Canada since the 1980s, her books insistently write of and to the Caribbean. They issue a roll call to some of the most sensitive issues around sexuality in the region - transgender identities, incest, rape and queer subjects. Mootoo’s fictions are compelling in their themes, but the texture and delicacy of her writing is also fundamental to her success in quietly and persuasively inscribing new ways of thinking, of feeling and of being. Her writings unfold ideas of desire, love, friendship and family in order to question what shape these may take and to
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imagine new possibilities for Caribbean identities and communities. Mootoo is also a painter, film and video-maker and photographer. Art for Mootoo, in whatever medium, has been a way of expressing what the world she inhabited often refused to recognize as real. Her acclaimed writings tell of sexual abuse and repression but they are also magically evocative, sensual, funny and hopeful.
The stories in Out on Main Street (1993) outline many of the interests and concerns that define the longer fiction: the anxieties and pleasures of same-sex desire in the embattled contexts of the Caribbean and Canada; and the mixed pressures and possibilities that migration generates for constructing and deconstructing identities. The title story of the collection effectively conveys the complex range of intersecting identities that the narrator must negotiate in social transactions. So in relation to ‘real flesh and blood Indian[s] from India’ (47), she and her partner are perceived as ‘watered-down’, ‘not grade A Indians’ (45) while in relation to her femme girlfriend she fears she looks like, ‘a gender dey forget to classify’ (48). But even as the stories exposethe social structures that constrain expressions of selfhood, they also provide glimpses of how identity might be performed differently to evade those restrictions. Mootoo’s first novel, Cereus Blooms At Night (1996), offers sustained exploration of the possibilities for imagining Caribbean personhood beyond the tightly bounded parameters of conventional heteronormative gender constructs. If the novel excoriates the violence with which colonial hierarchies of race stunt the humanity of Chandin Ramchandin, it also unstintingly exposes the violence of his response as it is enacted on the body of his daughter, Mala. Unfolding the dramatic story of ‘the man who mistook his daughter for his wife,’ Mootoo persistently draws attention to the apathy of others in the community of Lantanacamara while also quietly signalling the exemplary empathy that those outside the community, such as Tyler, are able to extend to the traumatized Mala. Mootoo’s novel manages to offer a harsh exposé of homophobic and misogynist attitudes in the Caribbean while also persisting in the belief that they can be transformed
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from within the region (albeit with some input from the ‘Shivering Northern Wetlands’).
The overt blurring of gendered identities and the explicit engagement with same-sex desires in her first novel, led many to respond to Mootoo’s second novel, He Drown She in the Sea (2003), with puzzlement. In this text, Mootoo explores the extent of affinity between Indians, who have made the kala pani crossing ‘same-same’, by focusing on a relationship between Harry, a servant’s son, and Rose, the mistress’s daughter. The love story is resolved at the end of the narrative as the lovers set out in a small boat heading for Honduras. But Mootoo’s apparent rehabilitation of the heterosexual romance structure is more subtly suggestive than this summary suggests; en route to this denouement, Harry is presented as a male subject capable of evading the macho gender roles of Guanagaspar (like Lantanacamara, a thinly disguised Trinidad) to embody a gentle, thoughtful idea of masculinity while Rose relinquishes the sterile security of the marital home to pursue the uncharted straits of desire. The currents of other kinds of crossings are also at play in the text: for example, as Harry’s mother leaves her servant labour behind, she distances herself from Uncle Mako and Tante Eugenie, the African-Caribbean couple who had acted as surrogate parents to Harry’s father. Harry’s upward social mobility (facilitated by his own efforts as a migrant in Canada), by contrast results in him returning to Uncle Mako and Tante Eugenie. The boat in which Rose and Harry elope is the boat that Uncle Mako has been preparing for years for his own return to Africa. In perhaps the boldest of ‘crossings’ undertaken in Mootoo’s fiction, she ‘tampers’ with and displaces both the kala pani and black Atlantic journeys and populates them with desires of a more intimate register.
Mootoo’s most recent novel, Valmiki’s Daughter (2008), located explicitly in Trinidad, returns to the subject of desire and the ways its expression is contorted and restrained by the orthodoxies of heterosexuality and family. Valmiki and Viveka are both forced to suppress their same-sex desires: he by maintaining
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the cover of philandering husband to disguise the homoerotic desires he regularly acts upon and she by performing the role of ‘good Indian daughter’ by marrying a man of similar class and culture, in denial of her passionate sexual desire for a French woman, Anick. As in Cereus Blooms At Night, where Sarah and Lavinia must leave Lantanacamara and Sarah’s two daughters behind in order to fulfil their desire to live together, in Valmiki’s Daughter, Mootoo indicates the complicated and tragic compromises necessary for queer subjects who want to maintain the ties of ‘family’ and ‘community’. Within this narrative of ‘impossible desire’, it is important to note that Mootoo does offer representations of the fulfilment of Viveka’s and Valmiki’s sexual desires. In so doing, she extends the vocabulary and repertoire of images currently available in Caribbean writing for imagining sexual desire outside of the combative sexual politics outlined above. Mootoo’s texts, by so persistently implicating heterosexual structures (marriage, the family) and suggesting possibilities for its rehabilitation, call on readers to recognize the potential of queer subjects – and narratives - for re-imagining Caribbean subjectivities of all kinds across all genders, ethnicities, sexualities and classes. The intimate investment in the sensual possibilities of Caribbean language, landscape and cuisine that Mootoo’s texts inscribe make this call a necessary and ethical one but also a wonderfully rewarding and compelling one.
Given the acute tensions around sexuality in Caribbean societies, Mootoo's fictions are more than literary triumphs. Since her works have come to be associated most strongly with a breaking of Caribbean literary silence around sexuality and non-heteronormative desire, they offer an imaginative bridge through which to connect the more inclusive and affirmative social imaginaries that her writings put into circulation with public conceptions of sexuality and citizenship in Caribbean societies. It is well known that in recent years, some of the most urgent and highly-charged public and political debates in the Caribbean have centred on sexual citizenship and gay rights. To date, popular cultural forms have been at the centre of these debates within the
