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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Black Queerstory Month: E. Lynn Harris


Everette "E." Lynn Harris, was an openly gay American author of African descent who wrote novels depicting characters who were on the DL (down low) or closeted, highlighting the homophobia present within the Black community specifically and in the American society in general. His portrayal of African-American same gender loving men exposed this nation and the world to a previously little known and unmentioned existance. His true-to-life writings electrified readers and quickly became popular material for all audiences, regardless of race, gender and sexual orientation. He penned ten consecutive books that all landed on the New York Times Best Seller list. This achievement earned him the dual honor of being one of the most successful contemporary African-American and gay fiction authors of all time.

Mr. Harris was born in Flint, Michigan, on June 20, 1955, and grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. He graduated from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville. While a student there, he became the first Black male cheerleader at that insitution. Upon graduation, he became a computer sales executive with IBM. He began writing while employed there. He left his job at that corporation to embark on his literary career.

E. Lynn Harris was initially unsuccessful in securing a reputable publisher for his first novel, "Invisible Life." He self-published this title in 1991 and sold copies from the trunk of his automobile. This book soon proved itself to be a must-read within the African-American gay community and was republished for mass distribution in 1994. Once this happened, the remarkable career of this talented writer was launched.

Despite the growing celebrity status of Mr. Harris, he remained very private and protective of both his family and personal life. He allowed the general public to know only as much of his own history as he wanted them to know. However, he always acknowledged the fact that he was openly and proudly gay. Eventually, he shared a glimpse of his early years through the release of his memoir, "What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted?" in 2004. E. Lynn Harris, an amazing and gifted author, died suddenly on July 23, 2009, of heart disease, in Los Angeles, California. He was 54 years old.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Novels:

"Invisible Life" (self-published, 1991; mass published, 1994)
"Just As I Am" (1995) Blackboard's Novel of the Year Award winner
"And This Too Shall Pass" (1997)
"If This World Were Mine" (1998) James Baldwin Award for Excellence winner
"Abide With Me" (1999)
"Not A Day Goes By" (2000)
"Any Way The Wind Blows" (2002) Blackboard's Novel of the Year Award winner
"A Love Of My Own" (2003)
"I Say A Little Prayer" (2006)
"Just Too Good To Be True" (2008)
"Basketball Jones" (2009)
"Mama Dearest" (2009, posthumously released)
"In My Father's House" (2010, posthumously released)

Memoir:

"What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted?" (2004)

Short Story:

"Money Can't Buy Me Love" (2000; from the book: "Got To Be Real")

********

Personally, I first read "Invisible Life" in 1994 and became an immediate fan of E. Lynn Harris. I was introduced to this novel by a friend and remain eternally grateful to him for doing this. I have all his novels, except one, and his memoir in first edition, hardcover, in my own library. Mr. Harris writes in a style that is amusing, intriguing, dramatic and full-of-life. He manages to keep it real while at the same time offering characters and situations that truly provoke our thoughts and beliefs. He forces us all to look inward and challenges our own preconceived notions about ethics, life, relationships and sexuality. He was an incredible and skillful writer who managed to bridge differences and appeal to everyone. The world of literary arts will never be the same without him. He was an emerging giant in literature who can never be replaced.

Peace! Get naked. Enjoy!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Appreciation And Patience


As I posted here on Wednesday, February 2, 2011, my publishing on this site was impacted by the surgery and recovery of my best friend. Fortunately, the operation was successful and her specialists think that all of the cancer was removed. Unfortunately, her recuperation took longer than expected due to a nosocomial infection. At this moment, that setback appears to finally be under control and the prognosis is good for a complete return to health.

I want to thank all of you for both your patience and understanding during this critical time. Your loyalty and support is appreciated. I regret the interruption in writing on this blog and hopefully, now that my friend is back on her journey towards healing, I can resume publication on a regular basis soon.

