Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Few Of My New Favorite Things...

The Shubutanis A Young Ice Dancing Pair
The Lakers New Championship Rings

The Lakers New Championship Jackets (Gotta See If They Got 'Em In Big Boy Size)

This Picture....

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Review: I Was Born This Way by Archbishop Carl Bean

I consider myself a, "Church Boy" and by default a, "Preacher's Kid" (my mother married my step-father a Pastor when I was around 12yrs old). Some of my earliest memories are of church and family, family and church. From my grand-father who was Chairman of the Deacon Board so long they gave him the title of, "Deacon Emeritus", my mother who became President of both the Baptist Minister's Wives & Widows Union & the Interdenominational Minister's Wives & Widows Fellowship, to my being a choir director all stemmed from being in church.

Being Same-Gender Loving in the black church can be difficult to manuever. Talk about Don't Ask-Don't Tell it became increasingly difficult when I thought I might be ready to come out but then the AIDS crisis struck. People were very liberal in their condemnation. Folks were being baptized with the label, "abomination", and the disease was being seen as punishment for the "gay lifestyle".

After a long journey and a determination to break free I stopped attending church for a long while. I thought if I were gay I had to give it up. Sunday morning became my religion but I never lost faith. For some reason I knew there was something I hadn't been taught, something was missing. I knew the love of God as much as I knew there was air, oxygen flowing through my lungs but I'd always been taught like many people that there was only one way to God, sinners were going to hell, and a multitude of other hogwash that was used to control & oppress people.

I began reading on my own but still missed the fellowship that a church can offer. After volunteering for a program called, "Shanti" I began to hear about Unity Fellowship Church. I'd heard of Carl Bean but wasn't very familiar with him or his work. Imagine my surprise that when I finally decided to visit the church which at the time was located on Jefferson two blocks west of La Brea that is was 10 minutes from where I lived. All I had to do was turn a corner and what I'd been searching for was there (there's a metaphor for life in there somewhere).

Bishop Bean wasn't there the first Sunday I attended but because I wasn't sure where the church was I got there early and the first person I met was a man named, "Deacon Charles" he was very nice and sat and talked with me while we waited for services to begin. Charles was bald, very effeminate, had eyebrows drawn on, and pearl earrings. Although he was nice I was thinking, "what have I gotten myself into?". His kindness and sincerity though were just what I needed when it came to connecting. Once service began I heard testimonies of other people, the sanctuary began to fill, and then choir marched in singing, "Walk In The Light". The processional was lead by Vera Owens who I'd recognized from Pentecostal Community Choir and the Southern California Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America. The song really ministered to me. When the lights went down for affirmation and the worship leader began to tell us we were made in God's image, that we were not a mistake, that God loved us all I wanted to cry but I am not one for crying in public too much so I held it in. I received a pamphlet as a visitor that day that outlined the church's mission and ministry. It listed how God was present in all religions and faith traditions. I knew then this is what I had been looking for.

A few weeks later I finally met Bishop Bean. He is a force of nature. One of those people that when he enters a room the level of energy automatically rises. Whether it's his laugh, his voice being raised in song, or his preaching he lifts you. Even in quiet moments of consultation he has the ability to make you feel as if your situation is the most important to him. He's a man of action and of great faith. I do not think there is any coincidence that he and my mother share the same birth date of May 26th.

A few years before I left Southern California and moved up to the bay area a fellow Unity Fellowship Member, Frankie Lennon was running a writing workshop called, "The Talking Drum". She asked me to help facilitate the group. At first I was intimidated. Frankie is an incredible writer and teacher. I am not sure if I can call her a contemporary of Nikki Goivanni she actually went to and got in trouble with her in grade school. She encouraged me to become a part and I am so happy I did. She has since become a great friend and confidante. A true unexpected treasure in my life. While we were running the workshop Bishop Bean who always encouraged my writing, performing, and other artistic endeavors began to tell me he had been approached to write a book. I told him I thought it was a wonderful idea. The way he can weave a story is magical. With his wide range of knowledge and incredible history I knew it would be great reading.

That book is finally here, "I Was Born This Way: A Gay Preacher's Journey Through Gospel Music, Disco Stardom, and a Ministry in Christ" came out as loud and bold as Archbishop is. I don't think he can ever be accused of being a shrinking violet and in that respect he doesn't shrink from revealing much of history that has inlcuded alot of pain but certainly it also tells of how he has triumphed. His stories of childhood abuse, attempted suicide, cross dressing, prostitution, drug use, foster care, family dysfunctions can seem overwhelming but with this book you get a great sense of the purpose of Archbishop Bean. He always had faith. He always knew there was something. One of his great gifts is to be able to speak to a large crowd but make it seem he is speaking to you. He doesn't have to "talk up" to educated people, or "talk down" who haven't had the chance for education. He just somehow magically is able to translate a message through the power & passion of his words. I consider him to be one of the finest theologians of our time.

I've spoken to him about ways to promote the book. I told him I thought he should get a few musicians, background singers, and go into deeper detail about some of the stories in the book. If he sang and did that there is no way people wouldn't be moved to buy it. Just a couple of weeks ago I visited Unity on my birthday and got a chance to speak and pray with him. He always remains in the pulpit after service for anyone who'd like to have prayer or consultation with him. He told me some of the details of performing, "I Was Born This Way" at the height of disco era at a club in West Hollywood where his friends were asked for 3 forms of ID to get in. Even though the story is also told in the book hearing it from his mouth with his embellishments had me laughing out loud!! He also told me about his group, Carl Bean & Universal Love. There's a picture of them on the back cover and in the book. He had me laughing how they had to snap the picture quick because the guys in the group were trying to look, "butch". The only straight member of the group chose to be shirtless.

Archbishop is a wealth of knowledge and history. Hearing him talk about his calling to help people of color in the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis helps me to always re-focus on what I've been called to do.

I could go on and on about Archbishop Bean. I always enjoy our exchanges. He continues to inspire, teach, and mentor me to this day. I asked him to sign my copy of the book and his inscription reads, To Jair, My brother is in Christ and in the Creative Arts. Love Archbiship Carl Bean.
I'm honored he includes me in his fellowship and I am honored to have him as part of mine...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tasty Talk With My Girl Lily (Like The Flower)

'Good Gumbo' Radio (Join in)
Host: lilyliketheflower -

Episode: EPISODE24 - 'Good Gumbo' Radio: Raising Teens in 2010
Good Gumbo' Radio covers an eclectic blend of relevant topics. Hosted by author/poet lily (like the flower)

'Good Gumbo' Radio combines straightforward talk and witty flavor to create hearty conversation! Join us every Saturday at 10a PT/ 1p ET. Contact for details on FREE advertising opportunities.
Call ID: 80315

Visit to listen to past episodes of 'Good Gumbo Radio'. Follow lilyliketheflower on twitter @mamaincense

Scheduled Time:

Date: Sat, October 9, 2010
Time: 01:00 PM EDT

How to participate:

Call in:
Dial: (724) 444-7444
Enter: 80315 # (Call ID)
Enter: 1 # or your PIN