Developing a sense of my own
self-worth hasn't been easy. And becoming infected with HIV is part of
the price I've paid for not having it earlier.... When I think of the most
tragic parts of my life, hearing such homophobic messages ranks with
learning that I was HIV-positive, and it contributed to my low
self-esteem. Deep inside I was dying, and even though I tried to act
strong, the pressures got to me. Afraid of being called faggot
or sissy--and not realizing the ramifications for others or myself--I
began living a lie and dating a very sweet girlfriend.
I battled my
sexuality and sexual identification, unaware that impersonating others
would lower my sense of self-worth. had low self-esteem and
engaged in risky behavior, whether unprotected sex, excessive drinking
or drugs. I wanted to feel the love and acceptance that I should have
felt while growing up. Sadly, I found it too late: I was diagnosed as
HIV-positive in 2006. Unfortunately, I wasn't alone; six of my friends
also tested positive. Only three of us are living today. I think of my
friends often--living and deceased--as I consider how much life has
Justin, who recently married his partner, also shares his journey to self-esteem and living positive on HIV+ME, the LOGO series hosted by Ongina Ryan from RuPaul's Drag Race (above). It's an amazing story and Justin should be applauded for his honesty and empowering message. Read the full essay at BAW and watch the clip AFTER THE JUMP ...
Last night, the 21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards were presented in Los Angeles.
Constance McMillen presented Wanda Sykes with the Stephen F. Kolzak
Award. McMillen sued her rural Mississippi school district after it canceled prom she asked to attend with her girlfriend. She later appeared on The Wanda Sykes Show where the host invited her to the awards. Constance said on the red carpet: "All I did was stand up for what I believe in and what I was told what's right. I'm going to continue to do that."
The teen activist becomes the latest personality to lend her face to photographer Adam
Bouska's striking "No H8" campaign. Watch the short interview where she talks about her school and being bullied AFTER THE JUMP.
Other GLAAD honorees included:
Outstanding Comedy Series: Glee. Outstanding Film: Tom Ford's A Single Man. Outstanding
Reality Program: RuPaul's Drag Race. Iron Chef's Cat Cora presented the Vanguard award to Drew Barrymore. Outstanding Spanish-Language TV Journalism Segment: "Polémicas Adopciones" Noticiero Telemundo. GLAAD also announced
that Octavio Solis' Lydia received the award in the Outstanding Los
Angeles Theater category.
GLAAD live-Tweeted the red carpets and awards HERE. The official hi-res photos from the event will be posted today by 5P PT HERE. In the meantime, Greg in Hollywood has an excellent photo gallery.
Video clips for the awards ceremony should be online later. Watch Constance AFTER THE JUMP ...
Three white Los Angeles elementary school teachers are suspended for giving children pictures of O.J. Simpson, Dennis Rodman and RuPaul to carry in a Black History Month parade last week. The incident happened Friday at the Wadsworth Elementary School where more than 90% of the students are Latino. The parade included children from several classes who carried photos of President Obama, Nelson Mandela and Harriet Tubman and others.
The LA Times: "Some community leaders aren't satisfied with the suspensions and are calling for the dismissal of the instructors, who teach first, second and fourth grades. 'I just can't fathom what these teachers were thinking of except to make a mockery of African American history,' said Leon Jenkins, president of the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP. ... "It is more than questionable -- it is not acceptable, and from my standpoint it's sick," said L.A. Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines."
Obviously Simpson is not considered a role model but to equate him with RuPaul—who is not a convicted felon and has not been accused of murder—is mind boggling. Homophobia apparently reigns supreme. The KABC reporter describes RuPaul a "flamboyant cross-dressing performer" and one parent adds: "I wouldn't want my kids to be having to write about RuPaul."
Bebe Zahara Benet, winner of RuPaul's Drag Race, releases her new video for the anthemic "I'm The Shit". Bebe serves it to the children, pays homage to Ru and amps up volume on the nasty. Can't wait to hear the Peter Rauhofer remixes and love the Ferrari red metallic dress. Watch AFTER THE JUMP.
A very fabulous Bebe Zahara Benet pulls up to the bumper in a new feature in the July issue ofPaper, the New York City-based fashion-forward lifestyle bible (Note: Feature not online yet.). Bebe, of course, was born in the Cameroon as Nea Marshall Kudi and worked as a male model in Paris until he was asked to switch genders at a show due to a missing female model. "Bebe" was born and the rest is history: She was crowned the winner of RuPaul's Drag race on LOGO.
Bebe talks at length about the oppressive atmosphere in some African nations that makes its difficult for LGBT youth: "Ideas we take for granted here, like celebrating individuality and being rewarded for it, are not popular ones in many parts of Africa. I had to come all the way to the U.S, to know who I am and express it with freedom."
In a recent interview with Out, Benet said: "Where I come from drag is unheard of. It’s just not possible. Do you
know how many little boys and girls are sitting there and want to
artistically express themselves and don’t have the opportunity to just
because the culture says 'A is A and B is B'?"
· In a new interview, RuPaul says the groundbreaking "Supermodel" would probably not have the same impact on today's pop culture as it did more than a decade ago.
"There was a window of opportunity that was opening up. Bill Clinton had just gotten into the White House and things were easing up from the shutdown AIDS had created in the early 80’s. But that window was just open for a short period of time, especially in New York and subsequently in the United States."
· The UK is preparing for its very first black gay Pride. The Voice, a weekly black-themed paper in London, publishes an excellent backgrounder on the new event. UK Black Pride will take place on August 19. Like their American cousins, black British gays say that it has become important to celebrate their unique identities—Euro Pride and London Pride are not welcoming or adequate. "A gay black Pride is a great way to demonstrate there are more than just two of us," says Gamal Turawa, a black gay officer with the Metropolitan Police. "It would challenge society's view points and empower people in that community."