Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 656"

"Happiness Comes When You Let Love Touch The Heart..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 655"

"Just Love and Happiness..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 654"

"Only Love Can Create True Intimacy..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"And, The Truth Shall Set You Free..."

Gay and Arranged to Marry

Like many British Indian men, Harjeet Johal was arranged to be married to a woman, a practice he says makes little sense — and even less sense if you are gay.

By Harjeet Johal

Arranged marriage doesn’t make much sense. Men marrying women they barely know is a pretty daft idea.

It makes even less sense if you are gay. Simple logic would suggest saying "no" when asked. But I, as many British Indian men, felt I had no other option but to go ahead with it. I replied "yes" instantly.

I was 25 and had no doubts that I was gay. But I thought that coming out was simply not an option. My parents, despite regular liberal flourishes, are traditional and, I felt, unable to cope with the idea that their son loved men instead of women. If the shock didn’t kill them, the gossip from the wider community would. British Indian families live and die by their reputation, and our family has a proud one, so I was not going to be the person who destroyed it. I had to, for their sake as well as mine, live a secret life. Marriage, therefore, was the perfect cover.

My granddad began the arranging. He sat me down, for what I thought would be a heart-to-heart, but instead asked me the three vital questions needed for an arranged marriage: my height, my age, and what degree I had. Anything else was just mindless detail. When I started talking about my likes and dislikes, he just glared, stood up, and left the room. With his dossier complete, he let the jungle drums beat. It was soon known that I was on the market. At one point I was even advertised in the matrimonial section of an Indian newspaper. I felt like a used Volkswagen. A used Volkswagen with a degree.

Families of potential brides soon began to show their interest. We were bombarded with letters and phone calls to the point that we could barely cope. I had no idea I was such hot property. One morning my mum grabbed me at the stairs. “Some parents are coming to inspect you! Get dressed, vacuum the lounge, and start buttering bread!” Two hours later I sat in a suit opposite a mean-faced father and a gold-clad mother. The father then told me to "stand up." As soon as I did, he leaned into his wife and whispered, “too short." Minutes later, with fixed smiles, they were heading for the door. They barely ate a thing.

India was proving more positive. My granddad whittled down a sack-full of applications to a possible three: two doctors and a dentist. After discreet background checks and not much discussion, the dentist won.

During it all, I was managing to keep my emotions in check. The idea of living with a woman and feigning passion for her for the rest of my life filled me with dread. But I knew I could never be free to live and love the way I dreamed. I thought it impossible, so I convinced myself every night and every morning that I was doing the right thing. And the joy that I was bringing others through agreeing to marry was enough to keep my regret at bay.

It wasn’t until I was about to leave for the airport, to go and meet the potential bride, that I really started to think the unthinkable. My sister hugged me as I left the house and said simply, “you don’t have to do this.” I was shocked by this and just smiled, pretending to ignore her. I had not told her I was gay, but I was sure she knew. Her words would not leave me as I sat in the plane staring into the orange sky. Maybe I did have a choice. But whether I had the bravery to make it and truly be free was a separate matter.

When I arrived at the chaotic airport in India, my parents, who had flown in earlier, could tell I was not my usual self (due, in part, to Air India losing my luggage, and with it the best moisturizer I have ever owned) but they put it down to nerves and just loaded my bags and began the drive to the Punjab.

The next day I sat in borrowed clothes as our little convoy of cars drove to meet my future wife. I felt sick, my stomach was churning over and over, and I could not think away the feelings as I had done so many times before. As I sat opposite the dentist, and let her talk about her hopes and dreams for marriage, I could think only of men. I wasn’t listening to her and I just stared blankly into her plump face.

Afterward, I sat alone at my granddad's house staring out of the window into the hazy green of rural Punjab with the only noise coming from the grinding air conditioner behind me. It was the pivotal moment of my life. I agonized over whether to choose security or bravery, and the unknown that went with it.

Fortunately for both her and me, I chose to be brave.

I simply told my granddad that we were not compatible. He could not understand, and pointed out her father was not only was a retired brigadier but also credit worthy with twenty acres of land. He called up her parents and conveyed the news. They were devastated.

With misery sidestepped, I decided truth was the only option. I realized my primary duty was to myself, and not to the reputation of others, so over the next few months I slowly began telling people I was gay. It took years before I could tell my parents, but I eventually did. And as they hugged me tight and told me I would always be their son, I realized that fear can convince us to live false lives. Lives we need never experience.

Every year, many gay young men in Britain have arranged marriages, mostly because they fear what will happen if they don’t. Being brave isn’t easy, but I have found it is the only way to be completely free.


*********


"Fear Eats the Soul"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"The Truth Is In The Scriptures...?"

"Jesus and John"
Acrylic on canvas
Unknown Artist


The most astounding finding from the newly discovered lead codices is that Jesus Christ was unambiguously and openly gay. He and his disciples formed a same-sex coterie, bound by feelings of love and mutual support. There are recorded instances of same-sex activity – the “beloved disciple” plays a significant role – and there is affirmation of the joys of friendship and of living and loving together.





Friday, May 20, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 653"

"Love Is Like The Dance... You're In Step With One Another"


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"The Artist's Corner"

"Ray of Light"
Acrylic on canvas
Steve Walker

"And, The Truth Shall Set You Free..."

ESPN Radio's Jared Max Reveals He's Gay

By Bob Raissman
May 19th 2011, 11:36 AM

Jared Max, the veteran radio sports reporter, informed ESPN-1050 listeners Thursday morning he is gay.