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cultural sphere, with the Buju Banton ‘battyman’ affair and the Stop Murder Music Campaign acting as the eye of the storm. Yet, while the dancehall has given the Caribbean an international profile for homophobia and hate crimes, during the last decade Caribbean writers have produced a significant body of work that addresses sexual self-determination and sexual diversity in a far more positive way. Works by Dionne Brand, Michelle Cliff, Thomas Glave, Marlon James, Oonya Kempadoo, Kei Miller, Anton Nimblett, Patricia Powell, Lawrence Scott and Nigel H. Thomas have imaginatively structured new possibilities for understanding difference, building empathy and forging alliances. Moreover, given Cecil Gutzmore’s observation that interventions on the issues of postcolonial queer politics and the realities of Caribbean homophobia remains a process ‘carried out largely in the geographically distant and socially remote pages of academic journals, far-off published newspapers, in radio programmes and in films usually unheard and unseen by the majority in Jamaica or other postcolonial locations’ (Gutzmore 2004, 120), the urgency of bringing attention to these writings within publications aimed at Caribbean readers was foremost.
Realising the importance of interventions by writers like Mootoo in the highly contested debate about heterogenous sexualities in the Caribbean, Alison Donnell and Evelyn O’Callaghan were successful in obtaining a British Academy / Associated Commonwealth Universities grant for international collaboration. In 2010 their project, ‘Breaking Sexual Silences: literature and the re-imagination of Caribbean sexualities’ built on the first Mootoo symposium to make visible the possibilities for understanding sexual differences and the modes of reconciliation to be found in the literary archive (www.reading.ac.uk/minorities/projects). They were also mindful of the fact that while the noise about the dancehall and Caribbean homophobia had created social turbulence within the Caribbean, and the US and the UK, the aftershock had not disturbed the terms on which conversations about ‘difference’ were unfolding in Caribbean theoretical and critical discourse. Aside from important
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and pioneering studies and collections such as M. Jacqui Alexander’s Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminism, Sexual Politics, Memory, and the Sacred." (Duke University Press, 2005), Thomas Glave’s anthology Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writings from the Antilles (Duke University Press, 2008), Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (The Crossing Press, 1983) and Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley’s study, Thiefing Sugar: Eroticism between Women in Caribbean Literature (Duke University Press, 2010) academic scholarship had been slow to represent and attend to sexual diversity in the Caribbean. The project therefore invested in the potential of literary works to create more just and rewarding emotional and social landscapes of co-belonging, but it also sought to apply pressure to theorisations of difference. More specifically, it wanted to call into question the dominant matrix of race, ethnicity, gender, class and nation through which Caribbean literary forms and cultural identities have been discussed for the past four decades, by bringing diverse sexual identities onto the Caribbean map.
A second workshop on Mootoo’s fiction and film was held at the University of Reading on October 27, 2010. It was attended by postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers from the Universities of Sussex, Leeds, London, Edinburgh, Reading and the University of Helsinki, Finland, with a roundtable discussion by Denise DeCaires Narain, Alison Donnell and Evelyn O’Callaghan. The overlap of participants at both workshops enabled a dialogue with a Caribbean academic environment, whilst benefitting academics and researchers in the UK. This issue is largely the culmination of these symposia and reflects the exciting and challenging work that is currently being done by postgraduates and scholars young in their career.
The papers gathered here provide ample evidence that scholars are responding to Mootoo’s call for less embattled, more nuanced ideas of Caribbean identity – and selfhood. Each essay, in its intimate engagement with Mootoo’s work, offers suggestive possibilities for how the region might accommodate difference
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more generously and hospitably. Donna McCormack’s essay discusses Valmiki’s Daughter and Mootoo’s short film, The Wild Woman in the Woods (1993), and draws attention to the way that Mootoo invites the reader/viewer to engage intimately with the worlds she creates by appealing to the senses of taste, smell, and touch. In saturating her texts with the sensual, Mootoo expands the horizons of intelligibility to nudge the reader into more intimately engaged responses, creating what McCormack names, “multisensory epistemologies”. Rebecca Ashworth argues, in relation to Cereus Blooms at Night, that despite the unreliability and self-interest evident in Tyler’s narration, his attempt to empathize with Mala is instructive. She proposes that his considered reading of the stories circulating about Mala effects a “rehearsal of empathy” that motivates a similarly empathetic and ethical response in the reader reading Cereus, itself. Taking a different tack, Lorna Burns focuses on Mootoo’s powerful engagement with the natural world and argues persuasively that landscape is not represented as a ‘simple’ space of refuge but as a more ambiguous space. Drawing parallels between Mootoo’s politicization of the ‘naturalness’ of landscape and sexuality, Burns suggests that the ambiguity and opacity of both requires dedicated and patient negotiation by the reader to open up more truly creolized possibilities. Emily Taylor’s essay argues that Mootoo’s texts mobilize ideas of queerness in expansive and promiscuous ways beyond the advocacy of a marginalized identity to effect a wider paradigm shift in how Trinidadian – and by extension, Caribbean – identities are imagined. Rather than an emphasis on the distinctiveness of differences (of any/all kinds), Taylor reads Mootoo as suggesting that “our only sameness lies in our difference, or that ‘all o’ we is queer.’” Eddie Whyte’s essay considers Cereus Blooms at Night as a queer bildungsroman and asks difficult questions about the extent to which contemporary assumptions about ‘the’ Caribbean family can be made to fully accommodate such expressions of selfhood. The idea of “courting strangeness” reappears in Caryn Rae Adams’ interview with Shani Mootoo where Mootoo makes connections between her childhood experiences of relocation and other experiences of estrangement as
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an adult (queer, migrant and ‘inauthentically’ Indian): ”It was perhaps the beginning of a pattern of lifelong contradictions relating to the insider/outsider status”. Mootoo’s work, and the thoughtful response to her work embodied in these essays, suggests innovative and inspiring ways in which we might navigate ‘contradictions’ about belonging and not belonging that have been so painfully rehearsed again and again in Caribbean literature. Not to resolve these contradictions but to allow us to negotiate across them more generously and hospitably.
Our thanks go to all the contributors and workshop participants, and to the British Academy and Associated Commonwealth Universities for the grant that enabled this collaborative research. Most of all we wish to acknowledge the generous involvement and support of Shani in the multiple strands of this project. We hope that this issue will inspire more readers and scholars to engage with her daring and yet sensitive imaginings of more positive and inclusive way of living and loving in the Caribbean.
Barbados, April 2010

