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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 | MAR+APR 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 | MAR+APR 2017
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10 EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BISHOP O.C. ALLEN, III
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06 EDITOR’S LETTER
By Gwendolyn D. Clemons, Editor / Publisher
07 EDITOR’S LETTER
By Davin D. Clemons, MDiv, Editor
08 BOOK CLUB: MALE BONDING
28 LIVE ON PURPOSE
By LaWayne Childrey
By Malcolm “MJ“ Harris
12 COVER FEATURE: PATH OF PURPOSE By Lakara Foster
13 #BLACKBOYJOY By Eddie Wiley
15 LGBTQ DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
14 AMPLIFYING THE VOICE:
By Jordan Moore-Howard
QUEER CONVERSATIONS By Attorney Ghenete Wright Muir
20 HEALTH & FITNESS By Gordie Holt
By Donta Morrison
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22 YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE By Beth Trouy
You can also follow us on Social Media @TUVmagazine
23 TRANSFORMING DREAMS TO REALITY By Dr. Darnell Gooch, Jr.
24 HIV & AIDS
By Orisha Aliye Bowers
FREEDOM AIN’T FREE By Renae Taylor
“ ...It’s more than a magazine-It’s a Synergized Movement.”
By Marques Lipsey
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.
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.
30 OUT MEMPHIS
By Martavius Hampton
By A.D. Burks
Shawn M. Clemons
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WhitneyEditor Johnson Chief Editor
Renae Taylor oject Manager Transgender Correspondent Transgender Correspondent
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AIDS/ HIV Correspondent
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EDITOR’S LETTER |
can remember watching an episode of Steve Harvey and he was interviewing the acclaimed speaker Lisa Nichols. In this episode, Lisa was sharing her moment of breaking through her many mental barriers. Lisa shared, “At what moment do we stop asking for permission?” I will never forget the answer she gave to this question. Lisa said, “We have to stop asking for permission and just give notice!”
When I heard this statement, I had an epiphany about how much my own life had changed because I stopped asking for permission. In life, we have facts and fictions. In learning how to decipher between the two, the ultimate advantage comes to those who operate in facts. The March/April Issue is an anthem to all of us to get up and be GREAT! Someone reading this article may find themselves wondering, where do I start? My answer to you: Start right where you are. Contrary to what you have heard, read, or believe it does not take special powers to be GREAT. However, you must possess the correct tools to apply the necessary applications to your new life you desire to create. The universe has already laid out the many truths we need to live a purposeful life. The difficulty in understanding what these truths are is that many people aren’t ready to do the necessary work. During my transformation, I’ve learned that everything we set out to do starts with an unsurmountable belief in “The Power of Thought.” I learned that most of my hindrance was tied to my “stinking thinking” of self-belief
Gwendolyn D. Clemons, Publisher
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and a defeatist attitude about myself. I was operating in a paradigm of pure fiction because my current reality was my truth. It wasn’t until I discovered my own powers to affect positive change that I witnessed my life take quantum leaps. To understand “The Power of Thought” is to understand that those crazy urges we tend to dismiss are the universe’s way of giving us glimpses of a life we desire. We must learn to stop worrying about what people think or say and give ourselves permission to believe it can happen for us. Sometimes our dreams and visions are all we have as guides into our destiny. Will you let it manifest or will you reject it? Sometimes we convince ourselves that we lack the experience, the money, the knowledge, or the talent to “do it!” But there should come a time when you stop asking for permission and give yourself notice that, “I am and I will LIVE with a Purpose.” As you begin to shift from living a fictitious life of what if’s, it is my deepest hope that you too can find meaningful beauty in the possibilities of a life full of happiness, peace and love. In an effort to provide you with a guide for purposeful living, we sought out people who can testify to the power of thought through their successes in overcoming change. Ladies and Gentlemen, TUV Magazine offers you our Enlightenment Issue. Enjoy!
| EDITOR’S LETTER
FAVORED Davin D. Clemons, MDiv.
e are all trying to figure out our purpose in life, and many of us are asking God/the universe to reveal it to us. Another question we should all be asking is: WHY do we want to discover our purpose in life? Even once we know WHAT the purpose is, we should still bother to understand WHY we truly needed to discover it. Often, when we have a WHAT but not a WHY then we are trying to impress others. However, our purpose should instead be tied into serving others. The Bible declares in Luke 12:48, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required,” which lets us know that our purpose has to be attached to something much bigger than ourselves. Our purpose should serve others rather than serving ourselves in order to manifest bountiful in life.
never manifested at all. These individuals are incomplete and focused on getting their personal happiness by any means necessary even if it means hurting the very ones who were put into their life to help heal them. But, this is great news knowing that you are well equipped to handle this pressure of dealing with the opposition. The reassurance is that you are not like these individuals you are blessing because you keep reaping what you are sowing. This is a test to test YOU, not them!
Discovering your purpose is so rewarding, but it can also be very challenging. The people you are serving and sowing into your life with your purpose are the very ones who will try to diminish you, condemn you, and annihilate you. But what they fail to realize is that you were planted here on earth for the purpose of serving them -- and that if they were to destroy you, then their own purpose would be hindered or
If you want to see the favor of God go look in the mirror! You may never get all the things in life that you desire, but the fact that you are alive means you are favored -- and when your purpose is discovered, that means you are highly favored. We are all being tested in our lives right now... but if you pass this test, you will rest in a place of DISCOVERY!
The Bible declares in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” You have favor in your life, so walk in your purpose because the enemy is only trying to destroy you because of what of God has in store for you. Those individuals cannot bless you. Your blessing comes from others.
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ook clubs have been an important part of Anthony Brown’s life for as long as he can remember. The Houston resident leads the city’s Men2Men Book Club. Its members are comprised of seasoned business owners, college students, retirees, young professionals and more than 80 other same gender loving men who simply love to read. Over the past ten years, Brown says Men2Men has read a wide range of books from literary royalty like James Baldwin and E. Lynn Harris to newcomers like Victor Yates, Craig Stewart, Armistead Burks and Doug Cooper Spencer. As with most book clubs, the Men2Men group has debated non-fiction pieces, been swept away from foreign lands to romantic escapades, and wept through inspirational memoirs. “Our main objective is to read books that help build self esteem, self love, and love for one another within the same gender loving community,” Brown said. Men2Men generally follows the format of a growing number of book clubs across the country. Each month they choose a book to read and hold discussions amongst great food, drinks and an open spirit. While the books themselves provide ample fodder for conversations, Brown says they also help members to unwind and build meaningful relationships with each other. “The most awarding thing is to see how different people view life and why.” Brown said, “Even though we have one thing in common, black SGL men, there is so much diversity.” He says learning from one another or having someone challenge his frame of reference has been an unexpected benefit of the group. ”To ask yourself, ‘Why do I believe what I believe?’ is healthy,” said Brown. For nearly a decade, the Men2Men group has seen numerous romances start and fail, witnessed some of the nation’s first SGL weddings take place right among their ranks, welcomed dozens of new members and wished old members well when they moved away. Though their lives have become more hectic, Brown says they continue to meet, and over the years something quietly remarkable happened. They supported one another through heartbreak, career changes and health challenges. They have even cried on each other’s shoulders. Brown says they have formed the kind of deep friendships that will nourish their souls through a lifetime. “It’s important
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to be in an environment where your opinion counts and no one will judge you,” Brown continued. “It’s important to have a healthy, educational outlet that is different from the stereotypical things people think we do.” All in all, book clubs provide both the opportunity to reflect on our lives and to think about the larger world to consider ourselves in the context of generations before us and cultures beyond our borders. That opportunity for reflection and connection is, in my opinion, the greatest role art can play in life. Houston’s Men2Men Book Club is part of the Literary Soul Symposium. Other members include groups from Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago and Washington D.C. Brown says through the years, he has joined various book clubs, and though each group is different, they all share
something in common, a spirit of openness and goodwill, a desire to think and discuss, and in doing so, to marry our individual lives with the greater world.
| EDITOR’S LETTER
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EXCLUSIVE FEATURE |
Bishop O.C. Allen, III
By TUV Staff
Bishop O.C. Allen, founder of The Vision Church of Atlanta and Presiding Bishop of the United Progressive Pentecostal Church Fellowship, lends his perspectives on the beauty of the unknown and the glory in the journey of discovering and living in our purpose.