Max's words came in the wake of recent pronouncements from Phoenix Suns executive Rick Welts and former Villanova basketball player Will Sheridan.

The radio yakker mentioned both men near the end of his 5 a.m.-6 a.m. show before making it personal. He asked if fans were ready to support a star player who is gay.

"Are we ready to have our sports information delivered by someone who is gay?" Max asked. "We're going to find out. Because for the last 16 years I've been living a free life among all my close friends and family. But I've been living behind what is a gargantuan size secret in the sports world.

"I am gay," Max said. "Yeah, Jared Max the sports guy with one of the most familiar voices in New York sports isn't quite like the majority."

Max, 37, talked about telling his mom, at the age of 21, that he was gay. He also talked about his fears of ever fulfilling his dream, becoming a sportscaster.

"Now, I'm taking this courageous jump into the unknown having no idea how I will be perceived," Max said.

Sources said Max did not inform ESPN brass of what he would say in advance, but network brass was giving him their full support. Max spent most of his career as WCBS-AM's morning sports reporter before recently moving to ESPN-1050.

*******

And so it begins, truth brings freedom and freedom brings truth...

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"The Artist's Corner"

"Tarzan and John"
Mixed media
Daniel Skinner

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 652"

"Love Brings Happiness..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"A Thought To Ponder..."


"First of all, every player has played with gay guys. It bothers me when I hear these reporters and jocks get on TV and say, ‘Oh, no guy can come out in a team sport. These guys would go crazy.’ First of all, quit telling me what I think. I’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play. Any professional athlete who gets on TV or radio and says he never played with a gay guy is a stone-freakin’ idiot. I would even say the same thing in college. Every college player, every pro player in any sport has probably played with a gay person. They always try to make it like jocks discriminate against gay people. I’ve been a big proponent of gay marriage for a long time, because as a black person, I can’t be in for any form of discrimination at all."
- Retired NBA star Charles Barkley

"And, The Truth Shall Set You Free..."

Former Villanova Athlete Reveals He Is Gay
Former Villanova basketball player Will Sheridan talks to Bob Ley about being a gay athlete in Division I sports

ESPN
May 17, 2011

They were sitting in their dorm room late at night talking, not necessarily about anything deep or meaningful. Just talking, as people do at the end of the day.

They were Villanova freshmen, two guys tossed together by the fate of their college who would grow so close that even now, eight years later, they remain as tight as brothers.

During their freshman year, roommate Mike Nardi was the first member of the Villanova team to receive the news from Sheridan. And so that night as they talked casually, their friendship already on solid footing, Will Sheridan told Mike Nardi something he had only told a few people.


"I just said, 'I need to tell you something … I'm gay,'" Sheridan said.

"I'm gay."

Those two words are the last hurdles to be cleared in sports, the five letters strung together that critics insist would destroy a locker room and more, destroy the athlete who utters them.

Yes, there are plenty of gay athletes we know of, but few men and fewer still from the major team sports. On OutSports.com, a website that covers the gay and lesbian sports community, numerous stories can be found of gay team captains and star athletes -- and the teammates who accepted them -- but for the most part, these stories come from high schools and smaller colleges and now even the highest positions in professional sports.

Sunday's New York Times told the story of Rick Welts, the 58-year-old president and CEO of the Phoenix Suns who recently met with friends, associates and a newspaper reporter to reveal he is gay.

But in terms of American athletes being out publicly at the highest levels of competition (pro leagues and the revenue sports in Division I), former NBA journeyman John Amaechi; ex-NFLers Esera Tuaolo, David Kopay and Roy Simmons; Glenn Burke and Billy Bean from Major League Baseball; and former college football players Dwight Slater (Stanford) and Akil Patterson (Maryland) are essentially the beginning and end of the list. And, like Sheridan, all of those players came out only after their playing days were over.


We talk about homosexuality in sports only when a lightning-rod moment comes along -- Kobe Bryant fined for using a gay slur in reference to an official, Sean Avery praised and derided for speaking out in support of same-sex marriage in an ad campaign -- then brush it aside, either pretending it doesn't exist or just preferring not to discuss it.

Which is why now, four years after his Villanova basketball career ended, Will Sheridan feels compelled to talk. Not because of Bryant or Avery. He decided to speak publicly months before either incident occurred.

But because he just doesn't get it anymore.

The big deal. The turmoil. The stigma.

He's proud of who he is, confident, comfortable, borderline arrogant even. And although it wasn't easy, his wasn't the torturously impossible and lonely road so many presumed it would be.

That night that he told Nardi, his teammate didn't recoil or walk out of the room. He didn't ask for a new roommate.

He made a joke.

"I just said, 'Don't go putting a hit on me or sniffing my underwear or nothing,'" Nardi said. "I mean I was surprised because it was new to me. I had never really experienced anything like that, but it's not like it mattered. I don't know. I mean, we were friends. Who cares?"


Most know Will Sheridan as a former college basketball player in the Big East, but he has a wide range of interests and career endeavors.

Will Sheridan went to Villanova with the same dream every college kid totes in his suitcases to college -- to become the person he was supposed to be.

He found that person. It's a wonderfully complicated, constantly evolving and multidimensional person.


He's an athlete, a former Division I basketball player who was good enough to start for most of his four seasons, pivotal seasons as the Wildcats blossomed into a national power.

He's a musician, with a video ("Welcome to the Jungle") that has gone mini-viral on YouTube and another one ("302") about to drop this week.

He's an artist, a performer who is packing the club scene in New York, people responding to his music and his message.

He's a businessman, a manager at a world-renowned fashion retailer.

