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SEPT + OCT 2018 VISIT TUVMAG.COM

POSE? inside the house of cassadine

EXCLUSIVE!

MARVELL L. TERRY II

An Empowering Conversation TUV Editor Gwendolyn Clemons

Rayceen's Pendarvis Presents

The 2018 Community Activist Award

Founder of Red Door Foundation is a HIV/AIDS Activist, Community Builder, LGBT Activist and Principal of Netherwood Consulting

SPIRITUALITY ISSUE

The Sanjay Johnson Story

THE LEGAL FIGHT AGAINST HIV CRIMINILIZATION MUST CONTINUE

GOT GOD?


A little bit of wisdom from my cat /

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Pag/


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NOV | DEC

2018

GOT GOD?

Cover photo credit: Elvis Piedra

06 Empowering Conversation with Gwendolyn | Editor’s Letter

07 GOT GOD? by Dr. Davin D. Clemons, DMin

08 “Get Your Spirit Right” by Eddie Wiley | MSM

12 “The Sanjay Johnson Story”

CONTENTS

by By Cornelius Mabin, Jr., CEO

14 News Flash: iBelieve GOD by Dr. Darnell Gooch, Jr.

15 Spirituality by Beth Trouy

19 Fashion Feature by Marquise Foster

20 The Real POSE: Cassadine Family | House By Kyra Bonet St- James Cassadine

23 TransMovement By Renae Taylor

GOT GOD?

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25 Community News

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26 Got God? No Thanks! By Abidemi O. Kayode

28 Sexuality and My Relationship with God by Monika M. Pickett

30 Rayceen’s Community Activist Award National Advertising + Rivendell Media Company 1248

32 Wedding Announcement

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Brennan Villines Celebrity Feature

Rayceen’s Community Activist Awards

@TUVmagazine

EASHED NL

U V

U

GOT GOD?

By Dr. Davin D. Clemmons

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THE

Cover Feature

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| www.rivendellmedia.com

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a g a z i n

ICE VO

Marvell L. Terry II

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TEAM TUV

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By Meet The Dabney’s

US - 22 Mountainside, NJ 07092 Office 908.232.2021

e

Shawn M. Clemons Administration/ Fashion Director

Gregory Graphics Philadelphia

Eddie Wiley AIDS/ HIV

Monick Monell New York

Whitney Johnson Chief Editor

Renae Taylor Ravell Slayton Transgender Project Manager Correspondent


THE EDITOR’S LETTER |

THE EDITOR’S LETTER |

GOT GOD?

I GOT GOD BECAUSE

GOD GOT ME A worthy question to ask same-gender loving people is how do they feel about GOD?

A

worthy question to ask same-gender loving people is how do they feel about GOD? Historically, marginalized people have often been denied access to a loving GOD. As unworthy peasants doomed for living the way we were born, we were given a GOD of merciless condemnation and hell. We know that “Church Hurt” is real. This type of treatment can affect the witness of GOD and cause one to turn their back and never return. I rebuke those teachings and beliefs and today offer you an option, or better yet proof, that you too can GET GOD! I have anxiously awaited the release of this September – October 2018 Spirituality Issue of TUV Magazine just to ask and provide a variety of answers. This issue is particularly personal to me because Spirituality and God have been among the most constant presences in my life. You see, I was raised in the South, aka the “Bible Belt”, by a family of religious fanatics. I say “fanatic” in a loving

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sense because their reverence reflected their love for God in a manner that suited them. The oxymoron in this relationship would surface when their projection of God onto me fell miserably short in the lives they lived. It wasn’t until I was able to remove the GOD I was given through birthright, that I got to know GOD for myself. I know this may sound all too cliché but believe me, I’m speaking from the Book of Life! GOD is not a mystical deity that eludes us or is never present. GOD is omnipresent. Trust me. GOD gets you because GOD is you. Even in your faults, twirls, curls, and sexual identities, God got you! In order to carry out our vision, we intentionally sought interviews and solicited contributing writers to “Rah, Rah” our readers. I wanted to make a profound difference in someone’s life about the goodness of having a spiritual connection

with something higher than you. I wanted to offer reconciliation, hope, encouragement, and a lifeline to those who are still suffering. I’d like to think of this issue as a “Collector’s Edition” because I know without a doubt it will be well-received. Go ahead, get comfortable, and allow the story of our cover feature on Mr. Marvell L. Terry II to inspire you. Contributing writer Monika M. Pickett will take you vicariously on her spiritual journey. Dr. Davin D. Clemons, Editor of TUV Magazine, will ignite your inner advocate to fight against religious dogma and Brennan Villines will inspire you to fight for your life to live out your dreams. Go ahead, dive in, and connect with us if this issue helps you in any way! Connect with us at info@tuvmag.com and share your revelations! Your Sister in Truth!

Gwendolyn D. Clemons,

Editor-in-Chief of TUV Magazine

By Dr. Davin D. Clemons, DMin

M

y GOT GOD moment happened during fall of 2010, while sitting in the sanctuary at Love Fellowship Ministries Church. I felt that God had been speaking to me in a strange way. My spirit was uneasy, and my mind was baffled concerning the difficulties of God’s calling in the eyes of egotistical, misogynistic, narcissistic heterosexual black preachers in church. This uneasiness had emerged after a disheartening ordination/ministerial licensing process that had involved more discussion of my sexual orientation than of my calling within the ministry. I sought answers by praying and worshipping God in hopes that God would help unravel the mystery of how to proceed with this spiritual journey.

greatest blessing of my life. That experience led me to dig deeper into the Word, and eventually to learn that the scriptures we had been taught as God’s condemnation of homosexuals, especially the seven deadly scriptures most commonly used to condemn LGBT people, intended no such condemnation after all. The utilization of the scriptures used to condemn the LGBT community supposedly precluded me from participating in the church, and precluded me from Jesus’ salvation -- so the Church had claimed. But when we really study the scriptures, we realize that there’s a lot to discover, including the truth that God is not against anyone, and that God does not discriminate against people based on gender or sexuality.

This Got God moment is all too familiar to many black LGBT Christians who attempt to do ministry work inside of the black church. But this tragedy that I thought would kill me spiritually turned out to be the

This GOT GOD moment increased my faith, prayerfulness, determination, drive, and level of education. Basically, this moment in life forced me to JUMP into the river and swim for my life. I had never understood

why we suffer, but I realized that although suffering in itself is never good, God is able to use it for good in a number of ways. God loves us! Our suffering is also God’s suffering. God suffers alongside of us. Yet God does not always simply remove suffering from our lives; God sometimes uses the bad things that happen to bring about God’s good purposes. This GOT GOD tribulation helped lead us to ensure that individuals of all backgrounds have the opportunity to build healthy, productive, and inspiring lives, through the combined services offered by Cathedral of Praise Church of Memphis, Inc., Cathedral Foundation, and The Unleashed Voice brand, which are all devoted to continuing to improve lives within the LGBT community and for people of color in the Deep South, an area once viewed as “unchangeable.” Now, who GOT GOD!

