Meet The DavisWashington
The Davis-Washingtons have accomplished so much during their six years of love; this is only the beginning. They hope their story inspires and motivates someone to live in their truth and attain their goals, whether for love, life, or family.
VISIT TUVMAG.COM JULY - AUGUST 2023
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW! THE KEY TO LOVE Can Be in a Song
THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE
a song can bring clarity to one’s quest for love
your why can lead to a purpose driven life
10 years of being a couple the Gilkey’s added a new bundle of joy to their family! + +
COUPLE WHO ARE DEFYING ODDS TO BUILDING A FAMILY
IMPORTANT FACTS FOR BIKTARVY®
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.
MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT BIKTARVY
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:
� any other medicines to treat HIV-1
BEFORE TAKING BIKTARVY
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. Do not breastfeed. HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in breast milk.
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.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF BIKTARVY
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.
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.
2 | THE UNLEASHED VOICE
BIKTARVY, the BIKTARVY Logo, GILEAD, the GILEAD Logo, and KEEP BEING YOU are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. © 2023 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All
#1 PRESCRIBED HIV TREATMENT*
No matter where life takes you,
ELIAS SWITCHED TO BIKTARVY
Because HIV doesn’t change who you are.
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.
Ask your healthcare provider if BIKTARVY is right for you.
Person featured takes BIKTARVY and is compensated by Gilead.
Please see Important Facts about BIKTARVY, including important warnings, on the previous page and at BIKTARVY.com.
3 THE UNLEASHED VOICE |
*Source: IQVIA NPA Weekly, 04/19/2019 through 01/20/2023.
to REAL STORIES being told by REAL VOICES.
4 | CONTENTS 08 Cover Story The Washington-Davis Building Their Family Legacy 06 | Editor’s Letter Gwendolyn D. Clemons Finding Your Why 07 | Editor’s Letter Dr. Davin Clemons Stop Wasting Your Time In Life 14 | Spirituality Beth Trouy What Happens When Purpose Choses You? CONTENTS Ad Deadline August 14, 2023 Next Issue to Sept | Oct 2023 15 | Spirituality Chisimdi Christiana When The Church Is Not Safe 17 | Wedding Announcement Kristi & Karen Wilson Love Wins 19 | Health & Wellness Umieca N. Hankton, Ph.D. Thriving “In Spite Of” 22 | Guest Feature David Wyley Long The Key to Love Can Be In A Song 16 22 12 Guest Contributor TUV Contributor Community News Cicely S. Moore Purpose Driven Life Brodderick Roary What Does It Mean to Live a Purpose-Driven Life? Meet The Gilkey’s Gilkey’s Party Of 3 The Washington-Davis Photos by: Jaio Photography @jaiophotography
5 CONTENTS |
Shawn M. Clemons Administration/ Fashion Director
Gregory Graphics Layout/Design
Transgender Correspondent TEAM TUV Scan this code with your phone to subscribe to The Unleashed Voice Magazine Today! Take it everywhere you go, along with the print edition. You’ll qualify to download each issue digitally through your iPhone, iPad, or Android devices. National Advertising + Rivendell Media Company 1248 US22 Mountainside, NJ 07092 Office 908.232.2021 | www.rivendellmedia.com @TUVmagazine
Whitney Johnson Chief Editor Kyra Bonet St James-Cassadine
Brodderick Roary Special Contributor
Dr. Umieca Hankton Special Contributor
FINDING YOUR WHY!
ON THE COVER:
Meet JaCarlos, Britton, & Baby Zak Davis-Washington. The Davis-Washington is a same-gendered couple who are sharing their adoption journey. This family is an example of what parenting can and should like for those that desire to start a family either through birthing or adoption. Sit back and enjoy the other stories included on what a beautiful, blended family looks like because we definitely didn’t stop with this family!
Gwendolyn D. Clemons
MBA, MSM, PRC, Editor-In-Chief
was scrolling on Facebook and one of my Facebook friends who had just turned 40 posed a question to women over 40 to chime in on. This young woman asked us to share things we've learned to help her prepare for the years ahead. As I began to post my 2 cents, it really became apparent to me that I had gained a lot of lived experience and it made me feel honored to share a thing or two about what I’ve learned.
My biggest take away that day was sharing with her is “Finding Your Why” in life. Because if you can find your “why” it will direct you toward your higher purpose. In between these margins lies the balance of maturing peacefully and gracefully or living with bitterness and regrets. I truly believe that finding your “why” and understanding your purpose are tied to the reason(s) behind your actions and decisions. It involves discovering what truly motivates and fulfills you in life.
