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For the Love of House Music

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House Music is uplifting, joyous, and free. Queer and like to dance? You will find a dance/music community in place no matter where you are in the world. Grooving to House Music is my thing. I enter the sanctuary of House to re-energize. It’s been that way since we were introduced in 1979. She’s carried me over some rough patches, times when I felt like I was losing the ground underneath my feet.  

House Has Carried Me Through

In 2005, while ‘‘Cool Cat’ my daddy was in the Burn Unit of Detroit Receiving hospital, I’d go to Agave on Sunday’s after visiting hours to build up my faith. Even though Cool Cat didn’t make it out of Receiving alive, I danced for him to be at peace and out of unimaginable pain experienced through a comatose state. He left the day after my 41st birthday.House music and vibing with community helped me to make it through.

My love affair with alcohol ended, I would carry two bottles of ice-water in my backpack to avoid losing my space by one of the speakers, wasting time to go to the bar. I didn’t want to miss a minute of dancing. Agave, never disappointed, I’d dance for Cool Cat while sending up prayers.   

Dance Away The Stress

House spells relief for many people after a hard week on the grind. People who love good music come out to dance their cares away. House is as freeing as it is healing. House is a connector of people. At any spot where House runs deep, you will find a mixed crowd. House Music pulls diverse crowds. You’ll find an eclectic mix of queer and str8, along with various races and ethnicities jamming together.  They will be vibing and getting high from the beats banging through the speakers and the poetry flowing from tracks.

House is for beating back the blues, through verse that grabs your spirit reminding you that you’re worthy. Finding self and self-love are frequent in the songs that dare you not to feel empowered and encouraged. House is also fluid.  When master mixologists house cuts use tribal beats and anything 1970s, I go on a spiritual journey.  

Sunday Tea Parties

One criticism I have of the Queer community is that we don’t hang out enough. Sunday Tea Parties were prevalent in the 1970s and in some places they’re making a comeback. Tea Parties worked because they were open and welcoming to the queer community and allies. In Detroit, Michigan from 2000-2006  as a member of Sistas Providing Intelligence and Creativity (S.P.I.C.E.), I helped throw some stellar afternoon events. Mimosas flowed and the food was good. In between eating, laughing, and catching up we gathered on the dance floor to throw down to House music.

Giving It All Up To The Feeling

An extensive list of Detroit deejays has held my heart since 9th grade.  Growing up with music pioneers. and being exposed to alternative music stores shaped my music tastes. It opened me up to the Worldwide House Movement. House music keeps this “Queer Diva”, moving to the beat. House is cool for a plethora of reasons. If you can keep the beat, you’re good. Go where the music takes you without fear of judgment. You don’t need a dance partner. I’m far from shy and when a good song comes up, I’m on the floor. House allows that. Dance by yourself, in the mirror or next to a speaker to take in more bass (if you’re like me), whatevs — do you. You can dance alone without worrying about someone inviting themselves into your personal space. You can feel the love of community when a dope song drops. If it’s a throwback song, House lovers make eye contact with knowing glances and head nods.  A complete blast.

House is happy it’s liberating and it’s needed in the world we live in. House Music makes things a little better.

 

Originally posted 2017-07-30 18:00:18.

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2 Comments

  1. Nisa Dee

    August 1, 2017 at 1:00 am

    Facts! Excellent and exhilarating article! ??????

  2. Yacon Root

    September 8, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Amazing Website. Really enjoyed reading.

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The Assassin Chronicles – Chapter Two: Switzerland

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Content Advisory:  Contains Violence, and Brief Sexuality and Language.

Previously on The Assassin Chronicles

     “Is it feasible?”  This was his handler, Mr. Wolf.

     With a sigh, The Assassin nodded once. He was a man of no words.

###

     Inside that tent, Fred Robertson and Graham Phelps discussed what to do with the charitable donations.  Both men were shrewd in business, but only Fred could be called unscrupulous.  He was an overweight smoker battling inoperable lung cancer.

     “My company could always use more cancer funding.  Although, you’re screwing over your own community.”

     “I don’t have HIV.”

###

     Wolf snatched Fred’s collar, nearly dragging him out of the tent.

     Smith was waiting.  He grabbed Fred’s head and snapped it backwards.

     Briefly stunned, Wolf watched Fred’s lifeless body fall to the floor.  Smith disappeared into the crowd.

###

     “Enjoy your trip to Switzerland, Mr. Kowalczyk,” the stewardess called out.

###

     “What made you think I’d sign off on this?”

     “There’s something you need to see.”  Wolf pulled a photo out of his pocket and handed it to the figure.