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MSM |

DEAR HIV, ’ WE DIDN T GIVE UP. By Eddie Wiley,

do not respond! #ItAintWorthIt

I

Protect your vibe: Our spirit emits a vibe, or an aura, to those around us. You should always let your spirit guide your thoughts. Your thoughts and mind control your actions. In order to have positive outcomes, you have to discipline your spirit to be protective of your vibe.

Masters in Social Work

n a world where negativity fills our TV screens, social media newsfeeds and even our radio waves, it can be easy to get distracted from taking care spiritually. Too many times, we go about our day and forget our spiritual well-being. This neglect can lead to stress upon stress and all types of discombobulation. Avoid that burden, or at least lessen the blow. In this article, I’m going to give you a few tips that will help you get ya’ spirit right and keep it that way! Don’t let the Devil use you: Negative vibes are the worst. When people have a negative mindset, it can be easy to engage in that behavior. Sometimes it can be easier said than done, but withholding your own negative vibes will save your life. If someone comes at you with some BS,

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Stop… Breathe… Think: Do not do anything, or respond to anyone, before you take a second to think. You might not be in the best frame of mind all day every day, but you can find time to breathe. It can save you stress from responding in an unintentional manner. Listen with your heart: Be attentive when engaging with people. You should be willing to listen actively, and at times you might have to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Listening with your entire heart allows

you to show compassion and will help encourage a loving spirit. Live with a loving spirit: When going through life, we can be caught off guard by unexpected circumstances. If we live with a loving spirit, then we will be more likely to spread positive vibes and energy. This loving spirit works hand in hand with listening from your heart. You’ll be less likely to turn to anger or hate if you fill your life with love. At a young age, I was taught that there is power in the tongue. Growing into adulthood, I’ve learned that my spirit is what has led my thoughts, actions, and words. I encourage you to #GetYaSpiritRight so you can tackle your goals and spread that love and positive vibes. Wishing you the best of luck on your spiritual journey, no matter where you are on the path.

XOXO, SCIENCE There is no cure, but science is still in the battle against HIV. Today’s HIV treatments may help you get to undetectable. That means the amount of virus is so low it can’t be measured in lab tests. Ask your healthcare provider about HIV and treatment options.

Learn about an HIV-1 treatment option at

XOXOSCIENCE.COM

TM

XOXOSCIENCE.COM, GILEAD, and the GILEAD Logo are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. © 2018 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. UNBC5531 05/18


COVER FEATURE |

| COVER FEATURE you to see where we are now, but we don’t want

come to a space designed just for them to feel

I don’t want to wait until it’s time to pass the

always used is being very vulnerable with people,

my assignment. So whatever I have to do to fulfill

succession plan is very important to me. Every

to share how we got there. So one tool that I’ve being very authentic with people to the point

that it hurts, to the point that I’m like, “Did I really

have to tell you that?” But I know that sharing my process helps to encourage others to face and embrace their own process.

Now, at 32, I have mastered staying retained into care and staying virally suppressed. But I still

battle depression as a side effect of the political

landscape we live in, grappling with what it means

for me to be a Black man, a Black gay man, a Black gay man living with HIV, a Black gay man living

with HIV in the South, a Black gay man living with

welcomed, empowered, and affirmed. That was my assignment, I believe I have to make those things happen.

There’s also an egotistical aspect to my

commitment, I have to admit. There’s a part of me, my advocacy, my activism, that is driven by ego. I think that’s true for many leaders. King had an

ego. X had an ego. Maxine Waters now has an ego. And there’s good ego and bad ego. The good ego gives us the confidence to stand before people and believe we can truly make a difference. The bad ego is driven by narcissism, vanity, and the

HIV in the South, who loves God -- struggling with being able to affirm myself to get up and go out and fight a world that says I don’t exist. So I am

still learning to manage my mental health, realizing

How much has changed since you first started working as an HIV and AIDS health advocate? What I’ve really seen change is my own evolution as an advocate, a role that has forced me to mature in order to best fulfil it. Since I first

began this work, I’ve moved from Memphis to

Washington, DC, going from doing community

work on the ground level in Memphis, then moving to DC and really impacting policy and procedure around HIV and AIDS from a national landscape.

My own ability to take care of myself has had to mature over time. There have been times in my

After creating a conference called the Saving

manage my HIV care the way I should have, even

health, wellness and social justice for Black

11 years of advocacy work, that I did not always

while linking other people to care each day. I lost a corporate job while my advocacy work was

still a volunteer endeavor and not yet my career, and soon after was evicted and had my car

repossessed. Losing my income and insurance had meant needing to figure out, “Do I pay for medication, or do I pay for rent?”

During that time, I’ve had to understand as

There’s also a fatigue that happens when linking

categorize ourselves as superheros, fighting

go to church with, people I celebrate with, people

an advocate that everyone is human. We may every single day for social justice issues, for health equity, against racism, against

discrimination, but at the end of the day, we have to take that cape off, remember to take care of ourselves, and remember to have empathy for others.

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peers into care, people I’ve partied with, people I I cry with. As a Black gay man whose personal

life is directly impacted by HIV, I don’t have the opportunity to clock out from social services

at five o’clock. It isn’t something that I can turn

on and off. The fatigue of working with HIV and dealing with my own HIV status led to periods

of wrestling with taking my own medication and going to my own doctors appointments.

Ourselves Symposium (SOS), focused on

LGBTQ people living in the South, I was forced to recognize that I wasn’t even saving myself. I had

to ask myself, “What does it look like for me to be a person who’s linking people into care, a person

who’s advocating and being very public about his HIV status, while not taking care of himself?” So one thing I’m always willing to share with

people is my journey. I often tell people that when I got into care, my CD4 was a two. The lowest

you can go is a zero. So I was literally knocking at death’s door when I finally got into care. People

see this version of my successes and accolades, without knowing my journey or how I got here.

People often are only interested in the product

that they’re striving for, but we have to recognize that there has been a process for getting to the

product. In the Black community, we don’t often like to be vulnerable and transparent. We want

for the conference, not to do busy work, but to really teach my interns about fundraising,

budgeting, hotel negotiations, and establishing relationships with activists and community-

based organizations in other cities. I also started Netherwood Consulting Group, a social impact consulting group designed to build strategy,

strength, meaning and value to help grow the

capacity of other organizations and individual advocates.

