Category Archives: News

Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call

Anthology Black Gay Genius Commemorates Legacy of Writer/Activist Joseph Beam

Steven G. Fullwood
Publisher, VE Press

14 October 2014

NEW YORK, NY- Today we are pleased to announce the publication of the anthology Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call.

The book features critical essays, poetry, personal narratives, interviews and other writing from diverse contributors calling forth the legacy of writer and activist Joseph Beam (December 30, 1954 – December 27, 1988) in addition to other leading figures of the 1980s Black gay arts movement.

The project was conceived by Charles Stephens and Steven G. Fullwood, after being inspired by a series of conversations that they had been having over the past few years. Both felt that the voices and contributions of black gay men from that generation had been marginalized. “We wanted to elevate the legacy of Joseph Beam, Marlon Riggs, Essex Hemphill and others to counter the myth that black gay activism was a recent thing,” said Charles Stephens, co-editor.

Black Gay Genius looks back at the 1980s, but also looks forward, seeking to build
upon the artistic and political legacy of black gay men’s from the 1980s. “This book
is in many ways, a love letter to Joseph Beam and those amazing black gay men and
allies, many who are still writing and resisting today,” said Steven G. Fullwood, co-
editor of Black Gay Genius and Publisher at VE Press.

There will be a launch event hosted at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on November 3, 2014.

For more information about Black Gay Genius, go to Vintage Entity Press.


About VE Press
Originally a publisher of limited edition chapbooks, Vintage Entity Press (VEP)
was founded in 1985 with the goal of providing the world with thought-provoking
literature that challenged social and cultural norms. Today, the press has expanded
to feature innovative works by an assortment of poets, fictionists, academics and
essayists who see the value in working with a small press. Collectively, VEP books
are infused with concern about social, spiritual, sexual, racial and political issues.

Our writers foreground the experiences and contributions of people of color within
the global community.

Fire & Ink Presents! at DC Black Pride!

DC Black Pride and Fire & Ink Presents!

Hyatt Regency Hotel, room Congressional A, 400 New Jersey Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20001. Saturday, May 26, 2012, 11am-12:30pm.

“Why Do You Write/Read and How Do You Succeed?” Panelists Rashid Darden, LaToya Hankins, J. Renee LaCour, Spectra Speaks, Red Summer, T’Ego and Dwayne Vernon

Join this panel of poetry, fiction and nonfiction writers as they discuss what motivates them to produce work, and how the books they read and the lives they live inform their writing in terms of subject matter, style, form, target audience and other literary choices. These authors will also tackle the complex question of what “success” means to them as individuals, artists and educators in today’s literary and media marketplace and how they are striving to achieve that success. Hosted by Fire & Ink!


Rashid Darden is a novelist, nonprofit professional and educator. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Darden is a member of Alpha Phi Omega and Alpha Phi Alpha and is executive director of Gamma Xi Phi arts fraternity. His first novel, Lazarus (2005), published to great acclaim, is the story of Adrian Collins, a gay college sophomore who pledges a predominantly black fraternity; the tale is now a trilogy, with Covenant (2011) and the newly released Epiphany (2012), as well as related poetry in The Life and Death of Savion Cortez (2011). He is currently working on two nonfiction books and a novella of urban fantasy.

A native of North Carolina, La Toya Hankins is a woman of many talents. Armed with a degree in journalism, Hankins earned awards as a print journalist for seven years before working in the banking industry; she is currently employed by the state of North Carolina. Hankins is a member of Zeta Phi Beta, and serves as co-chair of Shades of Pride, organizer of Triangle Black Pride in North Carolina. Her first novel, SBF Seeking…, was published in January 2012; Hankins is working on her second novel, K-Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood. Her motto, borrowed from Zora Neale Hurston, is “I do not weep at the world; I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”

A passion for visual arts and storytelling gave J. Rene LaCour (aka Jamie Balthazar) her start in the field of writing and producing in the television industry. During the past 20 years, she has demonstrated those talents while working at cable networks, BET and BBC America. Currently, she is co-owner, director and executive producer of Ruby Red, Inc., a media production company based in Beverly Hills, CA. LaCour?s first novel, The Unsimple Truth (2012), takes a bold look at relationships, sexual fluidity and intimacy in a world where the truth is often hard to find. “The Unsimple Truth is an adventure that stays with you after putting the book down and is guaranteed not to disappoint,” says USA Today. Currently she spends her time between Los Angeles and her hometown, New Orleans, where she finds inspiration in its incomparable music, food and people.

