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AIDS/ HIV NEWS
After my diagnosis, it took me a while to accept the fact that being HIV-positive is not the end of the world: It’s just the beginning of a whole new way of life. The first meds I was prescribed gave me some bad side effects. But I worked with my doctors to find a new one that was better for me. Now I feel great and my viral count is undetectable. That list of things you wanted to accomplish before you were diagnosed? It’s still possible if you stay in care and work with your doctor to find the treatment that’s best for you. 2 TUVMAG.COM | July+August 2017
“I’ m here. I’ m living. I’ m happy. So take that, HIV.” Cedric
Living with HIV since 2012.
Get in care. Stay in care. Live well. cdc.gov/HIVTreatmentWorks 3 TUVMAG.COM | July+August 2017
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10 EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
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06 WHERE DO YOU LIVE? GAYDOM OR GAYLAND? By Gwendolyn D. Clemons, Editor / Publisher
07 CATHEDRAL FOUNDATION
By Davin D. Clemons, DMin, Editor
08 ONE ACTION FOUNDATION 12 HARMONICA SUNBEAM
28 TIQ MILAN-TRANSGENDER WRITER & ACTIVIST By TUV Staff
By TUV Staff
14 FACES OF TRISTATE BLACK PRIDE 19 THE MALE ROMPER By Martavius Hampton
20 PRIDE, VICE OR VIRTUE
32 MEMPHIS CRISIS CENTER
By Gordie Holt
By Mike LaBonte
21 MSM: DAS JUST MY FRIEND By Eddie Wiley
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22 PASTOR MITCHELL JONES COMING OUT
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By TUV Staff
23 FIGHTING PREJUDICE & DISCRIMINATION By Dr. Darnell Gooch, Jr.
You can also follow us on Social Media @TUVmagazine
25 BdotCroc ONE TO WATCH By Monick Monell
26 TRANSMOVEMENT BTAC 2017 By Renae Taylor
The Unleashed Voice Magazine will cultivate the stories of LGBTQ people with engaging and empowering conversation to people of the world about the multicultural LGBTQ Community.
27 TRUTH VS THE MYTH
The Unleashed Voice Magazine (TUV Magazine) will aid the LGBTQ Community and its allies in redefining how the diverse LGBTQ person wishes to be viewed or spoken about. TUV Magazine will be the optimal print and media hub for the affluent LGBTQ consumer and those who want to be included in the “Unleashing” movement.
“ ...It’s more than a magazine-It’s a Synergized Movement.”
By Kyra Bonet St. James Cassadine
30 IS MAINSTREAM READY
FOR A GAY RAPPER? By Medino Green
31 IS MAINSTREAM READY FOR A GAY COMEDIAN? By Sampson McCormick
Shawn M. Clemonsor Administration/ Fashion Director
De’Mario Q. Jives Shawn M. Clemons
De’Mario Jives Creative LayoutQ.Designer Administration/Fashion Direct Creative Layout Designer
Whitney D. Johnson
WhitneyEditor Johnson Chief Editor
Renae Taylor oject Manager Transgender Correspondent Transgender Correspondent
Eddie Wiley Editor/Contributor
AIDS/ HIV Correspondent
Ravell Slayton Project Manager
Monick Monell New York Correspondent
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EDITOR’S LETTER |
WHERE DO YOU LIVE
IN GAYDOM GAYLAND? OR
efore I came out publicly about my sexuality I once believed that living in the closet was the best way to conceal my identity as a lesbian. I thought that being “private” about my sexuality and intimate partners elevated me into a higher echelon of “Gaydom” whose creed is “We do not have to broadcast our business.” You often hear these terms used in social settings among the privileged professional gay crowd -- the secret circles that frown upon those in the LGBTQ community who “wave their flag” too much. Inside these circles also live the homophobic “homosexuals.” You know the ones who distance themselves from the local gay community but travel distances to “let their hair down.” You know the ones who if they see you in public they would rather take a bullet than speak to you in front of their family, straight friends, and unsuspecting spouses. You know the ones who have sold their soul to the devil by preaching a doctrine of hate every Sunday to gay folks. These camouflages supposedly deflect the very essence of who they are. But simultaneously they inflict emotional turmoil on others because they must maintain the creed of living in “Gaydom.” Just for this moment I will allow you to live vicariously through
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Gwendolyn D. Clemons Publisher Editor-in-Chief
my lens. I will provide you a glimpse of what it feels like to live in “Gayland.” In Gayland we are free to embrace our intimate partners in public and enjoy the strange stares. When we visit our families they embrace our spouses, partners, and friends... if not, we bring them anyway. No hiding our Boos! We will speak to you whenever, wherever and even greet you with a twirl, kick, and a hair throw if the mood is right. On Sunday mornings, we do not sit in Pharaoh’s house and allow a pseudo pastor to send us to hell, fire, and damnation. We are the “whosoevers” and enjoy being in a space of inclusivity and intersectionality of religious doctrine. The month of June has been designated as LGBT Pride Month throughout the U.S. Most cities will host some form of unity and celebration rally to signify that they stand in resistance to antigay stances in any form. As we celebrate city after city I say, “let’s keep getting louder and louder” in our celebrations from extravagant colors to streaming floats. In Gayland celebrate Pride by wearing what you want to wear! Sing what you want to Sing! Dance how you want to dance! Do whatever makes you happy! I did! Can’t you tell by my picture? Lastly, when you see the crowds from “Gaydom” at our Pride events go ahead and welcome them. Who knows, this is probably the only time that they truly get to feel alive! Celebrate Pride “Living Live, Loud, & Lovely!” Happy Gay Pride Y’all!
