Rahkel and Malik Graces the Cover of TUV Magazine 2024 PRIDE Issue

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Bishop Oliver Clyde Allen III has done it again. He’s written a new 31-day Self-Sabotage Detox Guide to expeditiously direct you towards greatness.


Actor, model, and Social Media Influencer Trey Pressley tells it all!


American SingerSongwriter and Actress Syleena Johnson headlines The 4th Annual TSB Pride Memphis Music Festival

Meet Rahkel & Malik

In celebration of PRIDE Month, we celebrate the life and loving relationship of Trans Couple Rahkel and Malik. Both are a force to be reckoned with in their respective professions!

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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.


BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects, including:

� Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. Your healthcare provider will test you for HBV. 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, and may give you HBV medicine.


BIKTARVY is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in adults and children who weigh at least 55 pounds. 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


Tell your healthcare provider if you:

� Have or have had any kidney or liver problems, including hepatitis infection.

� Have any other health problems.

� 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.

� Are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of breastfeeding during treatment with BIKTARVY. 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.

� BIKTARVY and other medicines may affect each other. Ask your healthcare provider and pharmacist about medicines that interact with BIKTARVY, and ask if it is safe to take BIKTARVY with all your other medicines.



BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects, including:

� Those in the “Most Important Information About BIKTARVY” section.

� Changes in your immune system. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections that may have been hidden in your body. 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. 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 (6%), 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. 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. Your healthcare provider will need to do tests to monitor your health before and during treatment with BIKTARVY.


Take BIKTARVY 1 time each day with or without food.


� 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® is now approved for more people than ever before.

BIKTARVY is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in certain adults. BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS. Scan to learn more about the latest BIKTARVY update.

BIKTARVY, the BIKTARVY Logo, GILEAD, the GILEAD Logo, and KEEP BEING YOU are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. © 2024 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. US-BVYC-0411 03/24
Gilead. *Note: This information is an estimate derived from the use of information under license from the following IQVIA information service: IQVIA NPA Weekly for the period week ending 04/19/2019 through week ending 05/19/2023. IQVIA expressly reserves all rights, including rights of copying, distribution, and republication. Ask your healthcare provider if BIKTARVY is right for you. NOW THERE’S MORE TO LOVE. Please see Important Facts about BIKTARVY, including important warnings, on the previous page and at BIKTARVY.com.
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08-10 Cover Feature Rahkel & Malik This is Not Ordinary Love 06 | Editor’s Letter Gwendolyn D. Clemons Wave Your Flag 12 | Health & Wellness Dr. Umieca N. Hankton What’s The Evidence That You Are Okay? 15 | Entertainment News Marleaux Jones retroLUV, Volume 1: Vent Sessions” 17 | Community News Southern AIDS Coalition Saving Ourselves Symposium 19 | Spirituality Beth Trouy Rainbow Pride 20 | Special Contributor Brodderick D. Roary Believe in Yourself 23 | Special Contributor David Wyley Long Pride Love 16 22 14 TUV Exclusive Community News Literary Corner Trey Pressley When Boy Meets Boy, A Love Story The LGBTQ+ Documentary Speaking Out Bishop O.C. Allen, III The Success Code Bishop
Allen, III
Dr. Umieca Hankton Special Contributor O.C. Photo by Oran "Prime" Williams


In a world where our democracy seems constantly under threat, it is even more challenging for our trans sisters and brothers. Meet Rahkel and Malik, an incredible couple captivating the internet with their dynamic show, "TransWorld Atlanta." They have chosen to unapologetically showcase what it means to live and love as transgender individuals. We hope that by learning about their lives, you will gain a newfound respect and understanding for trans love.


vividly remember the first time someone told me I was "too gay!" To my surprise and amusement, I hadn't realized such a concept existed. Apparently, there's a subset of "elite gays" who believe being gay should be cloaked in secrecy or extreme discretion. In my view, this is like imposing a heteronormative standard on those who live openly and proudly. I would even argue that these individuals are driven by jealousy, burdened by constant worry about what others might think.

In 2024, I refuse to lead a life of seclusion when there is so much to experience. Why wouldn't I wave my Gay Flag?

"Waving your gay flag" is slang for living unapologetically, unbothered by the opinions of "they, them, and theirs."

We are the people who show affection to our partners in public and refuse to diminish our existence to make others comfortable. It's deeply unsettling to see members

of my own community (LGBTQIA+) attempt to impose unrealistic standards on how we should behave.

