NEW VIDEO: Xem VanAdams Guests On The “Tag Team” Couch With Quinn & Merc B.

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Catch me in rare form as I joined Q and Merc B. on the couch of their online, Tag Team series. I have known Quinn since my freshman year at Temple University. He and his creative partner launched a Youtube series a year ago, and recently asked me to make a guest appearance on their latest episode release. I think many of you may actually enjoy seeing me “perform” alongside these very comical and entertaining fellas. I was definitely pulled out of my comfort zone a bit, but filming with these guys presented a good time overall.

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I was very excited to work with Q and Merc B. because they are tackling some of the same issues and discussing similar topics that helped me build such an amazing audience during the golden years of 2008-2011. I love the ways in which these guys mix commentary and skits online, sort of incorporating the SNL formula into a medium that is still on the rise.

Please WATCH and SUBSCRIBE to all of the TAG TEAM Videos HERE

Even Though We Barely Talk, I Still Wonder How You’re Doing

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The holiday season is upon us. As a result, your end of the year rituals tend to spark memories of that special someone who once upon a time played a significant role in your everyday life. Thoughts of him trip across your mind each time you happen to see his favorite team playing ball during one of your couch commando, channel surfing sessions. Standing beside him at the local arena as he cheered on the star players easily became some of the best, quality time that you two spent together. You think of him whenever you smell that Vera Wang Cologne for Men, while shopping on the weekends in the mall department stores. His voice is tangled between the chorus of Beyonce’s “XO” record, as he was the first person you forced to listen to the song when she dropped her surprise album last December. He’s now absent from the right side of your bed nightly, but the scent of his hair still lingers in the fibers of the pillow you never wash or sleep with anymore. It has been a long while since he has updated his Facebook status message or even signed in to Foursquare. You have no idea how things are going in his world, but you miss him. You wonder about him. You still love him… and that is okay.

One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned over the past ten years is, “just because we love someone, does not mean that we are supposed to be with that someone”. Anyone who has ever truly made an emotional impact in our lives is always going to fill a carved space within our hearts. Those feelings will often surface, especially during the holidays. Those feelings then trigger thoughts about the past we once shared with this individual. However, it is most important to remember, the distance that has been created to separate his life from your conscious mind, is often designed to protect you. While you may think that knowing the details of what is going on with this man personally will comfort your curiosity and wonder, the information and knowledge of what he’s doing stands a greater chance of hurting you.

Before you consider sending that, “Happy Thanksgiving! Just thinking about you” text message, be aware of how that action may reopen a painful chapter that you’ve worked so hard to close. In most circumstances, you are sending that text message because not only are you thinking of this man, but you’re also longing to talk to him and possibly see him. Meanwhile, his response, or lack thereof could affect the positive adjustments you’ve made now that he no longer plays a role in your life. Your vulnerabilities are still rather soft.

Men don’t change mentally, emotionally or behaviorally over the period of a few months. Unless he has endured a major turn of events that has impacted every crescent of his psyche, he is still the same guy you chose to stop dealing with. This dude, under most circumstances, still maintains the same arrogant attitude, dismissive personality, apathetic demeanor and piss poor means of communication that tore you away from him months ago. Sure, he has possibly moved into a new apartment or has started working a new job, but you also know that he has a very difficult time finding comfort in being alone. While you have remained single, despite entertaining a few phone calls from one or two admirers, he of course has been sleeping with everyone who has slid a nude picture into his direct message inboxes. In your mind, without having the concrete information, you already know that he has filled your void with random company, meaningless sex, and the same impulsive decisions that created tumultuous consequences when the two of you were romantically involved.

You cannot allow your rose tinted memories to cushion the reality of every thorn this man so carelessly poked in your chest. You’re no longer waking up each day, unable to physically pull yourself out of bed. You’ve successfully moved beyond the phase of crying in the car while on your way to work or riding home from a Sunday, church service. It isn’t still tough for you to hear his name brought up by a friend in casual conversation. You’re actually healing. As a result, wonder how this guy is doing from time to time, but maintain your physical distance. Eventually, once you have truly moved beyond the emotional burden, the universe will conspire to allow the both of you to cross paths amicably. The moment may not happen for months or years to come. However, you forcing the interaction will simply interfere with your ability to maintain a peace of mind.