Thursday, September 29, 2011

MEN MEN MEN





Book Review: No One In The World by E. Lynn Harris & RM Johnson






The world lost an incredibly gifted author when E. Lynn Harris transitioned in 2009, but fortunately for his fans, Harris left behind a trove of finished and unfinished work to delight his audience for years to come. No One In The World, his most recent novel is a collaboration with Harris protege' RM Johnson, a respected and gifted writer in his own right. Johnson accepted the task of completing "World" after a draft was found on Harris' computer after his death. This collaboration turns out one of the most dramatic and captivating page turners in recent memory from the E. Lynn Harris collection.





No One In The World centers around the life of Cobi Winslow, a handsome, well educated district attorney, who knows nothing about the life of his estranged twin brother Eric Reed, a career criminal raised in the foster care system. Following their parents death, Cobi searches for and finds his brother, hoping to regain lost years. Meanwhile, Cobi navigates the pressures of society as he lives life in the closet. The stress comes to a head when he learns that in order to inherit the wealth of his father's estate and save the struggling family business,he must marry a woman before he turns thirty-five.


And that's where the drama begins.


Harris & Johnson have skillfully created complex leading and supporting characters with their own individual stories that pull the reader in from the first page. It's next to impossible not to become emotionally invested in the journeys of Cobi Winslow and his don't ask, don't tell love affair with a conservative state Senator, or his abrasive and powerful sister Sissy, who is hellbent on saving the family business, or the parental drama between twin brother Eric Reed and his baby's mother. And if that isn't enough drama to keep you interested (although it is) throw in sex (both homo and hetero), greed, extortion, and murder.





Image: Project Q Atlanta


There is a lot going on in No One In The World and I loved every page of it! It's one of those books that you'll have a hard time putting down once you start. Harris and Johnson nailed this one! And there's a sequel in the works. I can't wait.


Have you read No One In The World? Tell me about it. If you haven't then pick it up at bookstores everywhere or online here.

Actor Darryl Stephens To Star in New TV Show




Whew! Is it just me or is it hot in here?! It looks like actor and Noah's Arc alum Darryl Stephens has landed a new gig opposite MTV The Real World: New Orleans alum Danny Roberts. Towleroad has the exclusive details on this "as-yet-untitled new gay scripted series created by Larry Kennar, Executive Producer of The L Word, about a group of friends in downtown L.A."


Via Towleroad:


The show is scripted but shot cinema-verité style, is still untitled, and keeps it raw and in your face " with dark humor and explicit humanity." Further details are being kept quiet as a certain network is negotiating the rights to air the series.Filming began Monday.


Head on over to Towleroad to view additional exclusive production stills here.


Let's just pray this show doesn't end up on Logo. We know what happened the last time Stephens starred in a show on that network.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Beer Limes"

This Friday September 30th "Famous Boys" brings to you its usual End of Month "Beer Limes". $15 before 12pm and $20 after. 2 for 1 Banks specials all night with a well stocked bar. Not to worry Clinton aka DJ Code will not be Dj'ing this time , we got DJ Chiney back in de house spinning de latest tracks all night \=D/ . The place to be is Secret Gardens (behind Club Extreme) Worthing Christ Church This Friday night...Don't Miss ITB-) !!

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Monday, September 26, 2011

men men men





Teron Beal


Christian Weldon


David McIntosh


D'Journ Waters

Parents of Teen Suicide Victim Speak Out on Bullying




JAMEY RODEMEYER 390x (GETTY) ADVOCATE.COM
Jamey Rodemeyer
The parents of a high school freshman in Amherst, N.Y. who killed himself told CNN that their son had endured pervasive antigay bullying beginning in fifth grade, both at school and particularly online. 

Jamey Rodemeyer, 14,committed suicideMonday in the Buffalo, N.Y. suburb. “He had the biggest heart in that little body,” Rodemeyer’s mother, Tracey, told CNN's Anderson Cooper Wednesday. “He was either loved so sincerely or he was bullied. There wasn’t much in between.”
Much of the bullying Jamey faced, Tracey Rodemeyer said, occurred not in school but via Facebook and other social media sites. "Because people can access each other in numbers so readily — it’s still accessible for people to do their bullying.”

