Some of Us Fight Back: On Violence & LGBTQ People of Color

This past week, I had several conversations with friends about violence and Queer* people of color.

In these conversations, we were not focusing on the ways in which we are attacked, hunted and violated by heterosexual identified individuals. We were not focusing on the death or the fear that some of us experience walking our neighborhoods or through a crowd on our blocks.

No, in these conversations we talked about how we fight back. We talked about how we have witnessed (and been) the Queer people on the streets, buses and trains that in the face of street harassment and potential assault, collectively and individually talk back to that aggression and challenge our would be attackers.

We talked about how the public discourse that situates us  ( Queer people of color) as only victims who have no connections to our communities is not the absolute nor authoritative narrative that it is often assumed to be.

We talked about how that narrative dismisses the fact that many of us as LGBTQ people of color are fiercely loved in our blocks/neighborhoods, have friendships and camradarie with those who the mainstream community would say are only our “attackers” ( i;e heterosexual masculine men of color), and that many times when we are attacked we fight back and we WIN.*

In fact, My friend Kevin Bynes said long ago that the only reason some of us as Queer people of color could walk safely on many streets was because of the ways in which “fierce” queer people responded to harassment and violence. Their responses were not “turning the other cheek” but instead head on, defensive and yes sometimes violent. Kevin would say it’s because of those “girls” that alot of the “straight boys” dare not try it as much as they would had those “girls” not fought back and “paved the way.”

Now clearly these responses have also led to violent scenarios that ended up in horrible assaults or worse, but these stories still bear telling and can help us understand the complex relationship that we as   queer people of color inhabit in our communities.

It can also be helpful in empowering us to recognize the creative ways we already  respond to violence and work to develop those processess.  For instance, witty comebacks are one way I used to “get the straight boys” together. Sometimes using comedy and poking fun were quick ways to diffuse a situation and also add a more lighthearted tone to the space. There are many more ways that are not violent that queer folks of color use that are often under explored by anti-violence organizations. Many have missed out on those methods and have instead helped to enforce the “fearful disempowered person” narrative that I don’t think gets us anywhere.

I believe it’s also important because this mainstream discourse on violence “against” Queer people often equates us being nothing more than objects which violence happens to, a useless and dangerous narrative. I have seen this happen with the violence “against” women discourse which often erases the power that women have to make their own choices and the ways in which women can and do resist. I don’t want to see this continue to happen to us as Queer people. I want us to realize that yes we live in homophobic world but at the same time we can and do have the power to protect ourselves. It does not mean that we will always be able to prevent violence against ourselves; but even in those instances it does not mean that we don’t have power.

So yes I think it’s important to highlight our resistance. Not to minimize the fact that there are times in which we did all that we could do, and we were still violated..Not to glorify violence, or suggest that a militia type response to violence is what we should be considering…But instead to clarify that we have agency.

In the myriad of ways it can be understood, yes, we do “fight” back.

Some of us “fight back” violently and some non-violently. Some of us “fight back” with witty comebacks, strategic manipulation and yes, some of us even use homophobia and heterosexism.
Whatever we do wherever we are….
We do and will continue to find a way to “fight back”.

Yolo

 

 

*Check out my Workshops on Violence.

*”Win” is being used in this context to mean beating the person that is being fought. The author recognizes the challenges of a patriarchal power over discourse where there are “winners” and losers. All of us lose when some one has to be hurt and violence is inflicted. however for the purposes of this essay and the dominant paradigm “win” was the term chosen.

*I use queer in this context to be all inclusive. (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender)

*I intentionally chose the term “fight back.” While the concept of “fighting” can be argued to be patriarchal and counter intuitive as it relates to transforming violence, I also find that the term “fight” awakens the aggressive impulse within individuals which can then be channeled into another medium of expression which is not violence if individuals are given the tools with which to do so.

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Se-lah: “Becoming Bitter: Black Gay Men and the Pain of Being Jaded”

I woke up this morning with a lot of the young black gay men I work with on my mind. So many of them, younger than 25, always talk to me about this fear they have of becoming bitter. They are always telling me “I just don’t want to be bitter and jaded. I don’t want to be an old “queen” who’s angry at everything and everyone and can’t let anyone get close.”

For so many of them, the only older black gay men they experience are those they saw as angry, jaded, a “mess”, or simply bitter. (I want to acknowledge that sometimes these connotations are connected to disdain for so called “feminine” attributes, but that’s another blog.)

In so many of my conversations with them, it never fails to come up-this fear that they have no choice but to fall in line with that pattern. The fear is because they often feel there are no other models or options.

This “bitterness” is also often connected to the fear of being single or alone. Unfortunately not many of us have witnessed older black gay men in relationships in older age. We also have failed to understand that being “single” or without a romantic partner, doesn’t mean we can’t have brilliant, beautiful and productive lives. It doesn’t mean we can’t be happy. The reality is,  many of us haven’t learned to be happy with ourselves, much less, with someone else.

Yet going back to bitterness I have to acknowledge, as Black Gay men in this world, where we have experienced and do experience so many assaults on our self worth daily, where many of us have lived and are living through the HIV/ AIDS sexual health crisis that has taken so many of our friends and lovers, where our communities and churches often degrade and attack us, it’s hard not to become bitter.

Living in a world where relationships are often competitions for control and power, where we as men have been socialized to “read” each other aggressively instead of communicating our concerns compassionately, where six pack abs, prison masculinity, economic superficiality and lite skin are too often the unrealistic markers of dominant desire- its hard not to be bitter.

