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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 | MAY+JUNE 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. 3 TUVMAG.COM | MAY+JUNE 2017

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JULY+ AUG 2017







06 EDITOR’S LETTER: NOTE TO MY YOUNGER SELF By Gwendolyn D. Clemons, Editor / Publisher

07 PERSONAL GROWTH By LaWayne Childrey



By Rayceen Pendarvis, HRH

By Mario Forte, PrEP

12 #ABOUT HIM By Gary Lavard

13 A LETTER TO MY BROTHERS By Pastor Will Horn



By Jordan Moore-Howard

By Natasha & Tasha


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By Taliyah Cassadine Smith

32 PRIDE TAKE OVA TriState Black Pride

Shawn M. Clemonsor Administration/ Fashion Director

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Renae Taylor oject Manager Transgender Correspondent Transgender Correspondent

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For this month’s issue, we unleashed the voices of special individuals to share their experiences about living in their “Otherness.” On the cover is author/ activist T.J. Wolfe who fully reaffirms for me just how collectively powerful we are. As you read each story, we hope that you are able to remove your lens of preconceived judgment and allow the diversity and beauty of our differences room to exist.

Gwendolyn D. Clemons Editor-in-Chief, Publisher

I was six years old when it was explained to me that I couldn’t be myself. My gender assignment was explained in terms of how to dress, how to walk, how my hair should be worn, what toys I should and shouldn’t play with, and all the other intricate terms of what “A Girl” is. Unbeknown to those who were reading me a social script and supporting a value system that inherently devalues individuality, I struggled to fit into the narrative assigned to me. I learned at the tender age of six that conforming and pleasing those in authority over you was important to avoid being ridiculed and shamed.

Facebook: TUV MAGAZINE twitter: @gwen_clemons Instagram: @gwen_clemons


For years, I carried around shame and lived a lie about my “otherness” of being attracted to women, in order to avoid the pain of embarrassment and rejection. I hid from the people who were supposed to love and accept me because these very people sometimes perpetuated the highest degrees of disconnection with my otherness, causing me to carry around shame and anxiety about who I was. It took me years to dispel the illegitimate concept that my gender and sexuality are what define me. My younger self only understood the reinforcement of discord whenever I projected my gender

expression as a Masculine of Center (MOC) woman. As I write this letter today, I want “Lil Gwen” to know how strong she was to endure the hurtful comments, repeated insults, rejection and confusion about her way of expressing her essences. I want her to know that her strength not to conform, and not to give up on life, has helped mold me into who I am today. I want that little tomboy to know that we did play sports and that we still love tennis shoes, jersey shorts, and basketball. Most of all, I want Lil’ Gwen to know that we made it! In spite of having no space carved out for us in this cold world, we created our own. All the worry about who would find out that we liked girls is so funny now because we actually married one! Lil’ Gwen, we have healed from a great deal of pain, and the source of shame we used to harbor in our identity is now our source of empowerment! You can stop wanting to die now, because Big Gwen is taking care of business for us! Please share your thoughts or experiences with me about living in your “otherness” and how you express your authenticity in your daily life.


My History has Made Me the Man I Am

By Lawayne Childrey


ot a day goes by that someone doesn’t lose sight of their dreams when life’s gut wrenching curve balls knock them off their feet and out of the game. With the grace of God that was not the case for me. Even though I have endured some of the most horrific trauma imaginable, including tragic death and loss at an early age, childhood sexual abuse, depression, poor relationship choices, a crack cocaine addiction and an HIV diagnosis, “I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now.” Beloved, as I look back over my life, I am amazed at how God has given me respect, credibility and honor that I so often felt I couldn’t achieve or didn’t deserve. I’ll be forever grateful to Him for restoring my failing health and allowing me to excel in my career. Yet I know this is only the beginning, because His still small voice continues to tell me there are even greater rewards ahead. These days, I spend much of my time mentoring students, encouraging them to follow their true passions in life and never let go of their dreams. I offer the same message of hope to anyone who may be suffering from addiction, abuse or any situation that leaves them feeling downtrodden and in despair. The truth is, we will all have trying times in life.

of me pursuing my true happiness. That still small voice continues to tug at my heart. Every day it tells me to believe in my own potential, to never give up, and most of all, to continue to believe and trust in God. I will always obey that voice, because as it says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Moreover, as I continue to travel this oftentimes bumpy road of life, Proverbs 3:6 will always be my personal GPS: “In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.” I believe that with every fiber of my being because I know in my heart of hearts that if I continue to serve him, worship, praise and adore him, he’ll continue to take me beyond places I could ever imagine. Lawayne Childrey is the author of the award winning autobiography, Peeling Back the Layers: A Story of Trauma, Grace and Triumph. Learn more about Lawayne and his mission at

Lord knows I’ve had my share of heartache and pain. There were countless bumps in the road for me, and even though I have fallen many times, I never lost hope that God would help me to get back up. The important thing is that I learned from my mistakes and didn’t allow myself to continually wallow in my sorrows. I thank God for this journey because everything that I have gone through in life is preparing me for what I will eventually become. Today, I am considered by many as a successful news journalist, author and speaker. They are all dreams I’ve had since I was in the third grade. But success wasn’t handed to me. I had to struggle through a deep sea of adversity to achieve it. I realize that everything I’ve done, every routine, every risk, every failure and every success helped to mold me into the God-fearing man I am today. Even though I have perhaps endured more challenges than most, I was determined to rise above my adversities, for I am a firm believer that to be aware is to survive. For that reason, I have learned not to let the pressures of life and love stand in the way



HIV and STI* Anxiety


CHANGING THE NARRATIVE ver the past three years, I’ve been educating people about PrEP** and successfully assisting them through the complex navigation process towards access. In almost all cases, the individuals who crossed the PrEP access finish line had some sort of anxiety about contracting HIV and wanted to be on PrEP.