What has it taken for you to keep God in your life, as a gay Black man in the South, against whom religious doctrine can often seem targeted? I’ve been in church all of my life, although there

meditate, and spend meaningful time with friends

my grandmother’s God or my parent’s God, but I

was a pivotal moment that I needed to know not

and family.

Elvis Piedra, Photographer

year, I offer a nine-month internship program

that I’m no good to my community if I’m not

taking time to go to counseling, take vacations,

MARVELL L. TERRY

torch to groom the next generation, so a

needed to know this figure, this power, for myself, which really became a matter of building that

relationship for myself and recognizing that God

How have you been able to remain committed to activism and advocacy, even during the times it’s demanded the toughest sacrifices?

does not hate who I am -- that, in fact, he delights in who I am and the person I’m becoming.

My faith, my belief in God, has given me the most support throughout my journey. The first place

I often reflect on the sacrifices that our ancestors

that I spoke publicly about living with HIV was

made. I think about what Ida B. Wells or King

my church in Memphis, which supported me,

or Bayard Rustin or Marlon Riggs had to go

which believed in me, which planted a seed into

through, what sacrifices Langston Hughes,

my non-profit, and which even to this day is still

Barbara Jordan, and so many others had to make.

planting seeds for the work that I do. For me, I

Sacrifice is simply part of the journey of getting to where we need to in order to affect change. Yes, it

recognize that the Black church is what has been

is painful. But it is necessary, in order to ascend to

belief that it’s all about us. For me, my ego plays

I was evicted and on the bus, trying to get people

commitment to people and my community, and

a certain platform. Did the community know that

scheduled for appointments? Did the community

know that I was couch-surfing while I was trying to help others get on their feet? The community may not have known that, but those were sacrifices, and they were necessary. Four months ago,

I lost my mother, and planning a conference

throughout her hospitalization meant having to sacrifice a lot of the time I wanted to spend by

her side. I could not get up and say, “My mother

is fighting leukemia, so this year your conference is going to be piss poor.” Again, people are not interested in process, or in sacrifices. People

are interested in a product, and the product was the conference. What people wanted to do was

a significant part in reminding me that I made a

reminding me that my commitment sometimes

means everything else has to be secondary. My ego reminds me that I initially started this work

because I wanted to save another Black gay man, because I didn’t want another Black gay man to feel isolated, and because I didn’t want another

Black gay man to feel alone in a southern city that is bound by religiosity. So I have to remain true to that commitment.

How important is succession planning, to pass the torch to future advocates?

constant in my life as a safe setting. So I often

advocate for the church because I also believe that the Black church has been instrumental in

many social movements, going all the way back

to the civil rights movement. Still, I approach this conversation recognizing the trauma that many

Black gay men, or Black LGBTQ individuals have suffered at the hand of the Black church. So the

Black church must also continue to be challenged about how it treats minority communities when it

comes to matters concerning LGBTQ individuals, HIV, and reproductive justice, just to name a few. Find out more about the 7th Annual Saving

Ourselves Symposium (SOS), which will take place in Charleston, South Carolina, May 29 - June 2,

2019. Registration opens on December 1, 2018: www.trdfoundation.com.

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HEALTH & WELLNESS |

| HEALTH & WELLNESS

assist with educational assistance and offsetting legal costs. When these laws were first created in 1986, they were considered guardians of public health, regarded as a way to protect against new transmissions of the virus, as well as to criminalize intentional transmissions of the virus. But decades later, the emphasis on “intentional transmission” has been lost and is often too confused with general exposure. Also, these laws became further weaponized as a requirement with the then emerging Ryan White Funding legislation in 1990, but that requirement was removed in 2000.

FIGHTING AGAINST HIV CRIMINALIZATION: The Sanjay Johnson Story Cornelius Mabin, Jr., CEO Arkansas RAPPS, Inc.

his nightmarish scenario began in T August 2017, for Sanjay Johnson of Little Rock, Arkansas. Johnson was

your typical 24-year-old gay millennial, taking a break from college to work as a customer service representative, discovering his passion for art and photography, and dealing with life as it presented itself.

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Unfortunately, Johnson also faced dealing with an array of past traumas which included molestation as a minor, school bullying, a heavyhanded disciplinarian of a father, and faith-based terrorism which caused tremendous stress and violence in his journey to understand his sexuality without any true support systems to rely on.

Furthermore, his life continued to spiral out of control in 2012 with the loss of his beloved mother and maternal grandmother, along with ultimately being diagnosed with HIV. Johnson shared, “My view of shame caused me to become more secluded during that time. I was made to feel that this situation was my punishment and I would never be loved.” And as if matters couldn’t get worse, on that August day, he was arrested for “knowingly transmitting HIV/ AIDS” based on a complaint from an individual he’d met on a social media dating site. As he sat in jail for seven days, he suffered additional humiliation ranging from jail personnel personally pointing him out to others as “HIV-infected,” to having his mugshot shared across social media while he had no ability to respond or provide any context. “I couldn’t believe this was happening to me,”

said Johnson. “People were saying hateful, uneducated and embarrassing things about me without knowing my situation. People backed away from me in silence which caused me to have some depression, anxiety and even thoughts of suicide. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through.” During Johnson’s ordeal, he turned to a local community-based entity, Arkansas RAPPS, for assistance and guidance concerning his detainment, securing bail for his eventual release and legal resources. After being contacted, the organization deployed its Peer 2 Peer specialist to assess his circumstances, to resolve dilemmas concerning contact with his immediate family and work supervisors, and to enlist collaborations with other area entities for determining the best of course of action. After his release, the organization supported Johnson with transportation to court appearances and established a legal justice fund to

In a case study entitled “Science vs. Stigma The Continued Criminalization of HIV,” the study’s producer Jessica Wapner states, “Even in the absence of condoms and medication — and despite a well-cultivated cultural perception to the contrary — HIV has never been that easy to transmit. Receptive anal intercourse with an HIVpositive partner carries a 1.38 percent chance of transmitting the virus.” In other words, on average, it takes 72 such exposures to get infected. For an uninfected woman having vaginal sex with an infected but asymptomatic man, the risk is 0.08 percent or 1 in 1,250 exposures. An uninfected man having sex with an infected woman runs a 1 in 2,500 chance of contracting HIV. Oral sex poses a very low risk to an HIV-negative giver or receiver. She concludes, “In this light, even by the most conservative measure, the risk of HIV transmission is far lower than popularly understood. And when protection and modern medications are deployed, that risk is as close to zero as possible without actually being zero.” Currently, there are more than 30 U.S. states with laws criminalizing HIV positive status -- laws that the American Medical Association, the U.S. Department of Justice, and a host other organizations believe must be modernized and/ or changed. Current evidence from the Arkansas HIV Reform Initiative, which was established with a mission to mobilize individuals living with HIV and educate key stakeholders and targeted lawmakers, suggests that individuals such as Johnson, who was undetectable at the time of this arrest, are unlikely to transmit any virus to their sexual partners. Organizers have a goal of circulating data from various sources to show that criminalizing HIV spreads misinformation, encourages HIV discrimination, serves as a detriment to HIV screening, and

