Seeing Ourselves Behind The Selfie

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During the first week in March, 2014, I was approached by Khary Steph to contribute an original written piece to the first volume of his team’s new publication, ‘The Tenth’. This particular magazine has been created by industry art directors, Khary Steph, Kyle Banks and Andre Verdun Jones to express queer, black identity through various forms of artistry. The project was released publicly on April 10, 2014 in New York City. Since many of you will not have direct access to the catalogue of work, Ive elected to share my written piece with you. 

As I have previously shared via my Twitter HERE and both Facebook pages, HERE and HERE, ‘The Tenth’ has been reviewed by several top tier press platforms; including The Huffington Post, HERE, as well as BlackBook, HERE.

It was requested that the piece be a short, but analytical article that tackled the issue of gay black men and the contemporary role we play in media. Since I have spoken in great detail regarding that particular issue, I asked Khary if I could approach the piece from a ‘social media’ point of view. I wanted to dissect some of the reasons WHY this generation is so obsessed with their social media timelines. Specifically, I needed to focus on gay men of color and how the types of photos we post online are subconsciously used to give ourselves identity in a world that seems to ignore our presence. I was very surprised by my own interpretations as I began to analyze the tumblr photos & instagram pics; somehow having to create a parallel between similar visuals and the social atmosphere of present day.

 

The Tenth Promo Video (ABOVE)

THIS IS WHAT I CAME UP WITH…

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A Brief Look At The Contemporary Gay Man Of Color In Social Media

The sun peers through the muddy frame of another mid-week morning. A 21 year old, gay black man is positioning himself between where he needs to be at 9 o’clock am and the place in the world he hopes to reach before his 30th birthday. Standing shirtless in front of his bathroom mirror, wearing bright colored boxer-briefs and holding an iphone to match, he snaps a series of photos of himself. Each shot is captured at the same side view angle. However, he distorts his facial expressions to exude a combination of silly, sad, and sensual emotions. He shifts through his photo library and selects the pic that best highlights his latest efforts in the gym. Now cropping out the background mess that is piled on the floor, the young man adds a filter and simultaneously uploads the shot to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It’s his first selfie of the day; punctuated by a subconscious desire for social validation.

The selfie is a clear representation of the present generation that is forced into heavy-duty moments of solitude. Rejected for being outspoken, abandoned for being attracted to the same sex, distrusted for unwrapping oneself from the fibers that categorize human nature, the selfie is taken to declare a sense of dominance. We all want to feel in control of how we are seen and judged by the outside world. As a result, selfie’s and other social media posts exist to dictate our positions in the world.

Every ‘like’ that the selfie receives over the next few hours somehow contributes to this young man’s mental journey towards achieving fame, fortune and inclusion into the American establishment of success.

We live in a culture that promotes division between people. Specifically, gay men of color are forced into a social dynamic where their images, ideas, and experiences are disconnected from others and everyday surroundings as well. As a result, the gay man of color tends to overcompensate for this mainstream divide by utilizing social media as his stage to say, ‘LOOK AT ME’. The ‘LOOK AT ME’, male performance is often labeled as being extra, over-the-top, flamboyant, conceited or even narcissistic. However, it’s important to realize that some of these verbal and visual routines aren’t as much self-obsessive, as they are self-empowering.

This generation has been taught to make things happen for themselves. Modern-day dreams no longer have to be postponed until after a casting agent falls in love with an audition or a network executive decides to green light a new pilot. Since gay men of color are seemingly absent from mainstream television, film, radio and other media outlets, this same gender-loving community has begun to create their own, online platforms. From the various scripted and non-scripted series that are distributed on youtube, to the weekly showcases that are broadcast via Blog Talk Radio, gay men of color are utilizing all available resources to publicly feature and market themselves. The tweets, blog stories, status messages and selfies that are posted between each media release, serve to promote a sense of identity in a world that doesn’t seem to celebrate the individual or collective gay, black experience.

As the sun sets and the dawn of a new day is on the horizon, an entire generation will capture new images of themselves to share throughout the night. Standing in front of their mirrors with an iphone in one hand and hopes of stardom clasped in the other, another series of selfies will make way onto various, social media timelines. For gay men of color who are often marginalized and disenfranchised from the mainstream ‘American Dream’, the silent pictures intentionally scream, LOOK AT ME! It’s a visual declaration of individuality where each person creates, contours and controls their spotlight.