We fool ourselves into believing that we are ready to “be friends” with someone who existed as a love interest less than a year ago. But if you two are actually friends, this means you can stomach hearing him discuss his love life and romantic dealings with other people. ARE YOU PREPARED TO HANDLE THAT LEVEL OF CONVERSATION?

As human beings, we desire the ability to own or control our hearts in determining the speed at which we fall out of love or “get over” an ex. Truthfully, you do not possess the power to order your emotional timeline and that is why barely talking to HIM right now, is the very best thing for YOU.

BEWARE of the friend who screams, “EWW…you like him?!”

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You find yourself drawn to this new man for qualities that extend far beyond his physical features. He loves alternative music. He eats sushi. Hates clubs. Goes hiking on the weekends. Watches “How To Get Away With Murder” every Thursday night. Plays the saxophone. He works as a freelance photographer. And he doesn’t associate with a lot of popular, uppity people. He hates driving, but you enjoy it. While you’re behind the wheel, he’s always gripping your right hand in his left. What the two of you are building is cozy and it makes you feel good. He isn’t necessarily the type of guy you’d usually date, but your “type” has continued to be of disappointment over the years. You’re trying something new. Keeping his face and identity hidden from your social media timelines.

Your “friend” is aware of this particular guy in due part to mutual associations or simply in passing amongst the social circuit in your city. This guy and your friend have never spoken or engaged in real, face-to-face conversation. Your friend has decided that based on this dude’s surface characteristics, he isn’t worthy of their attention.

Anxiously, you mention to your friend one day that you and this new guy have been texting, spending time with one another and exchanging photos over the past few weeks. The initial response from your friend is laughter, paired with a sharp, “ewww…you like him?!” – This is your friend reacting to your excitement over finally, possibly, meeting someone you organically feel connected to. In your mind you’re thinking, “how rude can you be?”

Then you snap back at your friend by saying, “I don’t care if he isn’t the cutest boy ever. He doesn’t have to be. You don’t even know him. You don’t see him the way that I do and I think he’s perfect the way he is.” Your friend apologizes. However, you silently vow to never mention this man or your dealings with him in front of your friend again.

Another month goes by and your friend randomly asks how things are going between you and this new man. Despite the fact that you’ve spent every single day at his house, in his kitchen, on his computer and between his sheets, you casually respond, “we’re good.” When your friend begins probing for more details, you make it clear that you really like this guy, but you then suggest it’s too soon to tell where things are going. Your heart is already too attached to this man to stomach any further judgment from your friend, so you don’t give up the specifics they’re fishing for. You’ve decided it’s enough that your friend is clear that the two of you are involved. Changing the subject but not really, you then inquire about the guys who your friend has been seeing as of lately.

driving…driving. listening…listening.

A few days later, while scrolling your Instagram timeline, you notice that your friend has begun following your man’s page – the same friend who screamed, “EWW!” when you told them that the two of you were dating. Not only has your friend followed your new man, but there are also random, pointless comments & smiley face emojis left beneath three or four of your new guys photos.

It’s at this point that many individuals make the mistake of not saying anything to their friend, in fear that they’re making too much out of nothing.

BEWARE: Your involvement with this new guy, who otherwise would have never crossed your friends mind, has now made this man intriguing to them. Suddenly, your ‘friend’ is a little more attracted to this dude. Over the past fourteen years, it has been my experience that some people don’t usually find a certain guy attractive or appealing until someone else close to them begins to express interest.