June is Pride Month, our time to celebrate diversity, prepare for parades and marches, or simply wear our rainbow colors. However you choose to express your truth, don't let anyone—absolutely no one—diminish your life! Wave that flag proudly and let it fly in their faces!





A: We started conversing on July 17, 2017, on Instagram about the spiritual warfare Malik was experiencing at the time and he reached out for guidance and prayer. We remained in contact and our friendship continued to grow; however, we did not elevate our relationship until June of 2020. This June will mark 4 years that we have been together.


RAHKEL: Our relationship is different first of course because we are both transgender individuals and our relationship came out of our Love for the Lord.

MALIK: I believe we have a very special relationship, because it was born out of our love and passion for God. For me, I fell in love with the way Rahkel loves the Lord, and I didn’t have that in my last relationship.


RAHKEL: It is important that other trans people see it can happen. It is most important that our community, especially trans people, see that we can serve GOD, because God loves us all, and we are worthy of health love and relationship.

MALIK: Representation is important for me as a Trans

To the readers: We simply want to live our lives boldly and unapologetically as who we identify as.

Couple because it shows that love is love and it can exist no matter how you identify.


A: TransWorld Atlanta is about telling stories by real people. Often trans and non-binary stories are told by those that are not transgender or non-binary, but TransWorld allows these individuals to tell their unique and authentic stories. The purpose of TransWorld is to save lives. We want to show young people that they are not alone. We know that often children don't quite have the words for what they feel on the inside but shows like TransWorld Provides representation.

The one thing that we have learned over the years is that representation matters. TransWorld takes a deep dive into those that are living with or at high risk for HIV. TransWorld provides knowledge on what it means to be a transgendered father giving birth. Stories of injustice and hate are also being shared. Every season the TransWorld franchise's

goal is to share stories of empowerment, beauty, love, triumph, and resilience. All Lives Matter and Transgender individuals are human.


RAHKEL: We want your readers to know that we as trans people are human too. We deserve to have the rights to live our lives and the same laws as cis people. The reality is if you cut us, we will bleed just like them. Yes, some of our lives are fascinating but we deserve to live it to the fullest and not live our lives without the fear of thinking that just because we are trans, we don't deserve to be afraid whether we'll make it home just because of someone's insecurities of the self.

MALIK: I would like the readers to know that we are people too, and we just want to exist and be treated fairly. We don’t mean any harm to anyone. We just simply want to live our lives boldly and unapologetically as who we identify as.

A native of Atlantic City, New Jersey. She is the oldest of five children born to Deirdre I. Henry and the late Richard A. Jones. She attended the Public-School System in Atlantic City. Rahkel preached her first sermon titled “The Name of Jesus “at the tender age of fifteen, at her home church Glorious United Pentecostal Church where at the time her Pastor was Robert F. Hargrove II. By the age of nineteen she was clear that she needed to make some decisions to be completely and authentically comfortable in her skin. Rahkel had always known as early as the age of five that there was something different

Ms. Rahkel Rashel Henry

about her. To respond to what she had always felt by the age of twenty-one she began hormonal therapy to aid in her body taking on more of the form of looking like what she had always felt.

At the age of twenty-seven she moved to Atlanta, Georgia where she began to attend church again due to her stopping years prior only to realize that God still had a calling on her life through living in her now new truth of being a transgender woman. She joined a church called Tabernacle Baptist Church whose motto is “A Place of Love and Acceptance” where the pastor is Dennis A. Meredith. His wife at that time decided to assemble a women’s day choir that consisted of biological women, persons who show up as women, and anyone who lived as a woman. Rahkel became a member of the choir, and her world finally came together. Through this experience Rahkel felt complete in her body and now the major components of her life were now cohesive, she was now realigned with the call on her life to ministry.

A few years later she would help to start a ministry in Atlanta, GA called The Vision Church of Atlanta where the pastors and founders were Oliver Clyde Allen and Will Horn. The Vision Church of Atlanta is where she became an ordained elder in the Lord's church. Currently Rahkel is a member of the Rehoboth Fellowship of Atlanta, where her pastor and founder is Bishop Troy Sanders. The church serves in ministry as a part of

The Fellowship of Affirming Ministers led by Bishop Dr. Yevette Flunder of Oakland, CA. To Rahkel’s credit she has spoken on various panels for LGBTQI conferences and has also been the speaker at many LGBTQI community services.