I Cant Deal With Us ‘Just Being Friends’ On YOUR Terms

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Many of us have existed in ‘complicated situations’ where a romantic relationship has ended, but an ex or former lover is still trying to maintain ties to our everyday lives. Often times, this individual views themselves as the victim in the demise of our romantic liaison. In every conversation the two of you have with one another, he or she is constantly talking about how they cannot forget what was done to them. They go on and on about not being able to forgive you and fearing the risk of being hurt if the romantic relationship was given a second chance. This ex claims that they have moved on to someone new, and constantly talks about how happy they are to ‘finally’ to be with an individual who loves, respects and honors their commitment.

You have tried your best over the past few months to apologize for your wrongdoings. You’ve also verbally acknowledged the mistakes you made during the romantic phase of your relationship. However, your ex will not own any of their faults or character flaws that also contributed to the demise of what you two were building together. Instead, he or she focuses on their broken heart and all of the things you may have said or done to violate their trust. As a result, you have begun to accept the fact that the two of you will not reunite. Though you are dealing with a great deal of suffering yourself, your heart is processing all of your disjointed feelings. Mentally, you are preparing yourself to move on to either another relationship or spending time alone, with friends or surrounded by family.

Since you haven’t changed your number and have not blocked your ex from being able to contact you, they are still texting and calling your phone. The communication isn’t occurring on a daily basis, but enough to interrupt your ability to let go completely of the thoughts that surround this individual. Even though the ex is now romantically involved with someone new, he or she still makes tiny references to the possibility of a future between the two of you. There’s often mention of, ‘remember when we use to…?’ OR, ‘wouldn’t it be so cool if we…?’

Each time you receive an early morning text or midday Instagram ‘like’ from your ex, there’s a rush of feelings that filter through your heart. In that moment, you feel a sense of happiness; memories of what was and excitement of what could be. It also strikes you as being odd that your ex still reaches out to you to request the password to their online banking, or even to ask for the number to that really great mechanic you once used to have your car fixed.

You finally ask the ex why they still randomly reach out to you. It’s not that you mind, but the inconsistency sort of sends mixed signals regarding their intentions. After all, they’ve opened their wounds in numerous face-to-face conversations and have seemingly moved on. Basically, you want to know what’s going on; are the two of you working towards reconciliation or is this just supposed to be a friendship? Your ex tells you that they still care about you and definitely want to solidify a friendship. Though you were hoping for a second chance, you find comfort in the idea of the two of you remaining friends.

Then, the day comes when you finally initiate contact with your ex through a simple text that says, ‘hey’. Hours go by and your ex fails to respond. You don’t receive a reply until the next day, as your ex is in the car alone and driving to work. It’s at this moment that you realize your newfound ‘friendship’ has been a secret. Your ex has only been contacting you during moments when their current ‘boo’ isn’t around. Their new love interest has no idea that the two of you have been keeping in touch; even more so because the ex has been initiating communication for months. Not only are you bothered by the fact that you’ve been kept a secret, but you’re also upset with yourself for allowing this person to prevent you from securing a peace of mind.

It isn’t fair that your ex has only been contacting you during moments in their day when the new lover is working or out of the house. If the two of you are supposed to be establishing a true friendship, the moments you associate should not intentionally be hidden from the person they are currently involved with.

To cope with their turbulent, uncontrollable emotions, your ex has been using you to fill the void of their present instability. The breakup of the relationship has left your ex feeling sad, scared and unable to make sense of living their life without seeing or hearing from you daily. In comparison, they are using the new ‘boo’ to fill the void of past hurt and disappointment. In their warped, little mind, jumping into a new relationship will somehow cushion the pain of losing you so abruptly.

Your ex wont consider giving a second chance to the romantic relationship you two were building, but refuses to fully let go of the strings that tie you both together.

It is now time for you to stop worrying about what that other person thinks, does, wishes, plans or feels. You can no longer carry the guilt of what you may have done to contribute to the demise of the relationship. The fact remains that the two of you are no longer together, and the ex is now romantically involved with someone else. The two of you have not been broken up long enough to truly establish a healthy, beneficial friendship.

Stop torturing yourself by accepting their every-so-often advances. Since your ex can’t seem to forgive your faults and acknowledge their own, you have no reason to maintain any form of communication. Only time is going to provide the space for the two of you to grow separately and examine the things that went wrong from an honest point of view.

You should also already know that their new relationship isn’t going to last. Already, your ex is keeping secrets from someone who they supposedly, ‘love so much’. You certainly can’t control his or her decision to lie by omission, but you can control the role you play in their game of deception. Remove yourself from the situation by simply telling your ex to STOP contacting you…altogether.