What does it mean for you to live in your purpose? God created each of us with a purpose in mind, but the challenge is that we’ve been given free will. So, we participate in whether we fulfill that purpose or not, which makes it complicated because having free will also means that there are people who don’t fulfill their purpose, people who don’t understand their purpose, and people who even abuse their purpose. Yet, everyone has a purpose, although not 10 TUVMAG.COM | MAR+APR 2017
the same one. Somebody has to be a leader and somebody has to be a follower. Somebody has to be the teacher and somebody has to be the student. Somebody has to be the janitor and somebody has to be the school superintendent. Yet, each person fulfills a distinct purpose. A lot of times we create these hierarchies of purpose, which I don’t agree with. We categorize the significance of purpose based on our own priority list. However, everyone has a purpose that is equally fulfilling of God’s overall destiny of humanity.
| EXCLUSIVE FEATURE What do you think is the best way for people to discover their purpose? If I’m honest, I don’t completely know that answer. I’ve learned that I don’t have to have all those answers to how we fully discover our purpose. The beautiful part is that I don’t need to always know answers that fully belong to God. If more people were honest, they would admit that we don’t all have the answers. As a matter of fact, living in the mystery of life is exactly where God wants us to live. In other words, the mystery of life and not having the answers is what strengthens our faith in God. For instance, I feel like I’m fulfilling my life’s purpose, but I don’t always know how my purpose is to be revealed. I basically evolved and continue to evolve into my purpose. So I don’t know what the exact formula is. However, there are “life experiences” that give us glimpses to our purpose. What you’re passionate about may speak to your purpose. What angers you, what frustrates you, and what interests you can speak to your purpose. What you are gifted at may speak to your purpose. Maybe you’re to be an administrator because you love order and structure. Maybe you’re a visionary because you’re creative and innovative. But I also feel like it’s really simple — that as we learn to open ourselves up to God and the journey God puts us on, that ultimately we fall into our purpose. We delve into our purpose. We jump into our purpose. We fail into our purpose. And all without knowing. So your gifts, your talents, and your passions expose you to your purpose. But your yield to God and your openness to the opportunity that God provides for you — push you, thrust you and guide you into your purpose. How can a person tell when they’ve arrived at that purpose, and how does one know they should perhaps keep looking? I don’t believe that purpose is a destination. I think the problem is that people are looking for the destination and don’t know how to live in the process. Purpose is a process, the process of life. You fulfill it over time. You fulfill it by living, by saying yes to God, by following God’s direction, by failing, by making mistakes. Mistakes are a part of the process of purpose, the essential ingredient to purpose. You can’t achieve greatness without mistakes. You just have to continually wake up in the morning, be the best you that you can be everyday, yield to the opportunities that God provides for you, learn from your mistakes — and ultimately, I think all of those things become the ingredients to this cake, this dish called purpose. You mentioned that you kind of evolved into your purpose — what did that evolution look like for you? Years ago, my sister was killed, and that was one of the most defining moments for my life. I actually left the “church”. I went out, did my own thing, and eventually went to school and studied philosophy. From my perspective I was far from God, but actually I was not far from God. I was literally on track and in the process of my purpose. You can’t be far from God, that’s impossible. God will never leave nor forsake you. God was with me the whole time. But my attempt to leave the church, or leave religion, was a part of the process of my purpose which significantly impacted my ability, sensibility, and sensitivity to eventually pastor and to lead others. I think if people were brutally honest about their lives, they would all say that their journeys weren’t traditional either. There is no path. You live, you grow, you learn. And when you look back, you see that, oh my goodness, that was part of the purpose! Life is mostly hindsight. You look back, and you are enlightened. When you’re in it, you may not even be cognizant of everything you’ll realize later about that moment in time.
who was an atheist, who really challenged me when talking to me about my class papers on religion. I answered his questions about my faith and why I felt the way I felt about God… and somehow I began to answer my own questions. The conversation ended up being a very spiritual experience for me, a conversion experience. But I wasn’t converted to the church. I was converted back to my faith in God. I started going back to church, and this time around, my faith was deeper. What challenges have you found yourself encountering in fulfilling your purpose? I think the challenge early on for me as a pastor was, and still is, trying to get other people to see their purpose in spite of abusive religion, abusive theology, and negative life experiences. It’s challenging when you live in a world where people are told so many negative messages about themselves like, “You’re going to hell,” “God doesn’t love you,” or, “God loves you, but he doesn’t love who you are” — all these negative anti-Christ messages are significant challenges for a leader like me to deconstruct in others. Decolonizing how people think about God, deconstructing what people think about religion and faith, is a huge task. Underneath all of that is purpose, but we’ve been given all this baggage that makes it difficult for people to overcome. How do you go about helping people unlearn those things? Unlearning is more difficult than learning, but it’s not in what you say, it’s in what you live. You have to be the example. So if I learn how to walk in my purpose and live in my purpose, I become an example for someone to see that they can too. As I overcome this sense of oppression in my own mind, then other people can see and live out that same liberation. Second, you must teach people, show them, guide them, empower them, and that happens through teaching and all of the tools of instructing others. Essentially, that is the role of the church — not to oppress you, but to ultimately bring you closer to God by dismantling all the idols and baggage and negativity that have oppressed humanity. What advice do you have for overcoming such a debilitating force as doubt when it comes to whether someone is on the right track, or should have the audacity to pursue what they think is the right track? At the core of self-doubt can be the fear of failure. However, if you can embrace failure as essential to your overall success, ultimately you become unstoppable. A lot of us are afraid of making the wrong decisions and that is what can hinder us from stepping out on our purpose. I’m a preacher, so let me use this analogy. In the Bible, the disciple Peter was in a boat with a group of people. They were all in the same boat, you know, as we are all in the same boat. He sees Jesus and says, “Bid me to come to you.” He took the risk to step out of the comfort zone of the boat and walk on the water toward Jesus. He may not have thought he would walk on the water, but he took the risk assuming he might just be able to. He only started to sink the moment he began to have doubt. I’m not sure it’s always that we’re doubting God, we sometimes just doubt ourselves no matter what God has told us. When we overcome selfdoubt, we can overcome this fear of failure. You’re unstoppable when you believe that you can accomplish anything. And believing you can accomplish anything is what will ultimately help you fulfill your life purpose.
You mentioned the time you spent away from the church — what was the reason for the time you spent away, and how did you find your way back? After my sister’s death, I was angry with God, and I was angry with the church. I had a lot of questions, and I felt, at the time — not anymore because I understand that the church’s job is not to answer all my questions — but at the time I thought the church was supposed to have the answer to, “Why did this happen?” … “Why do good people die?” … “Why is life cruel to innocent people?” Eventually studying philosophy, I had a professor, ironically 11 TUVMAG.COM | MAR+APR 2017
COVER FEATURE |
The Path of Purpose:
By Lakara Foster, M.Ed, Spiritual Coach
"How to Get in Alignment With Your Divine Assignment" As a spiritual coach, the client question I come across most often is, “What is my purpose?” While I am not at liberty to directly answer such an esoteric question, I can guide them in the direction that helps them to discover it for themselves. Every one of us has a purpose or a divine assignment to complete. This purpose has been inscribed on every part of our DNA as there is something special that you were designed to do, and only you can do it. The Creator is waiting for you to align your life with this assignment. Getting divinely “called” can be scary, but if you are honest then you can admit that lately, you have felt that a spiritual nudge is urging you in the direction of your destiny. Something is telling you that there is more for you to do and be, and you are ready to embark on this beautiful journey. Here are three key pieces of advice I give my clients when asked how to get on the path of purpose.