| EDITOR’S LETTER
he 2017 TriState Black Pride weekend of June 14-17, 2017 was nothing short of an amazing time in Memphis, TN presented by the Cathedral Foundation Inc. founders Dr. Darnell Gooch Jr. and Dr. Davin D. Clemons. The event’s mission was to showcase unity and pride by promoting equality, inclusion, HIV/AIDS awareness, health care, education, outreach, art and culture of the Mid-South’s LGBTQ community and allies. The LGBTQ community and allies came from surrounding states to kick off this inaugural event, with the Opening Reception hosted at the National Civil Rights Museum. Keynote speaker Dr. Marye Bernard, MC of the evening columnist Wendi Thomas, Senator Lee Harris, and Ursula Madden from the Office of Mayor Jim Strickland were in attendance to help “End the Stigma” within the LGBTQ community. All in attendance enjoyed the delicious food provided by Paradox Catering, the great sound of music by Carmen Hicks & Band and Brennan Villines, and climaxing the night with a great Drag Show performance by Monica Lusk & the girls! On Friday and Saturday morning we began the day with the 2017 “FREE” Educational Forum at the Official Host Hotel Crowne Plaza Downtown. These forums included: financial literacy, HIV/AIDS 101, PREP class, credit restoration, free health screening provided by University of Tennessee Health & Science, LGBTQ Black Author Tour, Spirituality and Homosexuality. We had experts come to Memphis, TN to participate in 2017 TriState Black Pride to help strengthen relationships among people by promoting, restoring, maintaining, and enhancing the wellbeing of individuals, families, social groups, organizations, and communities. We ended on Saturday morning with Dragging You To Brunch hosted by the hilarious Sophia McIntosh, highlighting our very own local entertainers while eating delicious food and drinking mimosas.
Dr. Davin D. Clemons, DMin. Dr. Darnell Gooch, Jr. DMin.
During the nightlife on Friday we convened on the Loflin Yard for the Fashion Mixer presented by TriState Black Pride under the leadership of B. Smith and hosted by Gary Lavard. On Saturday evening we hosted two parties at the same time -- I know you’re wondering, “How in the heck is that possible?” Well, we did it! TriState Boys enjoyed the Olympic-size pool at the residence of Erskine Gillespie and TriState Girls enjoyed Bar Take Over hosted by Gwendolyn D. Clemons at Side Street Bar & Grill with over 1,000 women in attendance. It was truly a sight to witness! The after party on Saturday night hosted by 5th Quarter Entertainment at 151 Vance Avenue was nothing short of amazing too! The Sunday Fun Day in the park was canceled due to severe weather on June 18, 2017. The weekend was such a rewarding, impressive, fulfilling, drama free and rejuvenating reflection of the positive energy from the Black LGBTQ Community and allies. This weekend would have not been possible if it were not for the support of the community and all of the event’s great sponsors. And I must say, we had one of the hardest working, smartest and most faithful planning committee on this planet. I would like to say publicly THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! See you June 14 – 17, 2018 for TriState Black Pride weekend in Memphis, TN -- ooohhhwee, I’m so looking forward to the planning stages of 2018!!!! For more information about TriState Black Pride visit www.tristateblackpride.com.
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HIV & AIDS |
ACTION F O U N D AT I O N
Figure 1: Support for the Anti Same-Sex Law in Nigeria. Source: NOIPolls – January 2017.
A survey taken in January 2017 reveals the attitude of Nigerians towards the passage of this anti-gay bill: *The higher the average score, the higher the support of the “Anti-Same Sex Law”
n May 2013, the National Assembly of Nigeria passed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA) which was signed into law by then president of Nigeria, Good luck Jonathan. This meant that a 14-year jail sentence was imposed for same-sex couples who are married and a 10-year jail sentence was enforced for same-sex people who held meetings, set up associations, or established organizations. After living in the United Kingdom for 5 years, I decided to move back to Nigeria to make a difference in the existing LGBT+ community. However, my area of expertise was more along the lines of community engagement, strategic communication, project cycle management and career coaching. Hence, I decided to partner with a good friend who is a lawyer and has been actively involved in advocating for
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rights of LGBT+ persons living in Nigeria. This gave birth to One Action Foundation. One Action Foundation is a Nigerianbased registered not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization established in 2017. We work to protect, promote and empower the lives of sexual minorities in Nigeria. The goal of the foundation is to provide sustainable improvement of the self-worth and value of sexual minorities living in Nigeria by extending human rights protection and advocacy, along with psychosocial, socioeconomic and health support. Furthermore, the foundation will take a step further to empower victims of various forms of discrimination, by equipping them through services like career coaching, job search support, business funding and educational scholarship in order to promote, empower and improve their self-worth and care. We are in our initial stages and have created safe platforms for members of the LGBT+ community to interact and be
themselves, and have also provided access to free legal and counseling services. We are currently seeking funds to run a project which will kick off in October 2017. The project will focus on human rights, psychology, health, awareness training and capacity development. Also, we will be launching our logo (#oneaction_). Although running the organization has been challenging, we hope that with international support we can gain recognition, secure funds, gain expertise, expand our team, and proactively work towards achieving the objectives of One Action Foundation.
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EXCLUSIVE FEATURE |
By TUV Staff
Tony and Grammy Award-winning entertainer Billy Porter discusses focusing on the moment, reveling in artistic freedom, and the inspiration underlying his most recent musical project.
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| EXCLUSIVE FEATURE
Tell us about the concept and inspiration behind your most recent musical release, Billy Porter Presents: The Soul of Richard Rodgers.
A. I wanted to embrace the idea of the classic to the contemporary.
I feel like when songs are solid, when music is written really well, it can transcend time. So I wanted to embrace that idea, and I also wanted to put a spotlight on the different genres that can exist in this storytelling format, but that aren’t necessarily always embraced consistently. So that’s where the soul music idea came from because our music tells stories as well. I wanted to spotlight that, and I also wanted to spotlight the new contemporary Broadway artists who are emerging to be the future of theater.
Q. I’ve heard you state that the theme of the
album is “Love is Love” and that you want people to take away from the music that “love is the only thing” -- expound on what you mean by that.
A. Well, it was always about love. This album took about nine
months to make, and in the middle of that process, the election happened, which actually focused the album even more and made it even more specific in terms of how ‘45’ has fractured this idea of getting along, this idea of understanding and having empathy even though we may not agree, this idea of us all learning to love unconditionally even if it’s uncomfortable... we’re seeing all that play out right now, and I just want to put some positive energy out into the world.