 Letting go of that person we love so much is tough, but losing our own ability to live each day without emotionally suffering is a lot worse.

NEW VIDEO: The Shirtless Guys On The Flyer Will Never Be At The Party!

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Last week, I took to both of my FACEBOOK pages, HERE and HERE, to offer a little ‘public service announcement’ of sorts. In fun, I made a post to all of the party circuit newcomers about the flyers that are designed to lure patrons into the various events that take place in and around the major cities. Basically, I was sharing the fact that the sexy, muscular, shirtless ‘types’  that are graphically positioned on the promo flyers, are never actually in attendance of the party. When I first hit the scene in 2001, it took me a little while to catch on to the fact that the caliber of dudes who came out to the various functions, rarely looked as polished and ‘Ken-like’ as the men who were used on the 4×6 glossies.

It was maybe Thursday or Friday of last week where I received a notification in my inbox that displayed people still ‘liking’ and commenting the status message. As I began to think about the little disclaimer, it took me back to a period in my life where I was more drawn to the ‘party flyers’ and what they represent, than I was to my romantic relationship.

In the BELOW POSTED NEW VIDEO via the OFFICIAL XEM VANADAMS YOUTUBE CHANNEL, I discuss one of my coming of age experiences circa 2004. I detail the lessons I learned, before encouraging my younger and more impressionable viewers to make wiser decisions.

NEW VIDEOS: #ShoutOutToMicah – Amiyah Scott’s Ex-Boyfriend Shares One Side Of Their Public Breakup

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On Friday, March 28, 2014, I sat down with MICAH DIXON at a private home located in downtown Baltimore. The purpose of our sit down was to give Micah an opportunity to share his side of the story regarding the public breakup between he and openly transgender model, AMIYAH SCOTT.

THE ENTIRE TWO-PART EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE HERE, AS WELL AS VIA THE OFFICIAL XEM VANADAMS YOUTUBE CHANNEL

EXCLUSIVE NEW Xem VanAdams VIDEO! Micah Dixon, military ex-boyfriend of the most beautiful, sought after, transgender model of our generation, Amiyah Scott, sits down with Xem to tell one side of their very public breakup. Over the past few weeks, a scandal has been brewing between Micah and Amiyah. Social Media has been used as a stage for the former lovers to express their hurt, anger and disappointment in front of their thousands of individual and joint fans. Recently, a third party has added themselves into the mix of what is already a very vulnerable period for the beloved, separated couple.

Thrust into the spotlight a year ago, Micah, along with a mutual friend asked if he could share his story and his truth using the Xem VanAdams online media platform. I obliged…

PART ONE

PART TWO

PREVIEW: Micah Dixon Responds To The Hard Questions Regarding His Relationship With Amiyah Scott

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On Friday, March 28, 2014, I sat down with MICAH DIXON at a private home located in downtown Baltimore. The purpose of our sit down was to give Micah an opportunity to share his side of the story regarding the public breakup between he and openly transgender model, AMIYAH SCOTT.

BELOW, take a sneak peek at some of the more difficult questions that I presented to Micah; inquiries that will certainly give the public a clearer understanding of their relationship dynamic.

THE ENTIRE TWO-PART EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WILL BE POSTED TONIGHT VIA THE OFFICIAL XEM VANADAMS YOUTUBE CHANNEL.

EXCLUSIVE NEW Xem VanAdams VIDEO! Micah Dixon, military ex-boyfriend of the most beautiful, sought after, transgender model of our generation, Amiyah Scott, sits down with Xem to tell one side of their very public breakup. Over the past few weeks, a scandal has been brewing between Micah and Amiyah. Social Media has been used as a stage for the former lovers to express their hurt, anger and disappointment in front of their thousands of individual and joint fans. Recently, a third party has added themselves into the mix of what is already a very vulnerable period for the beloved, separated couple. Thrust into the spotlight a year ago, Micah, along with a mutual friend asked if he could share his story and his truth using the Xem VanAdams online media platform. The tell-all interview will be shared in 2 parts via youtube.com/XemVanAdams on the night of Sunday, March 30, 2014. STAY TUNED…

Xemmy Dances To ‘Gust Of Wind’: Pharrell ft. Daft Punk

 

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Everyone has clearly been talking about the latest music to be lifted from Pharrell’s forthcoming, sophomore album, GIRL. I began streaming the ten track release late last night once iTunes made the songs available for early listen. My favorite from the project so far is the Daft Punk collabo, GUST OF WIND. Those of you who follow me faithfully via Twitter and Facebook already know that the track has been on constant replay for the past 18 hours or so.