What I’ve learned during these three years, is that epidemiology (statistics) on the HIV epidemic suggests that some categories of people - race, poverty level, sexual activity, sexual identity, injection drug use, etc. - are at higher risk for contracting HIV than others. Funding efforts attempt to “target” these at-risk individuals to provide education, information, and hopefully PrEP access. While I fully understand the reasoning and rationale for using the term and mythology of “targeting”, those individuals who are being “targeted” are also inadvertently stigmatized and shamed just for being in the at-risk category - regardless of whether they are at actual risk for contracting HIV. In my opinion, this is not a successful formula for reaching high-risk people and getting them on PrEP. Here are a couple of examples of what I’m talking about: • A person goes to the Health Department and tests positive for an STI. The clinician (correctly) identifies this person as someone who should probably consider going on PrEP and provides the individual with the contact information of a PrEP navigator. The call is never made. I’ve had conversations with several people who have experienced this exact scenario. They all reported feelings of shame. They felt embarrassed to have been identified as someone who was “atrisk”. Their shame overwhelmed their anxiety to do anything about it. • A person goes into an HIV/AIDS resource center/agency for an HIV test and tests negative, but is identified as a candidate who would benefit from PrEP and is given a referral to the PrEP Program. Again, this person didn’t come in seeking PrEP; this person came in for an HIV test. The individual must have had some anxiety about HIV to walk in the door and ask for the test in the first place. Did the person have a recent encounter and HIV scare? Did they walk in the door inadvertently seeking PEP***, but didn’t know that’s what they were doing? So why didn’t the PrEP referral work? It’s true. Being HIV positive is no longer the death sentence it once was. People in care are able to live full lives managing the virus. We don’t hear about HIV so much in the news any more. A lot of young adults have never lost anyone to AIDS. HIV may not even be (or may not have ever been) on their radar. So how do we influence people to care enough about their own health to have some reasonable anxiety about HIV and STI’s? That is the question we need to answer to get more people on PrEP.

Mario G. Forte, PrEP Navigator

I believe if we are to be successful reaching out to people about PrEP, the narrative needs to shift from, “I’ve identified YOU as someone who would benefit from using condoms and being on PrEP,” to, “Do you have anxiety about HIV or other STI’s? If so, I can help. Would you like to know about Condoms and PrEP?” Our goals should be to inform or remind people that they SHOULD be anxious. * STI - Sexually Transmitted Infection ** PrEP - PreExposure Prophylaxis (one pill once a day to help prevent HIV) *** PEP - Post Exposure Prophylaxis (a four week regimen of HIV meds- Post Exposure to HIV)





Ask your doctor if a medicine made by Gilead is right for you. © 2015 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. UNBC1852 03/15




Author & Activist

Wolfe By TUV Staff

Q&A with author of Unwanted Heart




ell us about Unwanted Heart -- what inspired the book, and how does it tie into the cause highlighted on its book jacket, to support the marriage rights of same sex couples and to bring greater awareness to masculine and androgynous females of the LGBT community?

I created Unwanted Heart because I wanted a lesbian romance novel that I could relate to. I wanted to see characters that resemble me. I felt it was important to depict a butch/femme relationship because I don’t typically see that type of relationship written in novels. I used Unwanted Heart as an avenue to educate and bring awareness because even after the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage rights for the LGBTQ community, we still face discrimination and inequality in this country. What is it that you feel is missing when it comes to awareness concerning masculine and androgynous females, and what are the problems you regard as culminating from that current lack of awareness?

It’s more of a lack of understanding gender identity than it is a lack of awareness in my opinion. I believe part of the problem is within our own LGBT community as we have a tendency to place labels on ourselves that we cannot solely define. The term ‘butch’ or ‘androgynous’ is defined by the individual. What it means to me could very well mean something different to someone else. Basically how a person identifies themselves versus how others identify them is the problem. In all honesty, I think the problem can be resolved by removing our labels and living outside of our imaginary box. I’ll end this question by saying,

“Only YOU have the right to define who YOU are as a human being.” What does it mean for you to ‘live in your otherness’, referring to the theme of this issue? What trouble did you ever experience embracing that otherness, and how were you ultimately able to overcome that difficulty?

At this point in my life I feel like it’s a great time to be embracing my otherness. I’m blessed to be living in a time where I no longer have to feel shame for being who I am. I remember times when I felt alone and misunderstood, especially being a more masculine African American woman. My experiences are no different than what most masculine women have faced. However, one of my most profound memories is being forced to wear feminine clothing as a child. I have always gravitated toward a masculine style of dressing even at a young age. It seemed unnatural and I couldn’t understand why I had to dress in a way that made me feel uncomfortable. In my teenage years I began to come into my own and realize who I was. It was at that point I started to live my truth. What advice would you lend to the younger generation of lesbians still struggling to embrace their otherness?

In a world that is shallow and filled with lack of humanity regarding your sexuality, your race, your socioeconomic status, it’s imperative to remember your opinion of yourself comes first and foremost. You must realize that the world will perceive you as you perceive yourself. This is important because in your life there will be many times when people will try to define, change, and challenge you and your beliefs. My advice is to always remain authentically you.