People who we mistakenly label as friends have a sordid way of wanting to get close to someone new in our lives, simply because that individual represents something else we have that they don’t. It’s a similar scenario to watching two children interact with one another in a classroom setting. It’s not until the more developed child picks up the odd toy that’s stashed in the corner and starts playing, that the other child attempts to snatch it and keep the toy for themselves. Especially in instances where the new guy we are dating is completely different from the men our ‘friend” is use to seeing us with or even the men they themselves often attract, this ‘friend’ will go through extreme measures to figure out why we are drawn to this man. In their ploy to uncover the connection, their first effort is to make contact. It is not wrong or inappropriate for you to tell your friend that your new man is off limits to their online or in person advances. Of course, your ‘friend’ is going to downplay or deny their fascination, but it’s still up to you to make your HANDS OFF position very clear. You are not blowing the situation out of proportion by drawing lines between a ‘friend’ who prematurely expressed disgust for a guy you care about, and their newfound interest in connecting with him. If their social media contact were truly innocent and void of ulterior motives, your friend would have mentioned to you that they followed your date online in the first place.

In this day and time, it is very difficult to formulate new associations with individuals who truly respect the GIRL/BOY CODE that reads – “Thou shall not attempt to meet, date, talk to or sleep with someone who is presently or once was involved with my friend.” You can often expect that the same individual who screamed “EWW!” will change their tune to “OOO!” the second they see that there’s something about this guy that truly turns you on. BEWARE.

The Reasons Why Your Man Seems To Turn Against You When You’re The One Doing Everything To Help His Black Ass

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Often times, we transform ourselves into the roles of counselor, therapist, secretary and parent whenever the man we’re dating or seriously involved with is facing a dark period in his life. Suddenly, his job layoff, financial crisis or family emergency becomes our problem to solve. We begin taking on tasks, responsibilities and self-imposed stressors in an effort to make sure that the man we love survives this unfortunate setback in his life. We are buying extra food to make sure he’s eating as often as he likes. We’re updating his resume, making phone calls, being extra affectionate and offering loving advice to help him get through this dark period. It seems that our surface efforts would be embraced – our dude would display an outward expression of appreciation. Instead, however, he becomes distant and increasingly agitated whenever he’s in our presence. He doesn’t want to spend one on one time anymore, but is constantly entertaining his loser friends and online “fans”. Everyone else in his life seems to be receiving the smiles, upbeat personality and star treatment. Meanwhile, we are left home, alone, venting to our friends and wondering what we’ve done wrong to deserve his negative attitude. It’s simple…

Many of us make the mistake of extending ourselves in the same ways in which we assume we would want others to help or assist us in our time of need. We place ourselves in the mode to support our men by any means necessary, even if that sometimes means ignoring our own needs and sacrificing our financial or emotional stability for his ultimate success. In our decision to dive in to fix the issues that are plaguing the man we love, we tend to forget that a lot of guys initially feel the need to retreat and make decisions on their own. Even though we often think that it’s best to create a plan and take immediate action, a lot of men require space and time to determine what his first step will be in handling his dilemma. Bombarding his space with increased calls and text messages in an effort to find out what he’s going to do or if he’s going to follow our advice, only intensifies his stress levels.

We forget that even as his romantic partner, our position in our man’s life is not to necessarily solve his problems. Men are very prideful creatures. Despite his race, sexuality or socioeconomic background, a lot of men still feel that their role in life is to provide for themselves and protect the individuals closest to them. When we make an attempt to help without his asking, that behavior on our part tends to make our man feel weak. While it’s sometimes difficult to sit back and wait for our dude to share all of the details or to ask for our input, it becomes important that we give him the room to do so.

He is sometimes running to hang with his friends because even though they may be aware of his situation, they aren’t forcing him to discuss it or execute their idea of what the resolution should be.

One of the best ways that we can be supportive of the guy we love is to speak to him with encouraging statements, as opposed to using sympathetic words. You have to learn how to feed and fuel his ego in order to get him to open up to you or to ask for your assistance. Instead of saying things like, “I’m sorry that you’re going through this baby. Are you okay? Awe…I hope things will get better”, you should offer statements such as, “You’ve got this! The job is yours. Are you forgetting who you are?” Remind your man that he is still in charge of his own life. You can also bring up a past situation where the chips were down for him and he somehow pieced them back together. Encouraging him, as opposed to pitying his circumstances will give your dude the confidence he needs to make solid decisions on his own. Then, more than likely, he’s going to want you to contribute to the plan of action he comes up with. His mind and spirit will be open to receiving your ideas or suggestions. Your man needs to feel that you are standing beside him in his path to solve the problem and not necessarily in front – trying to lead him to make the decision that YOU think is best.