And he happens to be gay.


"I'm trying to have a voice, and I want that voice to reach as many people as it can," he said. "I mean, look at me. I'm black. I'm gay. I'm like a quadruple minority, and I feel like a little piece of me resides in everybody. Maybe there's a kid out there who doesn't think he's OK, and he can look at me and say, 'OK, he played college basketball. He went overseas. He has a music career and now he's living his life. Now he's who he wants to be and he's happy and confident and comfortable.' It's my responsibility to talk about that."

They call it the Holy War in Philly, though in truth the rivalry between Saint Joseph's and Villanova is more profane than holy.

What once was a heated battle filled with harmless pranks has, in recent years, turned nasty. The rollouts -- banners unfurled in the stands -- have gone from clever to lewd, and the vitriol spewing from the stands, particularly when played in the split house of the Palestra, can be flat-out cruel.

Although Sheridan wasn't out publicly in college, he didn't entirely hide, either. He quietly and privately dated a man from another Philadelphia school. Plus, he was artsy -- he took part in spoken-word performances at Villanova. He ran funny, on his tiptoes. ("I actually tried to change that for years," Sheridan said. "Then I said, f--- it. Some people talk funny. I run funny.") So there was plenty of stereotypical ammunition and rumor mill gossip to load up opposing fans.

And when Villanova played Saint Joe's at the Palestra, the Hawks students unloaded.

"I remember at some games, especially Saint Joe's games, they were unreal," said Sheridan, recalling taunts about specific homosexual acts.

"At first, I was like, 'My grandma is sitting right there,'" Sheridan said. "And as a human being you feel it when people say nasty things. But then I thought, 'That's just stupid. If you were gay, you'd like to do [those things], too."

The fans' treatment of Sheridan surely speaks to the toxicity many fear a gay athlete would face should he come out during his playing career.

His reaction, his ability to laugh without a trace of bravado, says even more. Certainly, Sheridan is unique, a preposterously confident 26-year-old. Not everyone would be as well-equipped to handle the vulgarity as he is.

But then again, who's to know whether everyone would have the experience Sheridan had? The general consensus is that a gay athlete would be all but shunned by his teammates. Just last week, NC State's C.J. Leslie gave credence to the notion, tweeting (before later apologizing) "I'm no anti gay but I would rather not have a gay n the locker room," and "I'm not saying I hate gays but that's sumthing I would not wnt n my locker room."

Except by the time Sheridan graduated from his Catholic university, most of his teammates knew he was gay, and they didn't care. Amaechi is on the record as saying the same thing happened when he was with the Utah Jazz. More and more, coming-out stories -- especially among the younger generation -- include teammate support or, at worst, indifference.

Sheridan told Nardi first and over the years told other teammates as he grew comfortable and trusted them. There was never, Nardi joked, "a team meeting to discuss Will being gay." It was simple and private, friends and teammates sharing personal information about one another.

The Villanova players weren't interested in outing their teammate. They just wanted to remain a team -- and win.

And it stayed that way, an extraordinary wall of silence in an age of message boards. That no one whispered or gossiped says perhaps more than anything how indifferent and even disinterested the Wildcats were about their teammate's sexuality.

"Your personal life is your personal life," Nardi said. "It didn't matter to us because it's family, and you don't go putting your family's secrets out in the streets. I mean, why would I tell anyone? It's no one's business except Will's."

The locker room dynamic, team chemistry, none of it changed. He and Nardi would room together for three of their four seasons, and Sheridan remained a popular teammate and vital part of the Wildcats' success.

The players joked the way they always joked, talked the way they always talked.

"I'd still say things like, 'Oh, that s--- is gay,'" Nardi said. "He didn't care. He wasn't sensitive like that because he knew what I meant."

Evidence of the team's unity and comfort lies in one simple nugget: Jay Wright never knew his starting power forward was gay until after Sheridan graduated.

No one ever went to him with a complaint or a worry. No one even bothered to tell him.

"After I found out, I was like, 'Did you know?' And all the guys, they were like, 'Yeah, Coach, we knew,'" Wright said. "They just didn't care, and I guess I was just oblivious."

Oblivious. That's exactly the word Sheridan used, as well. He laughed when trying to explain his basketball-centric coach, making an itty-bitty telescope with his hands to show just how tunneled Wright's vision was.

The two were then, and remain now, extremely close. Whenever Sheridan performed his spoken word at Villanova, Wright always attended -- "He'd be in the back of the room waiting, and I'd be last. I knew he had a million other things to do, but he was always there," Sheridan said -- and just last week, Sheridan called Wright to congratulate him on his hiring of a new assistant coach.

They shared more than a few heart-to-heart conversations, but as silly as it might sound, Sheridan's lifestyle never came up.

"I feel foolish now, but he was the perfect student, the perfect student-athlete, the perfect teammate. He never gave me an ounce of worry," Wright said. "He was so low maintenance. You could ask him to do anything, and he'd do it. I don't know. It sounds weird, but it never came up."

Sheridan, frankly, preferred it that way. He never felt like he had to hide, never worried that Wright would be angry. He just thought there were other things that mattered more at the time.

Sheridan came to Nova just as the Wildcats were growing into a national power. In his sophomore season, the program made its first NCAA tournament appearance under Wright and, in his junior season, the Wildcats ascended to No. 1 in the nation at one point and advanced to the Elite Eight after earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney.

In all, the Cats would make three NCAA tournament appearances and own a 92-41 record in Sheridan's tenure.

Led by Randy Foye and Kyle Lowry, the '06 Wildcats earned a 1-seed before falling to eventual national champ Florida in the Elite Eight.