As black gay men on very different levels of experience, we struggle with this and so much more daily. The world that we have created can be a horrible place. And it’s hard not to become bitter.

But you know what? I still believe we can make a choice.

Let me explain further: I understand “bitterness” to be when we have allowed life’s experiences to harden our hearts. It is when we move through the world allowing our past experiences to cloud our vision and create unhealthy self fulfilling prophecies based on those wounds, seeking at every turn to validate what we have experienced in the past as real in the present.

Bitterness is anger on its way to becoming hate.

Anger is healthy. Yet when we don’t go beneath the anger, to acknowledge the pain that is there we end up staying with the anger and often ending up directing it inwardly-as depression, or outwardly-as rage. Hurting ourselves, or re-creating the cycle on someone else.

Most of us have not been exposed to or given tools with which to help us process our anger. Most of us have not even been offered the opportunity to express our rage and pain, we are so often silenced by communities and society. So today, I wanted to share some beliefs and ideas that help me with my anger and with not being bitter-with the hope that maybe one of them may be helpful to you.

1) Check your perspective

Check the narratives you tell yourself about who you are. Are you kind to yourself? Or harsh? Do you berate yourself, or lift yourself with compassionate accountability?
Do you forgive yourself for what you couldn’t do, didn’t know how to do, or weren’t able to do at the time? Do you see your relationships, failed or otherwise, as opportunities to learn and grow, or just spaces where you were “done wrong” as if you played no part in the chaos of it?
What decision did you make that created the situation, or the situations you are in now? How can you be accountable enough to let go?

2) Stop the comparisons

There is only one you. And if you were meant to look like, be like, be shaped like, and be smart like anyone else, well then you wouldn’t be you. And considering the divine creator of all this made you the way she/he/it did-then it must have thought you were damn good. And you are. YOU are your own standard!! There is no comparison. Comparison is a tool used by those with lack of imagination and disrespect for divine order. Like who you are. In fact, love who you are. How you look, and how you are, at whatever place you are, love yourself. And if you want to work on things about you-don’t start with judgment and hate, it doesn’t help. Your body responds and all you do is slow down your ability to shift. Be loving to yourself and the rest will follow.

3) Face your Fears- Too many of us are held hostage by fear in our lives. We have created all these imaginary monsters that we think are going to make all these horrible things happen to us. Take the time to face your fears intelligently head on whatever they are. Remember, “Fear is faith in reverse.”

4) Learn Yourself. Learn your wounds, your issues and challenges. And don’t just justify them-find a way to have a different relationship to them that does not hinder you in the present. Find a therapist, or a counselor. Accept help from others. If you we were meant to do it all alone, or to figure it all out by yourself, god/goddess would have just dropped you on an isolated rock somewhere in a remote part of the galaxy as opposed to this rock which is actually teeming with people who can and would love to help you. Seek them out.

5) Make your life what you desire; brick by brick:

A large part of our reality is about interpretation. It’s about how you choose to see what’s happening around you. Republicans and democrats witness the same phenomena everyday, and both have a totally different idea about what is happening. This “interpretation of reality” does not mean crazy shit won’t happen to you, or unfair shit won’t happen, it says instead that how you look at it makes a big difference in what you can learn!

6) S.I.N= Self-Inflicted Nonsense: You were not born, nor are of evil or wrongdoing. You were born into circumstances and situations, systems and societies with ideas and beliefs that created a reality for the people who brought you here… Anything that happened to you is not a reflection of your worth, only a commentary on how the world is ignorant to your beauty and value as a human being. Don’t let their neglect become your own.

7) Trust that the relationship you need will find you and celebrate the relationships you have. Too often we devalue our good friends, who, like lovers, are often our emotional supporters. We also can be self-defeating in thinking that; Ill never find someone, or there ain’t no good guys..yadda yadda. Let that talk go. Trust you deserve to have a partner that you love.

Hope this is helpful loves! Remember, bitterness is a choice..and so is love. Choose wisely! You have everything you need within you to make what you desire a reality.

In love, peace, and solidarity,

Yolo


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Se-lah: “Queering The Cause”: On Gay Men’s Violence Against Women

I am a Queer man who works to address gender based violence in the mainstream “movement to end male violence against women.” In this movement, I have experienced some very troubling things. I have witnessed how this movement operates with a theoretical lens that dramatically under-complicates the nuances of gender, race and power and often erases the realities of sexual orientation.* I have witnessed how homophobia, heterosexism, able-ism, age-ism and much more have been dramatically ignored in the context of creating an organizational and collaborative agenda. I have seen firsthand the horrors of what happens when these agencies get in bed with the criminal legal system, which often leads to them cycling the same conditions they seek to eradicate.

As a very visible and vocal queer man my very presence has often been disruptive in these spaces. It has been disruptive because, among many other things, the “violence against women” dialogue is intrinsically heterosexist and homophobic, not to mention virulently sexist. Through my work with numerous organizations that fall under this canon “of violence against women” I have been taken aback at how the generational analysis coupled with a “second wave” narrative of power and gender have produced an enviroment that does very little to acknowledge the deeply rooted relationship between heterosexism, homophobia and sexism. It has also been intriguing to me how many of the organizations who cling to this ideological perspective claim to be unaware of or are dissonant from organizations like Incite who have explored the complexities of these challenges in detail.