The irony about that conversation on that day was I had just written my article for this issue, The Purpose Driven Issue and a random question just popped up on my profile. I know that the universe always gives us signs that render confirmation about things, and nothing just happens. I thought I had my article finished but the bigger story was to include the random Facebook exchange between Sisters! The comments on Facebook that day varied but from my estimation she was filled with nuggets and jewels from over 50 different women and random topics about navigating your 40’s. What I appreciated the most about the posts was that she found value in asking women older than her to share viewpoints and didn’t discount the fact that in this virtual community were treasures and golden nuggets at her disposal.
HERE ARE A FEW STEPS TO HELP YOU FIND YOUR "WHY.”
1. Self-reflection: Take the time to reflect on your values, passions, and interests. Consider what activities or causes energize you and bring you a sense of meaning and fulfillment. Reflecting on your past experiences, both positive and negative, can also provide insights into what matters most to you.
2. Identify your strengths: Recognize your unique strengths, skills, and talents. Understanding what you excel at can help you uncover areas where you can make a meaningful impact and find fulfillment.
3. Clarify your values: Determine your core values, which are the guiding principles that shape your behavior and decision-making. Reflect on what you believe is important in life, such as integrity, creativity, compassion, or personal growth. Aligning your actions with your values can bring a sense of purpose and authenticity.
4. Explore different areas: Don't be afraid to explore various interests and pursuits. Engage in new experiences, volunteer for different causes, or try out different hobbies or career paths.
5. Seek inspiration: Look for role models or people who inspire you. Learn about their journeys and how they found their purpose.
6. Experiment and act: Finding your "why" often involves acting and trying different things. Don't be afraid to experiment, take risks, and learn from both successes and failures.
Remember that finding your "why" is a journey, and it may evolve and change over time. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the process of self-discovery.
6 | EDITOR’S LETTER
Stop Wasting Your Time in Life
Dr. Davin D. Clemons
The bible declares in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “For Everything There Is a Season, and a Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven.” We are in a Season of Stop Wasting Your Time in Life because the modern world is fast paced and time often seems to slip by with us barely noticing. It’s for that reason that it’s important that we don’t spend time or attention on things that are frivolous, negative or just are a waste of time! The creator and/or God is not pleased with us wasting our gifts, talents, creativity,
minds and our body on things that really do not matter. If you’ve ever used the excuse, “I don’t have time to improve my life,” consider how much time you are wasting. Stop wasting your time!
The expression time waits for no man/woman (or time and tide wait for no man/woman) means that passing of time is unstoppable and inevitable. No one can control or escape natural phenomena or facts of life, such as birth, death, or the sun rising. It’s important as individuals that we manage our time well. Everyone has 24 hours but only those who make good use of their time will be successful. So, Stop Wasting
Here are 3 tips that I have used in my own personal life that has helped me to Stop Wasting Time:
1. Know Where Your Time Goes
If you don’t know where your time goes, how can you stop wasting time? Having a clear view of where your time is spent each day gives you a clear baseline on where to improve.
Making the most of your time isn’t just good for productivity; studies show that proper time management enhances your well-being to a greater extent.
2. Start Your Day Proactively
Maximizing your time involves taking a proactive stance. Start Your day with intentions by setting meaningful objectives. You can aim to kickstart a new work project with your team or simply buy groceries for the week. The objectives could be as big or as small as you like, so long as they are specific, realistic, and achievable.
3. Stop Multitasking
According to research, the human brain lacks the cognitive and neural structures to execute multitasking. Our attention spans and areas of control are wired to focus on one thing at a time. The actual manifestation of multitasking is task-switching or shifting between two activities within a given period. Multitasking wastes time because it gives you a false sense of security that you can juggle multiple tasks simultaneously. In reality, you might be doing the work but without the focus needed to do your work well. This puts you at risk of lackluster performance or worse, having to repeat the task repeatedly.
My Final thoughts:
Life is short. Wasting time on online distractions, getting involved in meaningless discussions about things we have no control over, and drifting through our days with no plan or objective is like throwing away our hard-earned money. It’s about time we give time the importance it deserves. So, Stop Wasting Your Time in Life!
7 EDITOR’S LETTER |
Building Our Legacy
Meet JaCarlos, Britton & Zak Davis-Washington
JaCarlos & Britton recently celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary. They have been able to communicate and find new strategies and ways to enhance their relationship as they have grown together. Open communication is their biggest secret weapon that has helped them in their relationship. They both found it helpful to express their wants, concerns, and needs to each other without holding back and respecting the boundaries they have set together. The keyword that has helped them maintain their love life is TEAMWORK. Once they could intertwine teamwork and communication, they discovered that it helped them navigate love and put them on the right trajectory for the future. Another big success for them was being able to meet other couples that had similar things going on in their life and being able to piggyback on different relationship situations that they shared. Britton shared, “It’s great to focus on your partner, but even
more exciting when you have others around you that you can share the love with and celebrate them and their love life as well.”
