Very good news for fans of indie soul artist Bilal. The Philadelphia native released A Love Surreal—his fourth studio album—on Tuesday. A Love Surreal is "highly recommended" by SoulTracks Music Editor L. Michael Gipson—who describes the artist as a "rare talent with a strong sense of music history."
Bilal has released a two-part video series that goes behind-the-scenes of making the album. The second part was released yesterday. Watch both videos, listen to the new track "West Side Girl" and more of Michael Gipson's excellent review AFTER THE JUMP ...
The view toward Philadelphia City Hall and the iconic William Penn statue. I arrived in the city last night for the fourth annual Haas Convening—follow #LGBTMedia13—a conference gathering the nation's leading LGBT journalists, editors, writers and bloggers for an update on research and political/policy developments around immigration, transgender specific issues,labor issues and international LGBT concerns.
This year's convening is focusing on coalition building. We'll have presentations on immigration reform, international issues, the aging queer community, transgender-specific issues, and the labor movement. Philadelphia Mayor Nutter will address the group during lunch on Saturday while Cleve Jones and David Mixner will do a Q&A session at Friday night's reception and dinner.
Previous convenings were held in Houston, San Francisco and New York City. Bil has done a fantastic job planning this year's event. I'm on this year's advisory committee and have helped with invitations and programming over the last two months. I'll be speaking—between the occasional cough or sneeze—and am moderating a panel on Saturday.
All of the conference sessions on Saturday will be on the record and freely available. Feel free to submit questions via Twitter or Facebook using #LGBTmedia13.
Change that we can believe. The White House announced today that President Obama has nominated Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro, who is openly lesbian, to serve on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Quiñones has served on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas since 1991. If confirmed by the Senate, Judge Quiñones would become "the first out" Latina lesbian to serve on the federal bench.
Judge Quiñones is a native of Puerto Rico. She received her J.D. in 1975 from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law and her B.B.A. cum laude in 1972 from the University of Puerto Rico. Before joining the bench in 1991, the judge served as a staff attorney for the Departments of Veteran Affairs and Health and Human Services.
She is the eighth openly gay life-tenured federal court judicial nominee named by President Obama. Prior to the Obama Administration, only one openly gay individual had been confirmed to serve with lifetime tenure on our federal judiciary.
Three of the President's openly gay nominees have been confirmed and one withdrew his nomination after significant obstructionism in the Senate. Pamela Chen of New York is currently awaiting a vote by the full Senate Judiciary Committee and Judge Quiñones will join Judge Michael McShane and Judge William Thomas in the queue for a hearing by the Committee.
Judge Quiñones would likely become one of the nation's most high-profile openly lesbian Latina jurists. Colorado Supreme Court Justice Monica Marquez joined the court in December 2010. She became the first Latina and the first openly gay jurist on that state's high court.
Quiñones was one of three judges nominated today to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. “These men and women have had distinguished legal careers and I am honored to ask them to continue their work as judges on the federal bench,” said President Obama in a statement. "They will serve the American people with integrity and an unwavering commitment to justice."
FOX News starts Election Day with an ominous breaking news banner warning that "New Black Panthers" are "intimidating white" voters in Philadelphia. "This is a member of the Black Panthers standing guard outside a polling place in Philadelphia," co-host Gretchen Carlson noted. "The organization said it was thinking about monitoring the elections. Critics say it’s more like intimidation."
A member of the New Black Panther Party who was charged with voter intimidation in the 2008 election for standing outside a Philadelphia polling site was back Tuesday morning – in an official capacity.
Jerry Jackson, who was charged in the 2008 case along with Minister King Samir Shabazz, but later saw charges dropped by the Department of Justice, was seen early Tuesday outside a North Philadelphia voting site wearing the group’s trademark black beret, combat-style uniform and heavy boots. Fox News confirmed he is a designated poll watcher.
There were also reports of New Black Panther Party members at polling sites in Cleveland, Ohio, where they have also maintained a presence at early voting sites. Critics complain that they are an intimidating presence and could discourage white voters, who may be more likely to vote Republican, from entering polling sites.
"Fox News mentioned the New Black Panther Party over 95 times
in less than two weeks in 2010," adds Raw Story. "After the Department of Justice declined
to pursue charges against a member of the New Black Panther Party for
carrying a billy club to a polling place."
A dog whistle so loud that even Helen Keler could hear it. Why not just claim that a "race war" will happen after the election instead of simply ignoring why Black poll watchers are needed in Black neighborhoods? Watch the "report" AFTER THE JUMP ...