Throughout the next month, I will be addressing many of these issues and much more through the blog series: “Queering The Cause: Ending Male Violence Against Women.” Some of the issues I will be addressing include:

1) How the intersection of male privilege and the non-profit industrial complex inhibits male leaders from being held accountable to their actions.

2) How the “violence against women” discourse continually robs women of their agency making women objects that violence happens “to” as opossed to individuals who make choices, have power and enact violence; which erases and minimizes the subsequent violence of women against their children, women against their partners (heterosexual, queer, lesbian and otherwise defined) and violence in non- romantic relationships between each other.

3) How the “violence against women” narrative concretizes and supports the mutual combat discourse between men (In other words, you shouldn’t hit a woman, but it’s okay to hit a man) a discourse which justifies violence against queer men, boys and in the mainstream trans-phobic mind: trans women.

4) The lack of accountability and exploration of queer men’s male privilege; which is directly linked to the heterosexism of a movement that subconsciously argues “Only “real” “straight” men hit women or are violent” See the Sweet Tea: Southern Queer Men’S Proclamation For more on this.

5) The lack of investigation and exploration into how queer and lesbian women uniquely experience male violence which is directly linked to the erasure of women’s sexuality when it is not in service to patriarchy and the minimization of women’s sexuality as a marker of women’s experience.

6) The silence of the mainstream “movement to end male violence against women” as it relates to the very public continuing murders of trans women.

And much more. It is my hopes that in exploring these issues a dialogue can be created that can lead to education and understanding. As always, I invite your comments, feedback, feelings and thoughts.

This blog series will kick off tomorrow, so check back here tomorrow morn!

If you have topic idea/questions or would like to submit a guest blog based on these or similair experiences in this work, email me at Yolo@yoloakili.com

Until next time,

Yolo

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Se-lah: You Are Worthy of Love As You Are. Right Now.

You know all the reasons why you think you are unworthy of being loved, don’t you?

You have them all lined up: Your poor choices in the past, your skin discolorations, your size, your health or HIV status, your chipped toenail, your poor memory, that pimple on your back, that mole on your inner thigh and much much more.

You have got all of the reasons why you think you are unworthy of being loved lined up don’t you? Ready and willing to be spat out at any given moment that someone dares affirm that you are beautiful and worthy of unconditional love just as you are.

Ready and willing to be aimed at anyone who dares suggest that you, yes you, with all of your “flaws” could possibly be loved, appreciated and celebrated not in spite of but because of these so called flaws.

In fact you can’t even open yourself up to hear that all of those so called flaws are what actually make you a shining, brilliant and beautiful individual. But you just can’t accept it can you ? It sounds too easy. Too mushy. Too new-agey right?

You think the real reason you haven’t found the love you are longing for is because you are just not “right” yet.

You think it’s because you haven’t “got it all together” yet.
You think once you do ( fill in the blank) this or get ( fill in the blank) that… Or you may even, feel that because some of your so called “wrongness” is not able to shift, that you will never ever be worthy of love…
And that until you fix these things or because you cannot fix these things you cannot accept, attract or embrace the possibilities of love in your own life.

You believe this quite frankly because you think that no-one can love you like you are in this moment. You believe that you are not worthy of love in this moment as you are.

And yes hon, I know this moment is a mess. In this messy moment all of your affairs may not be in perfect order. That one hair on your head won’t lay down and your tummy is full of gas and you have no idea where your checkbook is or why the hell you are even STILL in the modern age keeping a checkbook but basically it all adds up to show you that you are not ready to receive unconditional love because honey you ain’t got it all together!!

Funny thing about people who are waiting to “get it all together”. The funny thing is that they are always waiting. You know them, they are the folks who always have an excuse on why they can’t be loved now. Some of them have just been told so much by the media that they are just not worthy of love. They’ve been told they are not (fill in the blank) enough and until they get (fill in the blank) and until then they can forget about getting some unconditional love. Just forget about it. And so they wait. But today shug, I want you to consider this.:

You are already worthy of all the love in the world right now.

Mhmm. Yep, I’m talking to you! Stop looking over your shoulder! You are worthy of all the love in the world right now. You don’t have to get nothing/do nothing/ fix nothing /buy nothing or be something else.

And let me put you in on a little secret: “No-one has it all together.” No-one. Not that lady at the office who always looks fabulous with the fancy hair and dresses. Not the guy you see at the gym, who has more muscles on his forearm then you do on your entire body and no not that celebrity that you see on T.V who has more money than God. Nope, none of them ain’t got it together boo boo. It’s a front. Please, purty please, don’t believe they hype.

They all have ongoing challenges,struggles and foolishness to contend with. Just like you. And just like you they are worthy of all the love in the universe too. Just like you.

Sit with it a for a moment. Let it marinate a little. And the next time sometimes tell you you are beautiful or offers up to you a compliment or un-conditonal love, before you begin to talk about why you think you are not worthy; before you trail of onto your list of all the things you think are “wrong” with you or all the issues you just haven’t worked out yet..stop yourself and repeat 5 times aloud:

I are worthy of love as I am, right now.
I am worth of love as I am, right now.
I am worthy of love as I am right now.
I am worthy of love as I am right now.
I am worthy of love as I am right now.

And so it is!

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Purple Galaxy: A Poetic Experience! What is it? What’s Next?

Purple Galaxy: A Poetic Experience, is aone man multi-media show that consists of videos, monologues and poetry. The show is based off of my album “Purple Galaxy” and explores themes of sexuality, race, gender and much more.