1.Embrace your Insanity: After eight years of working in the public school system, I was laid off from my job as a guidance counselor. I was ecstatic, and I felt free for the first time in my adult life. Many people questioned my sanity when I told them I was not going to look for another job, but that I would instead pursue my passion for becoming an author, speaker, and full time spiritual life coach. They thought it crazy that I would give up a weekly paycheck, health insurance, and retirement benefits to become what I felt both passionate about and called to do. I realized the reason I had even stayed in that career as long as I did was for “job security” but felt deeply that there would be more safety and satisfaction in developing my gifts, creating my own income, and choosing work that excites me as opposed to exhausts me. Yes, it was a “crazy” notion but, in the end, embracing my insanity and choosing what made my spirit feel sensational over what made sense was the best decision ever.
2. Don’t do it for the Income. Do it for the Outcome: When you decide to walk in your purpose, you will need to shift your mindset from making money to making a difference in the lives of others. There were times, after I was laid off and before my business began to flourish, that I did not know how bills would get paid. However, I had firm faith that because I was on a divinely assigned path, I could trust the scripture in Philippians 4:19 that reads, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs…” I now travel the country speaking and empowering people to live life to the fullest, and I have fun while doing it. I have learned money can buy many things but being able to contribute your gift to the world is priceless.
3. Change your circle... Change your Circumstances: Recently, I was on a plane, and as we were preparing for takeoff, the attendant came over the intercom and announced that the flight was being delayed because there was an issue with the plane’s weight and balance. She asked four passengers to get off the plane and instructed them to take their luggage with them. I quickly discovered, from a friend who works in aviation, that pilots should never attempt to fly until they have reconciled the weight and balance of the plane as it determines how the aircraft will perform during takeoff, flight, and landing and is ultimately a matter of life and death. Finding your purpose is exciting but can also be isolating as others may not believe in your gift or may impose their fears or insecurities about you pursuing your passion. There may come a time when you will need to ask people to get off of your plane and to take their baggage with them because the longer they stay on board, the longer you delay reaching your spiritual destination. It will be hard but inevitably okay release some of these relationships because ultimately, the people in your life need to balance the weight of your gift. I believe that God put us on this earth to experience happiness and fulfillment and that God created for each of us a “Path of Purpose” that will lead us there. While we are free to take any path we choose, there are certain people, opportunities, and experiences that line up with our calling and our destiny to make the journey worthwhile. Make 2017 your greatest year yet by working to get in alignment with your divine assignment.
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| COVER FEATURE
#BLACKBOYJOY “ “ I It’s a feeling that you get deep down inside that is unmistakable.
t’s a feeling that you get deep down inside that is unmistakable. It’s the glow from having your loved one near you. It’s the feeling that comes when you get that promotion you’ve been waiting on. It’s that glee when you find an extra fry at the bottom of the bag. No matter what brings it to you, there’s no doubt that it’s JOY. My friends at Webster define joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.”
By now, you’ve probably seen the hashtag all over social media of guys talking about #BlackBoyJoy. What is this phenomenon, you ask? Well, it all became a “thing” when Chance The Rapper hopped on the scene. His lovable nature inspired the masses and rearranged the “image” of a rapper. For too long rap and hip-hop had been hyper masculine and it was almost forbidden to smile in pictures. One of my favorites, Andre 3000, crashed the mold as well and reopened the door for Chance to help us make #BlackBoyJoy a movement. When you look at your timeline the smiles are back and guys are finding that happy place within. Joy is not something that can really be measured, but the feeling is extravagant.
of love, peace and light. I started to change the words I spoke, the people I hung around and even the music I listened to. The mind is a beautiful thing, but it can also be dangerous. So make sure you protect who and what you let linger on your mind.
Change the way you talk. Your words have power, and you have the ability to speak positivity into your life. Stop saying, “I’m depressed,” or “I’m broke,” or “I’m tired.” You speak these things into existence. Instead, say, “I’m not feeling my best,” or “I’m temporarily without funds,” or “I need some energy.” And then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!! Go get some help, start saving, take your ass to sleep! You can’t have your #BlackBoyJoy walking around a miserable person. Get that “miserable spirit” outta there. You play with misery, and you’ll lose every time. Don’t take that L and remain bitter. Smile more. Love more. Be available to be loved.
By Eddie Wiley
As a personal testament, I fought long and hard to regain this #BlackBoyJoy. It’s even evident on my various social media platforms when you see my selfies (or lack thereof). I won’t sit here and lie to you. It was difficult! I had to put in the work in order to find what made me happy and to never let it go. I will be the first to admit that I hit roadblocks and there were times that I nearly gave up. But I knew that at the end of the day, I would be happy again. I went to therapy to work through my issues, but I also got back into my artistic side that always took me to my internal “oasis”. Once I made my way back to paradise, it was “O-V”! I vowed that I would never go back to that miserable place. Not only was I miserable, but I was also making it difficult to sustain romantic, platonic and business relationships. It was a bad place y’all. And I mean bad bad. But instead of staying down, I got up and awakened my sense
So what brings you joy? Tweet or FB me @EddieWlive
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UNLEASHED NEW YORK |
Amplifying the Voice & Visibility in the LGBTQ Community Attorney Ghenete Wright Muir
hen you watch the new web series “Queer Qonversations” on the VeryGTV YouTube channel, it’s hard to imagine that the dapper, confident host “G” rose from the depths of homophobia in Jamaica. She defies the cultural mandate to be non-existent, silent and invisible by not only living openly, but by also evolving into an advocate and “broadcasting” her story and the story of others on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and her blogsite -verygtv.com. G came up with the concept of “verygtv” as a way to reject her culture’s demands to be invisible, and to instead celebrate living authentically and to advocate for the LGBTQ community. G recently launched her YouTube channel and the web series to give greater visibility to the LGBTQ community through authentic conversations and interviews with a focus on eradicating homophobia in Jamaica and throughout the world. Queer Qonversations kicked off in December 2016 with G having an unprecedented conversation with singer Diana King -- the first Jamaican artist to come out. She’s featured Jamaican attorney Maurice Tomlinson, who is battling laws in Jamaica that harm the LGBTQ community, as well as advocate Angeline Jackson, who was acknowledged by President Obama for her courage and work in Jamaica. G -- also known as attorney Ghenete Wright Muir -- grew up in Kingston, Jamaica and New York City. She was always a “tom-
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boy” but took many years to recognize, accept and embrace herself as gay. In addition to her work through verygtv, G founded “Thou Art Woman” -- an open mic event celebrating LGBTQ women and their allies. Thou Art Woman has grown into an inspiring, empowering and entertaining experience warmly embraced in South Florida, where G has lived for many years. G blogs at verygtv.com about coming out, being gender non-conforming, transitioning from being married to a man to being openly gay, and about other topics addressing the LGBTQ community. She also works as a public speaker and serves on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) South Florida Steering Committee as Co-Chair of Community Engagement. Through HRC, the largest LGBTQ Organization in the United States, she has traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby for pro-equality legislation. G was recently recognized for her outstanding work in the LGBTQ community with the Florida Diversity Council’s LGBT Leader Award.
Be sure to subscribe to the verygtv youtube channel, the verygtv.com blogsite and follow her on facebook, instagram and twitter. As G likes to say, she’s “a party with a purpose -- enjoy the party!”