"It wasn't pressure, not at all, but I knew it would be a big deal and I always felt like I was part of something bigger," Sheridan said. "This wasn't about me being gay. It was about our team trying to do something together. I didn't think it was appropriate."

And so Sheridan lived his life. He dated. He went to clubs, and he played basketball. He didn't mix the two, but he didn't separate them entirely, either.

Eventually he graduated, played overseas in Italy for a short time and -- at an alumni event in New York -- introduced his coach to his then-partner.

Asked whether it would have mattered had Sheridan spoken publicly while he was playing, Wright paused.

"It's easy to say now, but I don't think it would have," Wright said. "I mean, for a day or two, it would have been news, but then it would have been, 'That's just Bump [Sheridan's childhood nickname].' The level of respect they all had for each other -- and still do -- as players and people is incredible. That's really all that ever mattered to these guys."

On Wednesday night, Sheridan is hosting the first screening of his second music video, "302," at Rockbar in New York City.

The title comes from the area code for Bear, Del., where Sheridan grew up. There, they still call him Bump, a nickname earned in utero because he pounded so relentlessly on his mother's stomach.

Once a rural area, Bear has grown in population and become more of an outgrowth of Wilmington, but it retains its small-town vibe. People there know one another pretty well, and they certainly knew Sheridan.

The tiny state doesn't produce many high-profile athletes, and Sheridan, twice named Delaware's player of the year, became a big deal as his high school career blossomed.

That basketball brought him notoriety and also to the strange intersection with his personal life is pretty ironic to Sheridan. He is known first and foremost as a basketball player, yet he never had grand plans of becoming one. He wasn't a kid with big dreams of an NBA career. In fact, years later when Wright referenced blue-collar professionals Sheridan played like, he would just shrug.

"I didn't know who they were," Sheridan laughed. "I was never a guy who watched the NBA or loved the NBA or any of that."

But he was tall -- already 6-4 by the eighth grade -- so, somewhere along the way, he wound up on a basketball court. Turns out he was pretty good, too, ranked among the top 50 players nationally by one publication. And good meant winning -- including a state title as a junior -- and Sheridan loved winning, so he stuck with it, parlaying his talent into a free ride to Villanova.

While starring at Sanford High School, Sheridan became the talk of Bear, Del.

His father, Will Sr., and mother, Josie, both police officers, couldn't have been prouder. Their son was always a model student -- he was class president as a high school freshman and sophomore and treasurer as a senior -- and now they had a Division I athlete to boot.

"I couldn't walk out the door or into the Acme [grocery] without someone asking me, 'How's Bump? How's he playing?'" Will Sr. said.

Then Will Sr. paused.

"They still ask me even now," he said. "Now it's just a long story."

Sheridan came out to his parents at the end of his freshman season. He describes the conversation as "epic," stretching out the word and his arms across the table at a New York City restaurant to emphasize just how epic it was.


Perhaps naive then -- "I figured I was in college and my tuition was paid for by my sport, so you love me for me, right?" -- Sheridan now understands better his parents' struggle to accept his sexual orientation.

He is the baby of the family and the golden child, the good-looking, smart, athletic and talented boy who never gave them a whiff of trouble.

"I don't care how open-minded you say you are, as a parent you project so much on your kids without even realizing it," Sheridan said. "You want them to be the best at everything, and you have dreams of what your life will be and their life will be. To them, this was just no way. Denial. It didn't fit with who I was, or who they thought I was. I was perfect. This didn't work."

Josie Sheridan always preached unconditional love, and she meant it.

And when the test came -- when her son, whom she calls her best friend, sat her down -- loving him wasn't hard. But accepting the news was.

"Devastated. I was devastated," she said. "I mean, I was disappointed. Not in him, but in things that were taken away -- not having a daughter-in-law, grandchildren, things like that."

But after the initial shock wore away, Josie looked at her son and saw something that had been missing -- happiness. He was always a good child ("too good to be true," his high school coach once told her), but a tickle in the back of her mind, a mother's instinct, told her he should have been happier.

And she could never figure out what was missing.

Until she saw it.

"Once I saw him, so happy and content, that's all I needed," Josie said. "I never loved him any less. In fact, I think I love him more. I've always been so proud of him, but he has such courage. This takes courage."

Courageous wasn't how Sheridan's father saw it. Although his mother quickly came to grips with her son's news, Sheridan's dad took time. A long time.

The relationship between Sheridan and his father hit a rough spot after the son came out to his dad.

Father and son didn't speak for almost a year.

"I come from a background of all solid men," Will Sr. said. "I'm a retired police officer. You have to understand, I didn't grow up around people like that. I didn't see them, didn't know them. Even as a police officer, I didn't have that much exposure. I just couldn't do it. I couldn't do it for almost a year."

In unvarnished print, those words sound harsh and unforgiving. In truth, they are merely evidence of a generational divide. Will Sr. is 56, born and raised in a small town and in a time when homosexuality was still in the closet. There weren't television series with mainstream gay characters as there are today, and there were few, if any, conversations, let alone fierce court battles, about the rights of same-sex couples.

And the idea of a gay son -- 6-foot-8 and athletically gifted -- was even harder to grasp.

Around the same time that Sheridan came out to his parents, his older sister Chaeloa (she and Sheridan have different mothers) told her father that she, too, was gay.

"When everything hit the fan, the whole focus was on my brother being gay," Chaeloa said. "My dad had issues with Will. All the negativity was directed toward him. He never said a negative word to me. Still hasn't."