Q. It seems that your involvement in Kinky Boots a while back was a real game changer for you and your career personally and professionally -- how have both of those trajectories evolved for you since that opportunity?
A. I feel like Kinky Boots allowed for me to have a voice and a
platform on a larger scale. All of the things that I am doing, I have been doing for decades. But when you have a platform that is Kinky Boots, that is a Tony Award, that is a Grammy Award as a result of those things, people listen in a different way and it has a different kind of impact.
Q. What should we be looking to see next from you?
A. Next? I’m focusing on now! I have plenty of things that I’m
working on, yes, but to be in the moment that you’re in, I think is the only way to make sure that the work that you’re doing gets done. So the focus for me right now is figuring out how to make this record work, figuring out how to sell it, figuring out how to get it to the masses.
Q. And what have you been hearing from people about their reception of the new record so far?
A. People are loving the album, loving the message. It’s been amazing because this... as a recording artist, this album is the best
Q. What are the kinds of projects that speak representation of who I am musically. Even though I’m not singing to you? How do you decide where to next lend your talents?
A. It’s about service for me. It’s all about how I can use the gifts that
every song, the DNA of who I am musically is in every number, and I am so grateful for that because I’d never had that opportunity before, to actually do exactly what I wanted to do. So I’m very proud of that.
I’ve been given to be of service. And so everything that I choose to do must have a component along those lines.
Q. How did you come about choosing theater
and music as the manifestations for your talent in particular? What inspired your passion for those arenas?
A. I started singing in church since I had the voice to do so. I’d grown up singing in the Pentecostal church, so that was all I knew until I got bitten by the theater bug in middle school, and it changed my life. It really sort of got me out of what very easily could have been… me becoming one of the statistics that our culture speaks of so often. So because of that, I have a really intense passion for theater, and those two worlds of theater and music together are what bring me the most joy.
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COVER FEATURE |
Harmonica Sunbeam is a celebrated and renowned drag queen, looked up to and idolized within the New York drag community.
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| COVER FEATURE Q. How long have you been in entertainment? A. I have been in entertainment for 27 years. I started when I was 21 and never looked back. It has and will always be a part of me, even when I am sitting in a nursing home eating jello and playing bingo with the girls. My initial dive into the art of female impersonation came from walking balls -- think of the documentary Paris is Burning. When I first came out and started living my life, I met individuals from the ballroom community. I was soon asked to join a house and began walking shortly after. My first time walking was for a category called High Fashion Sportswear. I walked and I won. I then moved on to other categories such as Skirts Ahoy (men modeling in skirts) as well as a category called Punk Rock (dressing up to emulate club kids). The late Paris Dupree always gave a yearly function called Paris Is Burning, and one of her categories was ButchQueen First Time Up in Drags. This was basically a category designated for guys who had never dressed up as women before to come and strut their stuff. I told my house members that I wanted to do it, and they were all for it. I had no clue what I would look like in drag, but I allowed them to work their magic from hair and makeup to padding, clothing, and accessories. The ball was held at a now defunct venue called Tracks in NYC, and it was packed to capacity. I stayed hidden for a majority of the night as my house members “got me together”.
more. Hosting is not as easy as some think it is. You need to be spontaneous, quick-witted, and ready to change the flow of the night if anything goes wrong, as well as to make sure the event ends in a timely manner.
Q. How do you go about embracing the new success you are experiencing? A.
It’s always best to remain humble and grateful because the success you achieve today can be gone tomorrow. And if you were mean, condescending, and unprofessional while succeeding, folks will be waiting for your demise.
Q. What do you want other Transwomen to know? A. Although I am not trans, I can identify with some of their struggles. As a female impersonator, there are many people who don’t understand what I do and why I do it. Most think that I want to be a woman. That is hardly the case. I do what I do because I am good at it, it brings joy to others, and it’s my way of walking in my truth while fulfilling my dreams. Transwomen are making great strides in mainstream society, and we must be there to support them every step of the way. The number of transwomen murdered annually continues to haunt and remind us that there are very evil people out there who are either struggling with their own sexual identity or are just full of hate and out to vilify anyone who is out of the ordinary.
When the category was called, newbies were coming out the woodworks. I was nervous but ready to take them on. I waited until the runway was clear and hit the floor. The crowd went up, but no one knew who I was until I approached the commentator and gave my name. There was a process of elimination round and before I knew it, there were only three of us left -- in the end, it was me who snatched the trophy!
Q. Why do they call you Harmonica Sunbeam? A.
When I was in twelfth grade, two friends and I created drag names for ourselves as a joke. My name was Macadamia Serendipity because I liked Macadamia nuts, but I soon realized that this would be too long to put on a marquee. (I was thinking far ahead.) So I changed it to Tequila Sunrise, which somehow eventually morphed into Harmonica Sunbeam. Upon hearing it, I thought the name had quite a ring to it and suited me well. In the world of drag you get to make up your name, and it’s best to be as original as possible so that someone else doesn’t think of the same name. To this date, there is NO other Harmonica Sunbeam -- and if one emerges, my lawyers are set and ready to go.
Q. What has been your secret to staying relevant? A.
I think my secret to staying relevant has been my drive and desire to be a great hostess more so than a lip syncing drag queen. There is nothing wrong with lip syncing, but my stronger suit is hosting and a skill like that can lead to so much
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UNLEASHED DC |
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| NEWYORK ONE TO WATCH
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The “Male” ROMPER
Is This What All the Fuss is About?