contributes to the burgeoning issue of our nation’s prison industrial complex. The group further cites significant evidence that shows there are fundamental forces driving criminalization and mass imprisonment which echo the same forces of economic inequality, racism, homophobia, and gender-based discrimination that fueled the initial HIV/AIDS epidemic. Further evidence highlights that for Black men with HIV, criminalization case sentences are harsher than for their white counterparts. Johnson optimistically expressed, “I

was so fortunate to attend both the Black United Leadership Institute and the HIV Is Not A Crime Training Academy this year, which was great mental therapy. It gave me the support system that I needed. After witnessing all those survivors, social justice activists, and people fighting to change these laws, I was totally inspired to stay alive and fight for these changes.” The Johnson Case is scheduled for October 2018 jury trial and there is a legal defense fund activated to assist with legal expenses at http://fnd.us/

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SPIRITUALITY |

| SPIRITUALITY

News Flash: I Believe God By Dr. Darnell Gooch, Jr.,

Cathedral of Praise Church of Memphis, Inc. Overseer/Pastor

T

rump’s administration is by far one of the most egregious in U.S. American history. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ colloquialism of trying to undermine, undercut and discriminate against the LGBTQ community by creating a “religious liberty” task force is not only ludicrous but it is a downright disrespect to our democracy, faith and SOTUS’s ruling on marriage equality. The world is watching as its once leading country now becomes the laughingstock of the universe with its narrow view of religious liberty. First and foremost, if our government states that there is supposed to be a separation between church and government, then why is the head of the Department of Justice creating a “religious liberty” task force challenging the traditions of religious freedom? It is evident that neither No. 45 nor Jeff Sessions are students of the Bible and true followers of Christ because if they were, then their fight would be centered on confronting and defeating the traditions of an evangelical gospel that discriminates and oppresses anyone who isn’t Christian, heterosexual or white. Even the historical

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Jesus of the Bible didn’t enforce hatred and bigotry in a nation that he was expected to lead. Our government should not be using the words “In God We Trust” to sanction discrimination in healthcare, our U.S. borders, the rights of women to reproduce, LGBTQ communities, or against black and brown people. It is not the right of the government to fail in serving the people, by creating a hostile white supremacist takeover for a religious movement. This country was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, as penned by Thomas Jefferson in 1776 in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. It is obvious that No. 45 and Jeff Sessions missed the part that says everyone is endowed, by their Creator, with unalienable Rights, and that are among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The Fourteenth Amendment of our Constitution even further enforces that no state shall deny individuals equal protection of the laws. And yet the religious fanatics of this New White House have disgraced these founding principles with their unrelenting racism, xenophobia, patriarchy and greed. News flash: iBelieve in God too and as a pastor, student of the gospel, theologian, and scholar even I know not to force my religious beliefs upon anyone. I knew in advance about God through the stories and experiences of my ancestors which

later prompted me to gain my own experience that reminded me, like the late Dr. James Cone, that God was a God of the oppressed. Jesus was just like me, a boy who grew up in the slums of the ghetto, born as a bastard child who one day grew to be a preacher, prophet, social advocate and someone special. If everyone is ever to be invited to have a seat at the table, then perhaps America needs to have an Acts 2 experience by affording everyone the right to be worthy enough to God. Our differences shouldn’t deny us access to a loving, welcoming and accepting God who doesn’t refer to NFL players as “SOBs,” LeBron James as the dumbest man on television or other countries as “s-hole countries” as No. 45 has previously stated. We must stop misrepresenting God in ways that make it hard for people to represent God. Truth of the matter is, for our religious conservatives, there are a whole lot of other things in the Bible that ought to challenge us to deploy better values and principles than wasting taxpayers’ money arguing about baking a cake that’s geared to an ancient heteronormative social structure, denial of a woman’s right to choose what she does reproductively, or building a wall to keep out communities who are seeking better lives. #iAmJesus #iSuffered #iAmLiberated #iAmUnleashed

Where I most find GOD By Beth Trouy

I

once believed I didn’t have a need for organized religion anymore. After all the harm, confusion atnd pain it had brought into my life, I felt I could do just fine on my own. I could find God outside of church in people, in nature, and within myself. It’s true, of course -- God does exist in all of those places. In fact, I didn’t need to “find” God at all. God was already there, and is here with me now. It wasn’t God’s presence I was missing but the awareness of God’s presence. This is where organized religion comes in… most of what I know about God I learned from my church. Yes, I learned some bad theology, but I also picked up some good theology. I just needed the wisdom of discernment to know the difference. More importantly, I just needed to find a church community that embraced diversity and saw me as a vital contribution to the community, not in spite of my sexual orientation, but because of it. So why do I need religion to experience God? First, I need it to broaden my perspective. I can only see God with my own limited vision. Other believers have devoted their entire lives to deepening their understanding of God, and I can learn

a lot about God from them. In seeing God through their eyes, my own perception of my Creator becomes clearer. Yes, I can read books, and I can listen to others in my community. But if that’s all I do, I am still missing out on the wisdom and mentoring provided by trained clergy in leading me closer to God. The faith community also gives me a broader vision of God in human form that I could never see on my own. God is within them too. In our being present together, God becomes multidimensional, in “surround sound” in ways I could never otherwise imagine or understand. As a gay Christian, I also help broaden their vision and help them see God in people very different from themselves so they too can learn to love all people more deeply. God’s love multiplies in our shared relationships together. Secondly, I need the church to focus my energy and order my priorities. Leonard Cohen once said, “The blizzard of the world has crossed the threshold and overturned the order of my soul.” The more I am in the world, the more the world is in me. The more focused I am on my priorities and my needs, the more they consume my life. If I don’t take time to remove myself from my world, I become more lost in it. My purpose in life

becomes just that – mine. Yet the discipline of organized religion in community with others keeps me focused on life beyond this world. I remain grounded in my commitment to priorities outside of my world. Lastly, I need religion to help pay it forward. It is not enough to realize God’s love for me; I must give it to others also. Yes, I can do this in my own profound ways, but I alone am a candle in the darkness. In community, we become a lighthouse, a massive beacon to light the way for an entire city, or even the world. My singular efforts pale in comparison to the power of a community working together to bring God’s love into the world. St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are forever restless, until they rest in You (God).” The faith community I choose for myself best connects me to God in ways I could never do on my own. My diversity enriches its capacity to love as much as it does mine. My church is my eyes when I cannot see God clearly, my feet when I cannot stay grounded on the path to God, and my superpower when I am not strong enough to carry God on my own into a world in need of God’s boundless love. There, my restless heart finds my true love.