     The mystery man sucked his teeth.  “Have everyone waiting for us on the dock.  Dear God, how did I not see this?!”

Now…

     The massive freighter made port near a little coastal village in Japan.  Mystery man, now known by his assumed name of Hans Maligno, sat in a wicker chair.  He was fanned by undercover Taiwanese immigrants.  Everything about him was cruel; his gray eyes, his wrinkled chin… his arm fat!

     Wolf stood guard nearby and handled business on a SAT phone.  “The plane’s heading for –”

     “I know where he’s going.  Move to intercept.”

     Still in the air and on his way to Switzerland, Smith enjoyed a glass of expensive scotch in what appeared to be first class.

     A very attractive male steward approached him.  “Another two fingers, Monsieur Kowalczyk?”  He smiled a gentle smile.

     Smith returned the school-boy grin and shook his head “No.”  However, when the steward departed for his other duties, Smith turned his head slightly and watched him walk away.  Being such a single and lonely man, the fact that he was thinking about nothing but the steward’s perfect ass hardly fazed him.  I need to get a life, his thought continued as he focused his attention on the clouds outside the aircraft.

     Another 747 flew dangerously close to his. How odd.  Suddenly, it was struck with a ground-to-air Stinger missile and plummeted to the Alps below!  If not for the carnage, one might enjoy such scenic views of perfectly pointed snow capped peaks combined with lush and fertile valleys.  On the outskirts, ski lodges lived up to the mental picture of danger for talented thrill seekers.  

     Shockwaves from the explosion shook Smith’s cabin.  It was the cabin of a private Gulfstream V.  Thank God he had one of his hunches and got off the 747 at the last minute.  His hunches always saved him.  Even those he felt as a child.

     Feeling a sense of safety, Smith found the steward and threw him onto the lavish leather sofa off to the side.  Their eyes met first.  Then their lips.  With animal-like strength, he tore open the twenty-three year old’s dress shirt and pressed his face into the large rose tattoo on his chest.  Smith followed his new friend’s happy trail to paradise and they joined the mile high club together.

     The Gulfstream landed safely in Geneva, at the international airport.  Geneva is one of those gorgeous, massive, and modern cities that still manages to look like something from the Gothic Middle Ages.  While it can be unsettling, it’s quite picturesque too.

     From there, Smith took a cab (how pedestrian of him) to one of the biggest five star hotels in the heart of the city.  The Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues may have looked plain on the outside, but it was anything short of spectacular within.  In fact, it was so bourgeois the porter almost refused to carry in Smith’s luggage from the common taxi – until he spotted the Bric’s Milano label.

     Smith was escorted by management passed rooms of some stature up to his room.  He had booked the Geneve Presidential suite; It was a tranquil mix of golden fabrics and modern dark wood furnishings.  

     “Will this do, Monsieur?” the manager enquired whilst Smith checked out the balcony.

     The Assassin nodded, peering down on the harbor.  The sun was setting and the scene made Smith happy – well, almost.  This was the type of place he would like to vacation in.  Unfortunately, this was no vacation.  He had come here for a reason, and she was about to show up on his doorstep.

     Some time later, Smith tossed his luggage on the bed before disrobing.  He started the bath and examined his body in a mirror.  It was heavily scarred – a knife wound here, bullet hole there – but it still held its beauty.  This was true despite the fact that the corners of his bottom had begun to sag and no matter how many sit-ups he did, he’d never be rid of the “love-handle” like folds around his waist.  He could brag about other features to make up for it, but he was in one of his modest moods.

     The balcony door had been left open by design.  Martha Kowalczyk tip-toed into the room and approached Smith from behind.

      From the depths of the tub, The Assassin produced an underwater pistol, pointing it at her without turning around.

     “ Nice to see you too, son.”  Martha croaked in a heavy Irish accent.  She circled the tub till she met his eyes.

     Her son’s mouth fell open.  “She” was in the process of transitioning into a more masculine pronoun and currently went by the name Edward.

     “Yuh like the new me?” she continued.  Smith had to admit her beauty hadn’t been lost.  Her soft and bright facial features were still there, despite the peach fuzz.  Kind, emerald eyes peered at him through spectacles so thick they appeared fogged.  Actually, the eyes were more kind than he remembered.

     Smith smiled at her.

     “That’s my boy,” Edward grinned back.

     The tranquility lasted just a few seconds before a few vehicles screeched to a halt outside.  Edward ran back onto the balcony to observe.

     Down below, Wolf stepped out of an SUV, another half-dozen armed men with him all brandishing a variety of Kel-Tec weapons and gear.  He was on the phone with Maligno.  “Yes, sir.  I’ll take them alive.”