BECOMING AN ALLY AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EVERYONEâ€™S PURPOSE
o often people tell me that they do not know anyone who has experienced domestic violence. Given that one in four women and one in seven men have been a victim in their lifetime, it is virtually impossible not to have a loved one who has been affected. People are often unaware of this connection because our society treats domestic violence as a taboo subject that we would rather sweep under the rug. While this may feel more comfortable at the time, the only way to end the cycle of violence in our community is to talk about it. Victims are often hesitant to share their stories because those they have told reacted negatively, made them feel responsible, or acted like they should have just left without understanding that this perspective also puts blame on the victim and fails to acknowledge the complex emotions and dynamics of an abusive relationship. PPM-Focus-QuarterPgAd-mech.pdf
Given the prevalence of domestic violence in our community, it is time we shift mindsets and see abuse as everyoneâ€™s business. Unless we start having open and honest conversations, our community will continue to be plagued by an endless cycle. When children are exposed to domestic violence, 1/3 of them grow up to become an abuser and 1/3 grow up to be a victim. It is up to us to be their advocate and their voice. We all have a role to play in making our community better, and the fight against domestic violence starts within. Each of us must be willing to step up and have difficult conversations and advocate for change. Showing love, compassion, and understanding could give someone the courage to make that first step into a life free of abuse. Educate yourself now about community resources like Family Safety Center and our 24/7 crisis hotline at (901) 222-4400 so that you are ready to offer support and solutions.
By Jordan Moore Howard Family Safety Center, Communication Director
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HEALTH & FITNESS |
What Is Your
WHY? By Gordie Holt
hen we reach the great age of independence and are preparing for adult life, everyone knows the basics: find a career, get a job, and pay bills. But how do you sustain this life? A healthy body and mind is how. The single greatest asset that we are given in life is our health: the simple ability to rise and shine in the morning, the cognitive function to perform our jobs, or the physical ability to play with our kids. As important as our wellbeing is, people find it challenging to lead a consistently healthy lifestyle. We neglect yearly physicals, eye doctor and dental appointments because we are soooo busy. At the end of our day, we would rather plop on the couch with our favorite snack than do anything active. But why? Why can’t we connect our health with our daily living? Most would say it’s a matter of time. “I go to work to keep a roof over my head and provide for my family. I have errands to run and things to do.” It’s a conundrum. You don’t have time to stay healthy because you are busy living. If you don’t make your physical condition a priority, you are jeopardizing your life or the quality thereof. Staying free of illness is the only way you can accomplish all of your career and life goals. It’s mighty hard to work from a hospital bed. Not to mention the other debilitating and worrisome regimens that come with diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. All these life/time takers are easily managed and avoidable with minimal work. So why can’t we make this a thing?
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I would say it’s a matter of motivation. You have not attached a great enough “reason why” to keep you consistent. The motivations for taking care of your life responsibilities are ever looming -- bills hit the mailbox monthly to remind us to pay or sit in the dark. Unfortunately, health reminders usually come only after something is seriously wrong. Now you are faced with having to change immediately, or else. The only way to avoid those unpleasant surprises is to make your health your first priority. Look into your life, your family, and yourself. Ask yourself, what is my reason for living? Why is it important that I live? Once you have answered these questions, you should have your WHY. To begin your newly motivated mission, try attaching your WHY to a totem or a physical representation -- a locket displaying your daughter’s picture, for example. Once a month, post “body bills” around your house or office. A “body bill” can be a daily affirmation or a picture of anything that gets you fired up. Involve your family and/or friends, as support is another life necessity. Set new physical fitness goals often. This will keep you from becoming bored or complacent. Keep your independence. Don’t wait for a big surprise from your doctor. Find your WHY, keep it close, and make your health part of your life.
t is no surprise that HIV is still an epidemic of major concern. None should be shocked that the rate of new infection is still on the rise and that Black gay and bisexual men remain in the high-risk category. Reports from the Centers for Disease Control state that if current diagnosis rates continue, about 1 in 2 African American gay and bisexual men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. This dismal prediction is just that -- a warning of what is to come if we do not change our behaviors and views about HIV. But where do we begin? For starters, we can stop ‘shading’ people who are infected and normalize conversations about HIV. As an HIV advocate who works tirelessly within both the LGBTQ and African-American faith-based communities, I have heard some very archaic statements about the virus. The amount of ignorance and shame-casting greatly speaks to how much work needs to be done. There are numerous people -- gay and straight -who still stumble over how the virus is transmitted and believe there is a ‘look’ that one with HIV should have. Further that with the amount of stigma placed upon persons living with the virus and it is understandable why many do not disclose their status. The word ‘shade’ in the gay community literally means to act in a casual or
By Dontá Morrison disrespectful manner towards someone. People who are living with HIV are regularly ‘shaded’ by those who are at no less risk for infection -- but because of their negative status, they feel superior. Sad to say, but I have been in spaces frequented by gay men and heard comments like, “Don’t go out with (insert name) because he has the ‘sauce,’” or, “You know (insert name) has a House In Vegas. Leave him alone,” which are nothing more than covert ways of saying someone has HIV. And for those who use dating apps and sites, I am certain you have seen the question, “Are you clean?” The unknowing may answer, “Yes, I shower daily in Eucalyptus Spearmint.” However, the more familiar know that ‘clean’ means HIV negative. Equating HIV positive people to being unclean is the type of shade that needs to cease. Finding out you have HIV is never easy, and because of all this shade, how you navigate the process can make or break you. As members of the Black LGBTQ community, it is important that we remain mindful of how damaging our words can be. Those infected with HIV need support, and oftentimes that support is not found in family but within the social circles they have created for themselves. But what if their circle is not sensitive, and they feel unsafe about disclosing? They idly stand around as their friends continue to cast shade on those infected, unaware of who is in their midst. Yes, unfortunately, that occurs more often than you realize. It is our responsibility to ensure that we provide safe spaces for people to disclose
without the fear of being shaded or outed to the masses. What if there was a way to combat the stigma associated with HIV? Does the Black gay community care enough to join a movement that will decrease the rate of new infection? How about something that will represent solidarity in the fight against AIDS and make those infected feel valued and validated amongst those who look and love like them? It is time to unshade and stop marginalizing people living with HIV. If we can successfully discontinue the conversations that proclaim HIV to be a dirty, whorish, infection that only befalls those who engage in the riskiest sex acts possible, we can potentially see a more confident approach to disclosure. But it is up to us. The next time you hear a group or individual slander someone because of their HIV status, use that opportunity to educate about the deeper impact of their words. If you yourself are guilty of shaming and shading those living with HIV, now is the time to shift your behavior. We are nearing 30 years in the fight against HIV/AIDS. It is truly time to wake-up and re-engage ourselves in the response. We have the power to eradicate the virus within our communities. Let us begin the work. Unshade. Dontá Morrison is co-founder of 6in10. org and host of the The Dontá Show on Blogtalk Radio. www.dontamorrison. com www.6in10.org 21 TUVMAG.COM | MAR+APR 2017
CATHOLIC MINISTRY |
WHAT IS YOUR purpose in life?
s a Catholic gradeschool student, the question, “What is your purpose in life?” was answered by a simple sentence the nuns forced us to memorize. I remember a nun dressed in black holding a ruler in her hand as we all recited, “I was made to know, love and serve God in this world and to be happy with him forever in paradise.” Sister Mary Immaculata poured that foundation in our little Catholic minds before we had an inkling as to what the philosophical question actually meant. I appreciate that answer more nowadays after asking myself the question in earnest many times as an adult. During my “feeling lost” phases in life, reciting it has consoled me; reminding me who made me, why I am here, and where I hope to end up when it’s all said and done.
