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Seeing Two Queer Black Men Get Married Changed My Life

Uche Onyeyiri
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I had the honor of seeing two queer Black men get married and it changed my life. September 30th outside of Memphis, TN I was present during a wedding that was unlike most of the weddings I was forced to go to when I was a child. I’m not the biggest fan of dressing up but dealing with two men who would give any TLC Bridezilla a run for their money, I had no choice.

This couple is no ordinary couple. Over the years I’ve become close with them as they have shared so much wisdom with me on what it is being a Black queer man and in a committed relationship. I’ve often talked about the lack of representation on TV and in real life when it comes to seeing Black gay men in love. I didn’t think it was possible because of this. I thought to myself several times “I don’t see Black men together so it must not be meant to be.” Seeing the two share their vows sparked something in me that I was sure was there.

I think about 14 or 16-year-old Justin and what the effect would’ve been on him if he saw Black Gay love in real life. Shows like “Noah’s Arc” gave some glimpse but was still TV. Even ‘Noah’s Arc’ wasn’t enough to combat the homophobic content that young me saw. I always asked myself was it something wrong with me and was it truly an abomination to attracted towards the same sex. Was I sick and twisted as my pastor told me almost every Sunday? No, I wasn’t. This Sunday would be different. This Sunday 31-year-old Justin would see two of his friends who are in love celebrate with friends and family and won’t be judged. A Sunday that I would always remember.

This is no ordinary love, and this is no ordinary couple. I met Erik at a time in my life when I was unsure about what I wanted to do, and I felt I had no choice because capitalism was on my neck. Erik reached out to me to express that he enjoyed my YouTube recaps of Real Housewives of Atlanta, and a friendship was born. He offered me a job opportunity when I really needed one, and he was a part of the catalyst that lead to the creation of KingofReads.com. He supported me (in more ways than I can share) with my move to Atlanta, and I will forever be grateful. Over the years I’ve become close with them, and they have shared so much wisdom with me about being Black queer men, choosing to be in a committed relationship. I am happy to have them in my life, and I am especially happy to have been able to share their special day with them. Seeing this couple share their vows in front of family and friends sparked something in me – Black queer love is possible. How revolutionary.

I’ve often complained about the fact that I rarely encounter Black gay men in love on my television or in my day-to-day life. Where are the Black gay men who love other Black gay men? It seems they don’t exist. They certainly aren’t on Shondaland shows, and they certainly aren’t on Netflix. They aren’t on any shows on Logo. The last time I saw two Black queer men show the love that I was about to was during Pray Tell’s kiss after disclosing his status.

Erik & Terrell exchange their written vows.

So seeing these two Black men come together wasn’t just important to me because of the ceremony but it was love they shared with each other that I have been fortunate to witness and it changed me. On September 30th, outside of Memphis, Tennessee, right in the heart of the Bible belt, their wedding ceremony began promptly at 5 pm. I’ve always seen photos from same-sex ceremonies but never attended or thought it was possible to even think I would have a chance at one. This wedding celebrated the love of two men who looked like me and loved like me. Although I’m not the biggest fan of dressing up, I put on my Sunday’s best – honestly, I had no interest in catching the wrath of two men who would rival any WE TV Bridezilla. Days before the ceremony I played dress up from head to toe. Terrell insisted and even went as far to purchase more shoes because the ones I had just wouldn’t do. You gotta love them. I walked in right as the ceremony began and I felt an instant rush in my blood that this was real. Not a viral video on social media but I was actually there.

I cried. Tears of joy. I was moved. As someone who made a decision earlier this year to leave monogamy alone and just have “fun” and focus on my career this told me that sometimes love truly does happen when you least expect it. At that moment I realized that I loved and appreciated my friends for inviting me to experience an important moment in their lives. I also came to realize that I, in fact, am deserving a love and for someone to make me loved. Love takes work no doubt it isn’t what we some might want us to see on Instagram or Facebook. There are moments when things might seem too much to get out of and those are the moments that show you rather the person in your life is truly the one for you or not.