Will Sr. was raised to believe his son's sexual orientation was a choice, a choice he could unmake as easily as he had made it.

So, Will Sr. set about punishing that choice out of Sheridan.

He took away his car and stopped paying his insurance, cutting off his son emotionally and financially.

"I just did these things to make him realize, 'I'm not playing, son. You let this thing go. You stop,'" Will Sr. said. "I honestly almost lost it."

At his sister's advice, Sheridan stayed away. He gave his father space to think and work things out. He turned to a Villanova counselor for help and spent hours in Wright's office talking.

Wright only knew one of his favorite players was hurting. He didn't know why.

"I feel so foolish now looking back because he'd tell me how his father didn't understand him," Wright said. "But he never said anything, and I never asked. I just listened and tried to help him."

Will Sr., a religious man, said the power of prayer is what ultimately turned him around. This isn't a fairy tale, so there wasn't some Aha! moment or soul-bearing conversation. Painful gaps and generational gaps aren't bridged quickly or easily.

Things aren't perfect, but Sheridan is at peace and his relationship with his father has improved.
Although they began to speak after a year, Will Sr. elected not to attend his son's senior banquet or graduation and admits that, even now, he has to tell himself almost daily, "That's your son. Love him. Love him as he is."

Just a month ago, the two finally closed the circle.

Sheridan went home and got his father, and together they drove to Villanova's most recent team banquet.

"We are closer now than we've ever been," Sheridan said. "We talk all the time, but I know it's hard. I know it's still really hard for him."

Indeed, although a relationship has been reborn, stronger and more honest than it was before, acceptance remains aloof.

Will Sr. admits he is worried what people will think, what his fellow churchgoers will say, when they read this article. He himself still struggles, straddling the line between enlightenment and ignorance.

At one point in a 30-minute phone conversation, Will Sr. said, "I don't use the word 'tolerate.' I 'appreciate.' I appreciate that this is who he is, and I believe this is who God wants him to be."

And then, only minutes later, he adds, "I treat him like he ain't. I believe one day he's going to change. He says he's not, but I believe he will. A man has to have some kind of belief and hope."

A year after graduation, Sheridan moved to New York City, taking his mother's advice to go to the bright lights and find his dream.

He met new friends, started hanging out at various clubs, but quickly grew tired of listening to what he thought were meaningless rappers whose music had no message.

Fueled by the perfect concoction of ignorance and hubris, he hosted his first party -- the Will to Win, he called it -- at the Spark Center, a tiny cafe attached to an Italian restaurant in New York. With virtually no fanfare -- he mentioned it on his blog -- he packed the place and more than 1,200 people downloaded his music after that night.

Sheridan had always been a writer -- in college he penned a journal for the Philadelphia Daily News during Villanova's 2006 NCAA tournament run and after, he wrote for Source magazine -- so writing lyrics wasn't a stretch.

But a career as a musician? Sheridan wasn't certain.

At least not until he spent 10 days in Nairobi working at the Ruiru Rehabilitation Center.

And by work, Sheridan means toil. He and two friends went to Kenya on their own, interested in helping instead of vacationing. There, they refurbished the outside kitchen facilities while living on site.

"I've traveled a lot in my life for sports through basketball, but never anything like this," Sheridan said. "We watched people wake up at 5 a.m. to scrub the floors, then walk to school and come back and work more with us. It inspired me, and it really added to my personal power."

That power now has found its focus in Sheridan's music.

It is, he believes, himself in its truest form.

His first EP is called "Ngoma," which is Swahili for music. His first video, "Welcome to the Jungle," has a decidedly African rhythm and the constant refrain of the word "asante," which means thank you.

Thank you, music.

It is the perfect phrase to capture Sheridan.

Welcome To The Jungle

The lyrics to Will Sheridan's first music video have a distinctly African feel. To view the debut, which has well over 50,000 hits on YouTube, click here.

In music, he has found not only his purpose but also his voice. His songs are equal parts personal and inspirational. They are strong and powerful, with a message and a meaning.

And they are reaching people. He now has a deal with a record label, affording him the chance to make more polished videos, and he's hosting more parties with bigger crowds than ever.

He even counts his parents among his fans; his mom knows all the words to his songs and frequently comes to his shows. And although his dad admits, "It's not my kind of music," he thinks it's pretty good.

It all still seems fairly whirlwind to Sheridan, but his friends in the profession saw his success coming from his very first show.

"He just had such a stage presence," said Brittiny Porter, who goes by DJ Bonnie Danger and has worked with Sheridan frequently. "The way he performed, the delivery, his comfort. It was like he'd been doing it his whole life. He's just getting started, but I think he can definitely blow it out. There's no end for him."

Sheridan isn't about becoming world famous, "though I wouldn't mind it," he said with a laugh. He wants people to listen to his music and respond. He wants people to know who he is and react.

With a towering stage presence, Sheridan wants his music to come with a message and a meaning.
He's not naive. He knows some of that reaction might not be positive. But he's also not worried.

In fact, he's empowered.

"I'm prepared to cut the grass and let the snakes show themselves," he said. "I don't need people who won't be supportive. I have a career that I've earned. I have friends whose respect I've gained. I have this music thing that I've started. If you don't want to be in that conversation, then I just won't have the conversation with you. I'm proud of who I am."

Mostly Sheridan hopes that by speaking, by telling his story, others will share their stories, too.

And maybe together, with one person telling his or her story and another and another, they will finally put a stop to the turmoil and the stigma.

This won't be news anymore. It won't be such a big deal.