SOCIAL MEDIA & TOUR DATES May 6 - 12, 2018 Book tour aboard Carnival Cruises (See FB page for details) Book signing, speaking engagements, and rates email




e d o M or &


y r d r a Va



#about him G

ary LaVard has been gracing the fashion and film industries with his presence and charm for years. A Detroit native, he currently resides in Atlanta where he is an actor and model.

Lavard has made appearances in independent films and new media streaming series (web series), as well as in major television series and feature films. He has also added a national commercial to his resume, FOX Sports West Network: Get Your Red On. In addition to acting, LaVard is making his mark in the fashion industry, ripping runways across the U.S. and landing features and spreads in major publications such as Kontrol Magazine and KRAVE Magazine among many others. Most recently, you can see Gary on billboard ads modeling for IRIDIUM Clothing Store in Atlanta.




My Dear Brother,

I was just sitting here thinking about you; thinking about all the challenges and unnecessary stress that seems to have attached itself to your life; thinking about how living in this society chips away at your confidence and makes you feel like you’ll never achieve your goals or live up to your potential. My heart gets heavy, my brother, because I know what you’re going through. I’ve gotten a little older now, and I’ve been through a few things. What I’ve learned is that struggles, mistakes and heartaches are made worthwhile when you can draw from those experiences to make someone else’s journey just a little easier. The Bible teaches us that one of the ways we overcome is by the “words of our testimony.” I’d like to share a few things with you that helped me get through some really dark days; some things that helped me to embrace and eventually celebrate my truth and the path I’ve been chosen to walk. When I was 11 years old, I figured out that I was “different.” I realized, because of the way that I was raised, that difference was something I needed to keep secret. That same year, I felt this incredible pull to be connected to God and made the decision to become a Christian. At that very young age, I learned what it meant to live a life of fear and turmoil. I was teased. I was bullied at school, and ironically, I was bullied from the pulpit. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I was being taught by everything around me to hate who I was and to never allow anyone to know or love all of me. After praying and struggling for the next 10 years, after trying to date girls and keep up a front, I finally came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going through a “phase.” I rationalized that if God was going to change me, He’d had plenty of time to do it! Over the course of the next two years, I began to share with my closest friends and family that I was indeed attracted to men. I didn’t understand a lot about human sexuality at the time or even how to defend myself against all the religious Bible-beaters. All I knew was that I loved God with all my heart and that I hadn’t chosen to be attracted to men. I concluded that either what they were telling me was wrong or that God was a cruel jokester! It took me yet another 10 years to fully come to terms with the fact that not only was God okay with me, but that I had been chosen for an amazing assignment! Something woke up inside of me! Instead of being fearful and ashamed, I made it my business to educate myself about myself. That gave me the confidence to, from a position of authority

and strength, educate others about me. In my mind, I went from being the victim to being the teacher. Although I had found peace within myself and resolved to stand in truth, I faced ridicule, judgment and even sabotage. I need you to know, my brother, that it was hard; probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done! I missed out on opportunities. I lost people that I thought really had my back. I cried and cussed in secret, but I knew that I had to maintain my integrity. I had peace for myself, but I struggled because I knew that my mother and some of the older people in my family struggled with my stance. I had to systematically dismantle the thoughts that sometimes creeped into my head and tried to talk me back into the closet. I told myself that I would be denying the people in my life the opportunity to deal with their preconceived notions, and I would be robbing them of their opportunity to grow. I told myself that if society was ever going to change the way it saw me, I was going to have to stay committed to allowing society to see all of me! Society needed to see that I was strong, intelligent and valuable. I needed society to see Will, the man and not a stereotype! Through all that I’ve sacrificed, I’ve been able to stay the course because God graced me with strength and courage that is far beyond me. That grace has helped me to study and learn what the Bible really says about me, my sexuality, and my call. That grace has helped me to not be paralyzed by anger and offence. That grace has given me the patience to allow others to take their journeys to understanding just like I did. My brother, I want to tell you that you’re strong, you’re beautiful and you’re chosen! Keep living and loving. Understand that you’re God’s handiwork and that there are people in this world who are afraid of what they don’t understand. Author Eve Zibart says, “Prejudice rarely survives experience.” Find the courage to be whole and unashamed. Allow all those you meet to really experience you! You’ll find that many times you’ll be the one who will change their perspective and make life just a little easier for the next brother.

I love you man, Will



Embraci n g Otherness A My

by Rayceen Pendarvis, HRH

s the Father of Five and Mother to Many, I have long described myself as a gender-blender. For some people, the issue of identity requires hours of therapy, prayer, and long conversations with loved ones. I have been fortunate to have found my way early in my life. Similar to the Native American tradition of recognizing some people in their communities as being Two-Spirited, I embrace all of my characteristics, from the masculine to the feminine and everything in-between and beyond. I feel represented by all the letters in LGBTQ. Born into the era of Jim Crow and segregation, my formative years occurred somewhere between the Black Power movement and Gay Liberation. In many ways, my hometown of Washington, DC was a progressive city – certainly much more so than cities further south. The late Marion Barry was one of the first mayors of a major city to support our community, participating in the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979.