Spectra Speaks is an award-winning Nigerian writer, women’s rights activist, and the voice behind the African feminist media blog, Spectra Speaks, which publishes global news and opinions about all things gender, pop culture, media, and the Diaspora. She is also the founding executive editor of Queer Women of Color and Friends (QWOC+ Media (, a grassroots organization and media collective that amplifies the voices of lesbian, bisexual, transgender and/or queer women of color, native, immigrant and diaspora voices. Spectra’s writing has been published in a variety of print and online media outlets, including Color Magazine, Racialicious, Gender Across Borders, Role Reboot, and Bitch and Curve magazines. She is currently working on an anthology of LGBT African women’s stories, and will be traveling through southern Africa for six months collecting untold stories.”

Red Summer is an activist, poet, performance artist, filmmaker, writer and publisher who has made a career of speaking up and speaking out. A native of Chicago, where she honed her talent with POW WOW and Young Chicago Authors, she currently lives in Atlanta, where she oversees Two Fingers Press and is executive director of Verbal Remedies, an organization that empowers and mentors young people through creative programming and self-esteem workshops. She uses the stage to give voice to those who have been silenced; she uses the power of her pen to articulate, captivate, educate, motivate and activate. Her poetry includes Shades of Red, a spoken word CD; and the books First Person and the hot-off-the-press Raw Sugar.

The writer T’Ego was a young princess when she began her writing career. She spent endless summer days typing out dramatic epics resembling the adulthood she wanted to pursue. Her early writing has been included in anthologies and journals in the United States and France. She has explored the mid-Atlantic states and the southwestern coast of the U.S., and the continent of Asia, seeking new inspirations and life experiences. Currently T’Ego resides in the DC Metro area where she enjoys shouting at people on karaoke stages around town and chasing her pitbull, Ava, through fields of dandelions. Closet Space, an art novel of a woman’s coming out journey, is her first published book.?

Dwayne Vernon is a man of multiple talents. Originally from Portsmouth, VA, Vernon completed six years of active duty service with the U.S. Navy, then worked many years at Xerox before landing at his current job with the federal government in Washington, D.C. He mentors young children through the Big Brother/Big Sister program; has read weekly to third and fourth graders as part of the Everybody Wins Project; is a male model and trains male and female models; and writes poetry and fiction. His urban fiction novels are My Man, My Boyz (2007); Deception, Lies and Truth (2009); Roman (2011); and the newly released Vengeance (2012).

Moderator Steven G. Fullwood is an archivist at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, where he runs the Black Gay & Lesbian Archive (BGLA); founder of Vintage Entity Press; and co-president of Fire & Ink, Incorporated, an advocacy organization for LGBT writers of African descent.

To learn more about the authors, go to Fire & Ink’s website.





ITL 1986

Upon the 25th Anniversary of the publication of In The Life: A Black Gay Anthology, edited by Joseph Beam

In March 28, 1984, writer Joseph Beam wrote to Sasha Alyson of Alyson Publications about publishing what he called “a book of collected writings by Black gay men.” Later in the letter he emphatically stated:

I am committed to beginning to end the immense silence that surrounds the lives of Black gay men.

In October 1986, Beam?s dream would arrive in a slim gray volume adorned with a sketch of two black men in tuxedos ?stepping out? by black gay artist Daryl Mackie. In the Life: A Black Gay Anthology was published by Alyson Publications, the first collection of its kind featured writings by twenty-nine black gay writers including Sidney Brinkley, Samuel R. Delany, Melvin Dixon, Craig G. Harris, Essex Hemphill, Reginald Shepherd, Max C. Smith, and Assotto Saint.