People will know Will Sheridan as a musician and an artist and a performer.

They'll remember that he was a Division I basketball player.

They'll know that he's gay.

And they won't care.

********

And so, ever so slowly we find that 'space is not the final frontier...' Being open and honest about who you are, even when you're gay, black, famous, and in sports, this is the final frontier.  Here is a man who knows that...

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"In The News Today..."

Going Public, N.B.A. Figure Sheds Shadow Life

New York Times
By Dan Barry
May 15, 2011

Last month, in a Midtown office adorned with sports memorabilia, two longtime friends met for a private talk. David Stern, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association, sipped his morning coffee, expecting to be asked for career advice. Across from him sat Rick Welts, the president and chief executive of the Phoenix Suns, who had come to New York not to discuss careers, but to say, finally, I am gay.

Rick Welts explained that he wants to be a mentor to gay people who harbor doubts about a sports career, whether on the court or in the front office.

In many work environments, this would qualify as a so-what moment. But until now, Mr. Welts, 58, who has spent 40 years in sports, rising from ball boy to N.B.A. executive to team president, had not felt comfortable enough in his chosen field to be open about his sexuality. His eyes welling at times, he also said that he planned to go public.

By this point, Mr. Welts had already traveled to Seattle to share his news with another friend, Bill Russell, one of the greatest basketball players ever and the recent recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He had also met with Val Ackerman, the founding president of the Women’s National Basketball Association, in New York, and would soon be lunching in Phoenix with Steve Nash, the point guard and leader of the Suns and twice the N.B.A.’s most valuable player.

In these meetings and in interviews with The New York Times, Mr. Welts explained that he wants to pierce the silence that envelops the subject of homosexuality in men’s team sports. He wants to be a mentor to gay people who harbor doubts about a sports career, whether on the court or in the front office. Most of all, he wants to feel whole, authentic.

“This is one of the last industries where the subject is off limits,” said Mr. Welts, who stands now as a true rarity, a man prominently employed in professional men’s team sports, willing to declare his homosexuality. “Nobody’s comfortable in engaging in a conversation.”

Dr. Richard Lapchick, the founder and director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, and the son of the basketball legend Joe Lapchick, agreed. “The fact that there’s no other man who has done this before speaks directly to how hard it must be for Rick to do this now,” he said.

Mr. Stern did not find the discussion with Mr. Welts awkward or even surprising; he had long known that his friend was gay, but never felt that he had license to broach the subject. Whatever I can do to help, the affably gruff commissioner said. He sensed the decades of anguish that had led the very private Mr. Welts to go public.

After what needed to be said had been said, the two men headed for the door. And for the first time in their 30-year friendship, they hugged.

The very next day, the gifted Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant, one of the faces of the N.B.A., responded to a technical foul by calling the referee a “faggot.”

A Feeling of Isolation

Rick Welts always knew.

Growing up in Seattle, he was the industrious kid who landed a coveted job with the SuperSonics basketball team, first as a ball boy, then as an assistant trainer. By the time he went to the University of Washington, he had enough good-will clout to have Lenny Wilkens, then the coach of the Sonics, visit his fraternity for a chat.

But for all the fraternal respect this earned him, Mr. Welts felt isolated. What little he knew of gay culture was stereotypical, and unappealing, he recalled. “In my mind, it was effeminate: a way that I would not define as masculine.”

His growing responsibilities with the Sonics allowed him to miss class dances and other awkward obligations, but even alone, he felt out of place. Late one night, he walked two miles to slip a long confessional letter under the door of a young minister at his family’s church, but the well-intentioned minister could not help him. So he resigned himself to adapt, in private.

After college, Mr. Welts returned to the Sonics as assistant director of public relations, a position that came with a desk but not an office. His diligent omnipresence, from early morning to late evening, impressed the team’s coach at the time, the intimidating Bill Russell.

“Hey!” Mr. Russell would call. “White boy down the hall!”

And Mr. Welts would hustle up to do whatever was asked. The mutual respect that developed between the demanding basketball legend and the earnest employee gradually grew into a friendship close enough for Mr. Russell to judge him “a good teammate.”

Immersed in a business where manhood is often defined by on-court toughness and off-court conquest, Mr. Welts rose to become the public relations director for the Sonics, at a time when the team won its only championship, in 1979. He still ticks off the names of the starting five as though they were family: Dennis Johnson. John Johnson. Gus Williams. Jack Sikma. Lonnie Shelton.

An N.B.A. Career

Mr. Welts was eventually recruited by Mr. Stern, then a rising star in the N.B.A.’s front office, to become the league’s director of national promotions. That is, to ask businesses to invest marketing dollars in what was then, perhaps, the least popular professional sport.

Mr. Welts accepted. By this point, he had established a relationship with an architect he had met by chance in a Seattle restaurant in 1977. Soon Rick and Arnie became just another Manhattan couple, enjoying the live-and-let-live anonymity of the big city.

At the same time, Mr. Welts helped to raise the N.B.A.’s profile and profits. In 1984, for example, he created the N.B.A. All-Star Weekend, with a slam-dunk contest and an old-timers’ game, just as Mr. Stern became the league’s commissioner. And in 1997, he and Ms. Ackerman won accolades for their roles in establishing the W.N.B.A.

“In many ways, he had a complete understanding of the soul of the N.B.A.,” a grateful Mr. Stern said. The N.B.A., though, did not have a complete understanding of Rick Welts.

Although he had opened up to his supportive parents and to his younger, only sibling, Nancy, Mr. Welts feared that if he made his homosexuality public, it would impede his rising sports career.