Life has been interesting for the Davis-Washingtons. As they both have grown older, they are also very open about their social life changing. The ups and downs that come with love also impact your social relationships. During this phase of life JaCarlos and Britton ran into some not so good friendships. There were people posing to be in their corner, but they really weren’t. They think back on an old saying, “Don’t let everyone in your house.” That could be true literally and generally. Lies, and Deceit come along with navigating life. You can find out who really has your back if they can maintain who they are through your times of elevation. Friends come and go, but they are excited to finally feel like they have their forever circle around them this season.
JaCarlos stated, "I never realized that there were so many people around us that were not for us.” They have realized that their job in life is to treat others how they desire to be treated, and if the friendship dissolves, then it is okay to cut ties and move forward. Britton's motto in life is: "My life goes on with or without you." Not only does that motto apply to friendships but it also applies to family as well. During this journey they have realized that not only do friends come sour, but family too. Even in this joyous phase of life there were family members that weren’t so
supportive of the process. You can blame it on being stuck in the past or you can come up with your own ideas, but the Davis-Washingtons chose to just continue to live life without their support. JaCarlos mentioned, “It’s sad that some people can’t get out of their own head. I won’t allow myself to stop moving because someone else thinks I should stop. In this community we often position ourselves to beg for acceptance, and I will no longer reach out to be loved, cared for, or accepted if that person doesn’t willingly do it on their own.”
The most significant announcement JaCarlos and Britton have made has been the expansion of their family. They are now parents to their son, Zak. They received this blessing from birth via adoption. The success didn’t come overnight. It was a long process that lasted 513 days. Each day was a different day and neither of the two knew what to expect. It was all new to them as they had to deal with various agencies entering their homes randomly throughout the week.
Britton added, “I just didn’t know what tomorrow would bring. They leaned on building relationships. When we were going through the adoption process it was easy to get discouraged and impatient but the village and team that we have in place became like family.” Leaning on them helped ease the fear as we were going through the process. Their lives changed overnight and they
have been on the go ever since. Although this was an addition that rocked the boat in their household, they handled it with grace. Immediately upon picking up their bundle of joy from the hospital they had already started to change their way of life and how it would look going forward. Who would drop off and pick up Zak? How they would need to alternate working out, grocery store runs. They wanted to make it as easy as possible. The teamwork really paid off for them. As a black gay couple in
9 COVER STORY |
When we were going through the adoption process it was easy to get discouraged and impatient but the village and team that we have in place became like family.
Houston, TX, they have managed to navigate through building a family and reaching their personal and marriage goals. At one point they felt that this was something they would long for forever until they did the work and accomplished it.
"We realized that in this community, there are so many things that we feel we can't touch or don't have the right to attain. We have learned that we are more than capable and deserving of everything in this life if we put our minds to it and chase it" -JaCarlos Davis-Washington. Many people that they have come across have mentioned that they were unaware someone that looked like them could adopt. The answer is, YES YOU CAN. There are so many kids that need families and whatever
your age preference is there are agencies that can assist you with expanding your family.
JaCarlos and Britton think back to when they were going through their surrogacy process and it was deemed unsuccessful for them for various reasons. They were both devastated and discouraged. JaCarlos had a coworker who mentioned adoption and he was against it for years. She would often tell him a story of a couple that she knew that was in the process of adopting their children they got at birth. Although the story was compelling it was something that the Davis-Washington family was not trying to pursue. A couple of years later as JaCarlos was doing research he joined an adoption support group offering advice to those that may have been interested in adopting. He
met a guy who was excited to see another African American interested. As they exchanged conversation, the story started to sound very familiar. After all of these years, JaCarlos was talking to the couple that his coworker had mentioned years ago. Once this occurred, they knew that this was God, and they started the process to adopt. The process we chose was not easy but worth every moment. There are many ways to accomplish the same results, but we did what we felt would work for us and WE DID IT!
Since the completion of their adoption, they have gone on to help other couples achieve their goals of expanding their family with one couple already receiving a match. It is important to have representation and the Davis-Washington family aims to give us that.
If you have more questions about how they navigated through their journey feel free to reach out to them. Instagram @thedaviswashingtons or via email @email@example.com
The Davis-Washingtons have accomplished so much during their six years of love; this is only the beginning. They hope their story inspires and motivates someone to live in their truth and attain their goals, whether for love, life, or family.