Over the past few months, several videos have been released from the project,

in order to garner support.

You Can DONATE HERE:

The project has been generously supported by many amazing artists and activists, including Senior Vice President of the NAACP & Founder of W.R.A.P. Weekend Maxim Thorne and noted activist author Kenyon Farrow.

Originally the show was planned to premier this fall in Atlanta GA. However due to organizing and fund restrictions the show is now planned to premiere summer 2012.

Current Sponsors

Purple Pattern Masters ( 300.00 or above)
Maxim Thorne

Lavendar Luminaries: (100.00)
Kenyon Farrow
Julian Patrick Miller

Amethyst All Stars: (50.00 or less)

Hassan Beyah,Ronnie Davis, Steven “Sonny” Fullwood, Harold Steward, Asha French,
Robert Jones Jr., Jerry Richard, Darnell Moore, Mia Mingus, John Joo, Tawanna Sullivan,
Fallon Wilson, Javan Jackson,Michael Jeffrey,Stephen Maglott, Theodora Copley,
Derek Lassitter, Jair Trice, Debra Jeter, Phillip Williams, & Charles Cryor

Thank you so much to each of your for your contributions. Putting this list together made me tear up. It’s truly a gift to be supported by so many brilliant and beautiful people. I love you all!

:

Thank you so much for supporting Purple Galaxy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Se-Lah: “Who You are Has Made Me Possible”; An Open Letter To Joseph Beam, Essex Hemphill & Marlon Riggs on World AIDS day

I remember when I first came across “In The Life” and watched “Tongues Untied”. I cried both nights after. I cried because I had lived too long to never know you.
I was 23 then, struggling with my own sexuality and politics, working at AID Atlanta as an organizer, taking Women’s studies & African American studies courses at Georgia State University; unknowingly continuing the work each of you were apart of.
But before then.. ..I didn’t know you existed. and it hurt me…

I went to high school in rural Georgia, my home less than 4 miles from the high school you attended Marlon. When my same sex desires arose within me there were no models around me to know how to navigate the slurs. I didn’t know how to dodge the dangerous desires of homophobes or how to circumvent the chaos of conundrums which would become my identity. I thought I was the only one.

I didn’t know you existed Marlon, and it hurt me….
When I first started sharing poetry that spoke of my experiences and love for men, I was at Valdosta State University.
I went up to podium mics and read poems to silence and cold stares. I read poems about  love and sweat and tears and blackness and wrongness and longing… I challenged professors on race, gender and sexuality, cried out that we as black gay men had a right to exist. I knew I had to do it, but  I thought I  had no models. I attended numerous Black studies classes at Valdosta State, but they never told me your name..
I didn’t know you existed Essex, and it hurt me…

I came across “In The Life” and “Brother to Brother” at Georgia State University…. cried and rocked myself to sleep at the stories of loss, of reclamation,determination and dying. I cried because those books had been written so long ago, and so little had changed.

But I also cried because I never knew you existed Joseph..and it hurt me…
And it was AIDS related complications.. that took each of your physical forms away…

Liz Greene, an astrologer and feminist whose work I admire says “Nothing ever goes away, until it has taught us all that we need to know”.
But then I have to ask, why is HIV & AIDS still here and all of you gone?

I ponder the former often. If nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know then “What is it that HIV & AIDS has to teach us?”
Not surprisingly, I always come back to the same place. I always come back to spirit and to love.

You see, as you all know, western science has it’s limitations. It cannot heal nor nourish the spiritual aching of a civilization that festers in silence and allows massive inequity to abound and preventable conditions to persist. For if a “cure” or more appropriately, a vaccine, is found for HIV, throwing pills at us collectively will not erase the psycho-spiritual wounds that allowed HIV & AIDS to engulf our lives in the first place. It will not solve the problem. Because the problem is not HIV & AIDS, the problem is us. And the “cure” for AIDS, is as always, in the place where western science, and to a further extent western culture as a whole, would never have us look to-within ourselves.

Perhaps it has not dawned on us, but I know we can create the conditions to have safety for all of us to speak of our status and sexual desires Essex.
We may not have realized it yet, but we can still create food that nurtures and not negates our auras Joseph. We can have communities that affirm our self worth and offer us shelter Marlon. Systems that enrich the individual and lovingly support the collective are not beyond our reach… I know this. I feel this and I like to believe.. that you must have known it too?
In my spiritual understanding, I believe we are here on earth to learn how to become effective creators. I believe that to be a creator is to learn the spiritual laws of action and consequence. It means to understand the intricate play between air (ideas), water (emotions),fire (will) and earth (matter). I believe that If we could remember this, we could see how our attitudes about sex, hierarchy, genetically modified mass production, ego and greed have helped to create the AIDS pandemic. If we could remember this, we could step away from our self-centered destructive patterns and become conscious students of the universe and work collectively to create change.

But there is still so much to be learned… and so many who have so much power within them, yet unawakened.
As always..The human classroom continues…

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us all we need to know”

HIV & AIDS is still here. And now I realize in writing this letter , that each of you are still here with us as well. You are not “gone” because your physical form is no longer present. You still “are” and who you are have made me possible… You know what Joseph, I bet it was you that whispered in my ear, all those years ago to enroll in that Black Feminist Thought class wasn’t it? And Essex, was it you that nudged me towards the stage, to read poems about boi sex and spirit? Marlon, was that you swinging side by side with me, cursing and fighting off straight bois and “trade” in Hephzibah Ga? Have you each been conspiring to pull me closer to my comrades and the successors of your black queer/gay/same gender loving feminist political fierceness?