hat’s all the fuss about the romper?! It was not until midMay that I learned what the hell a romper was. After being bombarded with videos, memes, articles, and commentary about the romper debate, I realized that there was more to the romper issue than the romper itself. The main issue seemed to be the fact that rompers were becoming popular with men. Of course, this piqued my interest even more. Rompers worn by and designed for men is yet another fad that will have its five minutes of fame before being forevermore regarded as a bad fashion choice from 2017. On the other hand, I could be wrong. Rompers could become a staple in men’s fashion because of their comfort and adaptability. In my opinion, there are some stylish looking rompers for men, but there are others that simply resemble mechanic outfits. Some can pull off the romper look, and others cannot. Despite my pros and cons to embracing the romper trend, the internet and social media have become very divisive. OMG, masculinity may soon be extinct! That’s right... some believe this men’s romper trend is such a fashion faux pas that it may be a threat to masculinity itself. Some believe that the gender switching in fashion today is going too far, and that the rompers for men are living proof of that. Men’s fashion has traditionally been very conservative and reserved for ages, hence the discomfort with men wearing attire that was originally designed for and worn by women. The tide of fashion is always changing, but what seems to be happening now is that the blurred lines of fashion are becoming gender neutral. Women have been able to wear “men’s” clothing for decades, yet when a man opts to wear an article of “women’s” clothing it is often met with disdain. There are always exceptions to the rule: Prince, David Bowie, and 70’s men’s fashion. Unfortunately, the average man who wears clothing that is a bit more gender neutral or androgynous is unfairly perceived as gay or their masculinity is questioned.
we are essentially saying when we question men who choose to wear non-traditional men’s clothing. Let’s call this romper craziness what it really is: misogyny and sexism! Anything a man does that is traditionally associated with women is typically regarded as a threat to the patriarchy. It’s as if men who choose to wear rompers are giving away their male card or something. The romper phenomenon is such a hot topic right now that it has already amassed its very own conspiracy theories. I’ve heard some time ago that the rise of metrosexuality in the early 2000s and Jaden Smith’s gender bending presence in fashion and pop culture were turning points in the ploy to obliterate masculinity, particularly black masculinity. Not too long ago, one of my male cousins and I had an interesting discussion about the skinny jean and designer label tote trend with black male celebrities. His perspective aligned with the notion that the emasculation of black men is just another ploy from the dominant society to wipe out the black male. To be honest, however, there are far more systematic issues in America affecting the lives of black men, such as police brutality or the unjust justice system. Let’s choose our battles wisely people. When there are black men being killed in our streets every day, it seems pretty farfetched to consider a man wearing a romper as synonymous to black men literally being wiped out! It’s difficult for me to fathom why other people are so concerned about what someone else chooses to wear or do. We must come to the realization that people should be able to make their own decisions with their own bodies. In the end, if men want to wear rompers, they should be able to do so without societal lashings or shaming. Although we are in 2017, the expectations of how men should dress and act remain a standard in American society. Fortunately, some traditions are meant to die out. With the rise of transgender and gender non-conforming acceptance, especially among young people, how we view gender is becoming less rigid and more fluid. It is important that both women and men have the opportunities to live as their authentic selves. We must rid these notions of automatically labeling things such as a romper as “masculine” or “feminine”. To the men who are brave enough to rock a romper -- wear it, and wear it well!
BY MARTAVIUS HAMPTON
Society’s narrow views of masculinity make it extremely difficult for men to define what masculinity means to them. Does wearing a romper make a man not a man? Sounds like a weird question, but that’s what
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HEALTH & FITNESS |
PRIDE VICE OR VIRTUE
he word pride can s e e m negative. The many quotes a b o u t p r i d e o f t e n serve as a warning. Pride is thought to be arrogant, selfish, and the road to destruction. Yet in business, taking PRIDE in your work is considered good ethics, and as a black gay man being PROUD equates to freedom. In the world of health and fitness, taking PRIDE in yourself means being your healthiest self. For my clients, fragile self-esteem, low confidence, or lack of pride can mean the difference between success and relapse. As their personal trainer, it is my job to encourage them and reinforce their selfesteem. I must support them in a way that I reinforce good habits for good self-PRIDE and discourage habits that can lead to a shallow narcissistic pride.
get to their healthiest and most confident self. I teach the virtues of PRIDE. Good PRIDE doesn’t compete, but works to improve self. As a virtue, PRIDE will invest in the process and find value in the quality of selfdevelopment. Positive PRIDE works from the inside out. Good PRIDE wants you to be better than you are, not better than Billy. Dancing the tightrope between the light and dark of pride is constant. In this millennial day where social media is compromising self-esteem and depression is at a rise, especially among LGBT+, we should all be conscientious of our pride and confidence levels. Look at the man in the mirror. What pride is he wearing? Are you proud and arrogant, or does your PRIDE inspire confidence in others? If you need a Positive Pride boost, here is an affirmation list to get your PRIDE in check: • •
YES, there is a good PRIDE and a bad pride.
In my experience, pride is both a vice and a virtue. Pride as a vice focuses on the imperfections of yourself and others. Bad pride is preoccupied with self-image, not a healthy self. Bad pride is concerned with competition and being better than another. Unchecked pride will take dangerous or unhealthy shortcuts to attain a physical look. Bad pride looks like: bulimia, anorexia, overeating, steroid addiction, and excessive plastic surgery. Pride as a vice is only concerned with results, not the process.
The lighter side of pride is what I focus on with my clients. It is my goal to help them
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By Gordie Holt
Prove only to yourself how good you can be. Reinforce your positive habits with a positive support system. Invest in your mental health. Don’t let your mind wander to negative places. Dedicate time for true self-assessment. What could you do better? What did you do well? Every day do one thing better.
While preparing to write this, I ran across Galatians 6:4. “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take PRIDE in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.” So remember, no one compares to you. The best PRIDE is built from the inside out.
Das Friend Just My
HOW OFTEN HAVE WE HEARD THIS IN DATING?
sh gets real when it comes to the dating world. A few editions back, I told you that “it goes down in the DM.” Well, now I’m here to warn you of “Das Just My Friend.” So what is this all about?