“We need to get a better a system in our school district, in our school systems, to get rid of these bullies. Because it’s a rampant problem,” Rodemeyer’s father, Tim, said. (Watch the CNN video below.) 

Rodemeyer’s death came just two days before a second-annual conference on bullying hosted by the Department of Education in Washington, D.C., one attended by educators and LGBT anti-bullying advocates such as Tammy Aaberg, who lost her son, Justin, to suicide in 2010. 

Aaberg was among a group of advocates who met last week with Minnesota representative Michele Bachmann’s district office and urged the congresswoman to come out against the multiple youth suicides in her own district. Bachmann said last week on the presidential campaign trail that school bullying "is not a federal issue." 

“I think Congresswoman Bachmann is in a leadership role to speak out against bullying," Aaberg The Advocate last week. “I’m not asking her to change her beliefs. But all kids should be protected in school.”

Rodemeyer, a devout Lady Gaga fan who found inspiration and strength in the pop star's music, said in an “It Gets Better” video that he faced bullying at every turn. 

"No one in my school cares about preventing suicide, while you're the ones calling me 'faggot' and tearing me down,” Rodemeyer later wrote online to those who harassed him prior to his death. 

In a message to her 13.7 million Twitter followers, Lady Gaga tweeted Wednesday, “I am meeting with our President. I will not stop fighting. This must end. Our generation has the power to end it.”

“Trend it,” she wrote, adding the hashtag #MakeALawforJamey.

Legislation to expressly prohibit discrimination in schools on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity has been in the works for some time — a House version of the Student Nondiscrimination Act was reintroduced earlier this year by Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, with the Senate companion bill introduced by Senator Al Franken of Minnesota.
“[W]hat I want is for schools to have a policy against bullying—and that parents would have a right of action, kids would have a right of action against the school district,” Franken told  The Advocate in July. “Once you give a right of action, schools know they had better comply. So then they make a policy."