Was it you all that told me to go to New York to meet Kenyon Farrow? Steven Fullwood? Darnell Moore? Nathan, Herukhuti & Pharon? Was it you that sent me to Fire & Ink? That connected me to Ashon & Sendolo? That Planted me in Atlanta with Craig, Tim’m, Kevin Bynes, Shomari, Will, Micheal,Lamont & Charles?

My heart smiles and thinks so… I am so grateful for each of you. And take so seriously your words Essex: “When my brother fell I picked up his weapons.. “. Even though to me, none of you have ever fallen. You are always floating, ouroboros, over all of our shoulders, nourishing us with the light of your presence.

I was wrong earlier when i said “I didn’t know you existed and it hurt me”. I did know you…even as our lives never crossed on this plane, the intangible wires that link us never shed away..and now i know you were always with me pulling me towards myself. We were always with each other.

Thank you so much for being brothers. Who you are has made me possible. Who you are, I believe, will one day, make a world free of HIV & AIDS possible too.
I bet it. On everything I love…

As your mirror, (always)

Yolo Akili

Yoloakili.com

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Collide: Will It Work? Aquaruis & Scorpio

In traditional astrology two zodiac signs are seen to be incompatible because of difference. The idea is that because these two individuals embody such radically different psychological  impulses, tendencies and life frames they are in no way able to create or sustain a romantic union.

This idea that difference is an immobilizing factor, stems largely from the fact that the culture that produced this astrological theory in of itself has not been able to reconcile issues of difference. When the west historically has been faced with difference the response has been to either to construct a hierarchy( where one arena of difference is seen as utopian and the others less than) or to erase difference all together and try to focus on similarities.

However I believe as poet Audre Lorde once stated “That it is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability, to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences.”

Therefore I do not endorse traditional concepts of Western compatibility.

You see any of us can be in relationship with each other,  the question is not are we “compatible” but instead: “Are we willing to do the personal, emotional and spiritual work necessary to forge a union that is nourishing, loving and compatible for us?”

For many couples who are in an Aquarius-Scorpio relationship  the answer is almost always a resounding no. Which is why Astrology states this partnership as one of the most highly “incompatible”.

In this inaugural essay of “Will it Work” we are going to get a birds eye view into the Aquarius-Scorpio dynamic and see what creates what western astrology has called “incompatibility”. We are also going to see what it would require for a loving, sustainable union to exist between these two– if it is possible at all. Mind you, we will only be working with sun signs in this essay. Even though the reality is, each of us is infinitely more complicated than our sun-signs. Different aspects and placements in the chart will create different impulses that will generally extend beyond the scope of this analysis. However,  when speaking in general about the Aquarius and Scorpio dynamic this essay will provide a general overview. 

(Also, for further elaboration I would recommend you checking out my Case Study on Aquarians and Scorpios.)

So let’s begin.

Aquarians think. It’s what they do. They are aware that they have emotions, they just don’t value them in the same way they value the intellect. They maintain a distance from their emotional body at all times and this infuriates Scorpio. Why? Because Scorpio lives in water, in feeling. They want adoration, to be possessed, affection; things that the Aquarian personality does not give out routinely. They are too busy talking about free love, their friends and their independence to be all holed up with the Scorpio. Aquarians reek from the idea of being owned, or from participating in anything that feels normative or mundane. Relationships, traditional unions especially, feel way to normal for the Aquarius. They live in the future. All that emotional stuff? That’s the past. Let it go.

And let it go is just what the the Scorpio will not do. They are not exactly well equipped for forgiveness. Aquarians’ cold, disconnected, theoretical sparring hurts Scorpio intensely, and Scorpio cannot use it’s emotional powers in the same way with Aquarius.You see Scorpios tend to use emotional knowledge and feelings as a weapon in relationships, but with Aquarians there’s such an emotional disconnect, that it doesn’t exactly tip the scales in Scorpio’s favor. So Scorpio is left feeling powerless– they’re emotional attacks and manipulation do not carry much weight.

Not only this, Scorpio also uses sexuality as power in relationships,and while Aquarians love kinky and creative sex ( Rick james was an aquarius) there not going to be controlled by their sexual drive. It’s not rational and “rationality” is where they live. Scorpio needs affection, love and praise. To a typical Aquarian, this is not rational. You know they love you. Why should they have to demonstrate that through what they see as “normative” methods? Aquarians can appear distant to the Scorpio. Scorpio is needy and overbearing to Aquarius. The union suffers for these and many more challenges.

How can they make it work? The invitation is to sit and think about why they are attracted to each other in the first place. You see, each of us is attracted to our romantic partners because the other possess’ something that our conscious wants us to awaken and embrace within ourselves. In this case, Aquarius, who lives all in their head, is being pulled to Scorpio because they need to learn how to work with their feelings and deal with the tumult of emotional baggage they have intellectualized but not adequately dealt with in their lifetime. Scorpio-who lives in emotion, is being called to balance that feeling with an intellectual perspective, to develop an emotional dissonance that can sway them from becoming held and ruled by their emotional body. They must also look deeper. What’s at the core of how they see the world? If they do go there, Aquarius will find that they’re love of independence is marked by a fear of being controlled, a fear they have to name and confront. Scorpio may find it wants Aquarius close because they fear abandonment and they must also, confront and deal with that wound. Both of those wounds are likely to be childhood “original wounds” stemming from some parental or primary care giving dynamic.