10 | COVER STORY
PHOTOGRAPHY @jaiophotography HAIR @amanstouchsalon @book.somethingforeign IN THE PHOTOS JaCarlos Davis-Washington Britton Davis-Washington Zak Davis-Washington SOCIAL MEDIA @thedaviswashingtons
Gilkey's partyof 3
Meet Phylicia and her wife, Tiara, and soon to be 4-month old son, River. The Gilkey’s reside in Melissa, TX a city in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The couple have been friends close to 15 years, and have been in a relationship for 10 years and married for 7 years. Tiara originally from St. Louis, MO however, she relocated to Memphis, TN in 2001 on a volleyball athletic scholarship to the University of Memphis. Years later Phylicia I returned to Memphis after attending Florida A&M University and their paths crossed again and the rest is history.
Q: PLEASE SHARE THE DESIRE TO START A FAMILY?
A: Throughout our relationship we've always had a desire to start a family, but in the beginning of our relationship we both agreed that we wanted to enjoy one another before bringing children into our world. We actually explored the IVF process a year after getting married while living in Chicago. However, both of us were on a fast track in our careers and so we paused. After relocating to Dallas and settling in, the topic of children came up again. I expressed to Tiara that before exploring the IVF process, I wanted us to purchase a home and at least enjoy it for a year. She agreed
and in November 2020 we built our home and December 2021 we began our IVF journey. We've always talked about having 2 children and Tiara was very clear she did not want to carry LOL. Our plan was to do a process called Reciprocal IVF for our first child which means I would carry Tiara's embryo (similar to surrogacy but involves both female partners) and for our second child we would do Traditional IVF which means I would carry my own embryo. After Tiara's egg retrieval process we opted for genetic testing on the embryos. Unfortunately, none of her embryos resulted as genetically healthy which left us devastated because we could not proceed with placement or what the medical world calls "egg transfer." We decided that we would allow Tiara's body to rest for a few months and we would move forward with my egg retrieval process for our first child and try the reciprocal process again with Tiara for our second. Thankfully, we resulted in 2 healthy embryos after genetic testing from my egg retrieval and continued with transferring one embryo which
resulted in our son River. Tiara did go through the egg retrieval process again which resulted in a genetically healthy embryo that is currently frozen.
Q: WAS THERE ANY OPPOSITION FROM FAMILY OR FRIENDS?
A: No. We have an AMAZING village which is made up of relatives and friends who we call our family.
Q: HOW DID THE MEDICAL PROFESSIONS TREAT YOU DURING THE PROCESS?
A: We were blessed with a team of medical professionals that cheered and supported us through our entire process. Our IVF doctor has been named one of the nation's leading reproductive endocrinology and infertility subspecialists in U.S. News and World Report. We are still in contact with his office and share updates on River. Our OB is phenomenal and she really listened to the type
of birth experience I desired. The nurses at the hospital were so compassionate and attentive. We have heard the horror stories and being not only black but in a same sex relationship I wanted to do a home birth. However, Tiara had some concerns as it would relate to unexpected emergency situations so we agreed to allow me to labor at home and deliver at the hospital. Needless to say I am happy I listened to Tiara and gave birth at the hospital because the overall care we received was top notch.
Q: WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE OTHER COUPLES OF THE LGBTQIA+ COMMUNITY TO KNOW ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY AND THE ADOPTION PROCESS?
A: IVF is an emotional roller coaster but it is worth it. We highly recommend therapy before starting the process and continuing throughout, especially through postpartum.
Discuss with your partner your desired parenting styles to determine if they are aligned. Please recognize that the 2nd parent adoption is another recommendation of ours. One advantage the LGBTQIA+ community has when it comes to expanding our families is "planning." With the state of the world and laws being overturned and ridiculous laws being introduced, the last thing we need to experience is our relationships being challenged with our children or our families not seen as a family because of someone else's closed mindedness. Research your state laws and put legal action in place as a safety net to protect your family. For example, in the state of Texas, Tiara was able to be listed on our son's birth certificate but if anything would have happened to me during delivery prior to our son being born what would have happened??? We prepared a Will and Medical Power of Attorney prior to delivery to ensure that her role could not be challenged by the medical professionals or family members.
Q: DO YOU PLAN TO HAVE MORE KIDS?
A: Yes, we have 2 embryos frozen.
13 SPECIAL FEATURE |
I’vehit that mid-life stage. You that are here too know what I mean: what’s my plan now? What legacy am I leaving for the next generation? Honestly, a part of me just wants to set the cruise control and coast into retirement. I’m tired. Let’s be honest: It is exhausting being in a marginalized group one’s entire life in a conservative region of the country. After spending most of my life working to find peace, it’s tempting to “tap out” and go take a seat on the porch and watch. After all, I suffered the first twenty-something years learning to love myself, the next twenty defending my dignity and rights and the last ten working to forgive the persecutors. In many ways, I feel I’ve earned the right to sit down. Finally, I’ve reached a place of inner serenity and honestly, I’d like to stay here awhile. And yet…. sitting on the porch while the gay and trans communities get persecuted more than ever before is impossible. How can any of us with a conscience walk away from those who need us now more than ever?