Earlier today, as I was preparing to head out, I decided to record myself dancing to the song. However, the AUDIO and VISUAL are not synced properly. As I have now discovered, many other consumers have also experienced this exact issue while recording directly from their MACS; utilizing the iMovie software. I was initially going to scrap the idea of sharing the video publicly, but since it was done in fun, Ive elected to post it for you.

I LOVE THIS RECORD SO MUCH and I sooo can not wait until the entire album hits shelves next Tuesday, March 3, 2014.

 

The REAL Nene Leakes Has Indeed ‘Arrived’ & She Needs To Be Held Accountable

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Nene Leakes is self absorbed, condescending and destructive. She does very little to promote positivity and cohesiveness amongst her Real Housewives Of Atlanta cast mates, or the African American community at large. Her demeanor is brash and her manner is that of a brute. She has reached a point in her career where her attitude clearly reveals a sense of entitlement and superiority. This is what happens when individuals forget the fact that God can snatch blessings as quickly as he gifted them.

WE MUST STOP CELEBRATING INDIVIDUALS LIKE NENE LEAKES who do not genuinely embrace the struggles or strides of the LGBT community. Though Nene starred on FOX’s, ‘Glee’ and NBC’s, ‘The New Normal’, two mainstream series that rest on the shoulders of gay creators, advertisers and story lines, she does not support the everyday lives of same gender loving men and women.

During last nights episode of ‘Real Housewives Of Atlanta’, I watched Nene call Kenya Moore’s friend, Brandon DeShay, a ‘Queen’ and/or ‘Woman’ on numerous occasions. While some of US may use ‘Queen/Kween’ as a term of endearment when engaging amongst one another, Nene used the word on national television to defame the character of another gay man of color. Nene has spent the past five seasons, publicly praising her love for ‘the gays’; a watered down expression that diminishes the role of gay men as nothing more than accessories to her ‘fabulous’ life. While you all latched on to her coattails and held her up as the new holy grail for ‘the gays’, I knew from her phrasing how she REALLY felt towards my LGBT community. Gay men could exist in her space for as long as we were styling her hair, painting her face, dressing her for events and trailing slightly behind her as she walked numerous red carpets.  We in turn, embraced her antics; making it even more comfortable for Nene to use our likeness to further push her brand awareness.

Nene is a woman whose core fan-base is comprised of gay men. She has built her reality television persona by mimicking many of the phrases and mannerisms that make black ‘Kweens’ especially, so ‘entertaining’ to the outside world.

Many people foolishly tuned into ‘Watch What Happens Live’ last night with the expectation that the host would address Nene’s character assassination of Brandon DeShay. Personally, I am not shocked or surprised by the fact that Bravo’s head honcho, Andy Cohen has not addressed the issue publicly. He too represents the contemporary club of television executives that contribute to the emasculation of the gay, black man. Ridiculous shows like ‘Fashion Queens’ exist on Bravo to further perpetuate the notion that all gay men of color are over-the-top flamboyant and interested in nothing more than style, hair, makeup, gossip and glam. These are the only images that are being spoon fed to mainstream America; hence Nene’s comfort in labeling US as ‘Queens’. Andy can’t very well chastise Nene for using ‘Queen’ as a derogatory slur, when an entire series has been created on his network that centers around the stereotypes attached to the word. Think about it….

If you ever wonder WHY I invest so much of my time and energy on trying to secure a television platform for brothers like myself and others to express themselves in a panel or other non-scripted format, its to address concerns such as these. At this point in my life, I need my brothers and sisters to be seen and heard on-screen in such a way that gives multi layers and dimensions to who we are behind closed doors.

The REAL Nene Leakes has indeed ‘ARRIVED’ and she needs to be held accountable for her recent on-screen behavior. IT’S DISGUSTING.

If Only Passion Paid The Bills…

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I pride myself on being 100% honest with my audience and totally truthful as it pertains to my real life circumstances. I have never used my platform to be ‘over-the-top’ fabulous, or to present myself on levels above the individuals I inspire and entertain. As a result, I feel that I owe each of you very clear insight as to why I am unable to move forward posting full-time as I was hoping…

On Friday, January 31, 2014, I announced that I would begin blogging full-time and updating the site daily as of February 1, 2014. I had secured the AD placement for XemSays.com, as we added additional plug ins and features to enhance the look of the site. I was excited about returning to my old routine of posting 10 stories each day; focusing on topics related to celebrities, music, movies, men, love, relationships and other social issues. All of you immediately began sending very encouraging messages to me via Twitter, Facebook, Email and Instagram in support of my decision.