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What is BIKTARVY®? BIKTARVY is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in adults. It can either be used in people who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before, or people who are replacing their current HIV-1 medicines and whose healthcare provider determines they meet certain requirements. BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS. HIV-1 is the virus that causes AIDS.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION What is the most important information I should know about BIKTARVY? BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects: � Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you have both HIV-1 and HBV and stop taking BIKTARVY, your HBV may suddenly get worse. Do not stop taking BIKTARVY without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to monitor your health.

Who should not take BIKTARVY? Do not take BIKTARVY if you take: � dofetilide � rifampin � any other medicines to treat HIV-1

What are the other possible side effects of BIKTARVY? Serious side effects of BIKTARVY may also include: � Changes in your immune system. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any new symptoms after you start taking BIKTARVY. � Kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider should do blood and urine tests to check your kidneys. If you develop new or worse kidney problems, they may tell you to stop taking BIKTARVY. � Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death.

Get HIV support by downloading a free app at MyDailyCharge.com

Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat. � Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or stomach-area pain. The most common side effects of BIKTARVY in clinical studies were diarrhea (6%), nausea (5%), and headache (5%). Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that bother you or don’t go away.

What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking BIKTARVY? � All your health problems. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you have or have had any kidney or liver problems, including hepatitis virus infection. � All the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, antacids, laxatives, vitamins, and herbal supplements. BIKTARVY and other medicines may affect each other. Keep a list of all your medicines and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist, and ask if it is safe to take BIKTARVY with all of your other medicines. � If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if BIKTARVY can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant while taking BIKTARVY. � If you are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed. HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in breast milk. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Ask your healthcare provider if BIKTARVY is right for you.

Please see Important Facts about BIKTARVY, including important warnings, on the following page.

KEEP SHINING. Because HIV doesn’t change who you are. BIKTARVY is a 1-pill, once-a-day complete HIV-1 treatment for adults who are either new to treatment or whose healthcare provider determines they can replace their current HIV-1 medicines with BIKTARVY.

BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS.

BIKTARVY.COM


FASHION || FASHION

IMPORTANT FACTS

This is only a brief summary of important information about BIKTARVY® and does not replace talking to your healthcare provider about your condition and your treatment.

(bik-TAR-vee) MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT BIKTARVY BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects, including: • Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you have both HIV-1 and HBV, your HBV may suddenly get worse if you stop taking BIKTARVY. Do not stop taking BIKTARVY without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to check your health regularly for several months.

ABOUT BIKTARVY BIKTARVY is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in adults. It can either be used in people who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before, or people who are replacing their current HIV-1 medicines and whose healthcare provider determines they meet certain requirements. BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS. HIV-1 is the virus that causes AIDS. Do NOT take BIKTARVY if you also take a medicine that contains: • dofetilide • rifampin • any other medicines to treat HIV-1

BEFORE TAKING BIKTARVY Tell your healthcare provider all your medical conditions, including if you: • Have or have had any kidney or liver problems, including hepatitis infection. • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. • Are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you have HIV-1 because of the risk of passing HIV-1 to your baby. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take: • Keep a list that includes all prescription and over-thecounter medicines, antacids, laxatives, vitamins, and herbal supplements, and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist. • Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist about medicines that interact with BIKTARVY.

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF BIKTARVY BIKTARVY can cause serious side effects, including: • Those in the “Most Important Information About BIKTARVY” section. • Changes in your immune system. • New or worse kidney problems, including kidney failure. • Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat. • Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or stomach-area pain. • The most common side effects of BIKTARVY in clinical studies were diarrhea (6%), nausea (5%), and headache (5%). These are not all the possible side effects of BIKTARVY. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new symptoms while taking BIKTARVY. Your healthcare provider will need to do tests to monitor your health before and during treatment with BIKTARVY.

HOW TO TAKE BIKTARVY Take BIKTARVY 1 time each day with or without food.

GET MORE INFORMATION • This is only a brief summary of important information about BIKTARVY. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to learn more. • Go to BIKTARVY.com or call 1-800-GILEAD-5. • If you need help paying for your medicine, visit BIKTARVY.com for program information.

BIKTARVY, the BIKTARVY Logo, DAILY CHARGE, the DAILY CHARGE Logo, LOVE WHAT’S INSIDE, GILEAD, and the GILEAD Logo are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. Version date: February 2018 © 2018 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. GILC0396 04/18

M

arquise Foster is a fashion designer from Oakland, California who moved to New York in 2009 to pursue his dreams after his penchant for style led to an interest in the fashion world. His goal was to influence trends by introducing a style of his own that would be viewed as a work of art. He studied fashion on his own, taught himself how to use a sewing machine, introduced himself to new construction techniques, and kept himself abreast of any and everything related to mastering the craft of designing and making his own clothes. After interning for local designers to further solidify his skill set, Marquise was ready to step out on his own and introduce his art to the world.

Growing up with exposure to diverse cultures and an eclectic taste in music played a huge part in how Marquise views the world around him and what themes are manifested in his designs, through which he aims to create garments that promote positive body image and encourage loving the skin you’re in. His characteristic use of lace in his designs emerged after studying the history of one of his favorite fashion icons, Coco Chanel and the Chanel empire, which opened his mind to a new world of fashion concepts and inspired him to focus on creating relatable garments for a reasonable price.

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CELEBRITY FEATURE |

| COMMMUNITY CULTURE

Brennan Villines discusses his appearance on The Four, using his platform to empower others, and the message that shines through his latest music.

LOVE, LIFE & RESPECT:

THE IMPORTANCE OF A GAY FAMILY/ HOUSE H

ere in 2018, I look back at 20 years ago -- and now I truly understand how important a strong gay family is to the growth of a successful LGBTQA person in today’s society, even more so now that we have 45 in office. Today, a lot of youth don’t respect the battles the “OLD GIRLS” had to overcome so that they could be who they are now. And most of all, they don’t understand the true meaning of a gay family. I, myself, as a mother within a family, feel I play a very important role. All mothers/sisters/aunts within the LGBTQA community play an important role in the lives of their kids and family members. Within my family, I am a very demanding parent. First, I make sure that my children know there is more to life then sex and clubs. We as parents must let the younger kids know that they only have one life, and that its outcomes depend on how they live. There are quite a few things that

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today’s youth can get into that will change their lives completely. I have seen older men prey on youth simply because younger men are like a new toys to them. They will play the role of a sugar daddy, giving money, clothes and even drugs for a chance to “play” with them, like hunters luring their prey. Times like those can really prove how important it is for parents to step in and make sure that children know their value. Looking back on the Cassadine Family legacy, I see so many important traits that Tanisha instilled in all of us. The kids in this house are driven to be successful in so many different ways. My sister Keosha Cassadine was one of Memphis’ most talent hairstylists. And her son Trent is a celebrity makeup artist with hands blessed by God. From Atlanta, my sister Taliyah is the CEO of the Say No 2 Silicone campaign. Also, my sis Aria is the current reigning Miss