Also, keep in mind that you too are going to become just a tad bit frustrated and exhausted as you’re taking on extra responsibilities to make sure that your man is okay. Once you start getting frustrated because now you’re paying two cell phone bills instead of one, or now you’re having to run extra errands to help him out, he will recognize a change in your demeanor. Even though you’re aiding him from the kindness of your heart, the little things he says or does may begin to upset you. Despite your annoyance with him going out to have drinks with his friends when you feel that he should be home applying for jobs, you should not say things to him like, “well, if it weren’t for me then your phone wouldn’t even be on”, or… “I’m the one trying to help you and you haven’t even thanked me”. Your man may begin to feel like a burden and will often retreat as a result of his guilt. That explains why he’s suddenly interacting with strangers on Facebook or posting “happy photos” on Instagram, as if everything in his life is perfect. The communication he is now sharing with associates or total strangers serves as his escape from the relationship with you that is now filled with feelings of ridicule and resentment.

Always remember that during tough times, guys will often turn towards the individuals who know the least about their real life situations. Engaging with people publicly who only know them for their cute faces and other surface attributes sometimes makes men feel good about themselves when their lives are falling apart behind closed doors. It sometimes feels that we are getting the short end of the stick because he knows that we are aware of what’s actually going on. Our expectations of him are often greater than what he may feel he can fill at the moment.

So, the best way to avoid becoming the frustrated, lonely lover who is sitting at home feeling unappreciated, is to support your man WITHOUT MENTION. When he initially calls or texts you to inform you about what is happening in his life, do not tell him what he should or needs to do… until he asks for your input. Your job is to listen and offer encouragement. You only need to express sympathy in the event that his grandmother or best friend has just passed away. If you’re going to take care of washing his clothes so that he can focus on making emergency calls, there’s no need for you to verbally bring it to his attention that you’ve done so. Simply dry his things, fold them and put them away. He will notice on Monday morning that all of his underwear and tee shirts are clean. Never throw in his face what you have done to help him during his time of need. It’s tough enough for a man to accept money from his partner for food, gas or other bills. Even in the event that you two are upset and arguing with one another, avoid bringing up the gifts or favors that you’ve extended to him. He will often respond by LEAVING YOU, simply because he never wants anyone in life to feel that they can take full credit for the man he has become. And even if he doesn’t walk away from you in that moment, the resentment will send him on his way the moment he gets back on his feet.

Men don’t simply leave the individual who “held them down” when times were tough. Men walk away from the person who constantly held it over his head.

Guys rarely forget the individuals who helped them keep their heads above water. If you want your relationship to remain intact following the struggles your man is presently enduring, please don’t overwhelm him with your desire to take total control of his circumstances. Help him without stealing his power to help himself.

Amiyah Scott’s 8-Part Interview With Ceasar Will Of BRTB TV + Debut Of “TRIANGLE” Web Series

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Yesterday, November 6, 2014, Ceasar Will of Ballroom Throwbacks TV released his highly anticipated sit down interview with Miss. Amiyah Scott. Filmed recently in New York City, Ceasar and Amiyah came together to discuss a series of issues directly related to Amiyah’s personal life and experiences living as an open and proud transgender woman. It is no secret that Amiyah presently exists as one of the most highly recognized and adored public figures amongst the LGBT community. Though she may not receive the type of mainstream, headline news coverage as Laverne Cox or Janet Mok, Amiyah certainly appeals to hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. Amiyah’s beauty, brand and coming of age story resonates with individuals who not only identify as being trans, but also many others who simply embrace the notions of acceptance, tolerance and equality amongst the human race.