Sometimes our purpose in life chooses us whether we want it to or not. It also does not have a retirement age. It’s what I would say is better defined as one’s life driving one’s purpose.
Growing up, I thought I was going to be a veterinarian just like most gay girls. Then I moved on to thinking about being a doctor. I knew I was going to do something in the medical field and figured it would be the focal vocation of my life. Not once did I think I’d be leading a Church gay group, writing articles and
WHEN PURPOSE CHOSES YOU?
By Beth Trouy
speaking with Church leadership about the importance of affirming hospitality. But life drives purpose. I hit a brick wall in my twenties like many other gay people growing up in conservative faith communities and I had to shift my focus. My job was no longer the priority; getting mentally healthy and doing something about the growing anxiety and rage in me became more important. It was the unhealed wound
no one could see. Being wounded by those around me was not my fault but I needed to own the task of taking time to get it healed.
The gift I believe for marginalized persons, our super-power you might say, is empathy. Having felt such isolation, rejection and sometimes sheer terror, we first develop a herculean heart that learns to survive by overcoming fear with pure resolve. Once we
can stare fear in the face, we learn through experience that the emotion overpowering fear is love. So long as we live in fear, we are unable to be free. I’ve always said that our wounds, once healed, become gifts. The scars we bear are proof that we can heal and be freed of the past. We learn in our weakness that love is the only steady force inside that cannot be overpowered. Loving myself and later, forgiving those who hurt me, freed me. It not only freed me, but it moved me to take a stand for others.
In the current climate with over 500 bills against LGBTQ+ persons actively being reviewed across the country, I know I can’t sit on the porch now. Standing up for my fellow LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters is more vital than ever. I must be visible to defend their dignity but also, to show them my own healed scars so they know they can survive this too. We are all here together for a reason. None of us can get through life without the help of those around us. Empathy is a force in itself; it paves the path for love to win. Eventually, love will win. We just have to refuse to give in to fatigue and fearand keep standing. There will be time enough in the afterlife to sit on the porch.
A purposedriven life is noble but a life driven by purpose is divine.
When The Church Is Not Safe
By Chisimdi Christiana
All are welcome here Come on in, lend your ear
Black, White, every color of the rainbow
Except you queers, leave all that on your table
With loving kindness, we draw you in
Listening ear, to hear all your sin
A hospital, we are, for your soul
We reel you in, but you’ll never know
Your loyalty will be demanded
Your disobedience reprimanded Individualism?
That’s a sin.
Put on this wig, so you’ll fit in.
We know your heart, your broken places
Without us you're nothing, you need our good graces
Like the constrictor, we let you right in
To squeeze the life out of you, and swallow you whole within. We’ve earned your trust, consumed your faith. Got your focus on us, not Jesus’s face. Now that we’ve got you, come on over here
Let us whisper something softly into your ear.
You didn’t see us coming, how could you ever?
As we preached against everything we in secret, pleasure.
Don’t act shy now, don’t be so naive
What’d you think that money was for from our sleeve?
It’s time to pay up, no matter 'bout your soul. Besides, we made you sell that out, a long time ago.
While you cry, and wonder what you did wrong
Through your tears, you’ll hear our song
“You know Pastor loves you” You’ll remember how we say
As your heart is turned inside out in a place you can no longer stay
15 SPIRITUALITY |
by Permission. © Copyright 2023 Chisimdi Christiana. All rights reserved.
PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE
By Cicely S. Moore
coaching, mindful meditations and lifestyle changes.
really strange and funny how things come back around full circle without your permission or without submission. Cicely S. Moore was born in a very small town in Louisiana, called Iowa. Although she was considered a “country girl” she came from a very large, yet loving family that encouraged, inspired, and most of all loved without boundaries.
Cicely’s life consisted of a strong sense of family, education, sports and most importantly being a servant to her community. Fortunate enough to witness these family examples of altruistic generational acts; Cicely’s character was built and the seeds of a servant leader were planted.
Entering a new phase of adulthood, Cicely experienced a new awakening with self and many others that were different yet the same. Through friendships, experiences, and spiritual discernment, Cicely recognized the deficiency in the LGBTQ+ community. She then created an organization for Masculine Presenting Lesbians. As a servant leader, her main objective was to build a platform that offered a “safe haven” for all who identified and desired to build lifelong bonds while serving others within the community.