The fact is, all of us are called to serve a purpose. The Creator endows each of us, from the greatest to the very least, with a unique set of gifts and talents to go out and make the world a better place. Often we’re so mired in the swamp of day-to-day survival that we rarely have time to think beyond the next task and reflect on the bigger picture. Even worse, we can intentionally keep ourselves busy with noise and distraction so as not to hear the call or see the need. “It’s just too much,” we say. “I’m not worthy.” “I’m too much of a mess myself.” “Nobody wants my help.” We create all these excuses in our minds to relieve ourselves of responsibility. The irony is that for God, it is precisely our humanness, our unworthiness, our faults and failures that make us perfect to serve. What better person to minister to the downtrodden, the addict, the felon, than one who has been there too? I can remember another ritual as a young Catholic that involved memorizing the names of saints and their 22 TUVMAG.COM | MAR+APR 2017
By Beth Trouy
“claim to fame.” We even had “dress up as your favorite saint” days at school. Saints are imperfect humans who made a difference by saying “yes” to God’s call. The purpose of remembering these real people has been to use them as role models and inspirations, as ones who have perhaps “been there and done that too” and yet succeeded in following God’s call. Those who were unworthy, incapable and untalented are especially inspiring! One of our favorites was St. Augustine (354-430 A.D). For many years, he lived an indulgent life taken up with women, alcohol and partying. Augustine is the epitome of a sinner who, after years of distractions, came face-to-face with personal responsibility and found purpose in serving a higher cause. The fact is, God uses each one of us in our ordinary lives to show the world that holiness is not beyond anyone’s grasp at any time. “The Lord looked down and said, ‘Where can I find the weakest, the littlest, the meanest man on the face of the earth?’ Then he saw me and said, ‘Now I have found him and I will work through him.’” Can you imagine saying this sentence to God? Surprise! The man who said this was none other than St. Francis of Assisi (11841226 A.D). The one who was so convinced of his own unworthiness is the same man whose name the current Catholic Pope has taken as his own for inspiration. Let us all accept the truth that none of us are worthy. We are all underqualified to serve our purpose. God calls us all the same. It is precisely in our current messy state of imperfection, indecision, and insecurity that we complete God’s big picture, give it color and variety, and make it whole. There is plenty of room for you in God’s work force. No experience is required! Finding your purpose might mean just showing up and allowing God to do amazing work through you in your current situation. After all, we are all saints in training!
ne of the hardest things I think people have to face is trying to determine what they want to do in life. It is essential for us to figure out what our function is in this world. The world we live in cannot develop the kingdom without our involvement. We have a responsibility to have dominion being that we were created in the image of God, in the imago dei, (see Gen. 1:26). In God and in everything that we do, we must see a need for such assignments. Even the Gospels point to Jesus’ ministry assignments because there was a need (John 4:4, 34; Mark 11:1-3; Zechariah 9:9; Isaiah 6:8). Steve Mitten, a Master Coach, stated, “To find the best path forward… you must first look back.” As a child, I was very artistic, creative, and athletic, active in football, basketball, track/field, as well as in the church. But what I was really passionate about was helping people and making a difference. This was the need that I felt was being overlooked: the areas of public safety and ministry. In determining this passion, the need became my purpose. So, I want to share with you some nuggets that will help you to transform your dream into reality. Always dream. We are often so distracted by other people’s purpose that we miss out on our own. I always dreamed of becoming a law enforcement officer and a pastor. In elementary school, for career day, I made a police uniform that I wore to reflect the occupation I wanted to pursue. Also because I was reared in the church, both family and religion were important. During family gatherings, as kids, my siblings, cousins and I would “play church.” My brother and I would rotate preaching while my cousins were singers in the choir. Finding your dream as you discover a need is what God has given you as your assignment. Align yourself with values. Dr. Sir Walter L. Mack, Jr. said, “From Genesis to Revelation, we see that everything that exists began with a thought. God thought and then spoke what He thought.” Once you identify what your dream is, you must
align yourself with its values, and then speak and live out those values. It is through dreaming that I am ambitious enough to step outside of fear and align myself with what is important to me, my dream, my two vocations I was ordained for. Fear will always keep you from what is promised. But Courage will take you to your destiny. Therefore, I had to position myself to take heed to the call. Regardless of the resistance, you must keep repositioning yourself until you get it. Be your greatest supporter. Everyone is not going to be in your corner when you decide to walk in your purpose. Some of your greatest resistance will come from the people within. Therefore, you cannot waste energy arguing with others over the purpose God has given you. My challenge was learning who those people were who brought me resistance. Those among you will either hinder you or bring you closer to your purpose. It’s as important to know what God has given you, as it is to be confident in it. Get motivated. Be determined. Push yourself. When others do not see it, you still have to see it. What I discovered was that my purpose was God’s favor for me. And because God favored me with access, permission and opportunity, I cannot let anyone stop me from showing up. In closing, being somewhere you do not want to be does not push you to purpose. It only pushes you to pain. If you dislike where you are, then leave. Don’t waste your dreams misaligning it with stuff and with people that are not important to your purpose. Have courage, faith and hope in yourself because “Transforming Dreams to Reality” is what you have been called to do.
By Dr. Darnell Gooch, Jr.
Cathedral of Praise Church of Memphis, Inc. Pastor/Founder
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HIV & AIDS |
Recapitulation of HIV Stigma… Stigmatisation du VIH… Estigma del VIH… HIV leimautumista… by Orisha Aliye Bowers, BFA, MA, MEd., ABD
We’ve Come a Mighty Long Way In the 1980s, an HIV positive diagnosis was generally followed by an expedient and progressive series of illnesses that usually resulted in death related to HIV complications. With the advent of antiretroviral treatment in 1996, millions of people are now living long, productive lives after diagnosis. What is Stigma? Overall, Stigma means different things to different people depending on who one is speaking to. By definition, the word stigma [stig-muh] is, according to the Encarta Dictionary, a “sign of social unacceptability; the shame or disgrace attached to something regarded as socially unacceptable.” The effects of HIV stigma exacerbate the underlying fear and psychological trauma already associated with receiving a life changing HIV diagnosis. What is HIV Stigma? The word “stigma” is deeply rooted in an unspoken, psychic understanding which predates most of our existence. Yet its stagnating implications are timeless and relevant in correlation with the effects of present day HIV stigma. The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology states that origins of the word stigma date back to the 1400’s when defined as a “mark made on skin by burning with a hot iron, from Latin stigma (plural stigmata), ” and adds that a more figurative meaning came about in English during the 1610s as “a mark of disgrace.” It states furthermore that stigmas are, as of the 1630s, “marks resembling the wounds on the body of Christ, appearing supernaturally on the bodies of the devout.” Gaining a comprehensive understanding of stigma through the study of language, which shapes most of our knowledge, we can begin to envision why HIV stigma is so deeply rooted in our churches and spiritual spaces in Memphis and around the globe. The religious rhetoric keeps the wheels of stigma 24 TUVMAG.COM | MAR+APR 2017
turning, thereby blocking people from getting the help they need from faith based and community based organizations. What are Effects of HIV Stigma? A 2013 research study by Vanderbilt University reported that three main themes emerged regarding their inquiry into HIV stigma: (1) Negative attitudes, fear of people with HIV, and misperceptions regarding HIV transmission (2) Discrimination by families, friends, medical staff, and in the workplace (3) Self-isolation as a coping mechanism to limit exposure to negative reactions Memphis is a large metropolitan area much like Nashville, and many people living with HIV in both places use a lot of the same coping mechanisms identified by the Vanderbilt study. HIV stigma can play a big role in patients choosing whether or not to access HIV care and prevention services, as people tend to shy away from services as a way to avoid the stigma associated. Recognizing the underlying factors and effects of stigma can give us insight into how to eradicate stigma in our practices and policies within our community. Concurrently, providers, families, and churches are at times guilty of perpetuating HIV stigma in oppressed communities. It is important to avoid doing this. In a March 14, 2016 AIDS.gov blog post entitled, “Words Matter: Communicating to End HIV related Stigma,” Richard J. Wolitski wrote, “Words matter. They can motivate, empower, and lift people up. They can also do a great deal of damage and tear people down.” The following key points on stigma emerged in Dr. Amy Lansky’s March 30, 2016 White House blog covering a meeting titled “Translating Research to Action: Reducing HIV Stigma to