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I first discovered Amiyah circa 2005/2006 when she walked Fem Queen Face for the illustrious House of Mizrahi. During that time, I followed the blog of Frank Leon Roberts; an online personality from the LGBT community who existed before the days of Youtube notoriety. It was through his exclusive collection of photos and personal stories, that individuals like Amiyah Scott began to receive online press. At the time, many viewers and onlookers only knew Amiyah for her stunning, physical features. It wasn’t until years later that she would be given the opportunity to begin sharing her trials and triumphs with the world at large.

In this 8-part interview, Amiyah addresses various topics presented to her by Mr. Ceasar Will. She discusses her family background and how her transition into womanhood affected the dynamic of her household. Amiyah addresses the “scandals” associated with transgender women outing male celebrities for their interests in dating or desiring personal relationships with other transgender women. Ceasar asks Amiyah to express her feelings about the word, “Tranny” and how the connotation behind the term makes her feel personally. We get to hear Amiyah express her true feelings about friendship VS. association, the existence of “social climbers”, her reasons for walking away from the ballroom scene, as well as how being involved in ballroom years ago helped to shape her present platform. As a celebrated public figure, Amiyah of course discusses how social media has helped frame her brand and how that brand may potentially sustain her future.

Amiyah is extremely articulate, poised and professional throughout her 80 minute sit down.

Ive watched all 8 segments of the interview – each part running an average of 10 minutes. The interview begins with Ceasar asking Amiyah a series of fan questions that were posted to his main Facebook account. Many of you who aren’t well versed in “ballroom” may not be aware of the few names she drops or individuals she’s asked to discuss in a few of the segments. However, there is enough BROAD conversation for each viewer to understand a little more of who this amazing lady has become.

 

PART ONE

PART TWO

PART THREE

PART FOUR

PART FIVE

PART SIX

PART SEVEN

PART EIGHT

 

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Also, Ceasar is presently producing a new web series that has been heavily promoted and eagerly anticipated over the past few months. I was invited to attend the Philadelphia premiere of the series last night, but was unable to cancel my attendance at another scheduled event. Nonetheless,TRIANGLE has made it’s online debut and many are already buzzing about the central storylines that frame this pilot webisode. Laced in conflicts of love, lust and betrayal, TRIANGLE mirrors the trials that plague the personal and romantic lives of everyday people. I haven’t watched the entire first episode, but I have seen enough promotional trailers to know that the series is filled with EYE CANDY.

I hope you will spend some time this weekend watching and supporting yet another release that has been written, directed and produced by stars from our very own community.

boi inv sible: No Miracle On Monday

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dedicated to our untold stories and shared experiences.

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It was November. The fabric of the fall season had sewn itself against the backdrop of Northeast, DC. Sharp winds streaked across my windowpane, blowing dead, crinkled leaves against the early morning air. I was stitched between the tattered comforts of my worn mattress and the dingy, white, twin size comforter that had held me for the past fifteen years. The walls shook between an echoing of metal, clapped against cup-shaped, cast metal. It was one hard, resounding hit after another. The church bell hung inside of the tower directly across the street from my second floor bedroom. It wakes me at 6am everyday. As the striker hits back and forth on the flared, thickened rim, the wind recites, ‘ding-dong-ding-dong’. A heavy banging swings into the softening horizon. Rays of purple and yellowish sun rise beneath the arch of the clouds. Orange squiggles of light begin to dart between the two beige sheets that my stepfather has draped along the plastic rods on my window. It’s another, dreadful Monday. I knew that everyone in school would be talking about homecoming weekend. My best friends would verbally lash me for skipping all of the festivities and events. The day would somehow feel like my burial. I’d need a miracle to simply get through it.

While lying flat on my back, I saw shadows of tree branches quilting patterns along the ceiling. My mother would say it was the lord’s way of blessing our home at the beginning of each day. When we were children, she told us that the shadows were God’s arms and every room would be protected. Growing up, my mother instructed me to say my prayers whenever the shadows began to tap the listening walls. Without moving, I silently recited the same prayer I had been sending since the seventh grade. “God, its me…Elijah. Please, make me like all of the other boys.”