     After placing his cell phone back in a hip holster, Wolf turned to his troops.  “Take them down.”

     A couple of his men looked at one another, then back at him.

     “Now, dammit, now!”

     The mercenaries charged inside without a single degree of subtlety.  Wolf held back, feeling a strange sensation.  He looked skyward and spotting Edward almost immediately.  With a glare, he moved his new Italian handgun into his hand.  (Unbeknownst to just about everyone, he was an avid gamer and this handgun was styled almost identically to one in a popular Japanese zombie survival-horror.)

     Back in the suite, Edward rushed Smith into the tactical gear The Assassin carried in case things ever went really bad.  After dressing, Smith handed his mother an assortment of weapons before converting his M45 handgun into a full-auto PDW.

     In the lobby, Wolf held the manager at gunpoint and forced him to call up to Smith’s room for a little pre-fight banter.

      “Hello, Smith,” Wolf began.  “I know you won’t surrender.  That’s fine.  I don’t want you to.”

     Smith gripped the phone tighter, his leather gloves creaking on the faded porcelain.  Outside, he heard a couple mercenaries stack up beside the door next to him.

     “Congratulations.  I’m writing your epitaphe right now.”

     The room door splintered.  Smith plugged one merc with a few rounds from his gun before it was ripped from his hand.  He was thrown backwards against the wall, but still managed to kick out the second mercenaries knee.  It wasn’t long before he used the phone in a most grotesque manner.  First, broke the man’s nose with it, then used it to string him up and choke him to death!  As a final measure, The Assassin chucked a grenade over the railing to the stairwell just outside the suite.  Edward plugged his ears.

     Wolf watched fire and wood shards rain down on his remaining men from his position of some safety.  He was unnaturally calm.  “Go get the shit-stain,” he barked at the mercenaries.

     They did their best.  It wasn’t their fault Smith also did his best.  One by one, they all fell in a short gun-fight that resulted only in staining the stairwell walls.

     At the end, Smith and Edward stared Wolf down.  Wolf, ever the dramatic, turned the manager’s head into Swiss cheese.

     “And it’s going to read, ‘Here lies Smith:  the biggest pain in my ass.’”  Wolf grinned.

     Both of them took a step back to brace for the recoil of their weapons.  They stared each other down.  The lobby became the old West.  But who, both wondered, would flinch first this time?

FADE OUT.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion to this scene next week and, be sure to support our site if you would like to continue to see more top quality content from all of our writers!

Thanks for Reading,

Ryan MariK

Originally posted 2017-10-08 14:25:16.

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Film Review: Battle of the Sexes

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With women and the LGBTQ community in hopeful anticipation of seeing ourselves and our history played out on the big screen, last weekend Twentieth Century Fox released “Battle of the Sexes” in theaters. I went last Saturday afternoon to see mainstream Hollywood’s take on the infamous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, and looked forward to connecting with the human stories behind one of the most infamous events in modern feminist history. While the artful production design and crackling performances from the actors give us a lot to be proud of, this is not a film I can recommend, and the mis-steps found in the well-intentioned script lie at the heart of the problem.

On September 5, 1995 First Lady Hillary Clinton stood at the podium at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and declared “women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.” Last week, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley voted against a resolution condemning the discriminatory use of the death penalty for LGBTQ people. Despite the Trump administration’s weak clarifications in an attempt at damage control, the fact remains: the United States failed to stand up for LGBTQ people around the world. We were, and are, still fighting this battle of the sexes. Secretly, King fought a personal battle to guard the secret of her sexuality from almost everyone who knew her including her husband, family, and certainly the professional and public world of tennis.

Over 3 decades after Billie Jean King, a married world-famous female tennis champion, was outed as a lesbian in a lawsuit brought by her former girlfriend and 42 years after her ground-breaking leadership on the issue of equal pay for women in the world of sports, women and LGBTQ people are still fighting for justice in the workplace and equal rights. The importance of knowing our stories, of telling them, and making sure they are remembered cannot be understated.

This film reminded me that the world knew King as a straight woman in 1973. We didn’t have “gay stars” back then. We had male stars and female stars. To come out was to risk everything. We know Billie Jean King as she is today, a lesbian icon of rights for women and LGBTQ people who did “something or other” back in the 70s, but most of us know the story in basic terms at best. The basic plot points are easily accessible with a few clicks these days. What a film, or any good storytelling, should do is to connect us to the human beings who lived out these plot points. What are their moments of personal challenge, failure, or triumph? We can go back and watch the old clips if we want to know exactly, in perfect historical terms, what happened. A great film explores these questions but goes beyond that to connect audiences to their imaginations, to evoke empathy and inspiration.