Many more dynamics like this will be present.  The possibilities are endless. Ultimately the two must look at each other and see what qualities the “other” possess that the other is being called to integrate into their consciousness. Starting there is the first step. From there they must work actively to embrace and recognize that the things the “other” does that infuriates them, they also have in some capacity within themselves. They have to see their partner as their mirror and not their opposite; the root of the original problem.

The union is not impossible. But it is not easy. Anything worth having is not. With adequate support ( counseling, therapy, healthy friend networks, communication) the two can find a place where this union can sustain them both. They can find a place where they both can be nourished, evolve  and maintain the wholeness of who they each are. Aquarius will need to let go of the need to be right. Scorpio will need to let go of the desire to possess. In any occasion it’s an invitation to grow, and to become something more than either of them were before.

In love and lite

Yolo

yolo@yoloakili.com

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The SuperPowers Of Virgo!

In Prep for Our Virgo/Cap Relationship Analysis, let’s take a look at Virgo Energy!

Now mind you, this is not just about your sun sign. If Virgo is your moon or rising sign this goes for you too, it just relates to a different aspect of your personality. Check it out!

Super Powers: Unmatched analytical skills. Ability to hone in and detect minute details. Persistent and thorough in affairs they commit themselves to. Potential to be able to see things clearly without psychological or emotional projections. Keeps a mental file cabinet on all behaviors of those around them; they notice the nuances and they remember. Excellent Lovers because they don’t forget! Masters of strategy (Chess had to be invented by a Virgo). They have a relationship to their emotional body that gives them the ability, like Aquarius, to hold and see an emotion, but to not “become it”. (It’s the difference between having anger and being angry.)

Not all are “organizers” in terms of physical space, but if you look closely, you’ll find that organization occurring either through the world of ideas; or even in a “junky” ordering/organization system. Desire to serve and support others.

Kryptonite: Relentless search for perfection leads them to extreme nervousness and stress. Issues with eating are common. Often trying to “purify” themselves, and this includes the body and their “ideas” about the world.

Their is a looming desire to control everything through understanding it. May control others through a self created “illness”. Over analyzing details of situations and interactions can lead to slippery slope of “doom and gloom thinking” which will quickly draw negative energies to themselves. Can at times be extremely manipulative. Prone to be Superficial.  Focus too much on the details prevents them from seeing the whole picture, or even finishing half of the portrait!

What they need to Heal & Balance:

Breathing Techniques & Tai Chi for the anxiety and restlessness. I recommend moving healing arts for Virgos, Yoga is good but too much “stillness” can be hard for them. (Practice twice a day)

Crystals:

Carry them in your pocket or purse. Or you can put them next to your nightstand or under your pillow. They can help influence your vibration on a  number of levels that can be helpful.

Garnet- A beautiful stone, known to help with maintaining positive/affirming thinking.

  Fluorite Helps to ground and balance anxiety and nervousness.  good for Virgos!

Books:

Thoughts are everything for this Mercury ruled sign. This book would be my top pick!

Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life by Wayne Dyer


 


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Collide: “Stars Of The Stars”: Janelle Monae & Nicki Minaj

One is a cyborg from the future; a synthetic spiritual priestess who ruptured and reconfigured the matrix of musical boundaries; inorganically orchestrating an era of afro-futuristic artistry using an android operating system uninhibited by essentialist blackness or outdated sexuality software.

The other; is a “dissociative identity disorder” diva, a tempetress and a trickster; who with a wave or her magic wand wound the hip hop industry around her finger, cursed and defiled her competitors; and cast a spell that single handedly conjured the re-constitution of the feminine voice in hip hop.

What do these two women have in common?

Upon first listen; most would say nothing. Nicki and Janelle could be interpreted to be like two comets streaking in the nite; passing by each other oblivious and perhaps even more so; un-interested; in the others gravitational pull.

Yet upon deeper introspection there are striking similarities in both the artistry and energy of these two artists; undertones and influences that, upon reveal; connect the two under the cosmic constellation they both share: Sagittarius.

Yes, both Nicki and Janelle are sags, born a year apart. But does that hold any credence at all for two women who appear to be on opposite ends of the musical spectrum?

To figure this out, we have to first look at the Sagittarian mythos. In astrology Sags are the last fire sign in the zodiac. They represent freedom, expansion and the “high mind”. They are symbolized by the half horse/ half human centaur who aims their arrow upwards towards the farthest reaches of the horizon. This arrow aiming at the heavens symbolizes the Sagitarian impulse to expand. Everything they touch, whether it is philosophy or art, Sagittarians take to the next level. The arrow shot in the sky can be seen as a sort of psychic net; cast out to capture all that has been before while reaching upwards to new heights and levels of being.

We can see the latter clearly with both Janelle and Nicki.

For example; Janelle’s masterpiece album ArchAndroid infuses and synthesizes a range of musical styles that precede her initiation into artistry. From blues, to rock, to electronic, Janelle’s microchip has the program for them all; she fails to narrow herself, casting a wide net refusing to be boxed or cropped into any simple category. At any moment on Arch Android we can hear a different voice of inspiration, Lauryn Hill on “Neon Valley Street”, Bette Middler on “Ba-Bop Bye-Ya”, The Beatles on “Mushrooms & Roses” Simon & Garfunkel on “57821” and more. Yet make no mistake; all of it is distinctively Janelle. She has re-wired the circuitry of each model before her; and the upgrade is none other than she herself.