Rahkel performed her first same gender loving marriage in 2018. Rahkel also dedicated the first transitional house in Atlanta for transwomen, through the organization A Vision 4 Hope, under the leadership and direction of Mr. Dwayne Crowder. Rahkel currently works at TWOC Healing Project, where she serves as the Project Coordinator for the healing through the highways campaign.

Many years ago, Rahkel learned that “when purpose is not known abuse is inevitable” and with that being said she continues to do the work that God has called to her hands, both in the church, secular arena, and in the LGBTQI community. Rahkel is an anointed prayer warrior, has been involved in helping couples successfully navigate relationship issues, advocated for the marginalized and underserved communities, and is cherished as a parent to many men and women in the national community.

Malik Brown

Introducing Malik Brown, AKA Malik Santiago. His pronouns are (He, Him, and Sir) and he identifies as a Transgendered Male. Malik is a graduate of Alonzo A. Crim High School located in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2007. Malik attended the Fulton County Public Safety Training Center, where he obtained his Basic Law Enforcement certification as a Mandated Peace Officer for the State of Georgia. Malik earned his associate and bachelor's degrees in criminal justice/ Homeland Security and his Masters’s Degree in Criminal Justice Legal Studies at Saint Leo University. Malik was inducted into the PI Gamm Mu International Honor Society, the Omega Nu Lambda Honors Society, and the Alpha Phi Sigma National Criminal Justice Honors Society.

Malik is the Director of Faith Initiatives for the I Am Human Foundation and serves on the board of Directors of Dream Catchers Foundation, as Head of Transgender Services. Malik is one of the Producers and stars of the groundbreaking Glaad nominated Docu Reality Tv Series -TransWorld Atlanta.

Malik is the 2023 recipient of the Pioneer of Resilience Award, honored and presented by The Trans Life Awards!

Malik is also the founder and father of the Ever-popular House of Santiago, Est 2003.  He Is a living Icon in the community and a legend in the pageantry world, where he has won the titles of Mr. Essence of Beauty (Jackson, MS.), Mr. Savannah Players Ball (Savannah, GA.), Mr. Esquire (Nashville, TN.), Mr. Studd Continental (Atlanta, GA.), Mr. Towers II Entertainer of The Year (Atlanta, GA.), Mr. Phase I Entertainer of the year (Atlanta, GA.), Mr. Atlanta King (Atlanta, GA.), Mr. Black Renaissance (Atlanta, GA.), Mr. Sweetheart International (Jacksonville, FL.) and Mr. South Florida International (Orlando, FL).

All Lives Matter and Transgender
individuals are human.
We’re six months into an active 2024. Goodness. How are you feeling?
If you’re like many folks, your initial response was probably, “I’m okay.”  Well, let me ask differently. At this very moment, what emotions do you feel in your heart?

What’s the evidence

that you are okay?

What sensations do you feel in your body? What messages are you entertaining in your head? Now, how are you really feeling?

For the last two decades, have spent hours inquiring about people’s feelings and uncovering what it means for them to say, “I’m okay,” when they were not.  Through the years, I have learned that “okay” is a default response that doesn’t provide any information about the condition of the person’s head, heart, or spirit.

My clients would be the first to tell you that we begin every session with a temperature check. I want to know how they feel, including the challenging emotions they attempt to camouflage in a neatly wrapped response of “okay.”  When given the response of “okay,” I ask them to check in with themselves and to make contact with the emotions present. Why is this temperature check important? Well, it ushers them into the present moment and allows them to take inventory of what they feel emotionally and physiologically. This presentmoment awareness helps us collaboratively identify what needs to be healed, resolved, or managed. The ability to acknowledge their feelings is a skill I work hard to support them in building. Being able to name their feelings helps them care for themselves based on the feelings present and, when shared with others, allows others the chance to show up for them in a helpful way. In those instances when their response remains, “I’m okay,” I

simply ask for the evidence of their okay-ness. This extended inquiry helps them to name why they are okay and they can use this approach in the future to self-assess their “okay-ness.”