“Battle of the Sexes” is somewhat successful as a historical account, but it falls far short of that mission at times giving us stereotypes and filler instead of character, conflict, and substance. First, who are the other women, including one woman of color, who joined Billie Jean in the walk out to form the Women’s Tennis Association, the first league of its kind? In this film, with the exception of Margaret Court the homophobic Australian player who beat King to win the first WTA tournament, the other athletes are cardboard cut-outs “Woman 1, 2, & 3,” their dialogue strung together with tired feminist slogans and lines that are fraught with stereotypical language. In “Battle of the Sexes,” they are exactly the empty-headed pretty faces that men at the time expected them to be. Depictions of women like this make it easier for men to discount us as second class citizens. In one particularly embarrassing scene, the women squeal and jump up and down when they find out they’ll have a hairdresser on the tour. If the women were fleshed out in the screenplay as individuals with depth and varied personalities, goals, and interests, scenes like this one are less hard to watch. These heroes of feminism in their own right, the sisters who stood with King and risked their careers for the cause of female equality, deserve a lot better. (Read more about 1996 inductee to the International Tennis Hall of Fame  Rosie “Rosebud” Casals portrayed memorably by Natalie Morales.)

My next question is; are we supposed to be grateful? Are we supposed to be grateful to see the Hollywood mainstream pull off a tender and believable same sex love scene? The script by Simon Beaufoy does not explore or even hint at the core of who these two people are and the possible consequences of what was happening between them, so how could I? We see two women locking eyes for the first time, their growing attraction to one another. We see their first kiss. And the actors are giving it their all. The direction shows sensitivity and injects romance as well as intimacy, but it’s the sum of what we have to go on to understand the characters and the risks being taken, so the potential impact misses the mark. Though admirably and warmly portrayed by Andrea Riseborough, the character of King’s girlfriend Marilyn Barrett is poorly developed, similar to the way female love interests are often portrayed in a film with a male lead. Having failed to set up the dangerous personal stakes Billie Jean was facing to risk having a same sex relationship at this time in history, the scenes about her relationship with hairdresser Marilyn Barrett fall short.

Understanding the risks and consequences experienced by real people at that time would have injected suspense and drama into the subplot. You have to watch very closely to catch onto the point that Billie Jean is actually married to a man at this time. It’s glossed over. We don’t know the character of Billie Jean at all beyond her star athlete persona when the movie starts, and we only know slightly more by the end credits.

Beyond the extremely well done costumes and production design, there’s no context given that pulls us into the sexually repressed, misogynist world of the early 1970s. And if, as a filmmaker, you don’t take us to the oppressive place where this story happens, you’ve lost us. Why? Because, in an “overcoming obstacles” story like this one, context is everything. We have to know where these characters are and exactly what they are up against before we can care about cheering them on.

The pivotal moment when an adolescent King first caught a passion to change things for women and minorities in tennis is only hinted at in passing. I realize this is not a miniseries, but give us more than that, please. She’s spoken about it in several interviews over the years when, at the age of 12, she looked around and thought “Where is everybody else? Where are the people of color?” She wanted to shine a light on the elitism in the world of tennis. She “made herself a promise,” she said, “to do something about it.” That’s dynamite, dramatic substance, and it really happened. It gives us insight into the heart of this iconic leader. This point along with so much more, Billie Jean’s straight life, her relationship with her parents and husband, is merely a footnote in this film.

Emma Stone uses everything she’s given to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on this one, and I can see her struggling as an actor against the the script, to bring us into Billie Jean’s inner life and heart. Without her strong performance of this sub-par screenplay, along with a few others like Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman, and Alan Cumming who give nuanced and emotional portrayals, the film is completely unwatchable. Cumming’s final scene in the film is particularly moving, and Beaufoy gives Carell much more to work with. We see Riggs interacting with others in his personal life in a variety of well-written and artfully directed scenes. We’re told nothing about Billie Jean’s husband Larry King. Like Marilyn, Rosie, and the other women athletes, he’s presented as a flat stereotype. Carell’s scenes with his wife (played by Oscar Winner Elisabeth Shue) portray the struggling, strained relationship in the aging tennis player’s marriage. In many ways, the film makes us care more about his struggles and triumphs than Billie Jean’s. Ironic, right?

Women and the LGBTQ community still need allies. Many people do not understand our cause; some are apathetic, or are outright enemies of our equality. So more than anything, this film misses the chance to have a huge impact on our culture to affect changes we would all love to see in our lifetimes.