I was fortunate to have been raised in a household with two loving, supportive, and accepting parents who allowed me to be myself. I still had to deal with the outside world, so growing up with five brothers helped me learn how to be tough. I may have had “a little sugar in my tank” but I was nobody’s “punk.” My father died just as I was coming into my own, leaving my mother to finish the work of encouraging me to express myself and teaching me how to be free. As supportive as she was, my mother didn’t always understand; there were times she would ask if I was her son or her daughter. It was then up to me to teach her that I was her son, who just happened to like having long hair and sometimes wore fabulous kaftans. Expressing myself in colorful ways was – and still is – part of my otherness which some in my family embraced more than others. In my adulthood, I began to understand my otherness as a calling to teach the people around me about love and acceptance. Before I became the Mother to Many, I was the father of Monica, Mia, Aiden, Joseph, and Will. For some, being a parent is just about birth or biology, but I feel that I was chosen. I raised them with the love, support, and acceptance that my parents showed me. I think this mindset


is why I was often a favorite of my children’s classmates, who would request me to be one of the parent chaperones for class trips. The children were not concerned with my “otherness” because they appreciated being treated with kindness, compassion, and respect. Everyone’s journey is different, but often, when we fully accept and love ourselves, that energy commands a certain level of respect from all who come into our space. Whether it was the PTA or the ANC (Advisory Neighborhood Commission in Washington, DC), I found that the perplexed looks and double takes I received would soon be replaced by smiles and nods once people heard what I had to say and got to know me. When you are doing good work and helping your community, questions about your gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or whatever other box they want to place you in, are soon forgotten. People are often more curious than anything else. I don’t mind explaining that I am not transgender. I am someone who has crisscrossed the gender line so much and for so long that it has gone from blurred to completely obliterated. If the term “genderqueer” was around several decades ago, I may have identified as such. Ultimately, I feel no need to be labeled, other than as the Goddess of DC and the Queen of the Shameless Plug. I encourage people to ask others for their preferred pronouns, but I don’t have any. I’m fine with “ he” or “she” but I respond most favorably when I’m called Rayceen. Free people free people. Whether my words are in print or said into a microphone, I want them to encourage and inspire people. I want to bring together my lesbian sisters, same-gender-loving brothers, transgender warriors, intersex individuals, queer folks, pansexuals, bisexuals, heterosexuals, and everyone else together in love and unity. We all deserve to be celebrated. We all should be allowed to live our truth. We all need to do our part to free each other, and mine begins with me being seen living, loving, and embracing my otherness. Rayceen Pendarvis is an entertainer, emcee, speaker, social media personality, and host of The Ask Rayceen Show, a monthly live event in Washington, DC. For more information about Rayceen Pendarvis, Team Rayceen, and The Ask Rayceen Show, please visit



eaving an abusive relationship is never easy. Our society loves to simplify the decision or blame the victim for staying, but these hurtful beliefs cause further pain to those already suffering under the weight of abuse. Victims are fearful to leave for good reason: A victim is never in more danger of severe physical assault or even death than when they leave their abuser. Many victims lack the financial resources necessary to rebuild their lives, and leaving is a direct cause of homelessness. Abusers also often threaten to retaliate by hurting children, pets, or loved ones if the victim leaves. All victims of domestic violence can feel alone and like no one understands their situation, but this is especially true for LGBTQ victims who face additional barriers when seeking help. These incidents are largely under-reported as victims fear discrimination from law enforcement or social service agencies. Victims also often report feeling that disclosing the abuse brings shame to the LGBTQ community as a whole. If the victim is not “out”, then there is the fear that seeking help will out them to friends, family, and co-workers. While LGBTQ domestic violence rates are almost identical in non-LGBTQ relationships, there are fewer resources available to these victims. Thanks to the Love Doesn’t Hurt Fund, founded by local activist Phillis Lewis and housed at Family Safety Center, our community is working to reduce this barrier. The Love Doesn’t Hurt Fund provides financial support to LGBTQ victims of domestic violence by offering utility assistance, rent/ mortgage assistance, and emergency shelter. If you have recently experienced domestic violence and are in need of assistance, please visit the Family Safety Center. You can also contact or call (901) 222-4400 and ask for Jordan to learn more about required documentation and how to receive assistance. Funds are limited and given on a first come, first serve basis, so call today. You do not have to go through this alone, and our staff is ready to help.

By Jordan Moore Howard Family Safety Center, Communication Director



Laurie Bones -- CEO of Senob Addiction, a thriving social and entertainment resource

for the LGBT community -- is spearheading the launch of Nashville’s first official Pride weekend. As a reprisal to the already beloved one-day Nashville Pride event, the inaugural ENCORE Music City Pride weekend will take place July 28-30, 2017 as just the beginning of Bones’ response to the clamor for more LGBT events in her city. The weekend line-up of educational, cultural, and entertaining events throughout the city will include:

Friday July 28

•Welcome mixer at Honky Tonk Central’s three floor bar in the heart of downtown Nashville •Talent Showcase & All White Glow Up party at Main

Saturday July 29 •Brunch at Lipstick Lounge •Fashion show at the Hilton Garden in Nashville Vanderbilt

Sunday July 30

Laurie Bones

•Sunday Funday at Kung Fu Saloon, a “barcade” hosting vintage arcade games from Pac Man to Galaga, along with throwback novelty games like giant Jenga •Jersey Shore Pool Party at Nashville Shores •The Pulse Tribute Party at Studio 615 ....and more events still to be announced!