You may be asking, “How do I know if I’m not okay?” Great questions. Examining your T.E.A. (thoughts, emotions, and actions) is one way to determine whether you are okay. A few signs that you are not okay or potentially may be approaching the point of not being okay include the presence of unhelpful, harmful, or overwhelming thoughts. If you are no longer interested in doing things you enjoy, feel lethargic most days, have unexplained body aches or changes in your weight, appetite, sleep, or libido, or find yourself irritable or snappy, these are signs that you may need support. If you find yourself isolating or withdrawing from others, struggling to do the things you typically do with ease, or engaging in numbing behaviors, it is time to ask for help. We have all heard the saying, “It’s okay not to be okay.” support this belief wholeheartedly. AND, it is not okay to remain not okay. It is not okay to camouflage not being okay with a disingenuous “I’m okay.” When people ask, “How are you feeling?” I hope you will dig deep inside your satchel of courage and pull out an honest response that will allow others to see you, hear you, and show up for you. I also hope you will seek the support of a licensed mental health professional to support you along the way. But, until your moment of “not

being okay” passes, consider engaging in the following:

1. Maintain routines (work/ social/family/religious) as routines provide structure and stability

2. Prioritize your needs (consider what requires immediate attention and what you can revisit at a later time)

3. Surround yourself with people who support and uplift you

4. Schedule a consultation appointment with a mental health provider

5. Practice good physical health (nutrition and movement)

6. Lean more into practices you typically enjoy, even if you do not feel like enjoying them at the moment

D r. Umieca N. Hank t o n Dr.
Umieca Hankton (Dr. U.) is a licensed clinical psychologist with over a decade of mental health treatment experience across multiple treatment settings. She founded UNH Counseling Services, a behavioral health agency that deliberately focuses on the psychological health and wellness of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, college students, and clergy. Dr. Hankton has authored two self-help journals, “Thriving on Purpose: Reflect. Meditate. Plan. Implement'' and “B.R.A.V.I.N.G. the Grief.” To learn about treatment options and services, please visit www. UNHCounselingServices.com or call 901-300-9082.

The Success Code


Bishop Oliver Clyde Allen

III is a religious trailblazer, human rights advocate, author, CEO founder and Pastor of one of the largest affirming congregations in the U.S., The Vision Cathedral of Atlanta. He is a member of the Mayors LGBTQ Advisory Board and a Commissioner on the Atlanta Human Relations Commission. In 2014, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS through the White House Office of AIDS Policy. He has served as the Southeastern Regional Chair of the Democratic National Committee LGBT Advisory Board. He is Executive

Director of Vision Community Foundation which serves underserved populations in greater Atlanta, provides HIV/ AIDS programs, and co-hosts Atlanta Black Pride. He is CEO of iElevate+TV—a streaming network for marginalized and black LGBTQ viewers. He has been featured on BET, CNN, and ABC. Bishop Allen has been honored by a host of community and national groups including the “Trailblazers” of Rev. Jesse Jackson and The Rainbow Push Coalition and the Georgia House of Representatives. In 2014, Bishop Allen was inducted into the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. International

Board of Preachers and Scholars, sponsored by Morehouse College.

He is married to Mr. Rashad Burgess, Vice-President of Advancing Health and Black Equity for Gilead Sciences, Inc. They are the fathers of 2 children: Joshua and Caylee. In 2013, Bishop Allen and his family made history by being the first same-genderloving couple to be selected as one of Ebony Magazine’s “top 10 Coolest Black Families'' in America.

Bishop O.C. Allen, III Photo by Oran "Prime" Williams


“retroLUV, Volume 1: Vent Sessions” is an absolute labor of love, while I sorted through my pain. I OFFICIALLY started recording this album back in 2017, yeah, THAT long! This was right around the time my ex-fiancée and I broke off our engagement and split up. wuz a WRECK! I played around with a few tracks and did some writing/recording with different engineers, but nothing really panned out until I met my producer and engineer, Ashton Harris.

We, Ash and I met at this dope event back last year, exchanged info, and hopped

in the studio a couple of weeks later. From January 2023 until October that year, we recorded the full album, 5 of the tracks produced by Ash himself and managed to catch a good stride! Eventually, the process became both healing and therapeutic for me. The LP chronicles my journey of working through my relationship baggage, especially the songs “La La La” and “Down Bad,” I had TONS to say and get off my chest respectively, about my frustrations with life and love, and my insecurities.