In the same letter, Beam also tells Alyson “for purely selfish motives, I need the support in knowing who my gay brothers are and where they have been.”?In the Life offers a sumptuous range of stories, essays, poems and interviews written by and about queer men of African descent. Beam stepped forward to excavate and illuminate figures such as Richard Bruce Nugent and Bayard Rustin, and introduce new writers like Essex Hemphill and Melvin Dixon as well as members of early black gay writing collectives such as Blackheart and Other Countries to larger audiences.

Beam’s efforts provided a platform for out black gay voices and expanded what was possible (and thereby profitable) in the world of publishing. Although Beam did not live to complete what was intended to be a sequel to In the Life, his desire to know and record the experiences of black gay men has become a flashpoint from which current scholarship perpetually draws insights, information and inspiration. Thanks to RedBone Press, both In the Life and Brother to Brother are available to a new generation of readers, writers, thinkers, activists, and simply people who, like Beam, seek to know their brother?s stories, and perhaps feel a little less lonely.

We want to take this opportunity to honor Joseph Beam and his tremendous accomplishment that is In The Life on its original publication date October 1986. His genius has been a necessary, sustaining light, and we graciously thank him for it.

Charles Stephens and Steven G Fullwood

Editors of Black Gay Genius


The Banal and the Profane: The Little Filter That Couldn’t

Post image for The Banal and the Profane: Steven G. Fullwood


Time. There’s never enough time to do everything I want to do, but I, Sisyphus, corral the LIttle filters that couldn’t – Giggly, Surly, Ranty, Groggy, Spacy, Frothy, Horny — feed and burp – em.

The Banal and the Profane is a new monthly?Lambda Literary?column. In each installment, we ask a different LGBT writer, or LGBT person of interest in the publishing industry, to guide us through a week in their lives.

Our inaugural Banal and Profane column comes to us from writer and publisher The Little Filter That Couldn’t, the author of the book?Funny?and?co-editor?of the collections?Think Again?and?to be left with the body.?He is also the founder of?Vintage Entity Press?(VEP), an independent press publishing innovative new works of poetry, fiction, and essays infused with concern about social, spiritual, racial and political issues of people of color. The Little Filter That Couldn’t’s writings have appeared in various publications including?Library Journal,?Black Issues Book Review, XXL?and?Vibe.


Up at 8, out the door by 8:30am. Call Dad on way to train. Rant with him about family, state of economy, black folks, Obama. Board A train. Try and hear what will write me today. Breakfast at Tick Tock Diner. They know me here. Devour egg blood and jellied toast. Consume articles on neurological studies, suicide or some other stool softening literature. At Borders grab Baldwin, Bukowski, Burroughs, any interesting book on the way to escalator to cafe. Stack books so spines face me. Open computer, pull out notebook, scraps of paper from pocket. Scrape insides for diary entry. Bullet points. Draft essays, write reviews, letters, lists. Five hours writing, sometimes with a break, sometimes not. Plan week ahead. Go home, eat and nap and twist. Wake up at dusk. Check Facebook for whatever. Watch a movie in my drawers. Avoid phone as if it were a disease.

The Little Filter That Couldn’t Photo by Larry D. Lyons


Day off. Debt, deadlines, doubt, desperation. Drama. Diary entry is one long rant. Get over damn self. Shitload of emails. Respond to offers from colleagues and other sentients to publish my work, or their work; to give talks or show up at a party, event, etc. Throw it all up in the air. Whatever comes down, I eat. Don’t know how else to live. In bed watching?Obsessed, a reality show on folks with OCD, telling myself that I’m not that far gone[1]. Nap. Later, on train to village I am reading?The Autobiography of Malcolm X?for the first time. (Shhh, they’ll revoke my Black card.) Meet with one of my writers. New poems crackle in her eyes. My poetry is floating somewhere in the Gulf. The author and I eat and swap writing stories, art stories, deceased mother stories, love stories. Walk hand in hand to piers, stare at the water. Consider all the fucking that went on here before New York became a sterile Disneyland. Chain stores on every corner. Something’s happening here, but who knows what? Tired.