Black America. And as for myself, I have been working for over five years with one of the top companies in the Memphis area, and have also been a writer for The Unleashed Voice Magazine for the past year. When you plant great seeds, you get a great harvest. Now some may wonder in 2018, what is the point of being in a gay family/ house? Meanwhile, we, the elders of the community, are sitting back watching the decline of the gay scene and saying nothing until it’s too late. So let’s show the younger generation the point of being part of something great. Show them that they’ve either got stand for something, or they’ll fall for anything. And most of all, make sure we compel them to understand their right to VOTE. IN LOVING MEMORY OF TANISHA & KEOSHA CASSADINE. KYRA BONET ST-JAMES CASSADINE

How did it feel to make it to the challenge phase of The Four? It was pretty exhilarating. My main goal for the show was, “No matter how it turns out, just get out there and do the best job that you can possibly do.” That was my message to myself. When I was backstage, I knew that i was going to have to challenge Sharaya J., and of course, she was a huge favorite longstanding member of The Four. So I knew she would be the toughest one to beat of the night. Not only were we completely different genres, but she’d also been on the show for four episodes already. So she had a little bit of fan base. And no matter how well you do sometimes, your studio audience is the one that votes in this particular show. So they had already gotten a chance to see her in weeks prior, and it’s tough to beat somebody in that position. So I just did exactly what I set out to do, which was go and do a great job and get nothing but great feedback and positive reactions. On The Four you spoke very candidly about your recovery and HIV status. How liberating is it for you to tell your own story?

Brennan Villines UnPlugged INTERVIEW

From day one, when I found out I was positive, I called every single close friend that I knew. That was how I coped with not only being HIV positive, but also with going through a meth problem. It’s best for me to get something out in the open in order to deal with it, because not only is that very liberating to yourself, but it helps you be held accountable by those who love you. Being an artist, I also think it’s important to use your platform. Anyone with a platform to stand on where people are looking at you and looking up to you, it’s never a bad idea to share things that you’re going through because you never know how many people you’re going to touch, or be able to empower. I got over 3000 messages

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NEWS CONT’D | |CELEBRITY HEALTH & WELLNESS

TRANSMOVEMENT | not a big deal,” I think it really touched a lot of people. And that’s exactly why I’m open about it. We are so far along in treatment and the ability to help people if they just get tested and know their status. It’s remarkable what we could accomplish if we just broke down those walls of stigma.

on my Instagram, alone. Half of them were from people who were either in recovery, had just found out that they were positive or have a friend who’s positive, or had just gotten into drugs or off of drugs. There was a whole laundry list of things that people poured out to me and said, “Thank you.” I’ve never seen anyone on TV who’s openly admitted that they were HIV positive. I’m sure it’s happened before, but it doesn’t happen often. So for people to see somebody stand up on the stage and confidently say, “This is who I am. This is what I go through. It’s

Let’s talk about your three new singles Bad Habit, Make it Work, and Better Than You’ve Ever Been. Your songs always have a deep meaning or message behind them. What are you revealing to listeners through these songs? Bad Habit is a playful look back on my relationship when I got into methamphetamines. It’s almost as if I’m addressing the drug itself, but it’s really about a relationship. So it’s still relatable to people who don’t struggle with drugs, since it also works on a relationship level. Make it Work, the second single, is a ballad about confronting myself in the

mirror, going through the withdrawals and the pain of using drugs everyday. Better Than We’ve Ever Been, my third single, just came out at the end of July, but I wrote that after I participated in the Black Lives Matter March in Memphis, in 2016. I literally went home that same night and wrote this song. It’s an indie pop, upbeat cheerful happy song, but it is about all of the struggles that we go through in society. And you can break it down to a single person, or to society itself. The chorus basically talks about when everybody falls down, and comes together, and gets back up, we’re better than we’ve ever been. What’s next for Brennan Villines? We’re releasing the rest of my EP, titled Make it Work. There’s five songs, and we will be wrapping up that release shortly. After that release, I’ll just be continuing to make music here in New York, and growing my career in the music industry.

Being Black and Trans Seeking Spirituality By Renae Taylor, Contributor to TUV Magazine

I

t’s been really hard being here in what we called the Buckle of the Bible Belt, Tennessee. I was raised Southern Baptist, in a small town in Northeast Mississippi. I attended church until I was old enough to say it was my decision, and that I wasn’t going anymore. I used to jokingly say, “I’m a Christian on probation,” because I’ve stayed away from organized religion. Every so often, the minister on Sunday would make sure to do a brimstone and damnation sermon about being gay. I always thought it was rather ironic that the Minister of Music seemed to be gay. But I also always thought I was unworthy of God’s Love, and that I was headed straight to hell. My stepmother told me that I was different, and that I was going to be gay. And yes, I did identify as gay, as a step in my evolution, although I now identify as being non-binary trans.

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But as I got older, I found myself wanting to get baptised. I wanted to, for a long time. I mentioned it to one of my friends during our work for HIV prevention, sharing with her that most of the ministers I’d spoken to wouldn’t baptise me if I was not a member of their Church. My friend told me not to worry about it -- that she would talk to her pastor and see what she said about it. Next thing I knew, I was meeting her pastor for lunch and telling her about what it would mean to me to be baptised. After our discussion, she told me she would baptise me whether I was a member of her church or not. I attended a few classes at her church, where I was the only adult getting baptised at that time. I felt so welcomed at her church that I did eventually end up joining her congregation. So I kind of did everything backwards, but with the same effect. The Church

was so open and affirming for me at that time in my life. I have lots of friends who have been so hurt by Church that they won’t attend any church at all. But some of the most spiritual people I’ve met lately are trans or LGBT people. Some of my friends label their churches as “That Gay Church”. But I have never labeled a church as a “gay” church just because they are open and affirming with the LGBT community. I feel like we all have a connection with God, and that we all commune with God in different ways. In any case, it says so much about how loving and forgiving LGBT people can be, that we are still able to seek out ways to embrace a religion that for so long seemed to insist there was no place for us. And it says so much about the persistence of God’s love, that it is still finding its way to us and proving that there is.

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The basis for this project was a way of reconnecting with a journal that I burned when I was sixteen or seventeen.