One of the BEST things to come from working on “Vent Sessions” was me finding my niche. Ash really had a HUGE hand in helping me find my sound and emphasizing my strong points. It was GREAT bouncing ideas back and forth with him and experimenting with different ways to use my vocals. I definitely feel like I challenged myself on this LP. Hell, I’mma gas myself up right quick and just acknowledge the fact that I did some of my best writing here [ Ijs… *shrugs*]! Just the same, wanted to also use

this record to both relate and uplift the listeners as they press through life. Hopefully, this LP serves as a ray of light for people as well as an affirmation of self-love and self-worth.

hope the album resonates when it fills ears. You can find my music on all streaming platforms! Stay tuned!


About "The Success Code"

Embark on a breathtaking 31-day expedition towards greatness with "The Success Code: A 31-Day Self-Sabotage Detox Guide." This mesmerizing self-help masterpiece holds the key to unlocking the hidden doors of emotional and mental growth, transforming lives with its illuminating wisdom and potent exercises.



A Trey Pressley Story

From our first meeting I knew that we would be together.

So many people have asked what made Ty the one for me? Being single for over 7 years I had taken the necessary time needed to get to know myself and to love myself unconditionally. Ty has a very large following on Tik Tok, being that social media is a powerful tool in our society today. He loved doing Tik Tok dances or just showcasing his talent in general. One day I decided to shoot my shot and he told me that I had just missed my chance because he had just made it official with his last partner. So being that I’m a respectful guy decided to fall back and show love from a distance. As time went by, I’d occasionally stop by to show love and he would say thanks and or I appreciate the love.

On August 28, 2023, I reached out and gave him a compliment like I normally would but this time he replied, “thank you baby.” This caught my attention because he had never responded in that manner. So, I said, like normally would, "I mean no disrespect, I was just showing love." He then replied, “you’re good would not have said baby if I wasn’t single." I then sat straight up in my bed because knew this was my chance. He was still living in Florida, and I was in Atlanta. Working for Delta Airlines made it convenient for me to travel so I planned to visit him in Florida.

From our first meeting I knew that we would be together. He didn’t know this because he wasn’t ready at the time, but I knew! From that point on we have been inseparable. Though he still wasn’t ready I continued to push the envelope until one day he decided to give in. He had plans to move back to Las Vegas and I was in the process of getting my own place at the time. So, I said it didn’t make sense for him to move back to Las Vegas and me to be in Atlanta, so I suggested that he move to Atlanta with me. I then started looking for a place for us. did not do this alone because he would be on facetime with me to make the decision whether we agree or disagree on a place. Once we came to an agreement that was the beginning of our new life together. November of 2023 is when he officially made the move. Since then, we have been working hard to make sure our foundation is very strong. We communicate about everything regardless of how uncomfortable it may be. We truly started to live!!! surprised him with a trip to Jamaica for his birthday, and he took me on our first cruise together on Royal Caribbean. We’re currently working on building our empire. He’s working more on his music; I am back to hosting and bartending and we are working together on our athleisure wear line. Everyone also knows that we have an Only Fans Page and that's helping us to make a lot of our dreams a reality. We plan to continue to build not only our brands together but also our love for one another. Stay tuned because TNT is coming for IT ALL!!!!

SOS 2024 is Around the Corner!


To register and for more information about the 2024 Saving Ourselves Symposium please visit: sosexperience.org/

We're excited to announce that SOS 2024 is back in Atlanta from August 15-18! This year's theme, Vibrance: The Kaleidoscope Effect, speaks to the different experiences, approaches, voices, and diverse beauty of our communities to create the freedom and liberation we seek. The conference will celebrate the vibrancy of individual and collective strength, and how that manifest through advocacy, artistic expression, and more. SOS 2024 will amplify the resonance of sound the community creates when we come together in unity and strength.


If you want the biggest bang for your buck, Early Bird registration is for you! You can register for the early bird pricing of $250

until June 15. After June 15, the price goes up to $325, so register today! Check out some photos from last year's SOS conference below. We hope you'll join us this year!


SOS 2024 is an opportunity to meaningfully engage with the Black LGBTQIA+ community, along with health and social service providers, regional and national leaders, and a diverse community of fierce allies. SOS 2024 attendees will connect on liberation! The SOS conference empowers and educates attendees on collective movement work for Black LGBTQ Southerners with an emphasis on HIV. Come as you are and discover how to better align toward our healing and freedom!

