Monthly Archives: June 2005

So, There We Were…

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Destiny’s Child before Michele leaves permanently.

Destiny with Destiny

So there we were, me, Kelly, Michelle and B., all digging in our Fruit and Walnuts salads – delicious! – at the McDonald’s on 132nd and Lenox. DC was in Harlem yesterday promoting their last – I mean, latest CD, and had worked up quite an appetite lip-syncing their hits on 125th Street. I offered to spring for the salads and the bodacious Bootylicious Babes bit. Kelly is sweet, like the sugar-crusted walnuts in the otherwise relatively nutritious salad. Michelle seemed distracted. She kept looking around like she just found out that a bounty had been placed on her head. B. was her usual, ever-grinning, super-sexy self, every now and then offering to be my ‘naughty girl” with a stockinged foot tickling me on my left thigh. Flattered, I told her I was married, and showed her my bling bling ring. B. tossed back her long, luscious, blonde curls, laughed and said, “I know your nigga. Her tried to get on stage with us back when there were four of us. We got in a terrible fight. Weave was everywhere. But I did get in a good kick. Anyway, I hear you two are dangerously in love.” Indeed. When the three of us were done and were leaving Mickey Dees (by then Michelle had jumped behind the counter and refused to leave) Kelly asked me if I liked her solo CD. I told her I couldn’t get enough of it. That “Goodies” is always popping in my IPod, and I did a little dance for her, sort of a 1, 2 step. She just stared at me. B. was already out the door and had kicked the top off a fire hydrant and was gyrating like crazy! Weave and water just everywhere! Kelly and I looked at one another, shrugged, and joined her! We all danced furiously under the hydrant, which was miraculously shooting rainbow colored water into the air! Wet and willing, we touched our bodies seductively for what seemed like a million people cheering us on! The whole lasted for like, I dunno, four hours! And that’s how I became the third member of Destiny’s Child.

Sleeps with Butterfly – My Favorite Song

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Artist: Tori Amos
Album: The Beekeeper
Song: Sleeps With Butterflies

airplanes
take you away again
are you flying above where we live
then i look up, a glare in my eyes
are you having regrets about last night
i’m not, but i like rivers that
rush in
so then i dove in
is there trouble ahead for you, the acrobat
i won’t push you, unless you have a net

you say the word you know i will find you
or if you need some time i don’t mind
i don’t hold on to the tail of your kite
i’m not like the girls that you’ve known
but i believe i’m worth coming home to
kiss away night
this girl only sleeps with butterflies
with butterflies
so go on and fly then, boy

balloons look good from on the ground
i fear with pins and needles around
we may fall then stumble upon a carousel
it could take us anywhere

you say the word you know i will find you
or if you need some time i don’t mind
i don’t hold on to the tail of your kite
i’m not like the girls that you’ve known
but i believe i’m worth coming home to
kiss her, waiting by this girl
this girl

you say the word you know i will find you
or if you need some time i don’t mind
i don’t hold onto the tail of your kite
i’m not like the girls that you’ve known
but i believe i’m worth coming home to
kiss away night
this girl only sleeps with butterflies
with butterflies
with butterflies
so go on and fly boy

Ruminations

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Stevie Laid Out by Artos, May 2005.

Been thinking about:

Suffering
I’ve come to realize that needless suffering, particularly about the past, is becoming useless/purposeless to me. Let me explain. I used to fret and pout about things that happened to me as a child, like growing up in house with embattled working class parents and four other raggity kids. My heart always tightened up when someone would say, “Oh, we didn’t have much, but we had love.” Love? Yes, we had love, but it too was in short supply. The sticky painful residue of my childhood crept into everything I do, the way I treat others and myself. My biases, prejudices, my stereotypes, my lack of trust. What I am grappling with now are several things:

1) Why is it important to hold on to the pain?
a) maybe because it is safe
b) because I feel I deserved it
c) because it’s too hard to deal with the world on a daily basis with an open heart and mind

2) How do I benefit from marinating in the past?
a) I don’t have to be present
b) I can hang on to my good opinion of myself
c) I never have to change