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Black and white twins

James and Daniel are twins. What sets them apart is that one is white and one is black – and the differences don't end there, as Joanna Moorhead discovers
  • James and Daniel Kelly
    James (left) and Daniel Kelly, twin brothers. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian
    The two teenage boys sitting on the sofa opposite are different in almost every way. On the left is James: he's black, he's gay, he's gregarious, and he's academic. He's taking three A-levels next summer, and wants to go to university. Daniel, sitting beside him, is white. He's straight, he's shy, and he didn't enjoy school at all. He left after taking GCSEs, and hopes that his next move will be an apprenticeship in engineering. So, given that they are diametrically opposed, there is one truly surprising thing about James and Daniel. They are twins. They were born on 27 March 1993, the sons of Alyson and Errol Kelly, who live in south-east London. And from the start, it was obvious to everyone that they were the complete flipside of identical. "They were chalk and cheese, right from the word go," says Alyson. "It was hard to believe they were even brothers, let alone twins." The boys' colour was the most obvious, and extraordinary, difference. "When James was born he was the spitting image of Errol, and I remember seeing his curly hair and thinking – he's just like his dad. It was another two hours before Daniel was born: and what a surprise he was! He was so white and wrinkly, with this curly blond hair." It wasn't the first time nature had shocked Alyson and Errol. Daniel and James were the family's third set of twins: Errol and Alyson each already had a set with a previous partner. Errol's first set are fraternal boys, Shane and Luke, who are 21; Alyson's are identical boys, Charles and Jordan, 20. The only singleton in the house is the couple's youngest child, and only daughter, 14-year-old Katie. "Apart from her, it's twin city," says Alyson. "At least life was made a bit easier by the fact that we always had two of everything." But it was clear that having one black and one white twin was going to mark the family out, wherever they went. "We'd go on holiday and people would say, 'Is that one a friend you brought along?'" says Alyson. For Errol the response of strangers was harder to deal with. "People didn't believe Daniel was mine," he says. "They didn't always say anything, but I could tell it was what they were thinking." So how does it happen that a white and a black partner – who would usually produce, as Alyson and Errol did in their other children, black-skinned offspring – have a child who is as white as his mum? I spoke to Dr Jim Wilson, population geneticist at Edinburgh University – and his first question was, "What is Errol's heritage?" Errol is Jamaican – and that, says Jim, is the basic explanation. "It wouldn't really be possible for a black African father and a white mother to have a white child, because the African would carry only black skin gene variants in his DNA, so wouldn't have any European DNA, with white skin variants, to pass on," he explains. "But most Caribbean people, though black-skinned, have European DNA because in the days of slavery, many plantation owners raped female slaves, and so introduced European DNA into the black gene pool. "The thing about skin colour is that even a bit of African DNA tends to make a person's skin colour black – so to be white, the child must have inherited more of the father's European DNA with its white skin variants. Added to the mother's European DNA, this led to a child with white skin – while his brother, who is black-skinned, inherited more of his father's African DNA. "The Caribbean father will have less European DNA than African DNA, so it's more likely he'll pass on African DNA – but rarely, and I've worked it out to be around one in 500 sets of twins where there's a couple of this genetic mix, the father will pass on a lot of European DNA to one child and mostly African DNA to the other. The result will be one white child and one black." Alyson got used to the comments and the stares, the sniggers about their parentage and the "stupid things people said" when her boys were babies; but then, when Daniel and James went to nursery aged three, the twins' skin colour plunged the family into controversy. "They were at this very politically correct nursery, and the staff told us that when Daniel drew a picture of himself, he had to make himself look black – because he was mixed-race," says Alyson. "And I said, that's ridiculous. Why does Daniel have to draw himself as black, when a white face looks back at him in the mirror?" After a row with the nursery staff, she gave interviews to her local paper and TV. "I kicked up a fuss, because it really bothered me," she says. "Daniel had one white parent and one black, so why couldn't he call himself white? Why does a child who is half-white and half-black have to be black? Especially when his skin colour is quite clearly white! In some ways it made me feel irrelevant – as though my colour didn't matter. There seemed to be no right for him to be like me." Daniel and James are listening politely, but with slight resignation, while their mum relays the story – it is clear that, though they are aware that they are unusual, it is Alyson who is keenest on telling their tale. They don't remember the nursery incident, they say; but nod their heads as Alyson says she took them both out of it in protest. Primary school passed without colour being an issue: but, says Alyson, everything changed when they went to secondary school. And at this point the boys, too, add their voices: because the racism they encountered there had a huge effect on them, and on what happened to them next. It all started well, says Alyson. "The school was almost all-white, so James was unusual. But it wasn't a problem for James – it was a problem for Daniel. "The boys were in different classes, so for a while no one realised they were related. Then someone found out, and the story went round that this white boy, Daniel, was actually black, and the evidence was that he had a black twin brother, James, who was right here in the school. And then Daniel started being picked on and it got really ugly and racist, and there were lots of physical attacks. Daniel was only a little kid, and he was being called names and being beaten up by much older children – it was really horrible. We even called the police." "I was really bullied," cuts in Daniel, his face hardening at the memory. "People couldn't believe James and I were brothers, and they didn't like the fact that I looked white, but was – as they saw it – black." It is interesting that it was the white twin, Daniel, and not the black twin who was on the receiving end of racism – but, though it's counter-intuitive, Alyson agrees that it betrayed very deep-seated prejudices. "Those kids couldn't stand the fact that, as they saw it, this white kid was actually black. It was as though they wanted to punish him for daring to call himself white," she says. While we are chatting, James and Daniel are sitting at opposite ends of the sofa; they give the impression of being polite around one another, but don't seem particularly close. As Alyson says, everything about them is chalk and cheese: even their body language is at odds – James moves lightly and delicately, while Daniel moves in a more muscular, masculine way. But when Alyson reaches this stage of their story, you see a glimmer of that age-old solidarity where siblings who keep one another at arm's length, nonetheless pitch in when one of them is threatened. "I started to notice how angry Daniel was getting at school, how people were provoking him and how he was getting hurt," says James. "And when he got pulled in fights, I went in too, to help him. I didn't want to see my brother being treated like that." James does not look like a kid who would end up in any fight: but, when his brother was up against it, he weighed in – and, says Alyson, the bruises and cuts they both came home with told their own tale. It is possible Daniel would not have liked school anyway, but being on the receiving end of racist abuse certainly did not help. "I would have left in year 7 if I could," he says. "But instead, I left in year 11 – and it felt so good to get away." He moved to a school that was much more racially mixed, and which his older brothers had attended. "People knew I was Charles and Jordan's brother, but they were fine about it," he says. James, meanwhile, stayed on at the old school. "It was fine in the sixth form – things settled down, and I had never been on the receiving end of much racism," he says. But at the same time, he was coming to terms with another major difference from his brother – the fact that he is gay. "I knew from about the age of 15, but I kept it to myself for a while," he explains. "And then a few months ago, it just seemed like the right time to tell my family. I was most worried about my dad, about what he'd say ... but in the end he was fine about it." Daniel, too, thought it was fine. "It wasn't as though it was a big surprise. I'd thought it for a while," he says. "But I said to him, 'If anyone starts bullying you about it, I'll be there to support you.' After all, James did that for me when I was being bullied. If anyone starts any homophobic stuff against him, I'll be there to fight them off." Like all teenage siblings, there is plenty of joshing among the two of them. "I certainly wouldn't wear James's clothes!" says Daniel, laughing. "But if it's the other way round, he'd wear mine!" "No I wouldn't," shoots back James. "My taste in clothes is way better than yours." Alyson says that, initially, James's coming out was a surprise. "We were like, 'Woa!'" she says. "My big worry was that he'd think he was different, or special, because he was gay – so we said to him: 'That's fine, it's what you are, but it doesn't make you any more special than the other children in this family.'" Errol says he was proud of his boy for being open and honest about his feelings. "It's fine; I'm glad he felt he could tell us," he says. But Alyson does admit that, just as she once worried about racist abuse being directed at Daniel, she now worries about homophobic abuse being directed at James. "It's something you think about from time to time, but the main thing I worry about is him staying safe – I want all of my children to be safe, obviously," she says. These days the boys frequent very different social scenes. "A lot of my friends are lesbian or gay, and I go to gay clubs, and they aren't places where Daniel hangs out," says James. His big out-of-school interest is cheerleading – while Daniel, whose older half-brothers Shane and Luke are both acrobats, loves tumbling. "It's something I've enjoyed for ages – I love the thrill of it, and I love how it makes me feel," he says. After leaving school he had a spell as an acrobat on a cruise ship, which is where his older brothers also work, but he didn't stay long. "I thought it sounded brilliant, but I missed my family too much so I came home," he says. He has now applied for an apprenticeship, and hopes to make engineering his future. Occasionally, the twins go out together for the evening. "It's good fun, because we can be drinking in a bar and someone will come along for a chat who doesn't know we're twins. And of course they never suspect and then someone else will say, 'Hey, do you know James and Daniel are brothers?'" says James. "And people never, ever believe it – they always think it's a wind-up." "Sometimes we even get people who say: 'I don't believe you! Prove it!'" says Daniel, laughing. "But we don't care whether they believe it or not anyway – we know it's true." Alyson says all she wants, like any mum, is for her boys to be happy, and to live lives free from prejudice, so that each can flourish in his own way. "Mind you," she says with a smile, "I do sometimes find myself wondering, now the children are all getting older, what the future holds. There will be another generation eventually – who will that bring along, I wonder? "Twins are almost a must, I'd say. But the other big thing is: how many white grandchildren will I have? And how many black?" She throws back her head and laughs, and Errol laughs with her. They're a straightforward, outspoken family, the Kellys: all they've ever wanted for their children is a fair chance in life. And if their youngest twins have made anyone think twice about their preconceptions about race and colour, they don't mind that in the least. "It's good to challenge people on race and sexuality and other issues where there's prejudice," says Alyson. "If knowing my boys encourages anyone to think a bit more deeply about how we label people, then that's just great as far as I'm concerned." The Kellys and their story is told in Twincredibles, part of BBC2's Mixed Race season in October