By Beth Trouy
ByBeth Trouy

First they came for the books. Then it was American history. Now it has progressed to any symbol that may ignite the “woke” agendas. The rainbow flag is on the endangered list as one of these symbols. If you had told me a few years ago that the rainbow flag could be banned from schools and public places, I would have laughed at your insanity. Not in America. Not here where we live in the land of the free and the right to free speech. And yet, here we are. Our country has become more polarized than ever. We are on the precipice yet again of electing a derisive, angry, narcissist who knows how to incite fear in people to gain their blind loyalty. Forget the kind words of “let’s work together and reach across the aisles to build a better country for all of us.” Or, “Let’s pull together and respect our differences and use our diversity to make us stronger as one country.” History has shown us time and again that if a person can be charismatic enough to gain the attention

of enough followers, then fear can easily be used as a tool to do just about anything to a marginalized group of people.

“Us” against “them” continues to be a very effective political tool for electing leaders. Get the people threatened and angry that the other side is taking away something from them and you have their vote.

“Make America Great Again” (by banning books, rainbow flags, trans rights, demonizing the BLM, “woke” agenda, etc). Keep American values in history books (by not telling the ugly truths of slavery, misogyny, greed, ethnic cleansing, etc). Truth? It’s always in the hands of those in power.

Why the rainbow flag now?

What does the rainbow flag mean anyway? Well, it depends on who you ask I suppose. In the bible, it was written as a covenant between God and humanity that never again would the land be flooded. “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” (Genesis 9:12-13). God’s promise to God’s people to spare them from destruction. It was a love pact from the Creator to the created.

Maybe that’s why the LGBTQ+ community loves the symbol: it is a promise that God loves us, as we are and we too are part

We throw a parade. We dance and celebrate (...) we believe, as Dr. Martin Luther King stated, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

of God’s living creation. It instills hope that one can and will be loved as they are. It’s also pretty darn colorful too and diverse, like us. Not to mention, it’s also in so many of our childhood memories: Lucky Charms, Smurfs, the Wizard of Oz… I even got a tattoo (the only one I have) of a rainbow. But harmful? Derisive? Hardly.

I remember a meeting years ago at our Catholic LGBTQ gathering when an ally spoke about the power of posting a simple rainbow in his window at his office. He and his wife were life-long supporters of gay rights and inclusion. As a pediatrician, he said he saw many gay couples through the years. When asked how they knew to go to him, he

said it was the rainbow posted in his window. “Couples saw that rainbow my wife posted and they knew they would be respected.” A covenant, a promise to be loved. He knew how to confront fear.

As Pride Day comes around again, I’ll be particularly happy to see the rainbow flag adorned throughout the park and in the parade. We know very well what it’s like to be oppressed and scorned. We know very well the feeling of being made the “they” against the powerful “we.” We know how our words, our actions, and our motives can be twisted and manipulated to fit a different agenda to make us part of the problem with what’s wrong in the world today. We also know how to deal with such angry rhetoric, lies and threats against our safety and existence. We throw a parade. We dance and celebrate with music, food and festivity. Because we believe, as Dr. Martin Luther King stated, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” In the face of fear, which we know very well, we stand together in peace, authenticity and much love. What’s the recipe to “save” the rainbow flag? More flag flying and more love. Love will always win. HAPPY PRIDE!



Building Pride and Confidence from the Inside Out

Manypeople struggle with low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in who they are. Feeling proud of yourself is something that takes work and cultivation. Having pride in yourself means embracing your strengths and qualities without comparing yourself to others. It is about feeling confident in your abilities regardless of what others may think. Developing real pride from within takes conscious effort but can improve your outlook and quality of life. Here are some effective ways to start feeling proud of who you are.


This could include things like your work ethic, kindness, sense of humor, education level achieved, hobbies you excel at, jobs well done, relationships you value, acts of service, and more. Get specific about your strengths rather than generalizing. Seeing your qualities and wins written down helps you recognize your true self-worth rather than dwelling on perceived flaws or failures. Refer to this list when you need a confidence boost.


Make healthy choices about nutrition, exercise, sleep,

and managing stress. Pursue hobbies you find meaningful or creatively fulfilling. Do small acts each day to pamper yourself, whether it is taking a relaxing bath, reading an inspiring book, or getting your favorite coffee.

Taking loving care of yourself shows that you respect yourself and feel you are worth the effort. It also relieves stress and boosts mood, allowing your good qualities to shine through naturally with more pride.


Goals provide purpose and momentum while also giving you wins to feel proud of as you achieve them. Celebrate the small wins along the way and avoid negative self-talk if you encounter setbacks. Shift your mindset to view mistakes or delays as learning experiences rather than failures. Having goals, working towards them, and gaining competence in new areas through achievement fosters increasing pride in your capabilities.