Nicki does this as a Sag also, but differently. For example, In the BET documentary “My Mic Sounds Nice: Women In Hip Hop” MC Lady of Rage accurately noted that: “{Nicki} is nice. She reminds me of Missy, Eve and Lil Kim combined.” What Lady of Rage is noting is Nicki’s Sagittarian drive; she has taken the artistry of artists who predate her ( Missy’s playfulness, Eve’s cockiness and Kim’s assertive sexuality) merged it, broadened it; and transmuted that energy to another level of ferocity and intensity; making it markedly her own. Like a true sag, she has expanded the archetype by the inclusion of her own performative tactics.


Both have also created alternative identities with which to express themselves. Janelle is Cindi Mayweather, Nicki is Roman; they channel and distinguish the energies they posses by creating different characters.

Other similarities abound, perhaps most notably their high performance presence; the fact that both of their fathers struggled with the same drug addiction, and that both have made themselves “superhuman” in different respects, becoming “the high mind” as they both individually interpret it. Both have used their respective talents differently, yet the core of the energy remains the same.

One marked difference about each of them is the level of fame that they have garnered under the same sun sign. Nicki has achieved pop culture fame; while falling short of critical support; Janelle has critical love from the industry; yet has not achieved pop culture fame to the same degree.

Some of this is because Janelle, being a black woman who is not naked and exposing breasts; is beyond the ideological imagination of the current cultural climate. In metaphysics they say; “You can only see that with which you can conceptualize” and in this case it makes perfect sense. Fully clothed and free of the essentialist boundaries of blackness; Janelle is largely invisible to the mainstream.

Yet don’t get it twisted, Nicki “playing the industry” does not make her nobody’s fool. She knows very well what she is doing; and like all female MC’s is catching hell for capitalizing off of the sexism of pop culture. You see, our culture gets angry at women for capitalizing off of their own sexuality; but men can capitalize off of exploiting or degrading women’s sexuality do it all day and it’s perfectly acceptable. Many expect Nicki and all female rappers to attempt to single-handedly change gender dynamics in the hip hop industry ( putting the work on the oppressed, instead of the oppressor) while not even critiquing the fact that every major male rap artist has capitalized in millions off of the same dynamics. Nicki, Kim, and all others before her will never close the psychic and economic gap of the money that male rappers have made and continue to make off of the exploitation of women’s sexuality. But you know as always, exploitation is only ok when the men do it.

In conclusion, remember to pay attention starlings! There are connections everywhere and in places you would least expect. Nicki And Janelle may look different, but that cosmic core has definitely got some similarities. Send me your sugegstions for celebrities you want me to astrologically analyze! I would love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time,

with love and cosmic lite

Yolo

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Se-lah:Reads That Bleed:Black Gay Men & Passive Aggressive Communication

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Oh, we’ve all been there. In the room. In the space. With all the black gay, bi, queer male faces. With all the high strung, defensive,angry, tense energy.

You see everyone is on edge waiting for it.

Waiting for the first assault-however small,  the first sly comment, however seemingly minuscule, that will make its way into the room. Eyebrows are raised amidst greetings, lips are pursed in suspicion. Many are sweeping the room psychically as if preparing for a military war strategy, much less spending time with a gathering of friends and colleagues…
The conversation begins to deepen and like clockwork, someone reacts. The statement could be about anything: someone’s “shadiness” some one’s “belief” some one’s “relationship” or more. It generally comes indirectly, a swift jab to the throat. Underneath the dinner table, everyone is caressing their switch blades. Fearing they could be the next target of ridicule. Fearing some private moment they shared could be put on the table, some piercing insecurity they disclosed could come up for public scrutiny, or some sexual relationship they have could be probed, exposed and berated…….

Ah, the good ole “read”. Where would we as black gay men be without it? I mean if we didn’t have the concept of the “read” we might actually have to begin talking to each other and not AT each other. We might actually have to, Goddess forbid, learn how to assertively express how we are feeling and are being impacted by each other, instead of side swiping each other across the throat with violent passive  communication. Now don’t get me wrong “reads” can be fun in playful jest. Yet the reality for many of us is that they are often a lot more than just playful jest.

I define read in this context as an incisive, inflammatory, indirect comment aimed at naming or exposing an issue, perceived flaw, or shortcoming of another individual or thing.

Now these passive aggressive statements are often covers for real hurt, pain, jealousy and anger that we are experiencing.

But instead of saying “Hey, I really missed you and I’m hurt that since you got your boyfriend, you don’t come around and hang out anymore” we say:  “The girls get real shady when they get some dick.”

Whats the difference? The first one is speaking from a personal place. It’s naming how you are affected and going beneath the anger to locate the deeper meaning. It has more of a possibility of inviting a serious dialogue. The latter is an attempt to hurt someone from your own hurt. It cuts and is intended too. It does not necessarily open up a conversation about the real issue at hand- the friend being missing in action, so much as it creates a space for the friend to feel attacked, defensive, guilty, and ashamed.

From this space he’s likely to get aggressive back and not open up an intentional dialogue about the challenges of friendships and romantic partners.