3) How can the past help me?
a) maybe to remember more than just the pain
b) re-examining the pain: what really happened?
c) learn to give myself (and the world) things that I think I lack
d) forgive my parents for things they wouldn’t/couldn’t do; they did what they could

4) How does letting the past go make me feel?
a) excited
b) nervous
c) free
d) divine

I don’t think I have learned much from my early life experiences. Perhaps that’s why I am preoccupied with what (I believed) happened in my childhood. The what/who/where/when/why/and hows of my childhood are fascinating to me. I know I haven’t been forthcoming with anecdotes, but that’s on purpose. I am working through a few things, and after I take a few more swipes at ‘em, I’ll open up my hope chest and show you what I’ve collected and disassembled.

So…
So, in addition to a number of a thousand things I do on any given day because I love the work and I love what I do and really, can you blame me? Good people, good food and occasionally a great foot massage, this here life is for the living!

Chicago
I am blown away by your love (get it? Windy City?)

Loving Chi-Town from Friday to Monday.

First….

Out of the Margins: GLBT Librarians, Libraries, and Literary Activism
Day & Date: Saturday: 6/25/2005
Time: 01:30 pm – 03:30 pm
McCormick Place Convention Center, N426a
From activism in the profession, to the creation of specialized libraries and archives that document and celebrate GLBT life and history and the production of creative literature that resist boundaries, these individuals are ensuring that Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer existence is neither relegated to the
margins nor hidden on the shelves.
Speakers: (the fabulous) Reginald Harris, Poet & Librarian, Enoch Pratt Free Library; Natalie Kendall, Librarian, Leather Archives & Museum; tatiana de la tierra, Information Literacy Librarian, University of Buffalo; Joe Tragert, Marketing VP EBSCO Publishing, EBSCO GLBT Life Database Project; Paul Keith, Librarian, Gerber/Hart Library; and Steven G. Fullwood, Founder, Black Gay & Lesbian Archive.

Sanford Gaylord
There are a couple of cool people I need to see and hug like the great actor/writer/activist Sanford Gaylord, who I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with for the past few years. Here’s a link to his work.

FUNNY Reading
Fortunately for me, a very nice man by the name of Sidney Thomas will be hosting a reading for me at his home. I’ll also share some information about the BGLA as well. I plan to be on my bestest behavior and maybe try a little cologne. For more info email me at steven@stevengfullwood.org.

Friend on the Mend
Back in New York: A good friend of mine is getting better. All his tests came back, including a biopsy, and everything’s negative. No cancer, no immunity issues. He’s gaining weight, slowly. He doesn’t know what put him in the hospital (dehydration) is a result of. Saw him yesterday. He’s in good spirits. My diagnosis: I think he works too hard, and was rather devastated by an ex-boyfriend’s recent death.

Words
Reading a play by a friend. Excellent writer. The dialogue is off the hook.

Protein
Think..that protein is good for me, even the animal kind, occasionally. Still inching towards vegetarianism and learning to cook, but it is soooo very hard. My body likes smaller meals and very little animal anything.

Working OUT
My body feels strong, looks good, my arm and chest muscles and ass rounder. Ego off the charts.

I, Negronius
Becoming…comfortable with learning my own Godness. I say boo to needless suffering. I say boo to keeping one’s crazies all inside. I am thinking of how to do this life thing better.

Daddy’s Day
My kid…calls me and leaves a Father’s Day greeting on my answering machine. How sweet, particularly because all day Sunday everyone, including strangers, were wishing me Happy Father’s Day and all I could think of was the A-to-the-N-to-the-D-to-the-R-to-the-E.

Paul Mooney
Ran into…much-shorter-than-I-expected, kind of scary Paul Mooney. Right on the corner of 125th and 5th Avenue. I had on my skinny cycling sweatpants, and he had on his gaydar. We chatted, and I asked if he does interviews. Give me a card, he said, and I did. Mooney told me he doesn’t do the Internet, that it’s for white people (imagine that.) Then he went on to say (non sequiter) that the only reason he has a cell phone (another white people thing, I guess) is that his mom is ill and that his brother is taking care of her. Cell phones bad for your head, all that radiation. Mooney now lives in Harlem because he’s doing a morning show on WLIB, or WBLS, I forget. We stand in silence for a second before we shake hands and say our goodbyes. I doubt that he calls.

