lgbt Archives - The Jose Vilson


Muhammad Ali, Convincing

A few notes:



First, let me say how ecstatic I was to see that, out of the thousands of friends and acquaintances I’ve gotten to know via social media and other platforms, I heard absolutely no one insult Frank Ocean (R&B singer affiliated with Odd Future, known for “No Church In The Wild”) for coming out as a bisexual. His letter describes love and humanity in the poetry you’d expect from a crooner like him. More surprising was the deluge of messages coming from fans appreciating him coming out on his own terms, something that his own detractors wouldn’t have the testicular fortitude to do on any meaningful level. Black urban music is in constant need of a reality check with homophobia and sexism within its popular ranks, and Frank Ocean’s outing provided a meaningful step because of the respect he earns among hip-hop elites.

Naturally, my thoughts turned to an earlier discussion I had on Twitter about Manning Marable’s outing of Malcolm Little (X) in Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. It seemed to me off-base to make the publicity surrounding the book focused on Malcolm’s sexual preference when, clearly, the narrative gave us so much more about the man. Many of Marable’s detractors suggested that Marable’s outing slandered a legend, and that everyone, especially Malcolm, is entitled to staying dead without having every sordid detail about their life dug up for the living.

I agree, except … I don’t.

I mean, Malcolm is still alive through his works and his voice. The power his image holds over many of our communities makes me believe that, while he’s passed on him the physical form, he still holds weight with the (often diluted and premature) issues that matter most to Black folk, and therefore, all of humanity. Thus, I think Malcolm the demi-god is certainly worth studying in depth and with a critical lens that didn’t exist 50 years ago.Manning’s thorough study of Malcolm shows how passionate and respectful he was of the subject of Malcolm’s life, not simply relying on his autobiography or the movie retelling.

More importantly, it was a service to those of us who believe Malcolm somehow surpasses human expectation. If Malcolm X can go from the life he led in his teens to one of the most powerful men of the 20th century, why can’t our students? Those thugs and gangbangers who we considered a lost cause are Malcolm. The kids we see in durags and big chains on the subway or the bus are Malcolm. The students who feel disaffected in our classrooms socially or academically are Malcolm.

Those kids desperate for change are Malcolm.

While putting Malcolm’s sexual preference (or his sexual situation, if you will) out there does little to dissuade the sort of courage it took for Malcolm to find it within himself to change for the better. A deeper read of the last few chapters gives a sense that Malcolm couldn’t care less if his past were exposed; his person is but a culmination of his experiences, not just one moment. He lived as the best example of what happens when men get in touch with their inner spirit, specifically for a culture he felt lost touch of their inner fighter through systematic oppression.

His bloodshed is the precursor for young men and women to take courage whenever they speak up about their souls. That includes Frank Ocean. And you.

Jose, who’s reading poems again …


Sit Down

Sit Down

The A train usually puts me right to sleep. Literally. I turn on my iPod, let some U2 or The Killers crank in my ear, shut my eyes, and I’m magically transported 15 or so stops. That’s not news since I’m usually comfortable with sleeping on the train. Crowded or not, NYC train riders have become less misanthropic, to the point where giving up seats and waving at children isn’t an event but a novelty of NYC. Yet, I knew something funky was going down when, upon closing my eyes on 175th, my body wouldn’t let me sleep. My body’s asking me to be awake and alert for a reason.

At around 168th, the train gets really crowded. Tons of travellers from the hospitals, the 1 train transfers, and the bus stops in the area make their way into the subway car. Across from me, a few people try to avoid one particular seat that’s got gum on it. A few people pass it by, and an elder Asian lady looks at it, sits down in the seat right next to it, carefully avoiding the seat. Next stop: 145th, where a young, skinny dark-skinned Black man comes in, Rasta hat, hood wear comes in and proceeds to sit down in the seat right next to the Asian lady, the same one with gum on it.

Naturally, her first instinct, like everyone else before her on this trip, was to warn the guy to watch the gum. Of course, he pays her little attention. She taps him on his side to indicate the situation. He turns around and says, “Don’t fuckin’ TOUCH ME! Don’t fuckin’ touch me! I don’t want you touching me so don’t fuckin’ touch me!” And the lady defends herself, saying in broken English, “But there’s gum there …” and he continues, “I know there’s gum there, what the fuck, you think I’m blind or something?” (He didn’t see it there, but he strips it off with his one hand and flings it to the floor.) “If I had touched you, there would have been police all over this shit, cop squad and the whole 9 over here, so don’t fuckin’ touch me!”

She’s damn near sobbing, looks at him with disdain, and just turns to her Sudoku puzzle with a scowl on her face. I close my eyes, sighing, hoping not to mutter a word about how disgusting he is. After a few minutes, and a few more illogical rants, none of which I heard because my iPod had on one of my favorite songs ever (“All These Things That I’ve Done” by the Killers), I open my eyes again. As stops whiz by us, I notice him in deep concentration on a lesbian couple to my right. The first I saw had a short hair-cut, looked like she was going to work, and dressed more “masculine,” while the other pretty, Latina, perky, and stroking a Yorkshire terrier she has in one of those bags. . He’s there, elbow on knee, fingers to face, honing in on the more feminine of the two. He’s either in deep seduction or deep abhorrence.

At first, I only noticed that he was mouthing something to the girl. Trash-talking: par for the course from some of these dudes on the train. I thought it was no big deal. Then, 59th Street stop comes, and I wasn’t able to take off my headphones fast enough, but I heard the following spew from his trap:

” … why go out with her if you know she can’t give you kids? What you need is a fucking dick in your back! For real!”

And just runs off. I couldn’t believe this coward.

I looked towards the couple, particularly the more masculine, and just told her, “It’s fucked up. It’s fucked up.” She wraps her fist in her own hand before the rest of us look towards the two. We notice the more feminine one look at her partner and fall into her shoulder, crying her eyes out, scared. Moments like that will always resonate with me, a moment where those of us who witnessed this abuse rallied around this genuinely peaceful couple.

This is not another one of those pro-peace PSAs. You already know where I stand on LGBT issues, and I hate proselytizing too much. But I also know the value of calling people out for the miscreants they are. I respect religions and the right for people to believe what they will, but today reaffirms what’s wrong with some people.

To the guy who came on the train to harrass people today, I’m not sure what crawled up your sphincter  and ate your intestines this week, but your idiocy needs to stop. No one said anything to you nor did anyone interfere with your ability to live. It’s either you need a long hug or you need to rearrange your life. Nothing’s appropriate about attacking elder ladies who were trying to help you out or a couple that had nothing to do with you. If you think you’re a god, you’ve proven to be far less than that today. If you think what you saw was unnatural today, then maybe you need to tell your clothesmakers to stop exploiting little children to make the threads you have on.

If you think you proved yourself as a man today, you proved that you’re no better than the gum you flung to the floor. I wish that gum was just a little more stickier. Might give you a better reason to sit the hell down.

Jose, who can’t stand people like that …


Who Do You Love? Are You Sure?

November 20, 2008 Jose

Yes, I too am angry as hell about Prop 8. And I read some disgusting things online. For instance, the rationale for why some people disagree with gay sex is the following: OK, so if we let gay people have sex, will we next let people have sex with animals? Under the same argument, if […]

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Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

January 28, 2008

“That’s so gay.”“What a fuckin’ homo!” “No, no, that’s it. You’re gay and that’s it.” “Que maldito maricon del diablo (What a damn faggot from hell)!” Snapshots of the realities of working in sexually conservative neighborhoods, where the parents of these 1st generation US citizens learn their sexual intolerance from their parents and neighbors who […]

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