Saturday, September 24, 2011

UHCC Cruise 1

UHCC Cruise 1

October 30th, 2011 – November 6th, 2011
Pre-Cruise in San Juan – October 29th
Departs from San Juan, Puerto Rico
Visiting – St. Thomas,  USVI -  Barbados, West Indies – St. Lucia,West Indies St. Kitts, West Indies & St. Maarten
Highlights:
Pre-cruise package in Old San Juan*,
7 nights on ship, cruise ship entertainment, unlimited food
5 ports of call, exciting people from USA and the Caribbean,
Event Pass (optional); films, seminars, parties, entertainment and more in the tradition of Nubian Dreams Cruises. 
Click here
for music while you view the site from UHCC DJ Fred Pierce

Don’t miss this special Halloween sailing on the CARNIVAL VICTORY!  Enjoy the best of the Caribbean on this unique Halloween Holiday Cruise.  You can purchase an optional pre-cruise package and spend one to two days before the cruise in the exotic landscape of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico during the most exciting time in the city.  Next you will board the 101,509-ton CARNIVAL VICTORY! This wonderful superliner will depart from San Juan, Puerto Rico to St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts & St. Maarten with only one sea day during the trip.  This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy this amazing itinerary at an outstanding value!  What we love most about cruising in addition to the amazing food choices, ship entertainment, casino, spa, health club and the destinations are the long-lasting friendships that develop during the sailing.  Your fun and relaxation is of the upmost importance to us.   Check out EVENTS Ship & Cruise Schedule
CALL FOR PRICING & TO BOOK NOW!             917-653-0869      
Event Pass (optional); films, seminars, parties, entertainment and more in the tradition of Nubian Dreams Cruises.

Click here to Book Cruise
View UHCC Events

CALL YOUR PROMOTER PARTNERS FOR RATES ON REMAINING GROUP CABINS or call ZenBiz Travel, LLC at             917-653-0869      

ZenBiz Travel UHCC 1 Promoter Partners:
ZenBiz Travel, LLC is proud to have these special people who have accepted our offer to be a part of our team. They will bring together a special group of people to take this magical adventure with us. They will come from all walks of life. Each has their own network. If any of these talented promoters have introduced you to ZenBiz Travel’s Group on the Ultimate Halloween Caribbean Cruise, please be sure to indicate it on your registration form.
Macho (NYC)Richard Pelzer, II (NY) -  Tashia Asanti (CA)Que McCray (NC) -  David Gachette (UK) Tebogo Ntlapo (SAfrica) – Alexis McSween (NY) – Urban Socialites (GA) – Thaddeus Works (ATL) - Erik Jones (ATL) – DJ Baker (NY) – ZenBiz Travel, LLC

All cabins require full payment at time of booking.   Subject to change before deposit. 
 

WANT TO CREATE YOUR OWN EVENT OR FAMILY/FRIENDS GETAWAY? 
SEARCH HERE FOR OPTIONS THEN CALL ZENBIZ TRAVEL TO YOUR DREAMS.
This 1 hour and 35 minute feature takes you on a day by day journey through the lives of the biggest names in the all-male adult industry from multi-award winning directors, video stars and tireless crew members. Get to know the 39 real men (and 1 woman) who build the world's all-male fantasies... eXposed: The Making of a Legend!eXposed is an amazing documentary! I have always been curious what it is like to be on a gay porn set... this movie definitely satisfied my curiosity and more. I wasn't expecting to laugh so much. The cast and crew are hilarious and mr. Pam is not afraid to ask the tough questions to all the porn stars receiving responses ranging from deep and insightful to off the wall humor. What is a woman doing on a gay porn set - that right there is a documentary in itself! The videography and editing are spectacular - many documentaries are so slow moving, but this doc is more like a reality show/music-video. The cast of BuckleRoos are hot and location is beautiful. Definite must-see. Thanks for a fun time..

Friday, September 23, 2011

Love or hate it, it's hard to ignore organised religion.



While your columnist is of the opinion that religion should strictly (and I do mean strictly) restricted to consenting adults in private, and while some leading intellectuals want religion completely wiped off the map of the earth, it is hard to reconcile these opinions with the fact that more than 90% of the world's population subscribe to some form of organised religion.
Of particular interest are the three main monotheistic religions, which, throughout history, have been opposed to the idea of same-sex relationships (even discounting the sexual element) in more ways than one.