Gamma Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. was founded in Baton Rouge, LA on June 30, 2006. The mission was, and still is, to help transform individuals
through culture, leadership, high standards, professionalism, and integrity. As true servants in the community, GAP has continued to honor this commitment to this day by their continuous acts of service. Cicely Moore is one of four founders of the organization and is currently the President as she presides over more than 80 members and is growing.
In addition to Cicely’s natural leadership qualities, the established humanitarian was blessed with a vision to start a movement. “MOORE Love, Less HATE” was established in January 2022 and became an LLC in June 2023. The purpose of this movement is to promote love, positivity, and peace. MLLH also offers a holistic approach to health that includes fitness, nutrition, ritual tools (sprays, bath salts, herb packets, etc.) apparel, books, journals,
Apart from wearing her cape as a Humanitarian, Cicely is also the author of two published books for kids and a Gratitude and Manifestation Journal. Her first 2 children's publications were released June 01, 2023. Because of her impregnable love for children & firm spirituality, Cicely has written and published two children’s prayer books titled respectively, A Little Praying Black Girl and A Little Praying Black Boy. Both are a book of prayers to start with kids at an early age.
Cicely’s latest work can be located on her website, Amazon, and your local library (Baton Rouge, LouisianaGoodwood Branch) for viewing as well as purchasing.
Most importantly, the meaning behind things coming back full circle is that just recently, Cicely has asked herself, What is my purpose? It may have taken years and a lot of soul searching but the one thing that she has always held on to was helping and loving others. To some people it may not be the typical career/ job nor does it have a job description; however, its works of God. Cicely’s belief is that she was put here to embrace change, be an inspiration to others by respecting humanity, and give back to the community to pave the way for future generations to come. Most people don’t realize it, but we have the greatest potential to effect change. We have the ability to spark powerful movements, build public awareness, and create a means of understanding and acceptance.
Change is inevitable; therefore, we must welcome and embrace it. What makes change positive is how we use it and how we bring our communities together in doing so. We must break down the barriers that stand between people by gender, culture, race, religion, etc. and reflect on what reunites us.
Lastly, Cicely has come to the realization that her life is more purpose driven than career driven. She has decided to take a leap of faith to become more of what God wants her to be than what the world would like her to be. God’s purpose will extend far beyond those that are given by man. Knowing God’s purpose for you and actually living it out, prepares you for eternity and he will reward those that diligently seek him.
Hats off to this Louisiana native who wears her PRIDE with PRIDE!
Cicely S. Moore
Cicely S. Moore is an author, entrepreneur, philanthropist, coach and humanitarian.
Hungry for MOORE? Stay in the loop for additional events, projects, and workshops by staying connected and following Cicely S. Moore via social media at:
Cicely Moore @Kavalier01
16 | THE UNLEASHED VOICE
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
MEET THE WILSONS!
KRISTI AND KAREN WILSON
KAREN - We met at Manhattan Sports Bar & Lounge. Kristi did not take me seriously when I told her I was interested in her. As a matter of fact, she didn't even think I was a lesbian!! I was persistent in shooting my shot! Lol
KRISTI - Yes, I thought she was a straight woman trying to dabble in the lady pond. I'm glad I was wrong though.
KAREN - After our first date we were inseparable and now here we are.
Azul Beach Resort Puerto Morelos, Cancún
GOWN AND CAPE:
Eric Givens E.Givens Clothiers
17 THE UNLEASHED VOICE |
in spite of…
By Dr. Umieca N. Hankton
Thriving is a personal and purpose-filled declaration to oneself to flourish, succeed, and blossom in spite of the presence of adversity. Thriving is intentional and does not "happen to you;" you thrive by actively participating in your life. To be clear, a commitment to thriving does not mean life will not keep lif'ing. We cannot control if, when, or how life happens; we can only control what we do when life happens. A commitment to thriving means that regardless of life's twists and turns, you will not cower, you will show up for yourself, and you will healthily address what needs to be addressed.
Thrivers understand that thriving does not manifest overnight but recognize the benefit of their commitment to creating a life of thriving. Thriving requires dedication, consistency, and a willingness to experience AND push through discomfort to achieve the desired outcome. Those who actively pursue thriving embrace the discomfort of stretching because to stretch means to grow or become more flexible.
Thriving also involves an openness to explore areas of your life that craves more attention, love, and healing.
Openness, curiosity, and a will to do hard heart work are essential to beginning and enduring the journey to thriving. Remember, as you begin your thriving journey, the initial steps may stir up emotional discomfort. AND discomfort is okay. You are resilient and will grow through this discomfort. You will learn an enormous amount about yourself during this process. Allow patience, empathy, kindness, forgiveness, and nonjudgment to be present WITH you on this journey.