Overall, I felt delightfully hopeful about seeing this movie. I wanted to marvel at its ground-breaking courage and applaud its relevance in giving us historical context to understand the heroes who laid so many foundations for the rest of us. We’re winning the battle, but we still have a lot of people in this country who could become vocal allies if they can be somehow swayed by emotional and personal connection, which is what we’re supposed to have as audience members. Hampered by writing, directing or both; “Battle of the Sexes” is a stellar film they didn’t make.

We highly recommend you read more about the fascinating personalities surrounding this historic time in women’s sports. To find out more about Billie Jean King and her work as an activist, look for the 2006 Peabody Award winning HBO documentary “Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer.” What did you think of “Battle of the Sexes?” Let us know in the comments below!

Originally posted 2017-10-07 18:33:21.

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Pennywise is not a gay icon #SorrynotSorry

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Okay, listen up gang, we need to have a serious talk that I’m still kind of in shock we’re having in 2017 but here we go. Pennywise from the novel and movie It should not be your gay icon. There, I said it. The lovely people on the internet have “decided” that “Pennywise is Gay and He’s Dating the Babadook”. An odd coupling, and what’s more than a bit puzzling is that THAT’S an acceptable ship yet Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy are only “friends” but okayyyy.  

This whole thing got started when Netflix accidentally listed The Babadook in their LGBT movies section and the internet just kinda rolled with it. Which is fine, because the joke is there and we know the joke has a “root” to it and the Babadook is relatively harmless. Pennywise being gay is just coming randomly from the sewer.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Oh Elle, stop being such a downer, let the internet have their fun. They’re celebrating LGBTQ representation in their own way, isn’t that a good thing?”

Not in this case. Allow me, Ellen “Professional party pooper,” to explain how calling Pennywise gay is actually incredibly homophobic, queer coding, and hurts the community as a whole as it fights for real representation.

1) A harmful reminder of past LGBTQ stereotypes

For the folks at home who have not read or seen Stephen King’s It, it’s a story about an evil clown by the name of Pennywise who terrorizes several children by exploiting their fears and phobias. Because Stephen King likes to give his readers the warm and fuzzies. Pennywise likes to target young children, mainly boys, and preys on them. He also kills people. Basically, Pennywise is a child predator. There is an old stereotype that has unfortunately not yet died that gay men can’t be trusted around male children. This is completely and utterly untrue and horribly hurtful. Having people come to this conclusion brings up that harmful stereotype, which goes back to John Wayne Gacy AKA the “Killer Clown,” who in the 70’s sexually assaulted, tortured, and murdered 33 teenaged boys. Going even further than that, this stereotype has tormented gay and bisexual men’s lives so much so that they are oftentimes not hired to teach at schools, work with children, and have a much harder time adopting. By saying that Pennywise is gay, you are not only indirectly saying that gays are pedophiles, but you are also mocking the struggles that gay men have to endure because of this stereotype.

2) This goes against Stephen King’s intent.

Here’s a little writing backstory for y’all.  Let me introduce you to Charlie Howard. Charlie Howard moved to Bangor, Maine during the early 80’s and was an out and proud gay man. Because of this he was heavily discriminated against. He was yelled slurs on the street, openly assaulted and his own cat was found strangled on his front porch. In 1984 while leaving a potluck with a friend, Charlie was chased down by a carload of teenagers who beat him, called him slurs and threw him over a bridge where he then drowned. Charlie was 23 years old. The murderers did not do any jail time for this crime. Does this seem familiar? This is what happens to Adrian Mellon in It. Stephen King said that this hate crime woke him up to the violence that the LGBTQ community faces. It/Pennywise’s enjoyment of tormenting Adrian and his boyfriend sends the message that the homophobic murder of an innocent gay man is an act of pure evil. Pennywise is not a gay icon, he’s a homophobic murderer.

3) We should want more out of our gay icons.

I get it, we have very few LGBTQ characters in the media. All the characters we love either die in the “Bury your gays” trope, are represented only through stereotypes, or we just get queer-baited. But gosh, gang, can’t we do better than a clown as a gay icon? Don’t we deserve more than horror villains representing us? Instead of accepting this silly meme, we should be demanding more LGBTQ characters in our entertainment. We should have more options than just villains and human sacrifices. Let me repeat this loud and clear: We need to see LGBTQ people as people. WE NEED TO SEE LGBTQ PEOPLE AS PEOPLE.

Representation is important, both the lack of it and what the media allows us to have.

We all deserve better than a clown.

Originally posted 2017-09-27 12:51:42.

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