I was so excited to get started, that I made 2 posts on Friday, January 31st. Early in the afternoon, I posted a ‘Dear Xemmy’ answer and response article. Friday night, I wrote and posted an article focused on the media image of black women on screen. XemSays.com received 851 views on January 31, 2014. The next day, Saturday, February 1, 2014, I posted 15 stories; 13 associated with mainstream pop culture, and 2 original content pieces. XemSays.com received 3,813 views in total. Yesterday, February 2, 2014, I posted a total of 17 stories that featured celebs, pop culture and their Super Bowl weekend adventures. XemSays.com received a total of 4,012 views before midnight. So, between my initial announcement and 6am this morning, XemSays.com had received a grand total of 8,685 views. Additionally, the ADS that had been placed on the site were only clicked by readers/viewers a total of 106 times.

Page Views Unique Visits First Time Visits Returning Visits
Total 9,338 7,408 6,200 1,208
Average 1,167 926 775 151
Day Date Page Views Unique Visits First Time Visits Returning Visits
Mon February 3rd 2014 566 391 319 72
Sun February 2nd 2014 4,021 3,206 2,576 630
Sat February 1st 2014 3,813 3,058 2,623 435
Fri January 31st 2014 851 696 632 64
Thur January 30th 2014 87 57 50 7
Wed January 29th 2014 0 0 0 0
Tues January 28th 2014 0 0 0 0
Mon January 27th 2014 0 0 0 0

The estimated AD earnings that account for these numbers in comparison to the hours and energy invested into creating these numbers do not measure up. I can not financially afford at this point in my life to keep my head above water, doing what I love and barely being compensated for my efforts. The numbers are there because of you guys, but the financial compensation is not. I would love to wake up each day and sit in front of this computer for 8-9 hours the ways in which I did on Saturday and Sunday. I would enjoy being able to share with you all the many people, tidbits and situations that are capturing my attention at the moment. However, until someone in power sees in me what you all have seen in me for the past six years, I can’t continue creating online content and not receiving fair compensation. I would love for a media executive to believe in my writing, speaking and other artistic talents, enough to financially invest in my ability to create freely. What I’m saying is that the TIME OBVIOUSLY ISNT NOW. I thought I was receiving signals from God to go at it now, but I have to be able to cover my basic needs and expenses in the process.

You will of course still see me in your social media timelines. I am not abandoning my platform. You all are incredibly loving and encouraging of my journey. The numbers don’t lie. We simply have to wait for another time when Im in a position to create and present content daily, while still being able to LIVE semi comfortably. That’s all. Thank you for being here.

David Beckham’s Underwear Are Torn Off In New H&M Super Bowl Commercial

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38 year old soccer stud, DAVID BECKHAM, is preparing to launch his Spring 2014 body wear collection for H&M. The retailer has just featured the star having his underwear torn off in the recently aired Super Bowl commercial clip. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, the minute and a half visual showcases David running through an industrial area and losing pieces of his underwear garments along the way.

David looks great in every frame and at every angle. For a man of his age, and father of four children, his body is in incredible shape. Those cakes alone are baked to fill out the highest quality of boxer briefs, trunks, compression shorts or any other male undergarments. David Beckham exists as one of the few, male celebrities who makes shopping for undies and choosing a great fitting brand, totally worth the effort.

Ashanti’s Super Bowl Weekend Appearances In NYC

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As her fans patiently await the arrival of her serially delayed Bravehart album, ASHANTI continues to simply make red carpet appearances at all of the celebrity packed events. Last week Ashanti showed up to the Grammy festivities, and this weekend she walked the carpet at several Pre Super bowl events.

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Ashanti looked great, in my opinion, as she attended parties hosted by ESPN, as well as DirecTV. I’m not one to ever defend Ashanti’s vocals, performances or chart success. However, I have always been one of the first amongst my friends and associates to state the fact that Ashanti is ALWAYS done.

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Whenever you see Ashanti at an event, awards show, premiere or red carpet affair, she is put together flawlessly. Her hair, makeup, shoes, bags and ensembles always flatter her toned body. Ashanti just seems to take great pride in how she presents herself, publicly. That’s more than we can say for many urban and pop, female artists.

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Im just hoping that Ashanti attaches herself to a concrete record company and/or reputable management team. Though she claims to be releasing a music video to accompany her ‘I Got It’ single, Im not so sure that visual will see the light of day. It must be difficult for her at this point in time as she is controlling every aspect of her music career.