Optimize HIV Outcomes,” which was jointly convened by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), the NIH Office of AIDS Research, and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): • HIV-related stigma and discrimination are often intertwined with other forms of stigma and discrimination, such as those related to sexual orientation, gender identity, mental health, substance use, sex work, socio-economic status, and/or race/ethnicity. • Leaders and stakeholders from many sectors must be engaged in addressing stigma and stopping discrimination. Participants highlighted roles for health care providers, policy makers, faith communities, community members, people living with HIV, and researchers. Eradicating Stigma In February 2016, The National LGBT Health Education Center released a report entitled “HIV Prevention in the South: Reducing Stigma, Increasing Access.” In this report, the writer states, “Strategies for preventing the further spread of HIV among vulnerable populations in the South requires a multifaceted approach focused on reducing stigma and increasing access to information, education, and care.” (Wagoner) A 2011 qualitative study published in the Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care entitled, “A Mid-South Perspective: African American Faith-based Organizations, HIV, and Stigma” reported, “Although faith-based leaders felt they had a role in HIV prevention, only 4% in our study had participated in HIV prevention activities, but they were open to HIV prevention programs. We found that faith-based leaders had limited knowledge of health disparities and ongoing stigma concerning HIV, which served as a major barrier to HIV prevention.” (Otey TD)
People newly diagnosed and learning to live with HIV in our communities everywhere need and deserve the support and resources available to assist them with accessing life sustaining medications, psychosocial support, and other resources which eliminate the barriers to care that they may be facing at the time of diagnosis. They should not have to live in fear of public shaming and ridicule. They deserve to live their lives with the same dignity as any other citizen in our community. We must challenge our community members to become educated on HIV in general as well as how to recognize and combat HIV stigma. Bibilography Audet CM, McGowan CC, Wallston KA, Kipp AM. “Relationship between HIV Stigma and SelfIsolation among People Living with HIV in Tennessee.” PLoS ONE (2013): 8(8). e69564. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0069564. Moyo-Bango, Bonginkosi. AIDS 2016: “Stigma kills more people than HIV”. 17 July 2016. Online . 12 September 2016. Otey TD, Miller WR. “A Mid-South Perspective: African American Faith-based Organizations, HIV, and Stigma.” Journal of the Association of Nurses AIDS Care (2016): 623-34. Electronic publication . Wagoner, Nicholas Van. HIV Prevention in the South : Reducing Stigma, Increasing Access . Report. Miami: The National LGBT Health Education Center, 2016. Document. “We cannot look the other way while people living with HIV die - we need to start talking about HIV and stop labeling people. A person can live long with the virus; what is killing us is the stigma attached to the virus. Stigma kills more people than HIV and AIDS.” ~(Moyo-Bango)
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Inclusion Freedom Ain’t Free! By Renae Taylor
ow is it acceptable to claim you are inclusive, when you are only “inclusive” to some or only “inclusive” sometimes? Including some groups that are commonly cast aside -- because you’re either comfortable with those groups already, or a part of those groups yourself -- does not constitute true inclusion if you nevertheless continue overlooking others who are less familiar to you. Sure, it’s nice to be able to say you are inclusive, but I need to see you put that claim into practice when it comes to upholding the integrity of your life and your work. I too often observe the clear divide within the LGBT community, for instance when I hear well-known promoters in the community say they don’t “do” the Trans community. How are you LGB”T” if you decisively overlook an entire segment of the community referenced? If you say you affirm Trans and Gender Non-Conforming people, then put in the work to create a welcoming and affirming space. Wasn’t it just a little while back that Gay people were fighting for the right to marry? That feeling of being so easily excluded from opportunities granted to our straight counterparts cannot possibly be forgotten already. And yet that is the very same the feeling you find justified to impose upon Trans and Gender Non-Conforming people when you casually dismiss our realities of still being turned down for employment and housing based on preconceived Gender Identity. The Trans community is already under attack by Society just for being ourselves. It’s time out for this divisiveness in the current political atmosphere. We are about to be bombarded with Religious Right Bills and Bathroom Bills. We have a bill
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coming down to stop LGBT people from adopting. Limiting anyone’s personal freedom is injustice. Trans and Gender Nonconforming people aren’t asking for any special rights, just the same rights that everyone else has without repercussions for being our authentic and unapologetically Trans selves. We need others to stand in solidarity with Trans and Gender Non-Conforming people, to shut down Trans-phobia, no matter the time or place -- not to just stand up when the coast already seems clearest to do so. Trans-phobia reveals itself in plenty of ways throughout the LGBT community. I have seen LGBT outing Trans and Gender Non-Conforming people in public and on social media -- not only insensitive to the same right they desired for themselves to be able to come out on their own terms and in their own time, but also inconsiderate of the danger to which they then subject such Trans persons, especially after last year was such a peculiarly violent year for the Trans community. I often hear LGBT people saying they just don’t understand Trans and Gender Non-Conforming people. But, I ask, when did Understanding become a prerequisite for Acceptance? You don’t have to understand me to respect and accept me. When can we finally get beyond Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation to realize that everyone has the right to the pursuit of happiness? Let’s stand up for Trans and Gender Non-Conforming people. Use your Privilege to do what is right and stamp out Injustice everywhere it exists! There is no such thing as Selective Liberation. If we aren’t all free, then none of us can truly be free. I ask you to let’s get free together. Let’s get free though Solidarity and build Equity for all.
hard, which can sometimes be to his detriment. He just wants someone to call his own and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. While he means well, his passionate nature can be misconstrued as crazy.
ashful is a lighthearted LGBTQ web series focused on the lives of young gay, black, and transgendered friends. The show is set in Memphis, Tennessee, an urban city in the infamous Bible Belt where these friends voyage to their truth and authenticity while dealing with many issues of relationships, race, class, gender, sexuality, and religion. Grappling with such themes as friendship and solidarity, this cast of characters displays how they tackle life standing as one while fighting to keep their unions together. Love and loss are two other running themes that are pervasive in almost every episode. The audience has a front row seat to the genuineness of friendship and love among the characters as they realize the uselessness of certain emotions, including but not limited to anger and fear. Religious beliefs are also questioned, familial relationships are called to the carpet, and therapy is overwhelmingly touted as a beneficial healing method. #Bashful is the titular story of Sebastian “Bash” Caruthers, played by Arkansas native Joshua C. Johnson. The title is a play on words since Bash is “full” of himself and queer people are susceptible to being bashed. In addition, the show “bashes” stereotypes and myths about the LGBTQIA community. Sebastian is a 25-year-old freelance photographer and website designer, who is often unlucky in love, life, and relationships. He has a doting biracial mother, Cileste, played by actress and Memphis native Ursula Houston, who
ran his Korean father off with her religious zealotry long before Sebastian was cognizant. Sebastian, on the other hand, is a pro-gay, pro-black, and anti-religious activist who rejects hetero-normative and misogynistic ideologies, believing that sex and sexuality, particularly being gay, is inextricable from our individuality. The show is chock full of relatable stories about Bash and his friends: Ja’Untre Jermaine “Tre” Henderson, played by Memphis native Corry Chatman, is a 30-year-old entry-level executive at Walgreens. Tre believes in God but doesn’t believe that God makes any mistakes, and thus believes that his being gay was by design. Tre is a hopeless romantic, and because of it, his emotions are usually all over the place. He is never in one constant state of bliss or gloom. It is his belief that love can live where none currently resides, in the hearts of people. Dentyne Alloysius “Tyne” Price is a 37-yearold singer from the Mississippi Delta, played by writer, director, and producer Marques Lipsey. As the tough one in the group, he has a hard exterior, but a soft interior when it comes to his friends and fine men. While Dentyne is not as hopelessly in love with love as Tre, he too thinks that all people want and deserve to find love.