CEO of Senob Addiction

Yolanda & Tamara Anderson Married: April 14, 2017



Name Ain’t DIABETES A My

By Gordie Holt

s a personal trainer and fitness professional, I have to be more than knowledgeable about health and fitness. I also wear the hats of a motivator, counselor, and sometimes a shoulder to lean on. The ability to ignite and inspire my clients to keep their health a priority is a learned skill. Getting to know my client’s personalities and lifestyle habits is key. Knowing my client intimately enables me to push the buttons that motivate them. I focus on their strengths first, then slowly incorporate areas where they can improve. This way they will be motivated by their strengths while overcoming what challenges them. This creates a continuous cycle of progression. One major progression obstacle with clients is separating them from their ailments. “My arthritis, my bad knee, my diabetes...” I have listened to clients complain about surgeries they had 20 years ago, or the ever popular “baby” fat. By continuing to acknowledge the negative effect of your prognosis, you cement that disorder to your life. You are willfully carrying a cross of disease. There are illnesses and disorders that are incurable, but science shows that a healthy active life is good for EVERYONE. You only get one life people!!! Back to the subject: To counsel through this self-sacrifice, I have to start pushing buttons. If you are this type of client, I’ll leave you with some tricks so you can touch your own buttons.


A method I have found useful is changing the scope of focus. Find a way to enjoy the process of improvement. If you can see the usefulness of something and enjoy it, you are more likely to continue with that thing. Everyone has something they like doing, a hobby or activity that makes them happy. As a trainer, I take that something and build a regimen around it. Try this yourself. Find that something that brings you joy, such as skipping rope or that dream vacation you want. Something that you love to do -- build your fitness goals around that. Make your ailment your arch nemesis. Beating the nemesis is the final goal, but there are smaller battles along the way -“there’s levels to this ish.” Creating activities and lifestyle changes with smaller goals (“levels”) will shrink your focus to more manageable parts. For example, if you have type 2 diabetes, you can chart your success with your blood sugar numbers. If you desire weight loss, you can track your progress by the number of inches lost off your waist. Give yourself small wise rewards like a massage or new walking shoes. Choose a regimen around your interests, such as skating or boxing, that makes the process likeable. Personalizing your health goals will make the changes gradual and potentially permanent. You will have a better quality of life and more self-assurance while getting to do more of the things you enjoy. I will always end with saying to get a support system, that shoulder to lean on when the hard days come. Having encouragement at the proper time can mean the difference between success and relapse. Get serious about your life. Get back to the you that you love. Embrace your health. Embrace the things you enjoy. Be a better healthy you! Don’t be your Diabetes.


Everybody Needs a


By Eddie Wiley


What’s that you ask? What’s a Judy?

o you have that friend you can go to for all the tea and not have to worry about your own tea being spilled? What about a friend who’s down to go along with all your crazy ideas? Think about that friend who tells it like it is despite your level of sensitivity. Or even that friend who starts the convo off with “Bruhhhhh...” “Girrrrrrrl...” “Maaaaaane...” “Chiiiiiiile...” or that good ole faithful “Biiiiiiiiiih...” Well that, my friend, is your Judy. Your Judy should be someone who doesn’t just bring all the latest gossip though. A wise person once told me, “A dog that only brings a bone carries a bone.” If your “Judy” only calls you with mess, then you need to watch that one. There’s nothing wrong with staying up to date, but a good Judy has more qualities than being messy. Don’t give your own tea because that ain’t no real Judy. There is nothing wrong with your cup overflowing with tea. Just be very careful of the messy folks catfishing as your Judy. In the same-gender loving (SGL) black community, we love a good Judy… the girl/guy we can go to in order to get and give all the

tea without fear of judgment... the person who uplifts us when we don’t feel our best… the friend there to guide us when we can’t think clearly… the person there to calm us down when bae acts up and we’re about to catch a charge… the one we can call to bail us out if we’re arrested when somebody tries it. Hell, if they’re really ride or die then they’re there to occupy the jail cell with us. They’re there to correct us when we’re wrong and also to protect us when we’re vulnerable. A Judy is someone you can go to for advice on anything from dating all the way to the latest in the social media headlines. You can call them up and ask about anything and you have your own Iyanla. If you’re trying to find out if your MCM or WCW has a bae, then your Judy is your private investigator. Want to know if your bae is creeping, then your Judy is the one that creeps right along in the comments with screenshots as receipts. If you have your Judy, then you’ve found a good thing. No Judy comes to mind? Then be a Judy. In a world where savagery is the goal for most folks, go against the grain and Judify the world!




By Beth Trouy

rowing up, I always seemed to be the unicorn in my group. I was the tallest, the athletic one, the smart one, the lefty, the Catholic girl. Everybody had to have a label and most of mine, thank goodness, were harmless . . . in the beginning, anyway. At puberty, it wasn’t so cool anymore to be the different one. Fitting in was cool. Realizing I was gay nixed any hope of fitting in; I spent my teenage years trying to hide my “otherness.” As Catholics, we prided ourselves as Christians who swam against the current. You know the image: a school of fish all facing one direction with the exception of one brave fish. It was a badge of honor to be that kind of different. But not my kind of different. As a young adult, I was insecure about my otherness, especially at church. For years I thought that life had dealt me a cursed hand – being gay and Catholic. Being discriminated against, and at times even hated, for something about yourself that was unchangeable was unfair and often intolerable. That stirred up even more feelings of unworthiness and self-hatred in me.