The reality is with assertive communication, or any other style-we don’t always “get what we want”-but we do take care of ourselves and others by expressing our feelings, relieving us of the weight of carrying all that pressure and by respecting the other person by not degrading them.

So, lets have talking points shall we?

1) Like all men and human beings in this society- I believe we as Black gay men are not taught how to communicate our hurt, pain and issues assertively. Assertive communication is the straightforward and open expression of your needs, desires, thoughts and feelings without attacking, demeaning or disrespecting the needs, realities, or feelings of others.

Often we are taught three communication styles as it relates to conflict:

A) Aggression- We just go off on folks, which is emotional violence. Screaming, yelling, interrupting, not listening,using our body to intimidate. Inflicting more trauma and pain, and ultimately not inviting anything but to show how “powerful we are”. How “you don’t even know me” , “How you are “wrong” or “How I will fuck you up.” In other words -we use the tools that we have been taught by western society. We replicate patterns of abuse inflicted upon us systematically and socially by all major systems of oppression: racism, able-ism sexism, homophobia etc.

B) Passive Aggressive-this is where “Reads” often fall. We say nasty things indirectly or do manipulative nasty indirect things to express our hurt. This is often a tool used by those for whose voices have been silenced, or who have experienced trauma with speaking their truth ( and who hasn’t?) It is aggressive and violent as well and often just as, if not more hurtful, than aggression itself.

C) Passivity- We completely disregard our feelings and let ourselves be a doormat for others, leading to other forms of anger. We belittle our feelings as unimportant. We do not speak out on injustices invoked against us by others, but instead play ourselves down, shut our voices out, and inevitably the anger festers into some other aspect of our life.

None of the latter serves us. What they do serve is creating confusion, drama and unnecessary conflict in a world filled with more than an enough of it already. So why are you creating more of it? Here are some further thoughts:

1) Black gay men, like most men in this society, talk about the the realities of loneliness. We are surrounded by loving people, loving friends and family at times-and yet still we feel lonely. This is too much of a complex issue to explore completely here-but a large part of our loneliness is we wont let anyone in.
We have been taught like straight men “don’t trust no other nigga”.

We become paranoid about some other person taking, manipulating or hurting us-and so we stay locked up within emotional, spiritual and psychic prisons. We don’t go deep into anything with anyone, especially, if not specifically, other black gay men-because often those who embody our same cultural demographic are the people who we project the deepest fear of judgement onto. We are scared they will say the horrible harsh things we already say to ourselves in our heads everyday.

Release that. Trust a friend. Trust a relative, trust a counselor. Find someone with whom you feel safe. If not, write in a journal. Release all the stuff within you. Stop holding on to the hurt before it kills you!

3) We learn it at home- I have a belief that when it comes to large community gatherings, organizations, friendship circles etc-that this is the place where we more than any other begin to enact dynamics that we learned in our families. For instance, if we learned that aggressiveness gets you what you want in that context as little one’s– well then of course if unchecked, we decide to use that again as an adult in “family like” gatherings. Investigating our feelings about family and what we learned can help us begin the process of unlearning, compassionately, what we do not desire to replicate in our own lives. But first we have to realize we can make that choice.

4) All feelings are VALID:   You feel sad today? Embrace it. Feel anger? Embrace that too. Do not “should” on your feelings. There is never any way you “should” feel other than what you feel in any given moment. Embrace your feelings and instead of hurting someone else because of them, look deeper into what they mean for you. What is this connected to you in your experience/life/rearing? What insecurity or fear does this awake in you or bring up? Feelings are often informed by ideologies-yet intellectualizing your feelings won’t help you deal with them. Sometimes you just have to sit with them, or be present with them as they are within you, trusting that you are not the feeling, but the feeling is instead something within you that has something to teach you about yourself.

5) You want a friend? BE a friend! In the black community, we have all kinds of biblical quotes and sayings that are hardly ever in practice. One is no judgment-“let he who cast the stone”…. But we do judge. In fact judgment is not bad. Judgment in of itself is about evaluation. You evaluate things, friends, life etc.
But evaluation with an assertion of superiority, or moral authority-now that is the funk.

This often appears around sex a lot. People say “well you know hes a “ho” or “fast” or fill in the blank. And promiscuity is the funny one for me. Because he’s a ho in relation to who? Is their a standard number that is acceptable for you to be intimate with? If you have 20 partners over the course of your life or 20 partners over the course of one month is one worse than the other? And who gets to decide? Why are we even counting if its not to impose comparison, or if its not too make ourselves feel better than “those girls”, which is all about moral superiority?
What do we know about their lives anyway? Who they are, how they came to be? Are we concerned about their sexual health sincerely? Their hurts, desires, longings, needs? Do we even care or do we just want to kiki about it, have a good laugh and look down upon them? Whats the real purpose here?

In closing, I  really want to invite more conversation on us as black gay/bi/trans men talking in ways that invite dialogue and not battle. I want to speak with men in ways that are honest and sincere and not a Russian roulette of who can come back with a snippy reply first. This is not conducive to intimacy. It is not conducive to love. It does not lend itself to building the kind of relationships that help us be all we can be, embrace the gift of life, and survive this already nasty world and society.

And let me be clear, I don’t write this as one above this or as one who has never enacted these tendencies. I write this as one committed to shifting them and committed to actively being accountable and  loving with the black gay/bi/trans/queer men in my life.

I’m a black gay/queer man doing my work to look at myself and see how I can do things differently. Are you doing yours?

Yolo

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