I didn’t attend this wedding alone. I went with someone who I am in love with. If I hadn’t been for seeing the love between Erik & Terrell over the years I would’ve given up on love in general, but I feel like I’ve been given a second chance to truly open myself up to be prepared for whatever my heart deserves.

Check out some of the amazing photos taken by Uche Onyeyiri of Erik & Terrell and follow their Instagram.

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ICE Raids Set Country on Edge

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Donald Trump has recently tweeted ICE’s plans to carry out raids across the country. Aiming for the seizure of 2,000 immigrants who have court orders to be removed, ICE officers will flood 10 cities.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers plan includes the detainment of “immigrants who happened to be on the scene,” whether they are targets of the raid or not. Set to take place Sunday, the massive deportation effort has spurred politicians against the raid to encourage potential targets to educate themselves. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is reminding those at risk that without a judicial warrant, it is illegal for an officer to enter their home. As citizens watch from the sidelines, it is the surest sign that some Americans have forgotten our history.

Recalling the 10 Stages of Genocide, Americans against the forced removal of immigrants recognize we are at stage seven, preparation. For several years, the polarization of Muslims, Hispanic, and Latinx peoples between North Americans has mirrored the slow, but devastating vilification Jews faced in Germany. Mainstream news media outlets flood those susceptible to propaganda with lies regarding the theft of employment opportunities and skew crime rates statistics. Even now, as the mistreatment of detained immigrants is downplayed by government officials, it parallels the increase in violence against subject populations between 1933 and 1941.

“Those six years are a very particular phase of development of the Nazi project where a lot of steps were taken inside Germany to isolate German Jews from the rest of the population, to start measures sterilizing, isolating, and eventually even to start killing, to rearm Germany to prepare for the war of conquest, but also to cover up that rearmament by talking peaceful intentions publicly so that people elsewhere in the world wouldn’t be too alarmed.”

Doris Bergen

As explained by Professor Doris Bergen, the attempt of Jewish extermination did not begin with gas chambers. So, Wednesday Trump delayed the action to see if Congress could work out a legislative solution. However, ICE director Ken Cuccinelli says the raids are “absolutely going to happen.” He continued, “There’s approximately a million people in this country with removal orders. And of course that isn’t what ICE will go after in this, but that’s the pool of people who have been all the way through the due process chain.”

If you are at risk of detainment, visit https://www.wehaverights.us/ to learn how to handle potential encounters in multiple languages.

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Pose Has A Colorism Problem

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Critically acclaimed FX series, Pose, drew attention last night to the vicious and dishearteningly overlooked murders of Black trans women and other women of color. While it’s important to highlight the stories, both real and fictional, of trans people that move through society with little protection, fans are calling out the show for missing the opportunity to discuss colorism as well.

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

Watchers of the FX series, Pose, are mourning the loss of the beloved character, Candy Johnson-Ferocity. But for Black viewers, Candy’s departure left them feeling slighted. As one of the only two dark skinned characters on the show, Candy’s experience was harsh. She was depicted as catty, a product of her mistreatment by those around her, and seemed to exist without a storyline. Candy was given every trope they refused to assign to Angel, another trans woman of color. However, Angel possesses lighter skin.

In the past, writers and showrunners have been careful to avoid depicting acts of violence against trans women of color in a predictable fashion. So, the choice to show Angel in a seemingly stable situationship with Stan was well received. But why couldn’t Candy have a moment in the sun? The experiences of trans women are not separated by skin color, making it entirely possible for her to be loved out loud by others and herself. Presenting her as a damaged trans woman who lived dangerously as a sex worker without the knowledge of what threats she faced makes her death incomplete. And to use a dark skin trans woman to convey the message in a world that does not value dark skin lives felt excessive.