S

omeone asked me what I would have told that kid, if I had known then what I know now. Initially, I had no answer. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how many things there were concerning my sexuality that I had still not overcome, or even dealt with, by that age. There is so much that I’ve spoken to God about and learned since then. It’s too late to pass on those lessons to the teenage version of myself who’d rather burn his secrets than face them, but I know there are other SGL men and women who are still in need of perspective. For so long, I had this idea of what GAY looked like, not only from my skewed perspective but from others’ verbal perspectives as well. I thought that GAY looked a certain way, and that I therefore had to act and react a certain way. I thought that GAY was only what the media showed in terms of over-thetop effeminate comic relief, for the sake of saying, “Our show/event has some

form of diversity,” however slight. But those false ideals had nothing to do with the totality of the man God made me to be. It created an unfair and often unfamiliar relationship with my own self-identity and self-worth, to grow up forced to deny the specific image of God etched in me. This book takes a look at a few of my life experiences, and how I overcame challenges that I faced as a queer Black Man. It depicts what it took for me to finally grow up, as well as captures the PTSD of my same gender loving existence. It is my hope that by sharing this artistic rendering of my life, others will also begin sharing their stories so that we can expunge our pasts, heal, regroup, and become whole enough, as a people, to rebuild our humanity. I’m doing my part for our culture, and this book is my call to action for others to do the same. Ase.

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| COVER FEATURE

“The very word church now sends a chilling gust of cold air up my spine!”

By: Abidemi O. Kayode In the The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin asserts that, “When the white man came to Africa, the white man had the Bible and the African had the land, but now it is the white man who is being, reluctantly and bloodily, separated from the land, and the African who is still attempting to digest or to vomit up the Bible.” It is for that reason that I changed my name, and that I am genuinely trying to reconnect to my roots in Africa and distance myself from whiteness, White Supremacy, and its whitewashed religiosity.

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I find Westernized religion to be both vexing and mesmerizing. It has been able to accomplish what no other

institution can successfully purport, which is to change hearts and minds. The very word church now sends a bone-chilling gust of cold air up my spine. For me, it has become synonymous with brainwashing, tyranny, hatred, and self-loathing. Ideologically, I can understand its existence. The need for structure, guidance, and regulation of the spirit can compel a person to want to meander in the hallowed vestibules of a church and its sanctuary, so it is with an understanding heart that I deconstruct the church and religion. For me there was never any equidistance to Christianity; you were either a saint or a sinner. Reflectively, I remember not quite being saved enough to not be considered a sinner. There was always the question of, “Am

I living right? Am I walking and talking with the Lord? Is my life a reflection of the Christ in me? What would Jesus do?” The cynic in me now asks, “Would Jesus read the bible since he was only around for half of it? Does Jesus get a refresher course, or is the bible only for the sentient beings?” Most people ingest my words as an attack and spit them back at me with enmity because I liberated myself from the ideological discontentment that I found in Christianity. Though I would never attack Christianity, I do question any religiosity that gives zealots the bravado to demean, demoralize, and dehumanize other people. I thought if I could just live another day to make things right with Christ then I would be issued a stamp on my

heavenly passport. Then, on the other hand, there was all that carnal sin in which I had participated, where I let my flesh direct my path instead of being led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14). In Galatians 5:19-21, it clearly states that “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” After reading that for years, I wanted to make a list of people that would be guaranteed a spot in heaven. I would venture to say it would be a short list. I definitely wouldn’t make

the list. I remember attending the funeral of a murdered fraternity brother in 2013. Marco was openly gay. Not one person at the service acknowledged that he was gay or that he was going to heaven, but they all raved about how kindhearted, intelligent, and successful he had been. There was even a plea to forgive his presumably straight killer, but still no heaven for a sissy. I was sitting in my seat steaming at the sheer audacity of a heterosexist patriarchal institution shunning a black man who had done the work of which the Bible speaks. I seethed and I thought I would even combust. But I, as a Christian, was no different because I said nothing in his defense. Even though I was disgusted, I only sat and stewed in my

own shame, my own sissiness. After that day, I never stepped one foot inside a church to worship ever again. Fighting my desires to make it into heaven to meet God was an exhaustive battle to which I finally conceded. I no longer wanted a long white robe, a crown, or wings, so I gave up the pursuit of salvation via religion. I settled for good old common sense and the subsequent liberation of my mind. The weight of the world was instantaneously lifted off my shoulders. Finally, I accepted that I didn’t need a deity or a religious text, or preachers, or saints. I had to develop my own concept of salvation and what it means to be one’s true and authentic self to truly be religious, in the context of following one’s path to authenticity.

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SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR |

SEXUALITY AND MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD By Monika M. Pickett

Contributing Writer for TUV Magazine

I

’ve always honored spirituality over religion.

I wasn’t raised in the church, and yet I knew I

could always talk to God. I have fond memories of

my grandparents sporadically taking me to church with my aunts and uncle. I didn’t understand

terms for lesbians) in the neighborhood. They

presented themselves, versus who they really

hell. Their voices became whispers as they hissed

who I will never forget. I never knew his real name,

called them nasty; they said they were going to about how those women didn’t know God.

the pastor’s sermons on the “abomination” of

I began to question the ideals that were forced

somehow I knew his words pertained to me. As

homosexuality. Will God love me if I question

same-sex relations, with fire and brimstone, but I matured, the judgmental rhetoric pushed me further and further away from the church.

I knew I was different from other little girls at a

young age. I liked girls. I didn’t understand what

that meant in terms of societal norms, but I knew

it wasn’t good. I often overheard adults talk about the “bull dykes” or “bull daggers” (derogatory

28

upon me regarding religion, spirituality and

religion? Is spirituality more important than

religion? Does God love gays and lesbians? I struggled with the broad view that gays and lesbians don’t have a relationship with God. I realized that among many self-confessed

Christians, sins are cherry-picked to fit personal, religious and political agendas.

I observed the differences between how people

were. I thought of an individual from my childhood

lights come on!” Spooney seemed like a kind and

some of my darkest hours, I realized that I could

to find humor in challenging situations. I couldn’t

but everyone called him “Spooney.” He was a drag

community because of his sexual identity.

ego and surrender to God’s will and not my own.

A father asks his young son, who is struggling to

queen who lived with his mother. Spooney had

gentle man. And yet, he was shunned within the

to be at least six feet tall with the most beautiful

Contrarily, the fair-skinned, green-eyed bass

hymns as he sat on his front stoop. He was also

village. My grandmother and her neighbors could

legs I had ever seen. He was known to hum church known to sprint across the courtyard at dawn in booty shorts and high heels. My grandmother said he was trying to get home before anyone

saw him “dressed like a damned fool.” He must have recognized something in me because he

always looked out after me. He would lean out the window, watching the kids play. His deep baritone voice always startled me. He said, “All right now,

missy. Get your little self home before these street

player of the church choir was the talk of the

not stop talking about how “Godly” Kent was.