When you are ready to dive deeper into what it personally means to you (and for you) to thrive, use the following questions to explore areas of your life in which you can begin taking the necessary steps to cultivate a life of thriving.
PHYSICALLY: Are you giving your body what it needs for optimal wellness (e.g., rest, sleep, water, exercise, vitamins, massage, yoga, sex, etc.)? Are you taking your medication(s) as prescribed? When did you last schedule a wellness visit (e.g., chiropractor, PCP, mammogram, prostate exam, OBGYN, colonoscopy, vision, dental, etc.)?
PSYCHOLOGICALLY: What does your mind need for
wellness (e.g., rest, peace, therapy, reiki, meditation, forgiveness, a reading, kindness, positive affirmations, etc.)?
FINANCIALLY: How are you managing expenses or cultivating financial freedom?
INTERPERSONALLY: How’s the quality of your relationships (e.g., social, platonic, spiritual, romantic, familial, etc.)?
SPIRITUALLY: Where do you gain strength? Do you feel a strong connection to self, a higher power, nature, or the ancestors?
When you commit to a thriving life, you commit to putting one foot in front of the other each day and doing whatever is necessary to be the best version of yourself. How could your life be different if you committed to THRIVING ON PURPOSE, ALWAYS and in ALL WAYS?
19 HEALTH & WELLNESS | D r. Umieca N. Hank t o n D r. Umieca
Hank t o n
Dr. Umieca N. Hankton (Dr. U.) is a licensed clinical psychologist with over a decade of mental health treatment experience across multiple treatment settings. She is the founder of UNH Counseling Services, a behavioral health agency that deliberately focuses on the psychological health and wellness of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, college students, and clergy. To learn more about THRIVING, treatment options, and services offered, please visit www.UNHCounselingServices. com or call 901-300-9082.
By Brodderick D . Roar y
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE A PURPOSEDRIVEN LIFE?
By Brodderick D. Roary
Living a life with meaning and purpose is one the most important goals a person can strive for. A Purpose-Drive Life is one that is motivated by higher values and goals beyond oneself. It provides a sense of meaning and fulfillment that money, success, and pleasure alone cannot satisfy. Finding and living your purpose can lead to greater happiness, productivity, and positive impact on the world.
20 | THE UNLEASHED VOICE
Purpose comes from within. It requires soul searching, selfreflection, deep thinking to discover what truly motivates and drives you. Some questions to ask yourself include: What am I passionate about? What do I want my legacy to be? What cause do I want to serve? What values do I want to live by? Purpose is unique for everyone, shaped by your interests, talents, experiences, and beliefs. There is no right wrong purpose- it just needs to align with your authentic self.
Once you have identified your purpose, living it out on a daily basis requires action, commitment, and perseverance. You must develop the discipline to make sacrifices, overcome obstacles, and stay motivated even during challenging times. This is where values and principles come into play to guide you forward. Values like honesty, compassion, courage, responsibility and integrity become the foundation for your purpose. They dictate the types of choices you make and how you interact with the world.
Living a Purpose-Driven Life means focusing your time and energy on the things that truly matter. You evaluate opportunities and decisions based on whether or not they will help fulfill your purpose. You fill your schedule with activities that move you closer to your goals rather than things that merely provide temporary pleasure. This requires setting priorities, managing distractions, and saying “No” to things that do not align.
Living your purpose opens opportunities for personal growth. You push yourself to develop the knowledge, skills and character needed to make a difference in line with your purpose. You gain wisdom and insights that come from preserving through challenges. You build stronger relationships with like-minded people who support and encourage you. Growth and purpose go hand in hand, with one fueling the other forward.
Living a Purpose-Driven Life enables you to have a positive impact on the world. When your purpose is bigger than yourself, you are motivated to contribute in ways that serve the greater good. You find ways to give back through your work, volunteer efforts, mentoring others, or inspiring positive change. Leaving a legacy that outlives you becomes your driving force. The world needs more people willing to live and die for a cause greater than themselves.
In finding and living your purpose gives meaning and significance to your one life on this earth. It provides internal motivation and satisfaction that cannot be measured in money or material gains. While the journey will have ups and downs, living a Purpose-Driven Life enables you to make the most of your strengths, talents and time. You ultimately leave the world a little better than you found it. I hope this inspires you to start or continue living with purpose and making a difference in the world.
HERE ARE 10 STEPS TO LIVE A PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIFE:
1. Discover your calling. Take time for self-reflection to identify your talents, passions, and values. What makes you come alive? What problems do you want to help solve?
2. Set meaningful goals. Once you identify your purpose, set specific goals that help you achieve it. Make sure your goals align with your values and interests.
3. Take inspired action. Don’t just dream about your purpose, take concrete steps daily to make progress toward your goals. Start small and build momentum.