Arguably, the most vocal, and hence the most visible, opposition comes from Christianity.
Sure, Islam is probably more vehemently opposed to 'homosexuality' than Christianity - Iran's spiteful execution of homosexuals is a case in question - but, until recently, it is doubtful if they articulated their opposition with an equal vehemence.

Returning to Christianity, it is prudent to ask where this opposition stems from.
The Bible, shouts the uninformed mind. No, no; it's the people themselves and their ill-conceived notions of social and sexual mores, reasons the dogmatic.
The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between, and a collection of essays by a group of Cambridge lecturers, doctors and clergy, published recently, highlights this rather elegantly*.
The aim of the book, it seems, is to suggest that there is no discernible reason why homosexuality should apparently divide the Anglican community.

Read between the lines though, and you get several interesting ideas that have a universal application in the wider debate about homosexuality and Christianity.
The central claim of the collection, An Acceptable Sacrifice? Homosexuality and the Church, edited by Duncan Dormor and Jeremy Morris, is that there is no such thing as a 'literal' interpretation of the Bible, as some insist.

Those familiar with the terrains of literary criticism might even tell you that 'literal' interpretation is an oxymoron (if there ever was one).
So, when the so-called Global South (a sub-group within the Anglican church) insists that the Bible is unequivocal in its condemnation of homosexuality, it is seriously mistaken.
The luxury of interpretation, therefore, is that it is largely permissive.
However, it is unfortunate (let's call a spade a spade, shall we?) that throughout history, and especially in modern times, this luxury has been subverted to serve individual needs, all other things being equal.

That is irresponsible.

Rather, despite taking the Bible as the word of God (as serious Christians would), it is to be conceded that the testaments are also a matter of historical record.
Interpretation, in effect, must be within the contemporary socio-political and scientific contexts, without subscribing to anachronistic ideologies.

For example, the most common reason cited for the hostile attitude towards homosexuality is that the Bible calls it an abomination.
Does it? Oh, yes, it's time for Leviticus 18:22 again: "You must not lie with a man as with a woman: that is an abomination."

Viewed literally, this has immediate homosexual connotations.

But, see it in the context of the period during which it was written, and the reference is not to sexual orientation (a concept established as recently as a century ago), but to gender relationships, at a time when men were held superior to women, and violation of male superiority was considered blasphemous.

Similarly, the purpose and meaning of marriage has undergone a significant change, if not a metamorphosis, from biblical times.
Then, it was all about property and inheritance, and nothing to do with companionship and gender equality.

There is convincing evidence to even suggest that the other important 'reason' often cited for marriage - procreation and avoidance of fornication - does not have direct roots in the Bible, and that such an interpretation from Genesis and Song of Songs is also due to gender inequality prevalent in the erstwhile patriarchal society.

Indeed, the world had to wait till the Reformation when marriage was thought to be for "mutual society, help and comfort that one might have of the other."
Another interesting dimension comes from the Church's tumultuous relationship with scientific truth, and the effect it has on biblical interpretation and Church's view of sexual minorities.
(Your columnist thinks that religion and science are fundamentally, and unequivocally, incompatible; but appreciates that he is in a minority.)

The concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity were established only within the last two centuries, and science has yet to uncover their underlying mechanisms completely.
But, enough evidence has been gathered to suggest that neither of the 'traits' - faute de mieux - is completely environmental, and that genetics has an extremely strong, if not decisive (and there's enough evidence in this direction as well) role in determining them.
That this could have never been understood by Christians for 800 years has a strong bearing on how we view homosexuality and Christianity.

The most illuminating of the essays in the collection, by John Hare, clearly shows that the teachings of the Church on sexuality assume a strong dividing line between notions of 'male' and 'female' genders, when science produces evidence to the contrary - teachings which are seriously misguided in light of the Church's recent stance on issues such as transsexualism and intersexuality.
As the book proceeds from ancient to modern socio-political contexts, we see that the authors very much understand their territories of discussion.

We learn about the tortuous, and unnecessary struggle, of the Church with popular culture, where sex, drugs and rock n' roll coalesce with uninterrupted ease with materialism in a market economy.
Like it or not, Christians ought to learn to live with that, and it is certainly not impossible.
The book, despite the understandable and dubiously soft position on dogmatic preachers and followers, is worth the read, and should be seriously considered by every Anglican who will attend the Lambeth Conference in 2008.

That said, this columnist, like many fellow reviewers, feels that the authors could have been much bolder. For, if the 'direction of travel' is clear, why not go all the way and conclude that homosexuality is not incompatible with the Church?

Why sacrifice the truth in the name of an open-ended approach?
And why question whether the current requirement imposed by the Anglican Church on its gay and lesbian clergy is an acceptable sacrifice?
Thankfully, there is a welcome reprieve in the foreword, which would have actually served well as an afterword.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote:

"An acceptable sacrifice? The answer is simple: No. It is not acceptable for us to discriminate against our brothers and sisters on the basis of sexual orientation, just as it was not acceptable for discrimination to exist on the basis of skin colour under Apartheid.
We cannot pick and choose where justice is concerned."
As John Habgood concedes in his review of the book for the Times Literary Supplement, this ought to be the final word.
____________
* An Acceptable Sacrifice? Homosexuality and the Church, edited by Duncan Dormor and Jeremy Morris is published by SPCK Publishing in the UK.

JUST A THOUGHT…

JUST A THOUGHT…
By Gay Baje – gaybaje@gmail.com

I KNOW THAT we as black people can be hypocritical and I know gays are usually considered the scum of the earth.  Well ladies and well gentleladies and whomever else I might offend.  Brace yourselves because we have a double whammy. Gay and black.