Have you ever been over bae’s house and questioned why they had an extra bedroom? Have you seen some shoes laying around that you don’t recognize as bae’s? Is there somebody that’s always in bae’s selfies that makes you ask “Who is that?!” but you get hit with “Das just my friend”? Well, my friend, according to Gwendolyn Clemons, be ye warned of the “public lies and bedroom truths” associated with this bae. It goes without question that stigma lives among (and within) the LGBTQ community. In the black community, we have seen many guys and girls try to hide their relationship from their friends and family. They pass their boyfriend or girlfriend off as “just a friend” or “roommate”. Did that make you think about that aunt or uncle that never got married, but had a “best friend” for 30+ years that was always around? LOL. While it is common for people to use the “friend” thing as a tool to prevent bashing, we have also seen it used many times to creep outside of a relationship. I can speak from experience on this one. So I’m dating this guy, right? His 2-bedroom loft was all decked out… in other words, it was lit. Anyway, I’m scoping the scene out because he finally invited me over. I saw the extra bedroom and thought nothing of it because he has a lot of friends and a huge family that likes to visit. One time I went over and saw two towels on the rack and excused it because maybe he had a weird habit. Another time I noticed there were missing pictures from
the wall and on the tables. I ignored it because sometimes we cut friends off too, right? My curiosity wouldn’t end so I had to ask! “Do you have a roommate?” He calmly says, “No. Why do you ask?” I proceed to give him all the things that I’ve noticed: the extra towels, shoes I know he wouldn’t wear, empty spots on the wall and tables. He then gives all these great answers and I start to feel bad. I felt guilty. I felt guilty until I got that call. That Shirley/Barbara call. I was stunned! Shooketh! The guy on the other end of the phone gave me the news that my dude was his dude. Apparently our dude forgot to put the pictures back on the wall after one of our few rendezvouses at the loft. Our dude also forgot to log out of FB on the boyfriend’s tablet, so he saw all of our exchanges. I had no words. What could I say? Thanks for sharing? Nah. Lol. We talked and he asked if I had room at my place for our dude. I told him it wasn’t that kinda party and we laughed. From what I gathered, the loft was in the bf’s name and our dude was just stunt’n real hard -- and I was not the only one. Unfortunately, there were many misled young’ns like me. The last I heard, he was still up to the same shenanigans 5 years later. Moral of the story… “just a friend” ain’t always just a friend. Share your “friend” stories with me on social media @EddieWlive
By Eddie Wiley
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PastMitchell or By TUV Staff
Nearly two years ago, Pastor Mitchell Jones appeared on Iyanla: Fix My Life seeking healing for himself and his ex-wife after coming out of the closet and ending their marriage. Now he reflects on conquering the often internalized conflict between religion and our authentic selves, along with the importance of discovering and unveiling the entirety of our unique truths. Q. What were the new interpretations of scripture that enabled you to resolve the perceived conflict between your religious faith and your authentic self? A. For me — more than a new interpretation of scripture, per se — it was the history of the Bible and the history of Christianity that kind of opened me up to other avenues of spirituality. For example, understanding that there’s a council of men who are paid to go through all of these writings and add, take away, or altogether leave out and decide what goes into the scripture, and understanding that Christianity was made up of Hebraism and Judaism, that it wasn’t pure. And just understanding that even the original Jews didn’t believe and still don’t believe that Heaven and Hell exist. So when I started encountering information like that, it led me to question everything about Christianity, everything about my belief system, until I was finally able to give myself some freedom to say that there’s nothing more important than my relationship with God. One of the scriptures I hinged that on says, “The letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” So I always ask people, at the end of every conversation that they want to have about religion and Christianity and the Bible, “If you were Moses and you didn’t have a Bible, what would you do?” And the answer is based on the spirit. What is God saying to you? What do you feel like you should do in your innermost place? The Holy Ghost, supposedly, according to scripture, leads us and guides us into all truth -- and if It or He or She does that, then that guidance should take precedence over what any person has written. Q. Since you had already come out of the closet and separated from your wife by the time of your appearance on Iyanla: Fix My Life, why did you feel it was important to go back and confess everything to her that you still hadn’t revealed rather than focus on going your separate ways? A. I wanted to be free to help people, and in order to be free to help people, I needed to make sure that I’d told the entire truth to her. Say for example, if I was speaking to another man who asked me if I’d ever cheated on my wife. I would want to tell him yes because that’s the truth. But if I kept telling everybody yes but had never told her that… I just knew that I needed to share my story with others, and I didn’t want to restrict myself from telling the whole truth because I hadn’t revealed it to her. And I thought that space was a safe place to do that for her, so that she could also get the support that she would need. Q. What was it that Iyanla Vanzant did to “fix your life” that you think other people could perhaps employ for themselves when it comes to fixing their own lives? A. I think the biggest thing that she gave me was… she said to me, “Speak your own truth, and speak on your own page.” That really stuck with me. She kept telling me through that whole day, “You’ve got the script down,” referring to the script I had used to cover up that part of my life, a script that I didn’t even realize I was using to explain my actions even after coming out. It would come out in different ways, but it was the same story I had unconsciously told for so long without even realizing what I was saying. So when she said, “Speak on your own truth, and speak on your
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own page,” she meant that I was still saying what I had always heard, what I had always been told, what I had always been taught. And that wasn’t necessarily what was on my page. Q. Can you imagine what your life would be like now if you’d continued down the path you’d spent so many years trying to protect while on the down low? A. I would probably still be in that big house, my church probably would have grown to three times its size -- and I’d still be sneaking out every now and then to do what I did. It would be horrible! Outwardly, I’d probably be better off in some ways -- but inwardly, I would be that much more tormented. That feeling of incompleteness would be there. Always knowing that there was this attraction, but not being able to fully embrace it… that’s a horrible feeling. I remember back then when I would see people who looked like they were free to express themselves, and sometimes I would think, “Man, what if I could do that?” I just can’t imagine now, to have spent this long continuing to live that way on the outside and think this way on the inside. That’s not real happiness. Q. What do you think it will take for people to finally feel permitted to live fully in their truth, and for others to be more permissive of allowing people to live in their truth? A. I think what’s missing is an individual realizing that they have one person to please ultimately, and realizing that the same thing is true for the next person. And I think the reason people don’t permit others to live in their truth is because they haven’t permitted themselves. So as long as they’re burdened with living their lie, they want the next person to remain stuck in theirs. Until they can embrace their truth as their own, they can’t permit another person to do so either because they need so badly to believe that another person’s truth has to be as horrible as theirs or as good as theirs in order to be accepted -- and that’s not the case.