4. Serve others. Find ways to use your talents and strengths to help and serve other people. Look for opportunities to make a positive impact.
5. Practice gratitude. Developing an “Attitude of Gratitude” can help keep you motivated and focused on what matters most. Be thankful for each day.
6. Stay committed. Living a purposeful life is a daily choice. When obstacles arise, recommit to your vision and take the next inspired action.
7. Connect with a community. Surround yourself with people who support your purpose and goals. Join or create a group that shares your interests and values.
8. Reflect and adjust course. Periodically reflect on your progress and purpose. Make adjustments as needed to stay aligned and motivated.
9. Accept it’s a journey. Living purposefully is an ongoing process. Celebrate each milestone and learn from any setbacks along the way.
10. Keep it positive. Stay focused on how you can make a difference through your purpose. Avoid negative self-talk that can derail your progress.
Never stop learning. Continue learning and growing as a person to improve your ability to live your purpose. Learning will keep you inspired and motivated.
The most important thing is to live each day in alignment with your sense of purpose and the positive impact you want to make. Let that be your guiding light and motivation.
21 THE UNLEASHED VOICE |
Purpose is unique for everyone, shaped by your interests, talents, experiences, and beliefs. There is no right wrong purpose —it just needs to align with your authentic self.
The Key to LOVE CAN BE IN A SONG
by David Wyley Long
Of all the songs written about love, two songs have been a mainstay in my mind for long as I can remember. One is a simple song about heartbreak, while the other one was a Billboard success and raised the singer to super stardom. The first, 10,000 times by Blu Cantrell tells a story about a woman who has been in love 10,000 times and how love hurt her 10,000 times. While it is obviously an overestimate of my love affairs, I share the sentiment Blu croons on this hit from her debut album released in January 2001. While this high count seems that many will give up after so many attempts, I am forever in hope for a timeless love. Another torch song that has influenced my love life in ways I had no control, was the sad, yet poignant “Love is a losing game” by the legendary Amy Winehouse. This short and simple love song had lyrics I know all too well.
Though I battle blind Love is a fate resigned Memories mar my mind Love is a fate resigned
Hear me clearly, I am a lover of love. Although I have struggled to understand it, and secure a forever love, I am deeply invested in finding love, although my many struggles and stumbles might cast a weary cloud on my heart.
This issue, I wanted to understand the purpose of love. Covering this issue’s theme, with a purpose driven life, I wanted to tap into what makes love so amazing and rich. Why do most get stuck, while many succeed and have successful relationships? The central argument with people who are single is “I don’t want to settle.”
This common mantra is tough for me to process, as that is the core of love. I believe that within partnerships and love affairs, two people must create a love foundation by adapting your life to someone else and allowing others to enter your life. In some respects and in my own humble opinion, you can’t have a dynamic relationship without
compromising something. Settling is not a bad thing, but a powerful push to be open to change and respecting each other, and our differences.
I shudder thinking that Michele wouldn’t give Barack a chance because he was a city organizer from the Southside of Chicago. She saw potential, and found a gem.
We live in a time where apps are the easiest and quickest way to secure a fling, 1- or 2-night stand and potential partner. The irony within these apps is the 3 seconds you have to impress someone enough to swipe to the left or message you via their profile. Even with breaking through, most times people swipe left or message quite a few possible suitors before anything comes to fruition. If we desire a purpose driven life and can find the right person, you should consider all opportunities, including stepping out of your comfort zone to find your “one.” While I believe the apps hold merit in securing love, it is very nuanced and can be overwhelming with all the profiles to view.
I implore all readers who are seeking a love, and a successful
relationship to try a new way for the remainder of the summer. Get offline, and go to the museum, a poetry slam, or any sporting event. You will be amazed how many singles are at these events, and the more organic way to meet, greet and learn someone. It is nothing more depressing than meeting someone online, and they request more photos. To me, you are now auditioning, and the person has zero to little desire to meet. I call these people the most warped, as the initial photo(s) that caught your attention was not enough, and they need more to prove who you are. Now, before you start talking about catfish, just ask for a video call. Even with an android, you can do a free zoom call. But, by meeting someone in person at a museum, they will look foolhardy if they request more photos, as your presence should be good enough.
I end this issue’s article with a quote on love. It is from an unknown, but a wise person who showed the power of love within a few lines. As I continue to seek and secure my forever love, I will continue to shine light on love and life. Find me on Facebook at David Wyley Long, and tell me your thoughts, and if you are single, look at my photos first, and let's have a conversation.
Be well, and take care. Until next time.
Thinking of you keeps me awake. Dreaming of you keeps me asleep. Being with you keeps me alive.
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