I’m counting down six weeks, three days and eighteen hours before Christmas vacation. The date is marked on my calendar of famous writers; highlighted in the same month that features my hero, James Baldwin.

I peeked across the room to make sure that my older brother was still buried in his bed. There was a half hour left before the force of Jelani’s clock alarm would yank him from beneath the sheets. Thirty peaceful minutes gave me just enough time to do what I always do when I first wake in the morning. I turned onto my left side to face the wall; making sure that Jelani would only see my back if he were to get up early. Placing my right hand on top of the blanket, I quietly slid Baldwin’s ‘Giovanni’s Room’ novel from inside of my pillowcase. It was the only copy stocked in our school library. A peering glow from the sunrise provided just enough light for me to travel between the lines of Baldwin’s infamous tales. His words made me think of a far-off day when I wouldn’t have to bow my head beneath the clouds. There would be no shame. No threats of having sin beat from my body. No one to forgive me for being black, feminine and frail.

My unclean thoughts could somehow fill the daylight and swallow up darkness. A place that had no language of rights and wrongs. Where I longed to be. I was so captivated by how ‘Giovanni’s Room’ detailed the social and romantic relationships between men. I would lie here for a moment, waist deep in helpless desires. My loins began to stretch. I had no power over this longing to feel and experience nakedness. A freedom illustrated between these pages. Since starting high school three months ago, I’ve read all of James Baldwin’s essays. My English teacher only required that we journal our thoughts and other findings from ‘Notes Of A Native Son’. However, I’ve begun to lose myself in Baldwin’s entire collection of work. He and I both paint the world with words.

I do not like being the first in the bathroom every morning. The cold licks my hideous skin, spreading across the unsightly pimples that are forming on my cheeks and my chin. My bare feet chill into clenched numbness against the freezing tiles on the floor. Standing in the bathroom mirror also forces me to see everything I hate about my face. Maybe Monday wouldn’t be so bad-looking had I not skipped my haircut on Saturday. I intentionally missed my appointment over the weekend to avoid the awkward, barbershop conversations. It’s uncomfortable having to change the topic whenever my barber begins to ask about the football game I clearly didn’t watch and whether or not I have a girlfriend.

I half sat and half leaned on the sink while brushing my teeth. I missed my father. Though most of my childhood memories include him nodding on the stoop outside of our house, he was always the first awake and walking around downstairs in the mornings. Even though he often reeked of whisky, I was too young to realize that he was an alcoholic. Some nights, my mother would yell for Jelani to help her drag my father from the curb in front of the church. Since he was always sitting there when I arrived home from school, I guess I thought his job was to guard the building. Whether my father was sitting outside at night or slouched across the couch in the living room, I always felt protected when he was around. I remember that he would carry me on his shoulders as we walked to the corner store on Saturday afternoons. He always wore the same pair of burgundy corduroy pants and a mustard yellow T-shirt. If it were cold outside, he’d throw on this worn, black leather jacket that smelled like mothballs. I’d hold mother’s grocery list in my fist, while gripping steadily the sides of my father’s head. He always bought me a twenty-five cent pretzel stick from the plastic jar that sat beside the register. He’d pull me from his shoulders as soon as we walked through the front doors of the store. My father would sit me on top of the counter and hand me two quarters from his sock. I’d pay the man with one and shove the other in my shoe. For years, I watched my father pull his dollar bills from inside of his sneakers whenever he needed to pay for anything. I guess I figured that’s where I was supposed to save my money too.

We’d leave the corner store, and my father would carry the see through, plastic bags back to the house. He’d then have a tiny, paper bag stuffed inside of his leather jacket. When I asked him what he bought, he told me it was his medicine. I remember a time when the brown bag fell onto the kitchen floor as my father lowered me from his shoulders. Glass shattered and dark liquid began seeping through cracks in the tiles. My father insisted that he’d clean up the mess, but my mother still began to cry. It was the first time I ever heard my parents screaming at each other. My mother would only shout in church on Sundays. And my father only yelled the time he caught me playing with Janna’s Cabbage Patch Kid. He yanked it out of my hand and said, ‘only sissies play with dolls Elijah!’