“It wasn’t talked about,” he said. “It wasn’t a comfortable subject. And it wasn’t my imagination. I was there.”

But this privacy came at great cost. In March 1994, his longtime partner, Arnie, died from complications related to AIDS, and Mr. Welts compartmentalized his grief, taking only a day or two off from work. His secretary explained to others that a good friend of his had died. Although she and Arnie had talked many times over the years, she and her boss had never discussed who, exactly, Arnie was.

Around 7:30 on the morning after Arnie’s death, Mr. Welts’s home telephone rang. “It was Stern,” he recalled. “And I totally lost it on the phone. You know. Uncle Dave. Comforting.”

Even then, homosexuality was never discussed — directly.

For weeks, Mr. Welts walked around the office, numb, unable to mourn his partner fully, or to share the anxiety of the weeklong wait for the results of an H.I.V. test, which came back negative.

Sometime later, he began opening the envelopes of checks written in Arnie’s memory to the University of Washington, and here was one for $10,000, from David and Dianne Stern, of Scarsdale, N.Y. In thanking Mr. Stern, Mr. Welts said they “did the guy thing,” communicating only through asides and silent stipulations.

“This was a loss that Rick had to suffer entirely on his own,” Mr. Stern said, reiterating that he was following Mr. Welts’s lead. “It’s just an indication of how screwed up all this is.”

When Mr. Welts left the N.B.A. in 1999, he was the league’s admired No. 3 man: executive vice president, chief marketing officer and president of N.B.A. Properties. By 2002, he was the president of the Suns who still kept his sexuality private — a decision that at times seemed wise, as when, in 2007, the former N.B.A. player John Amaechi announced that he was gay, prompting the former N.B.A. star Tim Hardaway to say that, as a rule, he hated gay people.

But again Mr. Welts paid a price. Two years ago, a 14-year relationship ended badly, in part because his partner finally rejected the shadow life that Mr. Welts required.

“My high profile in this community, and my need to have him be invisible,” Mr. Welts said, with clear regret. “That ultimately became something we couldn’t overcome.”

He began to think: here he was, in his mid-50s, and maybe he had sacrificed too much; and maybe he should open up about his sexuality, in a way that might help others. He kept a journal, sought advice from his sister and close friends, listed the pros and cons. He also had long talks with his widowed mother, Phyllis, in the months before she died of lung cancer, at 85, last fall. She encouraged him to do what he thought was best.

‘Of Course. Anything.’

On an overcast spring morning in Seattle, Bill Russell, wearing a green Boston Celtics cap adorned with a shamrock and No. 6 — his old jersey number — welcomed that white boy down the hall into his home, with Mr. Welts feeling as though he were about to slip another envelope under the door. They sat down near an autographed photograph of President Obama that thanked Mr. Russell “for the inspiration.”

Mr. Welts said what he wanted to say, and asked whether Mr. Russell, whose aversion to speaking with the news media is legendary, would agree to talk to a reporter for The Times. “Of course,” Mr. Russell recalled saying. “Anything.”

As Mr. Welts shook the massive right hand offered to him, he felt a rush of nervous relief. “I was really now on this journey,” he said.

Three weeks later, he met Ms. Ackerman for a tearful Sunday brunch at a trendy restaurant in TriBeCa, during which she reassured him that the step he was taking was worth it. Then, the next morning, he met with Mr. Stern, a longtime mentor who, he thought, would likely be drawn into whatever discussion might follow his revelation.

“He was supportive but didn’t ask questions,” Mr. Welts recalled, adding, “And the litigator in him was already directing a response.”

Mr. Stern held back — a little. “What I didn’t say at the time was: I think there’s a good chance the world will find this unremarkable,” he recalled. “I don’t know if I was confusing my thoughts with my hopes.”

The next day, by coincidence, the N.B.A. began filming a public-service announcement against hurtful language. In the script, a young ballplayer calls another player’s basketball moves gay, after which two Phoenix Suns stars appear.

Grant Hill: “Using gay to mean dumb or stupid — not cool.”

Jared Dudley: “Not in my house — not anywhere.”

That night, Kobe Bryant called the referee the slur, forcing Mr. Stern once again to confront a culture in which the worst thing you can say about a man is to suggest that you think he is less than a man.

Mr. Stern quickly issued a $100,000 fine against Mr. Bryant, who has apologized. When asked weeks later about the persistent perception of the N.B.A. and other men’s team sports as homophobic, Mr. Stern removed his glasses, rubbed his eyes and said, “I think we’re going to get there.”

Meeting on the Mountain

Mr. Welts’s final stop before his public announcement was to a high-end restaurant perched on the side of Camelback Mountain, just outside Phoenix, for lunch with Steve Nash. A few weeks earlier, a mutual friend had given Mr. Nash the heads-up about what Mr. Welts wanted to discuss. Mr. Nash was surprised; he thought that everyone already knew that Mr. Welts was gay.

These two Suns employees are not friends, exactly, but they hold each other in high professional regard. “I just think it’s a shame, for all the obvious reasons, that this is a leap that he has to take,” Mr. Nash said.

With a spectacular view of Paradise Valley before them, the two basketball men talked about a topic rarely discussed in their work world. Mr. Welts asked for Mr. Nash’s support, and the ballplayer, honored by the request, said yes. Of course.

“Anyone who’s not ready for this needs to catch up,” Mr. Nash said later. “He’s doing anyone who’s not ready for this a favor.”

**********

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Artist's Corner"

"Crepuscolo"
Oil on canvas
Roberto Ferri

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 651"

"The Promise Of Love..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"In The News Today..."