ever in a million years would any child expect to hear their parents d i s o w n them during one of their most painful, hard hitting experiences. And yet that was the most shocking reaction received by many victims of last year’s Pulse Club shooting in Orlando, Florida. And for those who succumbed to the gun violence, it was especially disturbing to learn that there were some parents who wouldn’t even claim their bodies. Forty-nine individuals were killed, and Jacob Ogles reported that a “…young man’s father refused to accept his son’s remains after discovering he was gay.” What should be an embarrassment is not the fact that anyone’s child is a “Prophetic Child” as Bishop O.C. Allen, III, Presiding Bishop of the United Progressive Pentecostal Church Fellowship and pastor of the Vision Cathedral of Atlanta, calls it. Rather the embarrassment is that anyone’s parent would disown them for their post-mortem emergence from the closet. Any person with any kind of respect and dignity for humanity would find this to be a very disturbing and poisonous social stigma to perpetuate within one’s own family.
For those of the LGBTQ faith, Pride is more than just a “Turn-Up” month of events. Pride is a quest for restorative justice. Pride is courage over fear. It is what the Rev. Dr. William Barber might suggest as “a national call for a moral revival,” which he calls a renewal for the New Poor People’s Campaign. We can’t advance a moral movement by continuing hateful rhetoric and recidivism. In the words of President Barack H. Obama, former President of the United States of America, “I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.” As the founders of the Cathedral Foundation, Inc., my fiancé, Dr. Davin Clemons and I wanted to continue the legacy of a great pioneer in our city, Mr. Terryl Buckner, who retired after founding Memphis Black Pride. So this year, our foundation presented Tri-State Black Pride “Ending the Stigma.” What I have learned is that we can’t transform what we don’t educate. Therefore, we must be known for our education, diversity and justice. There is no pride event without any of these three components. We must be intentional. We must be relational and relevant in building our beloved community.
By Dr. Darnell Gooch, Jr. Cathedral of Praise Church of Memphis, Inc.
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| ONE TO WATCH
dotCroc has put in a lot of work in her hometown Minneapolis. She was nominated and awarded the “Best Female MC” at the Twin Cities HipHop Awards in 2012. She was the youngest female solo act to perform at Soundset, the biggest one day HipHop Festival in Minnesota, next to big names like Lupe Fiasco, Big Krit, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Bdot has also opened for many national artists such as Future, Da Brat, Raekwon, Trey Songz and Dead Prez in front of sold out crowds. And she also put together a show called Sisters With Soul, an all female line-up which sold out 7th Street Entry at First Avenue in Minneapolis. Recently, she appeared on Sirius XM Shade 45’s Sway in The Morning. A woman of many talents, Bdot is chasing after her dreams and making herself a force to reckon with in the Twin Cities and beyond. By TUV Staff
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By Renae Taylor agerly, I packed my bags to go to Dallas, TX for the only conference in the nation by Black Trans-People for Black Trans-People. This was year six of the conference. I have been three years in a row, and it never gets old.
My first year, they gave me an opportunity to do my first ever workshop. I had done many presentations where I wasn’t allowed to put my face with my work. But they gave me a chance in spite of my inexperience, and I thank them for believing in me even when I doubted myself. Every year that I attend, I know that I’m home and will be loved on by everyone old and new. I’m always glad to see my siblings from across the country and across the world. Yes, Black Trans Advocacy Conference (BTAC) is International! And yet, at BTAC there is a sense of community and family that we might not get from some of our local communities. That sense of unity is what brings me back year after year. Each year I know that Espy Brown, one of the co-founders, is going to hug and give me a big ole kiss! She always has open arms for everyone attending the conference. I love when she says, “Hey baby!!” with her New Orleans accent. It’s important for our Black Trans, Gender Non-Conforming, and Non-Binary individuals to know there is a place for them in this society -- and if it’s nowhere else, it’s at BTAC. I have learned from BTAC that we must protect the narrative of the Black Trans Experience through advocacy and by being present in our own communities. Each year, BTAC presents a week of Black Trans Empowerment. This year’s theme was LOTUS Legacy -- Loving Ourselves
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Thru Ultimate Service. The opening ceremony was a libation ceremony during which we called into the room our ancestors, along with others we had lost more recently, as we started the week with the right energy to have those conversations about what our community needs most. There was a twopart community summit with conference attendees present, hosted by BTWI National Director Ms. Camarion D. Anderson and BTMI National Director Mr. Carter Brown, both also cofounders of the conference. The keynotes were given by Ms. Dee Dee Waters (trans fem) and Mr. Vann Millhouse (trans masc). Both messages were powerful, encouraging us to continue the fight for Equality in Society. The weeklong conference also consists of events including the Mr & Miss Black Trans International Pageant, The Awards Gala, Family Day at the Ranch, The Black Diamond Ball, and so many enlightening workshops. I could continue to sing their praises, but I invite you to experience the conference yourself! As Carter Brown always says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” For the Black Trans Advocacy Conference’s commitment to doing exactly that, I am so grateful and I cannot wait for next year! See you there! By Renae Taylor
The Black Transgender Woman
Truth The Myth VS
ften in the LGBT community, the T which refers to Trans has one of the most misunderstood lives within the today’s society. For many years now I have watched and read numerous interviews wherein Trans women speak on the transgender life and put a lot of misinformation out there.
doesn’t provide, or -- worst of all -- is DL anyway? Being a Trans woman has nothing to do with sexual attraction, as I have many friends who are Trans women and date openly gay men, Trans men, or studs. Being a Trans woman is about self love and making yourself happy within your own skin. Most Trans women decide to transition in order to make their bodies and minds match.