I came, in time, to embrace my otherness, seeing it not as a curse, but as a blessing. Life really began for me when I stopped fighting what I could not change and embracing who God meant me to be – a gay Christian. What a gift I realized I had in being given eyes to see and a heart to feel what many may never notice. I realized that I possessed a priceless gift. I knew what it felt like to be overlooked, ignored, and pushed to the margins. Because of this, I could see clearly the many others who were neglected. I could hear Jesus’ call throughout the New Testament to protect the vulnerable, those left outside the gate – the poor, the widowed, the sick, the strangers, the immigrants, the “others”, like me. We are all confronted with adversity in our lives. Our challenges force us to grow, to learn, to change, to work harder. They also can make us better people. Hopefully, in time, we see the silver lining. It’s true that “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.” But it can only make us stronger if we get into the arena and fight for what we believe to be right and just. We must volunteer to get into the mud, the grime, and the messiness of the world. We must put ourselves in harm’s way even when we know the odds are against us. Our best quality, our greatest strength, is often what the world deems a weakness. Our otherness endows us with more empathy and compassion to take action when we see injustice. It compels us to step out of our comfort zones and “dare greatly” to fight for the marginalized and leave no one behind. Being other can make us more Christ-like and courageous in swimming against the current and taking the road less traveled. It’s in the margins and the shadows that we most feel the love of our Creator. We need not fear being singled out. We need not even fear failure. The only thing we should fear is not trying. “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly . . . . ” (Theodore Roosevelt)





Be You



esus -- born to a virgin mother named Mary and to an illegitimate father name Joseph, in the ghettos of Bethlehem, not in a hospital but in a manger, surrounded by livestock and hay -- was considered by some as abnormal. At a tender age when all the male boys were killed, somehow He and his brothers escaped. He was endowed with a gift, an anointing like no other. Some thought it was magic while others suggested sorcery. But this is no witchcraft or hocus-pocus that Jesus possessed. Timothy Isaiah Cho writes in his article “Embracing Otherness” that there is something profoundly othered about the God of the Bible and defines “otherness” as an idea of coming into contact with someone who is quite different from yourself. Cho articulates that the Triune God created man in His image and after His likeness and yet, we too, are distinctively othered from God. And because we are distinctively othered from God we have a proclivity to being disgraced. Jessica McGuire stated, “Society has a way of publicizing and shaming our ‘otherness’ – our differences, the qualities that make us unique and interesting. It’s not just a problem our generation faces, it’s one that history is riddled with, one that has been passed down from age to age.” However, we are not to be ridiculed or shamed because of our “otherness.” As 1 Peter 2:9 declares, “Be ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Our otherness is not a restriction. It is a privilege to be chosen to be othered. We must lose ourselves to discover our

otherness. When we discover and embrace our otherness we embrace ourselves. Don’t neglect your otherness because in doing so you neglect the color of your skin, your childhood experience, the beauty of who you love, the style of your fashion, the sculpture of your physique, and so forth. You have the ability to live out the attributes of who God created you to be. You must not be frightened about what those attributes are, and you must take ownership in them. You must also understand what those attributes of your otherness are. Every attribute may not be God-given but may be acquired from other environments. So be cautious because some environments have introduced learned behaviors, and for some, those learned behaviors may be toxic. In closing, I remember when I was afraid to embrace my otherness. For me, my otherness was similar to Jesus’, as a gift and an anointing given to me by God. Though I grew up within social disorganization, I discovered I was prophetic, artistic, and intellectual -- a pastor, a servant leader, a lover and more. I can honestly say that at one point in my life I struggled with the attributes that made me different, until I finally realized that being othered is okay. In fact, it is the group distinguished as “other” that is becoming distinguished as society’s influential minority. People will never know that there is another world outside of their own if they never see your world. Besides, if you don’t be you then who will?

By Dr. Darnell Gooch, Jr. Cathedral of Praise Church of Memphis, Inc.















3:40 PM



Relentless Otherness By Renae Taylor ender Non-Conforming or NonBinary individuals are people living beyond the Gender Norms established by society. Our society is very gendered in its perspectives surrounding Gender Identity or Gender Expression, which refers to the way you express your maleness or femaleness, or neither.


What do I mean by Gendered? I will explain: our society operates on the belief that there are only two genders, Male and Female, both of which are expected to be clearly defined and anatomically determined. In our society, clothing is gendered as male or female, aside from the rare instances when clothing is purposely marketed as unisex. Pink is for girls, and Blue is for boys. Yellow, I guess, is gender neutral. In the context of such a gendered perspective, those who live outside of that system are regarded under the spectrum of Transgender. I always felt the duality of genders, so I always considered myself androgynous, or a blending of two genders in one. In other words, I embrace both feminine and masculine identity and expression. The direction of my Gender Fluidity changes daily, and daily I feel the otherness of not having to fit into the gender binary. In this otherness, I embrace the ability to embody both the masculine and feminine. I’m unapologetic about that fact. People may not understand me feeling


genderless, but when did understanding become a perquisite for acceptance? You don’t have to understand me to accept me. I see gender as a social construct. I also see gender as performance. I don’t believe in fitting into other people’s ideas or stereotypes about gender. Every day that I live, I revolt against gender norms. My normal isn’t abnormal, it’s my normal. I had a relative who thought it was her responsibility to beat or whoop the “gay” or “feminine” out of me. She was relentless in her thinking that it was wrong for me to be the way that I was; I was relentless in my thinking that I should be able to enjoy my life as I see fit without adverse repercussions. No one deserves to suffer harm simply for being themselves. Many people may be socialized as one gender but not feel connected to that gender. But for some people, conforming becomes a survival method to avoid that kind of conflict. Even many of my gay friends tend to be unaccepting of those who are different from them within our already marginalized population. I say, however, that to truly embrace our otherness is to have an open enough mind to accept, embrace, and celebrate the otherness of those unlike ourselves.


im Joyce is an American singer, composer, and musician with a unique and powerful sound that pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a soulful songstress.