Rashad Boudreaux-Yancy, played by actor and Memphis native, Antoine Dandridge, is a 32-yearold high school English teacher in Memphis. He is always finding the brighter side of things and makes it his duty to protect the group, as well as to keep his best friend Seneca in line. Rashad knows that love is for everybody, and that no matter how hard it seems, love is worth the wait. Rashad has a deep conviction for God and doesn’t mind sharing his enlightened views on Jesus and the church. Seneca Q. Brown, played by Memphis native and HIV counselor Marshun L. Redmond, is a 24-year-old make up artist and stylist. He loves his friends enough to always tell them the truth even when they don’t want to hear it. Seneca desperately believes that the Bible is the ultimate truth, and nobody can dispute that for him. Other characters include Quan, played by Memphis native Robert Williams. Chloe B. Goode is a transgender mutual friend of the characters, played by Tamesha Prewitt. Dr. Rick Caruthers is white psychotherapist and cousin of Sebastian, played by Dalton Davis. Jamie “J from Jack’d” is played by local model Chino Blac. Eddie D. Franklin plays Javier, Sebastian’s former lover who has an affair with Dentyne. Our directors, producers, and cinematographers include Chris Mathews, Eddie Wiley, Jay Demoir, and Kegan Long.
Earl Sanders, Jr., played by Memphis native and musician Cortez Davis, is a 26-year-old assistant branch manager at a local Memphis bank. Earl loves incredibly 27 TUVMAG.COM | MAR+APR 2017
Live On purpose By Malcolm “MJ” Harris
Malcolm “MJ” Harris is an internationally recognized financial services CEO and motivational success teacher, who has consistently beaten the odds to achieve extraordinary success. Malcolm has built a multi-million dollar enterprise, National
Care Financial Group, which started at his dining room table and has become one of America’s largest African-American owned financial services firms. Mr. Harris shares his secrets of success and empowerment with global live audiences through
What does it mean for you to live in your purpose? I thought that living in my purpose was going to be something complex, this huge gift I would have to discover. But for me, it was right under my nose. And I mean that literally; it was my mouth. For most of my life, I heard, “Oooh that boy sure can talk.” I’d get in trouble at school for it, but I was praised for it as well. I’d give testimonies at church and do the announcements at school, but I never thought of my mouth as a gift. So I was always looking for my purpose elsewhere, thinking I had to go and learn something new or do something different or acquire more skills to find my purpose. I think people have to differentiate between their skill and their purpose. My purpose, I discovered, was to use my mouth and my ability to communicate as a platform for helping people to see their lives differently. That purpose could be attached to many different skills. I happen to attach it to financial services, where I help people to look at their financial life. So my advice to people, when it comes to looking for their purpose, is look for that thing that you do so naturally well that you
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his “Wealth Class” seminar series and his videos that are watched in over 50 countries receiving over 2 million views every week across multiple platforms.
could do it in your sleep -- that thing that you can do so well that it could only be given by God or the Universe, whatever terminology you prefer. Look for that thing. And how did you choose your line of work as the manifestation of that purpose? I didn’t know that it was going to be the manifestation of my purpose in the beginning. I got an insurance license because I hated my job in corporate America. Everyday I’d go and sit in that grey cubicle, and I didn’t like my job, didn’t like the people I worked with, didn’t enjoy sitting in traffic everyday, that whole life, I didn’t enjoy it. And I knew I wasn’t living the way I wanted to live. So my grandmother, who’s owned a small insurance agency since 1981, she recommended that I get an insurance license to earn some extra money, suggesting that maybe it would be my way out of corporate America. I thought it would just give me an additional skill, but now, my company --
| FINANCIAL we have a team of over 400 and my videos have been viewed over 20 million times in 50 countries -- so we’re a fairly large operation. I never had the imagination to think any of that would end up happening. The path that took me there was that I realized I was much better able to help people in their financial life, not by focusing so much on the technical aspects of how insurance works, but by using my gift of speaking as a way to simply talk to people in a very relatable manner to help them understand why they deserve to have a better financial future than what they may currently have ahead of them as a result of their current choices. Through doing that, I realized people were more attracted to the inspirational messages that came from me -- which were so natural because I’d been doing that my whole life -- than they were attracted to just hearing about finance. That let my spirit know, okay, that’s the path forward -- your purpose is to use your voice as a tool to help elevate people.
of personal value that I had. I cannot tell you a time in my life when I’ve ever felt any lower than that. And the beautiful thing about hitting your lowest point emotionally, about feeling like you’ve lost everything, is that you’ve got nothing left to hold on to, so you have a choice: either I give up, or I choose what the path ahead is going to be. That is the beautiful thing, that you have the space and the room to say I’m going to choose the life that I want, I’m going to define my life because I don’t have anything left to lose. So I’m going for the gusto. So what my diagnosis did for me was it gave me a realization that we all have a finite amount of time here on this earth, and led to the decision that my experience on this earth is only going to be what I define it as, what I make it into. It gave me a daily motivation, and still does, to make sure that I’m using every single day in an intentional way to create the life that I desire to live. What did overcoming the shame of your diagnosis look like for you? My mom is a clinical social worker, but the earliest memories I have of her are of going with her to AA meetings when she couldn’t afford a sitter while getting over several addictions. I remember seeing her labeled in a way that could be considered stigmatizing, but I also saw that she never let it get her down. One thing she told me was, “There is no shame in transparency. When you choose to be transparent about your truth, you take away any power for anyone to ever shame you, including yourself.” So talking to her one evening on the phone and broke down crying, and I said, “I’m so ashamed,” and she said, “I know.” After realizing and acknowledging that, I chose to get into therapy, and I did the work in therapy to get through my shame. It was extremely helpful.