One of the main misconceptions about Trans women is that the only work that we do is in the sex business/escorting. This is so very untrue. NOT all trans women are sex workers, nor have they all ever been involved in sex work. Now I will admit that sometimes it may be a little difficult for a Trans woman to find employment, just as it is for anyone else. And a lot of Trans women take the easy way out for many different reasons. I will also say that, yes, it may take time and, yes, we may have to look for a while -- but it will pay off in the end. We must first prepare ourselves to be part of the everyday workforce. We as a whole must get educated, not only in school, but on the career path that we want to follow. A former manager of mine said something to me one day, and I think about it all the time. Her words were, “Always dress for the job you want, not for the job you have now.” So think about that when you go out and look for your new job.
Now a lot of people want to know how parents and family react when a child decides to become a Trans woman, and whether the family truly accepts a Trans woman once she transitions. As for me, most of my family was right by my side. Once my mom and grandmother understood, I didn’t really care about anything else. But I do know that a lot of my friends have lost their families because of their decision to love themselves. And it is a lot to understand and take in for all parties involved. First the child must go to the family and express how she feels and what she plans to do. And then the parents have to let their child live her own life. The bottom line is that they must respect one another’s feelings throughout the situation.
Now let’s speak about transgender women’s love lives. Most people think that a person decides to become a Trans woman for the purpose of dating straight men. This is the most incorrect assumption of them all. Most biological women think that Trans women want to “be” them and have their lives, but why would I want a man who cheats, beats on me,
But at the end of the day, as Trans women we fight for the same rights as we all do within the LGBT+ community. We, too, just want the right to work, the right to live, and the right to love whomever we want. #TRANSGIRLROCK
By KYRA BONET ST. JAMES CASSADINE
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TRANSGENDER WRITER AND ACTIVIST
By TUV Staff
Transgender writer and activist Tiq Milan delves into what it truly means for him to be a man in the world, the importance of models of possibility in imagining our most authentic selves into existence, the necessity of self-love, and his upcoming memoir Man of My Design.
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ou’ve mentioned that coming into manhood the way that you have has given a lot of space to questions that frequently stop at medical processes, gender markers, and pronoun preferences -- but that fall short of any necessary attention to what it means to be a man in the world. So for starters, to you, what does it mean to be a man in the world?
A. I don’t think there’s one right answer to that,
but for me being a man in this world is about being a part of trying to dismantle these systems of violence and of oppression that often leave women and femme folks as victims. I feel that I’m obligated to understand and acknowledge that I have privilege as a man in this world. Most people don’t know that I’m trans, so when people see me, I’m treated as if I am a cis-het [cisgenderheterosexual] man. And I can see very clearly the difference between how I’m treated now as opposed to before my transition. I really am a firm believer in the strength and the bravery and intelligence and leadership of women, and I think that too often women and femme folks are left holding all the baggage and being the background to men’s foreground. And I feel that me coming into manhood as a trans person, and not being born entrenched in this idea of entitlement, creates a lot of space for me to be able to look at these systems and say that I don’t want to be a part of them. I think also that, for me, being a man in a conventional sense is about being a provider. But what am I providing? Providing financially? Or as six-foot tall, 200 pound black man, providing safety in certain spaces? I think that is a part of it because I do have this physical presence that allows me to create safe space for other people without too much pushback. So I think for me being a man in this world involves leveraging my privileges in solidarity with other people who are different from me, particularly women, to be a part of creating a culture that’s more inclusive and more compassionate for all.
Q. What are some of those subtle everyday differences you’ve noticed when it comes to how you might have been treated in some spaces previously as female versus how you’re treated in some spaces now as male?
| TRANSMOVEMENT A. I always use this as an example… I live here
in New York City, and I can get on the train a little drunk at two in the morning and not worry about being sexually harassed or accosted, or someone touching me in an unwanted way, or being intimidated by any men around me. When I was in the world as a woman, I didn’t have that privilege. I didn’t have that space. But now I have autonomy over my body and that space in a way that women just do not. I’ve had men shout vile things to me when I was in the world as a feminine person, that I don’t hear anymore. And I remember a time when me and my ex-girlfriend were out buying furniture -- she was buying all the furniture, I didn’t have any money. But when we went into the store, the guy in the store came right up to me, didn’t even acknowledge her. You know, so there’s always this assumption of men to be the leader. I’m always assumed to be, when in some spaces I’m not. That happens a lot, and I think it’s clear that my voice is definitely more respected now in certain spaces than before.
Q. I’ve also heard you refer quite a
bit to “models of possibility’ -- why is it so important to have those versus completely maintaining the space to “imagine oneself into existence” as you’ve also mentioned?
A. I think imagining ourselves into existence is
important, but I also think it’s important for us to have representation out here in the world. It’s important for us to see ourselves in the media and to see ourselves reflected in our politics and in our education, as sources of inspiration. I think when you’re inspired, that’s where the growth starts. Being able to see that something is possible is just a stepping stone, and then it’s up to us to grow from that, to create our own models, to build from that. I’m writing my book now which will be out next year, called Man of My Design, and it talks a lot about being able to use the power of your will to become your most authentic and your best self. We can’t just stop at what one dimension of possibility looks like. Not every trans man is going to look like me or live like me, and that’s cool, but hopefully trans guys will see me and trans women will see me and know that I can exist, and so they can define themselves just as well. The same way that I did, but knowing that process is theirs. When I came out as trans, I knew there were trans women, but I didn’t even know that trans men existed until I met a trans man. And that really catapulted me. That was like the first step, just knowing there was a place that we actually existed. So now as a trans
person, I’m very out. I live my life really out loud, and I do that because I have the space to do it. I understand every trans person can’t do that -that there are trans people who are low- and nodisclosure because they have to be, or because they want to be -- and that’s cool too, I respect that. But I do it for all of those who can’t, just to say that we’re here, and we can be happy, and we can be loved, and we can have a wonderful life -and not feel like our trans-ness is something that has to be covered up.
Q. You mentioned having wondered at
some point whether being transgender somehow precluded you from love and monogamy — how did you get past that and figure out how to get the type of love that you needed?