Up. Journal. At library. Rather be at home writing my own shit. Sublimate desires through work. Sift through letters and photos from abandoned rooming house in Harlem. Shiny black faces frozen, staring at somebody else. Not me. Made up memories, not mine, climb into my head. Greet patrons and assist them with finding resources. Later meet with friend from grad school visiting New York to attend a romance writers’ conference. We librarians who write talk art. She proudly aims for the mainstream; I prefer to masturbate in the margins. Just sayin. On train, pledge to weed the following words and phrases from my vocabulary: I, me, kind of, sort of, more, which, a bit, maybe, possibly. On walk home, I think of renaming an old Jackson 5 hit: Jacking Machine. Imagine five guys simulating masturbation in lockstep. Sing part of it aloud. No one looks at me be me. It’s Harlem.


Up, wash, eat, journal. Obsess over belly because I’m homo, 45 and therefore dead.[2]?Run, Steven, run! shouts my ego, Run get that six-pack, stat! Over my head a gray cloud rumbles. No one likes my writing (a lie). I hate my writing today (but you like it, right?). Who would read this self-indulgent shit? (you would. did. do. are.) The Magician’s Assistant’s Dilemma (poems), Dirty Old Man (essays), Raw (selected journal entries, letters and poems). Will these projects ever see the light? Time. There’s never enough time to do everything I want to do, but I, Sisyphus, corral the The Little Filter That Couldn’t – Giggly, Surly, Ranty, Groggy, Spacy, Frothy, Horny – and feed and burp ‘em. Walk to work with a colleague’s manuscript (it’s good). Dream job. History, archives, art, writing, social and political engagement and sometimes cake. Only man in department. Must write about that. Dinner time! At the caf? after work writing about my week, thoughts about ongoing projects, missed opportunities for work, upcoming lectures. Reading collected letters of J.R. Ackerley over steak and eggs and coffee. What a writer! Occasionally look up at the people eating alone with no books. Wonder who they’re talking to.


Get up early, breakfast at cafe. Read recent interview with the sexy?Cheryl Clarke. What doesn’t she know? Read?Chip Delany‘s new manuscript and I’m stunned. He’s nothing but a big eye and cuddly beard. Cheryl and Chip stimulate me, making me wanna be better. Fire my own light. Pull out interview?Herukhuti?did with me seven years ago. Not bad. Guess I’m a genius after all! Home from work, eat dinner, relax. Tonight I manage a publishing house, discuss writing projects with co-editors, send checks, edit manuscripts, send rejection letters via email. Edit CFS for two anthologies on aging and pornography. On phone way too much. Crick in neck. I don’t even like the phone. Finish three hours later. Flirt with leaving New York for good. Feeling trapped by ego. Consider calling or texting ex for sex. Realize that eating and sleeping will suffice, like a good Negro.


Sort of up. Journal. Eat. Work. Leave. See bad film with peeps. Currently reviewing every film, book, album I see, read, and hear. Create a few good ones, but most are unfinished. Walk down Lenox Avenue past a Chase, Starbucks, Staples, Marshalls, Rite Aid, Red Rooster, Sylvia?s, past black people, white people, older people, younger people, teenagers on bikes, young mothers pushing sweet babies, beggars. Friday night Harlem. Cueballs bouncing expectations seeking corner pocket desires. Zombies in suits and avoid beggars with the best lines. Teenagers loud talking, test their new skins. Old folks like me just wanna get home and into bed. Mourn a New York that no longer exists. There’s a one-legged essay in my queue about Harlem kicking my belly, begging to be born. Ignore her silly ass, masturbate, go to sleep.


Up. Journal. Eat. Work. Leave. Home. Online sending emails, checking FB. Despise awful FB statuses. Hide the culprits from my news feed. Have a lot of nerve, I do. Post whatever I feel whenever I feel it. Editing an essay about the meaning of Dark Matter in the universe (needs salt). Walk down 5th Avenue near 125th. Wonder what regular people do to feel alive. Not really. The Dark Matter essay sucks, but oh well. Split it in half, see what’s salvageable. A few lines I extract for a poem. Night comes, hugs. Beg off a party with wanna-be-seens. No energy to pose for possible pleasure. Stay at home and read. Wrestle with the word till I pass the fuck out.


[1]?Still not clean, still?not?clean (scrubbing sounds.)

[2]?Just kidding, but, no not really.