Candy left us without definition, shapeless as a character whose story would never take form. Her moments of glory went uncelebrated as she was frequently the butt of the joke, spoken of highly only in her passing. And for many, her death felt like a forced but necessary reminder to protect Black trans women. Yet, as some have pointed out on Twitter, LuLu’s passing would have hit just as hard and the message would still have been received. But here we stand, with only one dark skin character left in a series promising representation for all. Let’s hope Elektra is used for more than tragedy.

How did you feel about the most recent episode of Pose? Will you continue to watch?

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Do We Really Need Making The Band 5?

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Feeling nostalgic, Wale requested Diddy resumes the MTV series Making the Band. But knowing Diddy’s problematic history regarding artist treatment and alleged lack of compensation, do we really need the show to return?

Humble Beginnings

Harlem native Sean “Diddy” Combs got his start in the music industry in the early 90s as an intern at Uptown Records. Although he was fired from the company, Diddy went on to lay the foundation for Bad Boy Records in 1993. The label built itself on the shoulders of Biggie, securing other notable acts like 112, Mase, Total, and Faith Evans along the way. However, the untimely passing of Notorious B.I.G., following the East-West rap beef, came at an immeasurable cost. Along with losing a close friend, Diddy’s label struggled to maintain relevance. Then, came Making the Band.

Hardly remembered, the first three seasons of the series were not actually about Diddy’s unique requests and consistent studio shutdowns. It initially focused on the time-tested formula of boy bands. Looking to recreate the magical hold the Backstreet Boys or NSYNC had over our teenage years, Lou Pearlman spearheaded the first iteration of the show. Conducting a nationwide talent search, he selected 25 singers before dwindling down to the final five that would later become O-Town. The three-season run focused on the grooming of the boy band, initially signed to Transcontinental Records, their transfer to Clive Davis’ label J Records, and their subsequent split. All rising to and falling from stardom in the span of just three years, the series that birthed a boy band was pressured to continue. But how? In came Diddy.

“Bring Me Some Cheesecake”

Attempting to season the show, Making the Band 2 began airing October 2002 and suffered the same fate as it’s marshmallow version. The series focused on Diddy’s search for talented rappers and singers to form a hip-hop super group. But it all came crashing down in April 2004 by Diddy’s own hand. The first season of the new series centered on the selection process, but season 2 was where the content was. As we then laughed at the hilarious and over the top demands of his new artists, to see a man worth $820 million degrade lower class Black people for amusement now would be sick. Diddy subjected his artists to strange and arbitrary tasks, all to appease himself. As they dredged through the stop-start mud of production, Too Hot For TV, the debut album of Da Band would sell fewer than 1 million copies.  Now, Da Band exists only in obscurity and memes, but that wouldn’t stop Diddy from continuing the show.

Successful Artists?

It would be fair to say Making the Band 3 was influenced by the popularity of Destiny’s Child, given the shift to creating a girl group in 2005. Diddy joined forces with Laurie Ann “Boom Kack” Gibson to form a successful group that would assume the name Danity Kane. However, problems plagued the members and were chronicled in a special titled “The Rise and Fall of Danity Kane”, which aired in 2009. As Diddy was working to form the girl group, his relationship with Cassie, who was also signed to Bad Boy, became public knowledge. He also had other artists whose careers he’d simply abandoned.

Diddy signed a rapper named Aasim in 2004, whose debut through Bad Boy was never released. He’d also picked up Yung Joc, who along with Cassie helped Bad Boy Records chart with top five singles. However, Joc only released two albums with Bad Boy before being relegated to self-released mixtapes for most of his career. In fact, Diddy has lost 47 artists over the 26 years of Bad Boy’s existence. At this moment, out of the nine acts currently signed to Bad Boy, only five of them have no familial relation. Several of the artists once signed to Bad Boy alleged that Diddy crafted contracts that made them glorified work horses, making him millions and leaving them destitute. Although he vehemently denies any wrongdoing, do we really need to risk another instance of Making the Band when Diddy has no recent history of successfully leading an artist to stardom?

At any rate, Diddy and MTV are testing the waters to see if you want your MTB. Do you want Making the Band 5?

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