A. You know, I think the love that I needed in
my life is still evolving. As I’m evolving, and as I’m getting older, the things that i need evolve with it. At the beginning of my transition, it was really hard. I was with a woman, and it was really heartbreaking that she didn’t want to be with me because she identified as a lesbian, and it felt like I was being rejected as a trans person. I really had to dig deep to understand that I am valuable. And the thing is, it’s great to be loved by another person, and it’s great being in relationships and all of that… but at the end of the day, the most important love that we have is the love for ourselves. We can’t base our value in the world, our beauty in the world, on who loves us and who doesn’t… because love changes. It evolves. I think romantic love is really important, and I know there are a lot of queer and trans people who are just withering over romance. Particularly trans women, all these amazingly beautiful and dynamic and brilliant trans women who desperately just want to be partnered but the stigma around loving trans women, and especially around loving trans women in a public way, leads to such violence. And that’s really, really hard. But we still have to hold a certain standard for the type of partnerships we want. We have to hold a standard for the type of treatment we are going to allow, and being able to do that means being able to dig deep and being able to love ourselves the hardest and the best, first. And I think it’s simple, but it’s not easy. So for me right now, my focus is on what it means to love myself first -- and how to convey that message for other trans people to also put themselves first.
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edino Green, a rising hip-hop artist from Queens, NY, holds his own crown against what is unseen and unheard of - an openly gay rapper taking the music industry by storm with a masterful mix of culturally relevant lyrics and fiery wordplay. Now residing in Boston, the 26-year-old defies odds and stereotypes as his regional popularity is extending across the nation. With the release of collaborative and solo endeavors, including his recent mixtape, “#M23” and web hit song “Good Dick Pt.2” featuring actor/rapper Bry’Nt, he has garnered a viral social media presence with his efforts collecting thousands of streams and hundreds of downloads along the way. Over the past year, he has toured the East Coast and has become a staple at Gay Pride events and the gay club circuit including recent performances at Queens Pride, Sammy’s Patio, Rare Footage Vol. 2 Ghetto Haus Party, Zuzu Tuesdays, Peace Pipe Aqua Kush 2: How High, the famous Fran’s Place for their farewell party, and Boston’s Island Pride ‘Too Much Sauce’ opening for the artist HoodCelebrityy (better known as “Love & Hip Hop Star” Cardi B’s best friend and label mate). Bold, controversial, and fearless, Green - lauded for the ever-apparent influence of hip hop’s golden age on his rap style - is guaranteed to drop jaws, open doors for LGBTQ artists, and lead the genre to its next golden era. from ReverbNation
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Using Humor to
| GAY COMEDIAN
Celebrate Pride Moving Forward
Popular LGBT Comedian & Writer Sampson releases comedy film in celebration of Pride Season May 24, 2017- It goes without saying that the current sociopolitical climate in America has taken us on a wild ride, as we are in the fight to make sure that rights and protections of the LGBT community and other minority groups are not dialed back due to the current state of bigotry and conservative politics that are being experienced in this country and debated on the political stage. Pride festivals across the country this season are celebrating themes of social justice, action and making sure that we continue to progress forward despite the current challenges. With that, LGBT comedian, writer and activist Sampson McCormick, who performs under the mononym Sampson, and is known just as much for his activism as he is his comedy has released his popular show “The Shade of It All” to celebrate laughter, the LGBT community and using humor as a tool to keep moving forward. “It’s important to laugh, because it’s keeps you sane. If you can find a way to laugh at it (the crazy things that we have been seeing and hearing on the news and social media, the fear and tension that our country is experiencing) then we can find a way to get through it and back to the place that we should be. Not to mention LGBT entertainers and artists have been speaking up about what’s been going on, and what we have to say is important to our community and the platform for minority entertainers in general who use art in the war against hate.” The comedy special is free and is streaming for public consumption at sampsoncomedy.com and covers issues of race, politics, religion and sexuality—you know, all those things you aren’t supposed to talk about in polite company.
Instagram: MisterSampson Twitter: @OfficialSampson Website: www.sampsoncomedy.com
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For over 45 years, the Memphis Crisis Center (MCC) has been a place where those in trouble or in need of emotional support can turn 24 hours a day, seven days a week for compassionate listening and life-saving intervention services. In the last five years alone, the MCC successfully handled over 100,000 crisis calls, including nearly 8,000 suicide calls with life-saving results. We also trained over 5,300 people in crisis care through local workshops provided to schools, churches, police departments, and community groups. MCC crisis calls deal with a broad range of issues such as mental health and emotional problems, domestic violence, sexual assault, grief, gender and sexual identity, coming out, child abuse, addiction, veterans’ issues, relationship problems, and the challenges of everyday life. Our vision is that no one facing a crisis has to face it alone. We are a lifeline for anyone in distress. Who are the people answering our lines? Your friends, your neighbors. People like you. People who are there because they care and want to be of service. We strive to have a volunteer base that reflects the rich diversity of Memphis. The MCC provides one way of engaging our local community in its own safety net. Along with the main crisis line, the MCC also administers the Elder Lifeline, the Call4Kids Line, the HIV Care Line, and serves as the local affiliate of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Our volunteers make it all happen. When you call the MCC, you are the expert on your life. We use a caller-centered approach that reflects the caller’s needs, values, and priorities. We are here to collaborate and provide encouragement. We help move callers from moments of pain or even lifethreatening desperation to greater calm and solution-focused reflection and action. We also have community partners that allow us to link people to any long-term professional care they may need. We are free, safe, and confidential.
If you want to help, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at MemphisCrisisCenter. org. We couldn’t provide this service without caring individuals like you. If you are in trouble and in need of help, reach out. We are here to listen. Your life is at least worth a phone call. Contact us at (901) CRISIS7 or toll free at 1-800-273-TALK. Also follow us on Facebook (memphiscrisiscenter) or Twitter @901Crisis7.
Executive Director Office: (901) 448-2802 Fax: (901) 448-4030 Email: email@example.com Website: www.MemphisCrisisCenter.org
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32 TUVMAG.COM | July+August 2017
Published on Jul 5, 2017
Celebrate PRIDE by Living Live, Loud, & Loudly. The Unleashed Voice Magazine explores the world and offers reader a glimpse into the intrica...