While it may not happen overnight, trying each day to appreciate your positive qualities, care for your well-being, set meaningful goals, choose empowering relationships and use encouraging self-talk will gradually strengthen your self-esteem and confidence from within.

daily source of empowerment, resilience, and pride.


External factors like appearance, wealth, status, or other people’s opinions often have little bearing on true self-worth. Developing pride from within starts with embracing yourself unconditionally and loving who you are every day.


Be conscientious of negative selftalk patterns and replace them with kind, understanding self-talk. Say encouraging things to boost your mood and confidence rather than tear yourself down. With practice, you can transform your inner dialogue into a

Spend less time with critical or energy-draining people and more time cultivating relationships with those who celebrate your positive qualities and bring out the best in you. Their belief in you will help strengthen your own self-belief. Express appreciation for the positive impact your friends and family have as well; showing gratitude improves mood, relationships, and pride.

IN CONCLUSION, cultivating real pride in yourself is a journey that takes commitment to selfreflection and growth. While it may not happen overnight, trying each day to appreciate your positive qualities, care for your well-being, set meaningful goals, choose empowering relationships and use encouraging self-talk will gradually strengthen your self-esteem and confidence from within. Small acts of self-compassion go a long way. With time and practice, developing self-pride becomes a sustainable mindset that serves you well through all life’s difficulties. You deserve to feel confident and comfortable in your own skin. By embracing who you are unconditionally, you free yourself from basing your worth on external factors outside of your control. True pride comes from honoring your inherent dignity and value as a human being.







The new groundbreaking documentary feature film presented by Impulse Group in association with AIDS Healthcare Foundation shines a necessary light on often unspoken trauma experienced by men who have endured both mental abuse and physical violence.

The anticipated documentary "Speaking Out" directed by John Solis will make its World Premiere at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) on Saturday, June 1st, 2024, at 3:45pm PT, as a kickoff to Pride Month. The moving LGBTQ+ documentary, produced by BrightBulb Studio and Cabaldana Alchemy and presented by Impulse Group in association with AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), sheds a necessary light on the very often unspoken trauma experienced by men who have suffered from both mental abuse and physical violence.

"Speaking Out" delves into the sensitive traumatic topics within the LGBTQ+ community.

The documentary seeks to heighten awareness about issues that are prevalent among gay and cisgender men alike, highlighting their commonality despite the frequent silence and shame surrounding them because of the stigmas tied to traditional notions of masculinity. Through heartfelt interviews and compelling narratives, "Speaking Out" is educating and destigmatizing discussions surrounding trauma and abuse suffered by men in general.

The feature film tells the stories of the trauma and abuse endured by three openly proud gay men, Jose, Charlie and Rigg, who underwent an emotional journey towards healing and becoming resilient, overcoming their past, to finally be able to speak out. The film confronts painful subjects that reflect stark realities. Throughout the documentary, mental health experts provide insights into the emotional and mental challenges faced by the men. They steer the conversation towards optimism, offering resources, education, and instilling hope in the audience by demonstrating that trauma can be overcome through seeking help and speaking out.

Director John Solis says, “I created ‘Speaking Out' from a vision of vulnerability and love with the ultimate hope that it

can heal people from the inside out. As a Latino filmmaker, I’m honored and awestruck that ‘Speaking Out’ will premiere at LALIFF, giving us the opportunity to begin our journey of sharing this important message of healing with the world.”

Jose Ramos, who founded Impulse Group in 2009 and is now the National Director of Sales at AHF, is one of the brave men that shares the story of his experience and his journey towards recovery from physical violence. As part of the producing team as well, he comments, “As a team predominantly composed of Latinos, being selected to showcase our work at LALIFF holds deep significance for us. It represents not only a validation of our creative endeavors but also an affirmation of the importance of representation in the film industry."

The premiere of "Speaking Out" at LALIFF not only marks a significant moment for the film but also serves as the official kick-off to Pride Month, highlighting the importance of LGBTQ+ representation and storytelling. It also showcases the power of storytelling to drive social impact and promote inclusivity. Attendees can expect an emotional and thought-provoking experience

that celebrates LGBTQ+ identities and voices. Following the screening, there will be a 30-minute Q&A session with the producers and cast, providing attendees with an opportunity to engage directly with the creative minds behind the documentary.