I am grateful to those of you who sent emails and messages of encouragement. Your kindness and thoughtfulness were comforting and uplifting during this crisis. I am unable to express in words how much your concern meant to both my friend and me. Likewise, I thank all of you who offered your silent prayers and sentiments. All of you gave me the strength to face each new day. It is my hope that your consideration and friendship be returned to every one of you a thousand times. You're all the best and I want you all to know that!

Hopefully, the worst is over. Thankfully, the future looks a little brighter because of your efforts and energies. My best wishes to you all!

Peace! Get naked. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The InterChange


I've featured a link to The InterChange website here for more than seven weeks now. It's a cool site that offers alternative news and articles on a variety of topics of interest to our own queer/nudist community specifically and to all of us as global constituents in general. I was first introduced to this webzine during the early days of 2011 and immediately appreciated the diversity and wealth of information and views expressed here. It didn't take long for it to become one of my favorite reads; in particular, the coverage of items relating to naturism/nudism and same gender loving issues. The InterChange promotes a reaffirming and refreshing perspective of our gay nude culture employing an objective viewpoint. To access the website, click on the title above.

This journal identifies itself as "a site that aims to deliver difficult news with humour while sourcing all of the good news we know is out there but do not always access." it is both educational and informative without being dogmatic and opinionated. True journalism just as journalism was intended to be: an enlightening and enriching publication. A credible resource to encourage public comment and debate. A tool for innovative reflection and thought as opposed to one for merely regurgitating popular assumptions and stereotypes.

If you haven't already visited The InterChange, I encourage you to do so. I sincerely believe that you'll enjoy it as much as I do. Although queer nudists aren't the exclusive focus here, our cultural inclusion and respect is a welcome alternative to the negative reception we receive elsewhere.

Humbly, I acknowledge that "naturistfred" (a columnist for The InterChange writing under the byline: Freddy Mercury) authored an online interview with me that was published today. We became acquainted via email and it is due to our mutual advocacy and appreciation of gay male nudity (among other common interests) that I reference his article. We both share and support the concept of open and honest visibility of our culture as a means of helping others to become the men who are proud and true to themselves.

Peace! Get naked. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nude Novice Notes: Hugs


One of the traditional greetings within our queer naturist/nudist culture is through a hug. For some who are accustomed to a simple handshake as a means of welcoming or introduction, this custom may be somewhat discerning and uncomfortable at first. However, in our community, this is simply our way of demonstrating our brotherhood and solidarity. This simple embrace in our social nude environment is how we openly share ourselves with one another in a completely nonsexual and fraternal manner.

The habit of shaking hands in the mainstream society originated from the need to allow others to see that we were unarmed and therefore nonthreatening or friendly. Our culture of nakedness modified this gesture to the hug as a way of showing our unity in nudity by permitting us to greet each other and share, in a platonic way, a little skin as we celebrate our freedom from clothing. We exchange a hug as a show of our friendlininess and peace.

As a brother who is new to nudity, this practice may be awkward initially and cause a little self-consciousness. This feeling is valid and remember that you are not the only one to ever have this experience. Simply keep in mind that this is nothing more than a naked version of the handshake. It is nonsensual in nature. It's our unique tradition honoring our appreciation of our natural selves and our common bond of unity. The more you practice hugging, the greater your level of comfort.

Peace! Get naked. Enjoy!

Monday, February 7, 2011

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day


Today, February 7, 2011, marks the 11th annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Sponsored by Healthy Black Families, this day, which occurs during Black History Month, the focus is on the devastation this global pandemic has brought to the African-American people. It is a time to reflect on education as the prevention strategy that is most successful in fighting the transmission of HIV. This date is a call for all African-Americans, indeed, for all people, to take responsibility and to join in the struggle to stop the spread of HIV. The 2011 theme for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: "It Takes A Village To Fight HIV/AIDS."