‘Get out punk. I need to take a shit’, Jelani shouted in his abrasive tone of voice. Even though I wasn’t finished getting dressed, I’ve learned to not argue with my older brother first thing in the morning. My stepfather will only defend Jelani, and my mother will argue with my stepfather for taking sides. Standing up to Jelani ruins the start of everyone’s day. Instead, I gave myself one final glance in the mirror, grabbed my navy, paperboy hat from the sink and began to walk out of the bathroom. Jelani slammed the door as I stepped away, hitting me in the lower back with the brass knob. A stabbing pain shot down the inside of my left leg. Gripping the top of the bannister, I fought back tears. Anger combined with helpless fury welled up in me. I grabbed my navy pea coat and grey, wool scarf from my bed. On my way leaving out of the front door, my stepfather yelled from the dining room, ‘why your pants so damn tight, Elijah?!’ I stopped and looked at him, very quiet. My stepfather had hardness about him. He chiseled his way through life, grunting his dissatisfactions. He rarely spoke two words to me, unless it was to criticize the way I walked, who I hung around, or even how I dressed. I placed my paperboy hat on my head and replied, ‘my pants aren’t tight…they just fit.’ My stepfather swallowed a fork full of scrambled eggs and then said, ‘well, your brother doesn’t wear his pants like that.’ Silence falls again. Before I could respond to yet another one of Glen’s comparisons between Jelani and I, my mother began to walk towards me from the kitchen. She was a sanctified woman who did everything she could to make life easier for me. My mother had a Cinderella soul. She was carrying my lunch in a white, plastic, grocery bag and wearing her sweet, nurturing smile. My mother shouted, ‘have a glorious day at school Elijah!’ Glen let out a huge grunt as he fell back into his chair. My mother then handed my lunch to me and wrapped her arms around my body. This was her way of defending me against my stepfather’s verbal lashings. I faked a smile as I turned away from my mother and walked out of the house.

The leaves created a natural quilt pattern that layered the ground in various shades of red, yellow and green. Adam was waiting for me in front of the church. He stood on the main sidewalk directly across the street from my front door. When I reached the pavement, I paused and looked in Adam’s face. He had clear, dark brown skin. His face was angular and his slanted eyes set deep within their sockets. He and I stood 5’10, shoulder to shoulder. The brown pea coat that Adam was wearing blended with the canopy of trees that lined the walkway. Adam and I called one another brothers, as we practically grew up together. His mother moved the family to our neighborhood when we were both five years old. We’ve attended the same schools since Kindergarten.

I was still wearing my make pretend smile. ‘What’s wrong Elijah?’ Adam asked. Adam knows my moods, even when I’m silent. He and I got to be, for each other, what the other missed. Adam had two younger sisters and always wanted another boy around. I had Jelani, but hadn’t felt close to him since my father passed away. I continued smiling and responded, ‘everything man. It’s everything.’ I put my hand on Adam’s back and nudged him to walk down the street alongside me. I didn’t want my mother to see me upset, as I knew she was watching us from the front window. Adam and I began to make our way down Branch Avenue. I explained to Adam that it was becoming extremely difficult to ignore Jelani’s bullying. Combined with my stepfather’s nitpicking, I told Jelani that it felt as if I was living with vultures. They both seemed to circle around and close in on me at the worst of times. It was as if they could sense my spirit dying, but circled lower to eventually feed off of me. Adam was already familiar with Jelani and Glen’s preferred way of living. He had been at my house enough to witness their ignorance towards everything and everyone that didn’t fit their one-way mold. Me included. Adam put his hand on my shoulder as I told him that I couldn’t wait to graduate and move out of the house. He reminded me of our lifelong pact to travel far away from Washington, DC. Our plan is to room together as freshman at whatever college or university that grants us both full scholarships. Adam said, ‘but in order to get to that point Elijah, you have to somehow fix your mind to get from one day to the next.’ Adam and I were both fifteen, but he spoke about life as if he had lived once before. ‘You have to avoid thinking too far ahead. Face the day’, he declared.