The Philadelphia Eagles' WR DeSean Jackson and QB Michael Vick were in "top" form during yesterday's winning game against the New York Giants. Jackson caught a 19-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter ...
Vick finished with 49 yards on the ground and 241 passing. The Eagles won 19-17.
A few more sporno-tastic photos of Vick and Jackson AFTER THE JUMP ...
Jay-Z appeared on CNN to express his enthusiasm for President Obama's historic announcement on equal marriage: "It's the right thing to do."
"I’ve always thought it as something that was still holding the country back. What people do in their own homes is their business. Who you can choose to love whoever you love. That’s their business. It's no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination plain and simple. ... It's the right thing to do, so whether it costs him votes or not - again, it's not about votes. It's about people. It's the right thing to do as a human being."
Part owner of an NBA team, songwriting, producing records, designing a fashion line, husband to Beyoncé, a brand new father ... Jay-Z has 99 problems but same-sex marriage ain't one.
Singer and actor Tyrese Gibson has tweeted that he will portray the late and legendary singer Teddy Pendergrass. "I have officially secured the life rights to the life story of Teddy Pendergrass, my inspiration," announced Gibson. "This movie will be made."
Pendergrass shot to fame as the lead singer of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes in the mid-1970s. The Philadelphia-born Pendergrass later went solo and became one of most electric and iconic singers to emerge in the R&B and disco era. Pendergrass' famous baritone vocals on tracks such as "The Love I Lost", "Bad Luck" and the brilliant cover of "Don't Leave Me This Way" defined Black gay dance music in the 1970s and 1980s.
Openly gay and Academy Award nominated director Lee Daniels should direct the bio-pic, Gibson told IndieWire. "He’s from Philadelphia and he’s raw, knows how to tell the truth about characters and layers," said Gibson. "He knows how to get people to go there. That would be my ideal situation. Lee Daniels would hit it out of the park. It’ll be my first time singing in a movie."
In the spring of 2008, Chicago's Black Ensemble Theater debuted "I Am Who I Am: The Story of Teddy Pendergrass". The last half of the play concentrated on the accident, Teddy's post-accident career and questions about his sexuality. Speaking to a reporter at the Chicago Free Press, the LGBT weekly, Pendergrass refused to discuss the accident and claimed he was unaware of music's impact on the gay community. Said Pendergrass: "My music appeals to everybody. No, I don’t keep a running list of who listens and who doesn’t. That’s not my job."
I’m From Driftwood has featured a number of fascinating stories from members of the Black LGBT community to honor Black History Month. One in particular caught our attention: The video featuring 70-year-old Philadelphia resident Tyrone Smith, who recalled the dark days of the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic. Mr. Smith remembers the many losses, but adds that the epidemic served as a catalyst to bring together Philadelphia's historic Black LGBT community.
Mr. Smith shares a vintage black and white photo and says:
One of the things I want to share with you today is some of the history of black gay men here in Philadelphia. On this calendar there were a group of men who were a part of a movement which was called Unity Incorporated which was the first group to deal with AIDS and HIV for black, gay men in the city of Philadelphia. But as I look at this picture that we took on top of a rooftop, so many of these brothers are not here.
All of these young men made a contribution: Arnold Jackson, Bill Jackson, all of these boys, and Kenneth they all made a great contribution of giving their lives but out of that forged what we have now as the Black Gay men’s leadership counsel. People in the rooms where differences are being made, openly affirming their gayness. Prior to this, this epidemic, that was not happening. So I think that if there’s anything good that’s come about, it’s the fact that we were able to come together, organize and move forward to where we are now in the year 2012.
The White House is launching a nationwide series of conferences to reach out to LGBT Americans. Via email from the White House Press Office:
The White House Office of Public Engagement (OPE) will partner with key Departments and Agencies to host a series of conferences around the country specifically focused on LGBT Americans. From February to June 2012, OPE will convene these White House LGBT Conferences to provide grassroots leaders, community organizers, advocates, students, and interested citizens an opportunity to hear directly from the Administration on our efforts to ensure health, well-being, security, justice, and equality for LGBT Americans. ...
Participants will receive important updates from senior Administration officials and have the opportunity to learn about Federal government resources and opportunities through workshop sessions. Future White House LGBT Conferences will be held in other locations throughout the country and focus on topics such as Housing & Homelessness, Safe Schools & Communities, and HIV/AIDS Prevention.
The first event is scheduled will be the "White House LGBT Conference on Health" in Philadelphia on February 16th. That conference will feature remarks by Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. There's been significant progress on LGBT-related health care action items, such as launching the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and granting hospital visitation rights. There probably should be some questions about the Affordable Care Act and HIV/AIDS.