Don Lemon Is An Open Book

By Winston Gieseke
From The Advocate June-July 2011


Don Lemon was imbued with the gift of pride at a young age. The youngest of three and the only male in a houseful of women, Lemon was encouraged by his family to dream big. “I grew up believing that I could be the president of the United States,” he says. “I was told I could be whatever I wanted.”

But despite the support and encouragement he received at home in his small Louisiana community, Lemon says growing up gay in the Deep South left him feeling different from other kids — a feeling he now believes has served him well. “I think it made me keener about human behavior,” says Lemon, who came out to his family after moving to New York to go to college. “I felt empathy for people who were shunned, who were bullied, who were teased. It made me more aware of the human condition at an early age. I don’t know if I would have the same take on world matters and social issues if I were not gay.”

As a journalist Lemon has covered some of the biggest stories of the past decade, including Hurricane Katrina, the AIDS epidemic in Africa, and the Washington, D.C., snipers, for which he won the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award. He was a correspondent for the NBC Nightly News and Today before joining CNN in 2006, where he eventually landed the coveted spot of anchor for the prime-time weekend edition of CNN Newsroom. In 2009, Ebony magazine named him one of the most influential African Americans in the U.S.

After being approached by a publisher who thought Lemon’s career journey would make a motivating memoir, the 45-year-old journalist embarked on a process that ended up becoming an important journey in itself. “The book is called Transparent, but it could be called Transformation,” he says. “It was originally going to be an inspiring story about how I became successful, but when I started writing it all of these other things came out. And as I would read it back and become emotional, I said, ‘If I’m going to write a book, I need to tell everything. I need to be transparent.’ ”

What emerged is an engaging tale of triumph — the story of a man who grew up amid family secrets (including, for the first few years of Lemon’s life, the identity of his father), who overcame discrimination and refused to take no for an answer, who wasn’t afraid to take chances in his career and in life. Even on live television.

Lemon made news by revealing during a broadcast that as a child he had been the victim of a pedophile (whom he identifies in his memoir as an older boy in his neighborhood). He was interviewing four young adults from Bishop Eddie Long’s congregation who were defending the bishop against charges of sexual impropriety on the basis that he didn’t fit the profile of a sexual predator. While Lemon didn’t want to make a judgment about Long’s guilt or innocence, he felt it was important to convey what he knew firsthand — that sexual abusers come in unpredictable packages. “I was trying to say to those young kids that people aren’t always who they present themselves to be,” he says. “No one’s going to say, ‘Hey, I’m a predator. Let’s go to McDonald’s.’ ”

Lemon, who was overwhelmed by the messages he received applauding his courage and candor, insists the on-air revelation was completely spontaneous and agenda-free. The acknowledgment of his sexual orientation in Transparent is handled in similar way; it’s hardly a bombshell in the book. “I haven’t been in the closet for a long time,” he says. “It was just something I didn’t talk about in interviews. But I would date people and I would be out.”

He may not have gone public in a splashy announcement, but he says he didn’t go to great lengths to hide being gay. “I never played that game, that on-the-down-low thing,” he says. “I was too self-aware and I respected myself enough — and women enough — to not play that game.” Today, the only game he’s playing is the relationship one. For the past four years, Lemon has been dating a producer who works in television.

Lemon says CNN is supportive of the book and his decision to reveal personal aspects of his life in it. As for others who are contemplating coming out publicly or otherwise, Lemon offers a bit of advice. “I do feel it’s important for other people to take the leap,” he says, “but they should do it in their own time. It’s very personal. People being honest and open about who they are can only make things better. I’m very proud of what I’m doing and I hope it inspires other people to do the same.”

*******

This is how you should live your life... Honestly, Openly and Courageously

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 650"

"Love Is Love..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"The Artist's Corner"


"Love"
Acrylic on canvas
Steven Clayton Correy

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 649"

"Love Is The Field From Which Dreams Grow..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"This Made Me Smile..."


In reality, the Dearborn Walmart would be a likely spot for something like this to really happen... I've been there more than a few times and it seems to attract crazies from all over.

"The Truth About Love..."

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
- Martin Luther King, Jr

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 648"

"When You Love Someone... You're Together In The World"


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"The Artist's Corner"

"In Your Arms"
Acrylic on canvas
Raphael Perez

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 647"

"To Feel Safe... Let Love Rule"


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Monday, May 9, 2011

"The Truth About Love..."

"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"The Artist's Corner"

"Memory"
Acrylic on canvas
Steve Walker

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 646"

"Our Happy Family..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Remembering Mom..."




I remember her everyday...

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 645"

"Thanks Mom, Now We're Dads!"


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 644"

"Saturday Morning... Family Time"

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

Friday, May 6, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 643"

"Together, We Are A Family..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"This Made Me Smile..."

"The Truth Is Awkward..."


This is for my friend, Mark... He and I have discussed this issue many times.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 642"

"Love, Marriage, Family..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"This Made Me Smile..."

"The Artist's Corner"

"Pensamiento Incompleto"
Acrylic on canvas
Miguel Angel Lopez Melgarejo

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 641"

"Never Forget, Love Is The Reason For Life..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.

"A Love Story..."

"Sixty-one Years Together!"

"A Thought To Ponder..."

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."
- Maria Robinson

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 640"

"Love, Marriage, Joy..."


Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.



Monday, May 2, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 639"

"Not All Four-Letter Words Are Bad... How About Love?"

 
Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.



"The Artist's Corner"

"The Age of Innocence"
Acyrlic on canvas
Steve Walker

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