"I believe ‘Speaking Out’ serves as both a mirror and a megaphone for the LGBTQ community, especially for gay men who have endured trauma and sexual assault. In a world where stigma still looms large, ‘Speaking Out’ stands as a beacon of hope, reminding every gay man that their voice matters, their pain is valid, and they are not alone in their journey towards healing and resilience.” shares Co-Executive Producer Miguel Angel Caballero

Following its World Premiere at LALIFF, "Speaking Out" aims to continue its mission to inspire and empower individuals around the globe, and through film festivals and future distribution, continue its journey, reaching audiences worldwide and advocating for people to speak out and seek help.

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word pride as: a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.


made being gay “cool” at least for that day.


For more information about "Speaking Out" and its World Premiere at LALIFF, please visit: speakingoutthemovie.com bit.ly/3R3avmF

I am determined to find my person, but I will use this pride month to celebrate everything in my community, with an eye out for the love I need and desire.

You can find David on social media, via Facebook: David Wyley Long, or via email: davidwyleylong@gmail.com.

This five-letter word has always been so loaded. If you are a reader of my articles (and if you are, let me know!!), I am constantly confronted with the many emotions that lingered in my life in regards to my sexuality. As we start the 2024 Pride season, celebrating gay liberation, I often wonder about the disconnect within my life and overall scope of everything pride.

To start, I am a lover of all things Gay Pride. It is grand, over the top, and all the things that fill my cup each and every year. I am very lucky and blessed to come from the New Jersey/New York City area, and attended New York City Pride for years, and often went back every June, after I moved to Tennessee in 2012. The supreme jubilation, and pure joy that the people, sounds, and sights that I encountered on the many pride floats, going down Fifth Avenue on Manhattan Island will forever be a beautiful memory cemented in my brain. The love was so real and uplifting and in abundance. Also, the millions of smiles were infectious, and it

Now, I currently live in a southern state, and the feeling of pride is fleeting. I live in a state that doesn’t truly honor my fullness, and wicked ideologies from city and state elected officials continues to be a thorn in my side. But, I still enjoy the rich pride celebrations. It feels good, and good to see my people. While the rainbow coalition is full of very interesting people from all walks of life, I am hopeful this Pride will reveal itself to be a new opportunity to deepen my respect and admiration for the community I serve, but also a part of. As a seasoned social worker through the years, I am always happy to see the many members I have served and enjoyed through the years.

In other love news, as I try to finally figure out this relationship code, and find a loving partner and my “person.” I recently met a great man in North Carolina that truly impressed me with his wit, candor, and ability to tell very detailed stories with plenty of vigor and spice. It was great to listen, and be enthralled and yoked by someone my age. The obvious question “Why are you single?” is always cringe worthy for me, as it assumes the person can go to the local grocery store and find a suitable partner and be done with it. The struggle to find someone is quite real and very difficult. Everyone, across all sexualities, and gender

expressions are having difficulty in finding someone that they are competitive with. Within my search for my person, for a monogamous love affair. I am stumped at the options, but also the huge shift in dating. Many people are “open” or have given up on love. While many can blame social media, and other modern hiccups that were not present a decade ago including the wide array of apps to meet someone. But, I remain single, but more optimistic. I am determined to find my person, but will use this pride month to celebrate everything in my community, with an eye out for the love need and desire.

This beautiful black man asked a fair question “Can you wow me?” He is in a place in his life where he is okay. His career is good, his house is better and his peace is perfect. How do I fit in? He wants to know and needs to be wowed.

While I agree and understand his sentiments, I wonder what stamina and strength do I have to “wow” this man, and get the love I desire and want. would say need, but at this present time it is a desire and want. I’m hopeful.

To conclude, use this Pride Season as a catalyst for you o deepen your understanding of self and to love on community a bit more! We all could use a longer hug or a good loving session to make all the world troubles disappear for a moment.

we provide affirming and inclusive care for patients of All gender and sexual identities. across all Tennessee, affirming and gender and sexual Services include hormone therapy, contraception, PrEP, other reproductive health care. PlannedParenthood.org/Tennessee 866-711-1717 deserves expert care. Every body we provide affirming and inclusive care for patients of All gender and sexual identities. across all Tennessee, affirming and gender and sexual Services include hormone therapy, contraception, PrEP, other reproductive health care. PlannedParenthood.org/Tennessee 866-711-1717

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