With one album, two EP’s, and two mixtapes under her belt, Joyce recently released two singles: “January” and “Oh Why”. “January” is an eclectic montage, wrapping up the events of January 2017 and taking digs at the outcome of the presidential election. In the song “Oh Why”, Joyce discusses the experiences of being Black in America. Both of these songs are creatively powerful in their own right, showing the dynamic musical range in topics that she has following up from her emotionally driven 2016 release “We the People”. As spring 2017 is approaching, Kim Joyce is preparing to release the first sequence, “Earth”, off her upcoming album “Elements”. When asked why the split sequencing of her upcoming release, Joyce responded, “This is some of the best music that I’ve ever created; the music needs time to breathe.”

Head over to for previous releases. To follow and connect with Kim Joyce, simply search @kimjoycemusic across all social media outlets.



Checkout her Pandora page @ Kim Joyce Radio For bookings, please email



By Natasha-Tasha

Taking A Leap of Visionary Services’ Tasha Reid (President/CEO) and Natasha Ford (Vice President/COO) have been making their entrepreneurial dreams come true together after taking a leap of faith to build a

business contracting with the federal government. The budding power couple discusses the realities of what it has taken to help one another bring their vision to fruition, how they maintain balance

Tell us a bit about your company and the line of work you’re in together. Tasha: Basically, everything that we need here in the private sector, the government needs. The government is its own space though, so you have to know how to do business with them in their space. What our company, Visionary Services, offers is facility support services to the federal government for their federal buildings, and we contract with them to provide those services. We have security contracts, grounds maintenance contracts, janitorial contracts, renovation and repair contracts, administrative contracts, legal support contracts, it’s endless. I had previously worked in corporate America, but had been working for myself since I was 25. I got into real estate, but when the market was crashing my broker told me about the 8(a) Business Development Program, which gives disadvantaged small business owners such as minorities a great advantage in the federal market. She said, “If you want more stability over the long haul, you should contract with the federal government.” Natasha agreed that it was a great idea and told me to go ahead, start it off and run it while she worked full time to support me. I’ve been in the program since 2013, and about two years ago she was able to leave corporate America 28 TUVMAG.COM | MAY+JUNE 2017


between their personal and professional lives, and how they are able to embrace and flaunt their best selves in such an unlikely industry for “otherness”.

and come on board full time with the company as well. How can a budding entrepreneur tell when it’s best to keep hanging on to the security of a 9 to 5 and when it’s perhaps a safe moment to let go and trust in what you’re building full time? Natasha: There’s not really a time that you know for sure. Something just happens to push you into that area so you have no other choice but to move in the direction God is calling you into. Because if it were left up to you, you’d just continue doing that same thing you’d been doing for so long. For me, it was just the mindset of getting fed up with helping someone else build their company when I could be doing the same thing for myself, instead of taking the slack for someone else and not really feeling appreciated or getting what I deserve. So it had always been a desire of mine to be my own boss. When Tasha and I got together, I started a business, but because both of us were doing our own businesses at the same time, it wasn’t conducive to us trying to grow together and to have the businesses grow as well because of course you need to have income to pay your everyday bills and put money into your business.

| FINANCIAL Tasha: It’s really hard to start your own business when it’s just you by yourself. I don’t think it would have been possible if Natasha hadn’t agreed to work full time to support me while I started this off. She was like, “I’m relying on you, you better not mess this up, baby.” So I was the one driving the wheel, and she was in the passenger seat trusting that I was going to do what it took for us to get to where we’re at today. There was never going to be a perfect time for her to leave her job behind and come aboard, but it just got to a point where the workload became too much for me alone. I was like, “I really need you,” and that’s when we just had to move out on faith. Now we’re way beyond where we were when we took that step two years ago, but we had to trust that it was going to get better, and it did. What do you see as next for the growth of your business? Tasha: We’re actually headed back to Korea. We were just there in December, and we were invited back by the Korean government to come out there and talk about our business and our services that we offer. So we have started entertaining business internationally, seeing more exposure for our business to connect with people all over the world now, and I can really see our company going worldwide. As partners in love as well as in business, how do you manage the distinction between your personal life and professional life? Tasha: It’s been a process. We’ve been together nine years now, but it’s like starting a new relationship to be honest -- the do’s and don’ts, the boundaries, what to say, when to say it, when not to say it, where to go, where not to go. So that’s how it’s been for the last couple of years. It has not been easy, but we have definitely worked at finding that balance of personal and business relationship. Natasha: For the longest time, we were working from home, so I think the biggest help was getting an actual office space that meant not everything was going to be at home in that one space, so we were able to separate our work life and our personal life, which took away some of that tension, some of that frustration. It has definitely helped us to draw a line and say once we cross over that threshold, this is when we’re life partners, spouses -- and once we go out of

the door to work, that is when we are business partners.

our uniqueness, our otherness, and let the world see who we really are no matter what.

Looking at the fact that not only are you a lesbian couple... but a black lesbian couple... a black lesbian couple in business together… a black lesbian couple in business together with the federal government -- and soon internationally -- what obstacles might your otherness have presented for your business endeavors?