To those who may not be African-American (like myself), take a moment on this day and recall the effects of HIV/AIDS in your own life. Think about how you can do your part in prevention education and renew your pledge to practice safe sex with your partner(s).

Personally, as a humanitarian and a HIV/AIDS prevention educator (volunteer), I take advantage of every opportunity to encourage the practice of both safe sex and individual and collective responsibility. At this time, we've a variety of treatments to help manage this disease. That's all good. However, education is the only proven way to prevent infection. Knowledge is power! Empower both yourself and others! Love yourself! Be safe! Share knowledge!

Peace! Get naked. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday




The Pittsburg Steelers versus The Green Bay Packers, tonight, 6:30 p.m. No matter which team you support, in true NFL tradition, this game promises to be exciting and the half-time show entertaining. A must see for all those athletic skills on the gridiron.

This is the way football should be played: Nude!

Peace! Get naked. Enjoy!

Friday, February 4, 2011

iPhone Social Nude App


Apple, Inc. announced that they are now offering an iPhone app for social nudist networking. Actually, instead of social networking, it is a information application of social nudist resources. The service was developed by Simple Basic Software. Initiated in conjunction with the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), AANRmobile also serves as the official app for the association of approximately 50,000 members throughout the USA.

This app features no nude images nor contains any links to sites that contain any graphics/pictures showing nudity. Essentially, it is an site serving as a Introduction to Nudism 101.

It does contain a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page regarding social (recreational) nudity. It also offers a nudist club directory and a list of popular nude activities.

Peace! Get naked. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Judgments

Sometimes, it seems that regardless of the circumstances, we always find ourselves in a no-win situation. Those times in our lives when we are judged and ostracized simply because of who we are and the assumptions that others make solely based outward appearances. We're doomed for failure and marginalization no matter who or what we are as individuals.

When out in public with a platonic friend of a different race or ethnicity, we are often condemned for reaching outside our respective community. Those of our own culture view us as traitors. Why can't we be satisfied with our own kind? Why do we have to associate with those who are so obviously different from ourselves? After all, what's wrong with keeping with our own people? For many, it is inconceivable that we develop and maintain friendly relationships outside our cultural identity. There way of thinking is that people can only relate and understand to others they perceive as like themselves.

If the couple situation involves two men of different race or ethnicity in an intimate relationship, the judgments increase in there severity. Not only for the above reasons. The harshness in condemnation saved for those who are physically intimate with someone outside their racial family is
beyond the limits of those for mere friendships. The romantic involvment of two men from diverse cultures is for many the penultimate act of treason and betrayal. The audacity of anyone turning their backs on their own and seeking fulfillment and love is repugnant for most.

An archaic social custom from our past? A tradition based on ignorance and fear and second class citizenship during the times of Jim Crow? Hardly. These judgments and prejudices exist within our own same gender loving community today. Our own contemporaries hold these beliefs as valid and react accordingly. Even now in two-thousand-eleven.

The same bias that we find people employing against men of different races also exists between those of differing religions, abilities and ages. This irrational fear of familiarity and fraternization with those considered alien or foreign and unlike ourselves is unfounded and based solely on prejudice. It has no constructive place in our society.

Personally, I find it confusing that many practicing this form of discrimination are at the same time active proponents of marriage equality and in the recent repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Equal rights are equal rights. It isn't based on circumstance or individual. Equality doesn't segregate; equality is applicable to everyone. Equal justice isn't inclusive of a cultural group yet exclusive of two individuals. Either every one of us is equal or none of us truly are. It isn't a negotiable principle.

Peace! Get naked. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Posting Delay

Sorry, but there is a delay in posting this week. My best friend was recently diagnosed with an illness and scheduled for surgery later this month. There was a cancellation and her operation was moved up to this week. I'm staying at her house and helping her in her recovery.

Hopefully, I can return to publishing here regularly either tomorrow or Friday. I apologize for any inconvenience.

Peace! get naked. Enjoy!