What effect did your HIV diagnosis have on confronting your understanding of what it means to live in your purpose, and how might you advise others dealing with that same adjustment? My diagnosis came during a time when I was still discovering my purpose, a challenging time in my life because I was confused about what my professional life was going to be. And then here comes this new information that I was deeply ashamed of, deeply afraid of, and that made me feel unworthy and really challenged any sense
What would you say are the most frequent financial mishaps that you find yourself having to illuminate for people to avoid? Overspending. People spending as much as they make, or spending more than they make. The definition of “broke” has nothing to do with how much you make. It has to do with how much you keep. So if you are spending everything or most of what you make, then you are by definition broke, right? So overspending, and a second area I would say is over-dependence and overuse of credit for everyday expenses. And the third and final area is a lack of willingness
to build supplemental income. There’s usually no path to build wealth and financial security that does not include creating multiple revenue streams. What does it actually take for people to break those bad habits? The first thing you have to do is accept that you’re not living at your financial best. Even if you don’t express it to anyone else, you have to express it to yourself. There is no transformation that does not start with truth. The second step, even before you get to budgeting and changing how you use credit, is to own for yourself what personal feelings or blockage you have within you that is causing you to misuse money. The way that we use money is a direct reflection of the way we view and value ourselves. So in a lot of cases, we’re overspending because of areas of insufficiency, areas of feeling unworthy, or other challenges. An example of that, if I’m the person in my family who is constantly helping everyone else, constantly getting the Superman cape every time somebody needs help… I’ve got to own for myself that maybe I’m partly doing that because I want to help my family, but maybe I’m also doing it because I use my Superman cape as a way to secure validation, because it gives me a sense of worth and value within my family and my friends’ lives. So until I get to the meat of the fact that I’m seeking validation through my finances -- which is an area I shouldn’t be seeking that from -- then I can’t correct my spending. You can create a budget, but what’s going to get you to stick to it is understanding why you were spending money the way you were spending money. And that’s for all things -- buying shoes and buying cars, not for the way they look but for the way you’ll look in them -that’s not about the item, that’s about your stuff you’ve got to work through. Where would you say is the right place to look for validation instead? The right place to look for validation is not to look for it at all — to know that you are beautifully and wonderfully made, and that you are already sufficient in every way, shape, and form -- and just to walk in it. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MJHarrisSpeaks/ Instagram / Twitter: @MJHarrisSpeaks Company: www.NationalCareFinancial.com
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COMMUNITY NEWS |
UTMemphis, originally known as the Memphis Gay Community Center and the familiar Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center or MGLCC, was founded in 1989. Once upon a time, there was a dire need for a safe space where the LGBT community could be themselves and free themselves. Today, that need is perhaps more important than ever. Our intensely diverse community is at various levels of privilege, uncertainty, and oppression. Fortunately, the OUTMemphis staff, board members, and volunteers are present to meet the needs of our local LGBTQ community. So, who are the staff? • Will Batts, Executive Director • Martavius Hampton, Sexual Health Program Manager • Stephanie Reyes, Youth Services Manager • Elokin Capece, Operations Manager • Ace Brooks, Men’s Sexual Health Specialist • Kayla Gore, Transgender Services Specialist Together, we strive to empower, connect, educate, and advocate for the LGBTQ community of the Mid-South. The OUTMemphis vision is that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals live in a world where everyone has equal rights, and is safe, respected, and celebrated. Bet you didn’t know that OUTMemphis is the only center of its kind within a 200-mile radius! The What OUTMemphis provides a buffet of programs and services for our local LGBTQ community. The following are some of the current programs and services that we provide: • LGBTQ friendly referrals such as counseling, legal support, healthcare and more.
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• Sexual health resources including HIV testing, community outreach, trainings, research, PrEP navigation, social/support groups for SGL men of color and people living with HIV/AIDS. • Transgender services including social/support groups for transgender men and women, trans ID workshop, trainings, criminalization work and more. • Outflix Film Festival, which celebrates the best films made for or by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. • Potlucks, comedy shows, game nights, speed dating, professional meet-and-greets and other special events. • Youth services including youth groups, an emergency food pantry, a clothing closet, temporary housing developments, trainings, bullying prevention workshops and other youth projects. The Why LGBTQ people face higher risks for addiction and health disparities. Older LGBTQ adults are twice as likely to live alone as non-LGBTQ older adults and half as likely to have a spouse, life partner or significant other when compared to older adults in the general population. Gay, bisexual, MSM and transgender women are all disproportionately affected by HIV, particularly in communities of color. LGBTQ youth are at higher risk for homelessness, bullying, and suicide attempts compared to their straight counterparts. The How How do we do it? There was a time when only one paid staff person did the majority of the work without the support of substantial funding sources. But times have changed for the better, in many successful ways: six staff members, a more diverse board of directors, volunteers, interns, multiple grant sources, generous donors, and our community itself. Without
the support or presence of our community, there could be no OUTMemphis. Despite the many strides that OUTMemphis has made throughout the years and recently, there are still many challenges at hand. Negative word of mouth, small staff, stigma, limited space, and lack of visibility remain significant challenges that OUTMemphis faces. But, not to worry. OUTMemphis continues to grow with its influence and motivation to produce positive outcomes and opportunities for our local LGBTQ community. There is so much on the horizon, including homeless LGBTQ youth and genuine housing solutions, transgender issues and criminalization work, more support for people living with HIV/AIDS, intentional and strategic efforts to address multiculturalism in the local LGBTQ community, and possibly even obtaining a larger space to support the increasing demand for programs and additional staff. (If you’ve ever been to OUTMemphis, then you know how homey the atmosphere is. However, you may also be aware that we are bursting out of the walls because we are in need of more space -- money doesn’t grow on trees, and neither does a building grow without a sufficient amount of coin!) Regardless of OUTMemphis’ size, we do our absolute best to serve LGBTQ Memphis and its surrounding areas. In the end, if you’ve never heard of or come across OUTMemphis, then you are missing out on one of the city’s wonders. By: Martavius Hampton
| ARTIST SPOTLIGHT So how do I define a sex addict? Let me first start by saying, I am not a licensed professional counselor, nor do I hold any certification in the fields of psychology or psychiatry. However, as a former sex addict, as diagnosed by a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT), I believe my definition can be understood by most lay persons. My definition centers around one of the two main themes in my memoir Sex & Surrender: An Addict’s Journey, which is ADDICTION = PAIN. Sex Addict: a person who uses sex (in whatever form) to handle, manage or escape pain
It’s all in the Definition: How I Define a Sex Addict A.D. Burks
iger Woods, Patrick Dempsey, Kobe Bryant, George Michael, Ted Haggard, Eric Benet, and Jesse James. What do they all allegedly have in common? An addiction that almost ruined their lives and the lives of the people around them.
It seems lately that every time we turn around a new sex addict is being busted by the media. Professional athletes, actors, entertainers, even religious leaders—no one seems able to escape the scrutiny. Luckily, I haven’t had to truly endure the public humiliation these men have. Still, my story mirrors theirs. In fact, mine may be worse. I admittedly suffered for nearly 12 years with sex addiction. While I am grateful that God’s grace was able to bring me out of my addiction, I realize that my ability to recognize I was an addict was crucial. In order for an addict to admit he or she has an addiction, that person must first be able to identify what the addiction is and how it is playing itself out in their lives. Our current American Society idolizes and praises most men, and a few women, who are known for their sexual conquests. If a person is able to mimic the behavior of a “celebrity”, why would that person feel he/she has a problem, much less an addiction? Therefore, sex addicts are already at a disadvantage for diagnosing their addiction. Only when people realize that the images being portrayed in the media have substantial consequences -- which are typically and strategically overlooked, ignored and hidden -- will they be able to make the connection that their behavior might be a problem. Unfortunately, several don’t realize it until they experience their own fall from grace.
I placed “in whatever form” in parenthesis because sex refers to multiple acts besides sexual intercourse itself. Someone who just watches porn can be a sex addict. At the root of any addiction is pain. When pain reaches the point where an individual’s number one priority, consciously or unconsciously, becomes acting out sexually (in whatever form) with little or no regard to the consequences that the acts have on the lives of themselves or others, then in my opinion, that person is a sex addict. For a more technical or clinically accepted definition of sex addiction, I would suggest researching Dr. Patrick Carnes’ work. He is considered by most the leader on sex addiction recovery. His books Out of the Shadows and Facing the Shadow were helpful in my recovery. The purpose of Sex and Surrender: An Addict’s Journey is to help sex addicts, or anyone being affected by sex addiction, gain a clearer definition of what it means to be a sex addict. For more insight concerning the habits, characteristics and traits associated with sex addiction, please visit www. sexsurrender.com and click THE SEX TEST tab. In addition to THE SEX TEST, which was based on my personal experiences and observations of other sex addicts, the website lists several HELPFUL RESOURCES at the conclusion of the test. Finally, if you or someone you love is using drugs, alcohol, sex, food or any other substance/behavior to escape pain, please visit www.the4stepsguide.com, The 4 STEPS: A Practical Guide to Breaking the Addictive Cycle. Helping others in the Journey,
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Rest In Love Jewel Clemons TRANS-MOVEMENT #BlackTransLivesMatter
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32 TUVMAG.COM | MAR+APR 2017
Published on Mar 6, 2017
The Enlightenment Issue is an "Explosive" piece of work. Each story shared is crafted to lift the reader higher in their intellectual consc...