Tasha: For me, I know everybody would think it was obvious for me that I was gay, but there’s a difference between being out and in being confident and bold in your otherness. I wasn’t really confident until I was able to find myself in God and understand that I was still loved and accepted, and just to understand spiritually who I am. That’s important in our community because I look out and see that a lot of people are lost, they don’t have that. It’s not just about your mind, your body, a lot of people out there are missing the spiritual part, but it is so important to be connected to God and know who you are in God, for you to walk in your otherness.

Tasha: I come in a room bringing more than my sexuality. I bring my spirituality. I bring me as a black woman. I bring all of that into the room and walk in the confidence that even if you don’t know me, you will accept me once you take the time to get to know me. I was just interviewed last week because, and I didn’t even know this, but I am an exception to the rule in this game. They told me, “Women in government contracts the way you’re doing it, is unheard of.” I know God, so I know that his is bigger than us. I just feel like God is using Natasha and I as a vessel to show what he can do in the Earth realm, and that no man or woman can stand between that because what God has for you, he has for you. Natasha and I just recently put together -- and you’re talking about federal space -- an LGBT team to win a $15 million contract. And we cannot wait until we get this win because we want to show the world that we’re here, that we can do this, that we’re not backing down. We are more than just our sexuality. Stepping into our theme for this issue, what would you say has given you both the strength to live in your otherness? Natasha: I was really tired of being in hiding and feeling like I wasn’t being true to who I really am. I was tired of putting on a face for other people, being miserable for other people. I was fed up. I was over it. And I didn’t want to just keep on living behind a mask of being this straight girl in a relationship with someone who she went to college with and they were the perfect couple, and I just didn’t want to continue to be that person because inside, I was tearing apart, and breaking down. It’s important to be authentic because being fake or living a lie is much harder and more to keep up with. We only conformed to society due to shame and fear. God knew us when we were in the womb, and we have been created in his image and likeness, so we should honor that. We should celebrate


TRANS-MOVEMENT | Act 1: The Meeting

At the age of 14, I was clueless about the LGBT lifestyle. All I knew was that I liked men. One day I was riding with a friend, and he said we were about to stop by some lady’s house, Tanisha. When we got there I was scared to death because I could hear someone fussing as we approached the door. But when she answered the door, she was surprisingly pleasant, and when we started to talk, the conversation was mindblowing. She told me about things I had never heard or even thought possible, like drag and gay families. From there, I was hooked. For the next couple of weeks, I was at her house almost every afternoon, just wanting to be around this lady. Then it happened. She asked me to be her child and named me Kyana Cassadine (a name my sister later stole LOL).

Act 2: Learning How to Be a Cassadine

From day one, she let me know how important the Cassadine name was to her. She made sure that I knew that there was more to life than just being gay. She told me to stay in school and get an education because the club life is only for fun, and to survive in this lifestyle you have to have a strong foundation. And I must say, I thank God for her and the other people who groomed me to be the professional woman I am today. When I become a gay mother, I want my kids to have the respect for me that I had for her. The main thing is to always to put family first. She told me to always be understanding, and that when mistakes are made, to sit down have a conversation with the child and let them know that things happen, but to never repeat the same action because then it will become a habit.

Act 3: On the Move

After years of having her in my life at home in Memphis, and as soon as I began my transition, she became famous. She won her first national title and called to say she was moving to Atlanta. At first, I was upset because that’s the Virgo in me, but I knew she had a master plan with that being the Virgo in her. She started to win pageant after pageant across the board, both black and white systems, and all along the way the Cassadine family grew. She was also one of the most positive people when speaking about living with HIV and taking medication. Her voice kept a lot of people from giving up on their own lives.

Act 4: The Curtain Closes

It was an early morning in February when I got the call that she had passed. She and I had last spoken about old times, good and bad, laughing the entire time. We ended the conversation as we always did, with me saying, “I love you,” and her responding, “I love you more.” As I say my final goodbye to her and tell her again that I love her, it doesn’t feel right not hearing her say, this time, I LOVE YOU MORE.

Rest well my friend, my mother, my idol, Tanisha (The Devine) Cassadine. You laid a strong foundation, and your family lives on.




LOVE EQUALLY. What is HIV Stigma? HIV stigma means any discrimination, abuse or negative thoughts and comments directed at people living with HIV or AIDS. It can take many forms. Some people who find out they are HIV-positive are shunned by their families or faith communities. Some are shunned by friends and partners. Others lose jobs or are denied healthcare or benefits. Many are rejected based on their HIV status in social situations, such as building new friendships or seeking relationships in person or online.

It’s Time to End the Stigma. Our goal is for every disclosure of HIV status is met with support, acceptance and an open mind. Help us change local attitudes about how HIV is discussed—and educate our friends and neighbors about the challenges facing HIV-positive people living in the South.

Together We Can Turn Stigma into Support.

Become the Change. Visit to Help Us Spread the Word.

#equalstatus901 #StigmaFree 43 N. Cleveland Street | Memphis, TN 38104 | 901.272.0855 ext. 233 This campaign is generously supported by the Mid-South AIDS Fund, Friends For Life Corporation and private donors and volunteers. Your support is greatly appreciated.

©2017-2018 Status: Memphis and Friends For Life Corporation



The Unleashed Voice Magazine 2017 May-June "The Redefining Gender Issue"  

Gracing the cover of the May-June issue is Author/Activist T.J. Wolfe. T.J. conveys the very essence of "Living In Our Otherness." TUV Mag...

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