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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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Alexandra Shipp Doesn’t Understand Colorism and It Shows

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Alexandra Shipp is suffering from the same light-skin plight that Tinashe claimed stifled her career two years ago. Oh well…

After hearing that KiKi Layne was in talks to step into her queendom as Storm, Alexandra Shipp wasted no time chiming in on Twitter. Her hot garbage take has since sparked yet another conversation about colorism in Hollywood. Alexandra stated, in so many words, that Black people aren’t supporting her because of her skin tone. Proving she, like so many, does not understand colorism as a system of oppression, Alexandra makes it clear there’s still work to be done.

You see, Alexandra, no one is attacking you for having light skin. They’re simply expressing joy over the much-anticipated portrayal of Storm as she was intended — a dark-skin, beautiful Black woman. This was a monumental opportunity for you to offer praise. Instead, you chose self-pity because a skilled actress is taking a role you aren’t entitled to. Let’s look at receipts, shall we?

KiKi Layne has been nominated for:

  • The Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
  • The Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Actor
  • The Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble.

You, Alexandra, have been nominated for a Teen Choice Award and a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award.

Because you, and others who look like you, have not had to search for representation to feel included, you may not know how to respond to this. I get it, You think you worked hard, earned that role, did it justice. Sorry, baby, but you thought wrong. The one-time wife of T’Challa deserves to be a dark-skin queen and there’s nothing you should do about it.

It’s bigger than you.

For two decades, we have waited for the mantle of Storm to be assumed by a woman who truly looks like her. For once, little Black children who share that skin-tone would feel seen as they look upon their favorite superhero. Imagine children looking at Storm the way they knew her and the way they thought they could be; strong, beautiful, dark-skinned, and more talented than you.

Furthermore, your conflict with the change in the cast should not be conflated with other pressing issues. Don’t weaponize Black Lives Matter to represent losing a job because you’re talentless. Where is your grace, queen? You’ve been coasting on mediocrity in an industry that has made you proud of your light-skin privilege. Now that dark-skin is profitable, the industry is accepting of some actresses with melanin more popping than yours, and you want to play the victim? Ms. “90 percent of the racism I’ve experienced in my lifetime has been at the hands of fellow Black people.”

Girl, bye.

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Protests Ensue Over Death of Jameek Lowery

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Jameek Lowery streamed his final moments as he sought assistance from officers in a Paterson, New Jersey station. Having passed in police custody, community members and family want answers.

Scared and Alone

Jameek Lowery was disoriented, foaming at the mouth, and shoeless. Asking for water and visibly unsettled, 27-year-old Jameek admitted he’d taken ecstasy just moments earlier. Hoping officers would help him find proper care, Jameek trusted them with his life.

Police say they called an ambulance and accompanied him to St. Joseph’s Hospital, but what happened during transport is unclear. The Passaic County Prosecutor claims although hospital records do not indicate acute trauma, Jameek suffered physical force and compliance holds during the ride. While transport took between five and twelve minutes, the prosecutor alleges that Jameek was unresponsive upon arrival. Jamir King, Jameek’s brother, says Lowery suffered a fractured eye socket and broken cheekbone after the recording.

We want answers now!

Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale maintains everything that could be done to help Jameek was.

 “They will do the autopsy, everything will come up and then we’ll know where we stand, and the answers will be given to you. I want you to have those answers. Right or wrong, I want you to have those answers.”

Jerry Speziale, Paterson Police Director

Unhappy with what Paterson Police have provided since Jameek’s death Saturday, protests have ensued. Hawk Newsome of Black Lives Matter attended the Tuesday night protest, providing his support to the family and commenting on what he knew so far.

“He was extremely paranoid, he was terrified, and he had no shoes on. What I did notice was his face looked good and within a few hours he was dead.”

Hank Newsome, Black Lives Matter of Greater New York

City Council members were also present during the protests, providing comfort to the family as they begged for answers. Lowery’s sister Jamilia Laurie said, “My heart hurts, I can’t explain how I feel because I don’t know how I feel. I can’t go to sleep at night. I’ve been up since this happened. I cannot sleep.”

Justice for Jameek

Late into the evening, things came to a head as protestors clashed with police on the street, spilling out of City Hall where the rally took place. Holding cell phones to record the officers, police lined up on the other side, equipped with mace. People began chanting “Justice for Jameek,” “Black Lives Matter”, and “No justice, no peace”. Police fired upon the crowd with mace and a large crowd was seen fleeing the Paterson Public Safety Complex building, shielding their faces and coughing.

Wana Fulcher, a protestor on the scene commented on the frightening state of police relations in Paterson.

“I have four sons myself and this is very scary. Your child can’t even walk down to the store without being harassed by an officer. Who can we run to?”

Wana Fulcher, protestor

Community leaders and Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh are supporting the investigation into what happened to Jameek. Several news outlets have attempted to reach Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale for further comment with no success.

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On the Subject of R. Kelly

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I was 14 years old when R. Kelly was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography. It was 2002. TP-2 had been out for a while and everyone was vibing to “Fiesta” and “Feelin’ On Yo Booty”. He was preparing to perform at the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City when the story broke. A videotape had surfaced, allegedly showing R. Kelly urinating on an underage girl. The Black community was silent.

I overheard my adult cousins discuss the tape at family gatherings. Everyone that had seen it seemed to agree. Without a shadow of a doubt, they all knew they were watching Robert Kelly, the pied piper of R&B. Yet there was no outrage, no public outcry or demands for justice. It was sickening. At the time, I lived in Detroit, Michigan, home to DSA. DSA was known as The Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts, but it was famous for birthing the princess of R&B, Aaliyah Dana Haughton.

Buried

When Aaliyah married R. Kelly in 1994 in that secret ceremony with forged documents, Detroit knew. When conversation surrounding the nature of their artist-protégé relationship was questioned, Detroit knew. In televised interviews and radio segments when their voices and body language could be dissected, the truth was bare and as a community we denied it. For the second time, I watched a city turn a blind eye to R. Kelly’s predatory behavior for the love of his music. For what? Because it was more difficult to hold one man accountable for his hebephilia than sacrifice music to bump to? We collectively did ourselves a disservice, the same disservice we do to little Black girls and boys who are preyed on by family and religious figures.

Ignoring the presence of sexual deviance in the Black community does not make the trauma survivors battle daily disappear. I couldn’t understand why people made excuses for rapists or held victims accountable for their pain. “Just separate the art from the artist.” How? Why? The artist is using his status and artistry to directly engage, lure, and abuse Black girls. R. Kelly isn’t the only person to do this. Many celebs have used the promise of fame for sexual favors. Hell, employers use this exact same tactic. In the working environment, people in positions of power will dangle promotion and incentive to bargain sexual favors and people excuse it.

Second Chances

As a community, we must demand better. From the moment those 21 counts of child pornography surfaced following the release of the infamous tape, R. Kelly’s career should have been over. But it wasn’t. He went on to release the Chocolate Factory album, selling more than 3 million copies and going platinum. With the help of a delayed trial, he worked diligently, released gospel music to clean his image. By the time he went to trial in 2008, the Black community had two-stepped his depravity out of their memory. He was found not guilty.

People use twisted language like “Those girls were fast. Where were their parents?” Working long hours to clothe and feed that child. No parent is in all places at all times so save that bullsh*t. Such rhetoric does absolutely nothing to absolve sexual predators of the reality that they took advantage of naive adolescents or starry-eyed adults. Just call it what it is. Or are you afraid that acknowledging his deviance means calling out the same evil in those around you?

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