Let me apologise for what I am about to say because – you know me I have a big mouth and I always share my thoughts no matte how earth shattering, light bulb popping of whatever.

I like to – as they say educate myself to what is going on around me.  That said I’ve been doing some reading.  Well a lot of reading and I was startled something that I came across.  It was an article – much like what I’m writing that was looking at black young people in the southern state of North Carolina.  It spoke about homophobia, HIV&AIDS, it was damn good!  So good that I had share it with you or least what it said.

Did you know that at ine point in time there was a relatively small but alarming surge of HIV infections among black college students in North Carolina?  This was reported at a national AIDS conference in San Francisco. Essentially, of the 84 new HIV infections discovered in college men from 2000 through 2003, 73 occurred in blacks.  All but four of the 84 students attended schools in North Carolina.

The reported HIV cases spiraled upward during that four-year period, from six in 2000 to 30 in 2003. Even more worrisome, 67 of the 73 black men admitted to having sex with other men; of those, 27 said they'd also had intercourse with women.

These findings for me – I don’t know about you - set off alarms for me and makes me ponder this whole debate over the impact of homophobia among black men.  I mean this bias is based deeply on traditions, religion, norms, values and the perception of a man as a marrying, only into women fallacy. 

Now there are one or two people at work that I let it slip this study and asked what about the Barbados scenario.  I mean the result is that many live their lives on the "down-low," a murky area of the nation's AIDS crisis that includes black men who have sex with other men but claim they are heterosexual.

Now – not like you don’t know this – [and I am NOT BEING RACIST here] your average black men on the down low differ from white gays and other black homosexuals who are in the closet by not just hiding their sexual orientation, but also denying it.

That said, for years, many blacks viewed AIDS as a disease of white gay men. Their sexual duality, some people suspect, fans the flames of the AIDS wildfire that is taking a heavy toll.

What's certain is that sexual contact is the primary way that black men and women get HIV. In 2002, homosexual sex was the leading cause of HIV infections among black men, and sexual contact with men was the leading reason why black women contracted the disease in the United States and that’s according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s just a thought…

HIV, many see as a disease of opportunity. And black homophobia and the slow response of the black community to AIDS has driven a lot of black gays underground. These men tend to take greater risks with both their selection of sex partners and the way they carry out sexual acts.

We need to clean our act up and (I’m borrowing the national HIV/AIDS slogans here) – not only LIVE LOVE RESPECT, but stop the Stigma and Discrimination – Kiss it away.  It ain’t helping.  If you and I were to just for one day put ourselves in an open-minded situation, can you imagine who much we would be able to achieve?  Think about that… I mean - It’s just a thought

Mr. Caribbean Barbados - 2011


Thursday, September 22, 2011

random bajans




We Found Love

Rihanna goes clubbing in "We Found Love," the singer's new Calvin Harris-produced track off her just-announced sixth album. Thumping beats, airy vocals and repetitive synth keyboard riffs punctuate the upbeat dance jam.

The lyrics to "We Found Love" are equally as shimmery as the music: "Yellow diamonds in the light; And we're standing side by side. As your shadow crosses mine; What it takes to come alive."

Ri revealed the song title on Monday in a Twitter post. "NP: 'WE FOUND LOVE,'" she said. "We Found Love" was produced by Harris, the Scottish producer/DJ whose single "Bounce" is currently at No. 11 on the Dance Airplay chart. The single is reportedly being released on Oct. 11, although Island Def Jam has yet to confirm the release date.

In equally awesome news, it was also revealed Thursday that the singer's new album will be released Nov. 21. She hinted last week on Twitter that a new release would drop "THIS FALL!!!!!" Though an official title has not been announced, Rihanna has simply described the new disc as "GangstaR."

Her upcoming release will mark Rihanna's sixth studio album since her "Music of the Sun" arrival in 2005 and will come nearly a year after her last set, "Loud," was released in November of 2010. This sort of rapid-fire release pattern isn't new for the star: since 2005, she's dropped a new album every year except for 2008.

"Loud" debuted and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart and has sold 1.5 million copies in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan. It has spawned six Billboard Hot 100 hit singles, and of those, three were No. 1s: "Only Girl (In the World)," "What's My Name?" (featuring Drake) and "S&M" (featuring Britney Spears). "Loud" is her second-biggest selling album next to only 2007's "Good Girl Gone Bad" (2.7 million).

"Loud's" most recent hit, "Cheers (Drink to That)," became the album's fourth top 10 this week, as it climbed 11-10 in its seventh week on the tally.

GREG WILLIAMS ALWAYS FLAWLESS by Shako Gibson

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

A model search for 2012 and my callender( L.X.G.)Leauge of Xtreme. http://www.facebook.com/pages/LXG-Models/167934076580602?sk=wall


WHERE CAN YOU GET THE NEW CALLENDER?

Material Things for $30 bds.

WHATS YOUR FAVOURITE TV SHOW?

Family Guy stewies my fav character.

WHO INSPIRES YOU?

Im inspired by artistic people ,interm of make up i'd have to say PAT MCGRATH.

WHY DID YOU CUT YOUR HAIR?

I Got tired of it ,i just needed a change.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET INTO MAKEUP?

9 years ago ,at first i was a pastry chef any thing artistic i was always interested in.

ANY NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS?

To be less tolerant of other peoples ignorance.

WHATS OVERATED TO YOU?

people copying other's style taking someones style ,not being an individual i'm seeing more copy cats lately.

MUST HAVE ACCESSORY?
My JOHN HARDY ring.(fav designer)