My stomach turned whenever I heard his name. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I

thought of the many times he’d tried to lure me into his mother’s apartment with a bribe of ice

not lean on anyone but God. I had to let go of my There were people in my life who questioned

the spiritual transformation they witnessed in

me. I recall a conversation with a heterosexual

acquaintance. She said, “When did you become

so holier than thou? Are you still in that life?” I took a deep breath before responding. I said, “If you

can ask me a question like that, knowing what I’ve been through, then you don’t know me at all.”

cream.

My relationship with God has become stronger

As I matured, I was ashamed for turning away

baffled by my heterosexual counterparts who

from the church. I began to look inward. During

help but think of my favorite video on YouTube.

fasten his car seat belt, if he needs help. The little boy continues to tussle with the seat belt as he

answers, “No … Thank you. No ... Thank you.” His father asks him, “What do you want me to do?” Without looking up, the little boy says, “Worry

‘bout yourself!” And that is the first thought that pops into my head when questioned about my relationship with God: Worry ‘bout yourself!

with each burden I’ve endured. Yet I am still

question my relationship with God. I always try

29


Rayceen’s Community Advocate Awards 2018

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Comfort Zone. She is an advocate for local

in College Park, Maryland, since 2008. While they

provides support to performers, contestants, and

Comfort Zone, “the grocery store for grown ups,” offer a wide variety of lotions, potions, lingerie,

and toys, Comfort Zone also provides much more. In addition to their menu of items, from “fast

food” to “five star meal plans,” they sponsor nonprofit organization events, co-host events with

entertainers, and teach classes on topics such as health, wellness, and pleasure.

Niqui Hayden Comfort Zone

Born in the District of Columbia and raised in

photographed by Hugh Clarke

She identifies – if she must pick a label – as

the Mid-Atlantic region, Niqui previously worked as a Program Manager on federal contracts.

“heteroflexible,” has been married to her husband for over ten years, and is the proud mother of a daughter in law school.

artisans in the commercial marketplace; she

contest winners; and she vends at members-only events and is in training to become a monitor.

Niqui interacts with a wide array of people and strives to create safe spaces for all.

Niqui has been an active supporter of The Ask Rayceen Show since doing a segment for our

“Sexy AF Season Finalé” in 2017. Comfort Zone

has provided discount cards, gift receipts, single use products, and merchandise for gift bags,

prize bags, and as raffle prizes for various Team Rayceen events. We appreciate all she does to help our events and to educate and empower everyone she has the opportunity to meet.

Niqui’s work in the community extends beyond Dave Ring is the chair of the OutWrite LGBT Book Festival in Washington, DC. He started volunteering on the planning committee about four years ago. After first being a co-chair a couple years ago, he now chairs the event solo.

Dave Ring OutWrite LGBT Book Festival photographed by Jeff Salmore

Presented by Rayceen Pendarvis, HRH

I am pleased to once again to present Rayceen’s Community Advocate Awards (RCAA) here in the pages of The Unleashed Voice Magazine. RCAA is my opportunity to recognize the efforts of people who are advocating for their communities and doing the work to improve the lives of others. I have had the privilege of encouraging and participating in the work of all of this year’s honorees.

Niqui Haden and her husband have been running

Born in Boston and educated in Dublin, Dave has lived in DC since 2011. He is a speculative fiction writer and editor of Broken Metropolis: Queer Tales of a City That Never Was, an anthology which came out this past summer from Mason Jar Press. He’s a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow and a 2018 resident of Futurescapes and Disquiet. Being at the helm of an annual LGBTQ literary festival, which is free and open to the public, has its share of challenges. Much like The Ask Rayceen Show, this event relies upon volunteers, donations, and sponsors – and there is always a need for more of all three. Yet, he manages to gather a spectacular array of authors, poets, publishers, book sellers, and more every first Saturday in August in our Nation’s Capital. My initial contact with Jacen Zhu was via Twitter a couple years ago. When he visited the DC area soon after, we met and had a delightful conversation over dinner. Since then, I have gotten to know this young man and we have discussed what he has experienced in the adult entertainment industry and beyond. He expressed a desire to help others, and I encouraged him to use his platform to do so. Recently, he launched the #TakedownTina initiative to raise awareness of the use of “crystal meth” (a form of methamphetamine) – also known as “Tina” – in our communities.

Jacen Zhu #TakedownTina

photographed by Milos Popovic

Jacen was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and now resides in rural Pennsylvania. He speaks publicly and participates on panels discussing topics such as substance abuse, being HIV positive, and dealing with social stigma. Jacen is also a vegan and a “Whovian” – a fan of the series “Doctor Who” on BBC.

I personally appreciate how diverse OutWrite’s participants are. “Representation in literature is so important for building self and building identity,” Dave explains. “OutWrite is here both to celebrate mainstream successes of LGBTQ folks as well as champion works from independent publishing, to make sure they know we’re here. And that means all communities, not just cis white folks.” I enjoy being the host of OutWrite’s literary lightning round known as “Quick and Dirty” each year. Meeting all the talented people involved is always a pleasure. I am impressed with how many people come into town for this event, presented by The DC Center for the LGBT Community. If you want to be involved with the next OutWrite, please contact Dave! Check out @OutWriteDC on Twitter and visit OutWriteDC.org.

The mission statement of #TakedownTina includes increasing “awareness of crystal meth abuse within queer and trans communities of color.” Online apps first made Jacen aware of how common use of this drug was among queer men of color. After revealing his own struggles with addiction on social media, he wanted to work to bring attention to the increasing number of young men ages 18 to 26 who are engaging in drug use during sexual encounters, also known as PNP (“Party and Play”). To learn more about Jacen’s #TakedownTina initiative, follow @TakedownTina on Twitter, and follow Jacen Zhu on all social media platforms.

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TUV SUPPORTS

Wedding Announcement:

Meet the Dabneys TUV MISSION

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.

TUV VISION

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.

Y

olando Dabney (groom) and Nicol Hunter Dabney (bride) exchanged their “I do’s” on August 4, 2018. From Memphis, TN, after nine years together, Yolando, an aircraft mechanic, and Nicol, a cosmetologist, say their union is one based on love, commitment, communication, trust, and their everlasting faith. “It was such a joyous occasion that we will hold dear to our hearts forever,” Yolanda shared. “I finally got my Cinderella moment, and my soulmate. We are two hearts together, one sound and one beat.”

The Unleashed Voice Magazine 2018 September - October Spirituality Issue  

GOT GOD? This is a worthy question to ask those who traditionally have been denied access to GOD. TUV Magazine has a collection of stories t...

The Unleashed Voice Magazine 2018 September - October Spirituality Issue  

GOT GOD? This is a worthy question to ask those who traditionally have been denied access to GOD. TUV Magazine has a collection of stories t...

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