Interview: Larry D. Lyons II, Part Three

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Photo by Larry D. Lyons, II, 2005. See his blog for more of his work.

Why do you procrastinate?

I procrastinate because I am a perfectionist. If this sounds paradoxical, you’re not thinking like an Aries. You see, I have a dauntingly high standard of excellence… so high that it can be crippling at times. When you feel as if everything must be perfect, that everything you write is an indication or reflection of your worth and must, therefore, be executed with the utmost attention to detail and precision, you inflict a tremendous amount of psychic pressure upon yourself. I “procrastinate” in order to allow myself the time to think thoroughly about the challenge at hand, to gain a bit of perspective and to challenge my mind to engage a variety of tasks at once. You’re tired of writing? Okay… let’s do some interior decorating. Burned out from interacting with your peers? Alright, let’s alphabetize our CD collection. Because I have a rich interior life and because I’m never at a loss for things I’d like to accomplish, I doubt that there will ever be a time when I don’t allow my mind to toggle between two or three different spheres. In short, procrastinating helps me keep my mind on its toes and maintain my standard of excellence.

You’ve just finished your second semester at Princeton. How was the experience?

Hard. Why?
1. I am accustomed to a more ethnically and racially diverse student body.

2. Names like “Princeton”, “Harvard” and “Yale” carry a certain weight in our society. Although I’d been preparing for a PhD for three solid years, and although I only applied to the top programs in the nation, I was nonetheless intimidated by entering the “ivy league” when the time came. Frequently I wondered if the admissions board had made a mistake in accepting me. As an undergraduate I’d been forewarned that nearly every graduate student has this experience, regardless of race. All the same, there were countless times during my first semester when I wrestled with my own self-doubt and my self-imposed alienation. Whether real or imagined, the baggage/expectations/presumptions that come with the “ivy-league” can be quite cumbersome, if you allow it to be.

3. I was in love with a man who lives far, far away. To remedy the alienation I was experiencing, it became all the more palatable to flee Princeton and find solace in the open arms of my hubby in Harlem. In turn, I interacted less with my peers and likely missed out on a number of social events and networking opportunities that could have facilitated my transition to campus life.

4. The English department here fully expects its graduate students to be full-time students, in the most rigorous sense. I consistently had to devote 40+ hours to my coursework. Needless to say, this can be quite jarring after a year’s break from attending classes or doing academic writing.

Talk about how you give love.

Cautiously, for as long as I can. Then the floodgates burst and I give it injudiciously. Seldom measuring, seldom calculating. I give love like a teacher’s pet, perpetually poised to serve, interested only in prolonging the exchange.

What are your insights on the following subjects: role playing in same sex relationships, sexual or otherwise?

Role playing is a valuable exercise because it highlights the mobility of identity. O we flatter ourselves to think that there is an essential “ME” that exists beneath the layers of scripting, socialization, prejudice and conditioning. I’d be interested in seeing what that ME looks like. At any rate, I believe that role playing is important because it allows you to depart from the script that governs your daily life and challenges you to acknowledge the delicacy of the thresholds that separate the two performances, the temporary one you’ve taken up and the one you act upon daily. In simpler terms, role playing helps you realize that there is never a time when you aren’t playing a role.

In terms of same-sex relationships, the black gay community seems every ready to point fingers when it comes to role-playing. “Fem queens play a role. DL Thugs play a role.” Yeah, sure they do. But don’t let the ease with which we can identify those scripts blind you to the fact that you are no less implicated the matrix of stories, myths, scripts and roles than the individuals that a self-righteous community happen to be maligning right now. I believe that role playing can be used to acknowledge our one-ness, which could be quite revolutionary if done well.

Roles I play? Longsuffering wife. Overbearing wife. Sex-starved husband. Complex intellectual. Fem. Masc. Posh. Ghetto. Fashionista. Wretch. Whore. Model son. Prodigal son. Lama. Guru. Provider. Lunatic. Heretic. Slacker. Activist. Mentor. The list is infinite.

Maturity
It’s in the eye of the beholder. What constitutes maturity? Paying bills on time? Being autonomous? Accepting responsibility? Usually this word is used to issue criticism for someone who fails in some way to another’s standards. I steer clear of calling anyone “immature” and opt instead to talk about actions or patterns of action as wise or unwise.

Keeping secrets
I let people know what they need to know.

Being openly homo
I appreciate the expansiveness of the gray space between the “closet” and the front lines of the pride parade. Methinks “out” and “open” will be the next concepts to retire to the graveyard of gay discourse. Not many of us are visible enough to make this term real. One of Webster’s definitions of “open” is “not restricted to a particular group or category of participants”. Me? Information about my sexuality is indeed restricted to particular groups, and quite intentionally so. Certain family members, most friends, plenty of leftist academicians, NPR listeners, bloggers, subscribers to certain websites and Lala Hathaway. Yes, it’s a fairly large list, but it’s restrictive nonetheless. Ellen DeGeneres is openly homo. I don’t have that kind of visibility, nor am I sure I want it.

Interview: Larry D. Lyons II, Part Two

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Photo by Larry D. Lyons, II, 2005. See his blog for more of his work.

Tell us a little about your education background.

Thanks to a perpetually mobile military family (dad was in the army), I attended 7 different grammar schools and 3 different high schools. In 2003 I completed a bachelor’s of arts at Rutgers University, where I majored in English and sociology. Currently, I’m completing my first year of a 5-year PhD program in English literature at Princeton University, fully funded.

In your triad of poems about your father posted on your website, you nail down several scenes from your life with/without him sans blaming him for his absence in your formative years. Was it ever a matter of forgiving your father for his transgressions or is that not the case at all?

The interesting thing about my relationship with my father and the poems that are its heir is this:

My father was not exactly an absentee. The following stanza from my poem, “Forging our Names” bespeaks his geographical proximity to his estranged family and the dangers therein.

And although I had his smile
And sis had his ways
Hometown knew better
Than to allow our pride
To go unchecked
So, the streets conspired to leak to us the punch line
Of how he’d graced other bedsides
With the sweet dirges
That we could never call daddy.

You see, even after leaving, my father was seldom more than a town away. This served as both a blessing and curse. My father was close enough geographically that I could convince judgmental teachers and camp counselors that, unlike the other kids (and the stereotype to which they were ever poised to reconcile us) I had a father figure. Close enough for Christmas gifts, weekend visits and birthday calls. However, he was also close enough for his children to get a glimpse of him en route to the local strip-joint, or to be within earshot of the rumors that nourish chatty neighborhoods that have a penchant for stories of rolling stones. In fact, at one point the mother of my father’s mistress lived two doors down from us. So whether or not mom got child support, we always enjoyed the privilege of knowing who dad was dating.

So, rather than “blaming him for his absence” as you say, I could sooner penalize him for his proximity. His indiscretions were far too public for his absence to be a “bad thing” altogether. But what does blame accomplish? I’m trying to love my father the same way I want my sons to love me.

Talk about your interest in becoming a literary theorist.

As Lauryn and Erykah reject the title “Neo-Soul”, I reject “literary theorist”. Is that what they call folks who do what I do? Sure. Does it get to the root of what motivates me to invest my life in the field? Nah. Not by a long shot. I’d sooner call myself a language enthusiast who theorizes. Semantics at its worst? Perhaps.

But here’s the deal: I am fascinated by language; How its used, how it fails us, how it exhausts itself. What patterns arise in how we apply language and why? How does language inform knowledge and how does one circumscribe the other? How can we benefit from thinking of the novel as a space to audition new ways of being? OooOOo.. I’m getting excited just talking about it.