As Adam and I approached the bus stop, a group of boys stood clustered around the corner storefront. Most of them were dressed in dark sweatshirts, jeans and Jordan sneakers of some kind. I recognized one of them. He comes over to the house often to play video games with Jelani. I don’t know his name, but I definitely remember the face. He squinted while staring at Adam and I place our book bags on the ground. I slightly tilted my head back and chin up, to greet him like I usually do. He tossed his fist in the air and tilted his head as well. Now, all of the boys were looking at me. There was a stitch of silence amongst the group of boys before one of them blasted from the background, ‘you know that faggot?’ The group erupted in laughter. They playfully beat each around the shoulders. I leaned towards Adam and whispered for him to not turn around to face the boys. Adam prided himself on defending me. He wasn’t afraid to fight and he didn’t care about getting hurt in the process. Before Adam could utter a single word, loud music roared behind us. As I then turned around, I saw Jelani parking my stepfather’s pickup truck in front of the store. Jelani and I made eye contact. He turned his gaze towards the driver side door as his friend approached the truck. ‘I think it’s really foul that your stepfather lets Jelani drive his truck and he never offers you a ride to school.’ I responded, ‘It’s cool. I wouldn’t have anything to talk to him about in the car, anyways. Id actually rather catch the bus with you.’

The beat of the morning was unsteady. A mutable rhythm seemed to pace throughout the room. My math teacher stood at the front chalkboard. She requested volunteers to assist with our test review. No one responded. Even though I knew the answers, it was a heavy feeling of embarrassment that kept my hands pinned beneath the desk. Constantly being told that I sound like a girl or speak too softly weighed down my desire to talk in class. I was the only ninth grader taking Algebra II Honors. Sitting in the back section of Mrs. Beechman’s room, I tried to bury myself behind the rows of upperclassmen. I slouched down in my seat while keeping my gaze lowered between the series of math equations in my textbook. Mrs. Beechman made a habit of calling on me whenever we would make eye contact. As long as she couldn’t see me, I figured I would avoid answering any questions in front of the entire class. The room was quiet. A slow tempo of warm air blew from the ceiling vent. Mrs. Beechman slammed her teaching guide on the front table and told the class to close our notebooks. ‘Fine! Clear your desks and take out a pencil!’ Mrs. Beechman shouted. ‘If no one needs the review, it must mean that you’re ready to be tested’, she continued. The room erupted in sighs. A gush of relief flowed through my body. A pop quiz meant that we would be instructed to work in silence.

I met up with Janna between classes. She walked down the hallway swinging that thick behind of hers. I swallowed my grape juice while Janna shouted the lyrics to some Kelis song. Her voice sounded like pistols. People stared at Janna. She would lock eyes with the other girls especially and give them that yes-bitch-I-know-I’m-cute look. Janna had a round face, penny size dimples, hazel eyes and perfectly white teeth. She was pretty and had already become the center of attention at school. The first floor was filled with maroon streamers, gold balloons, sparkly confetti and various championship banners hung from the ceiling. Our football team won the homecoming game over the weekend. The entire school was still hung over with excitement. I, however, felt as if I was being embalmed alive. My physical body was present inside of the school building, but I didn’t exist amongst my classmates. Janna and everyone else around me seemed to have found their place within the crowd. Janna’s big hair and beaming personality naturally made people want to gravitate towards her. Even the upperclassmen girls who were intimidated by her popularity, still waved when we walked by. ‘I know! Lets take a picture!’ Janna yelled, as we were walking towards the cafeteria. I told Janna that I didn’t want to take a picture, as I didn’t like what I was wearing. Janna stopped in the middle of the hallway, turned towards me and gave my outfit her classic, once-over. She pulled her crinkled hair away from her face, raised her left eyebrow and looked me up and down. ‘What are you talking about Elijah? You look handsome! Best dressed boy here.’ I had on a pair of dark denim jeans that were cuffed at the bottom, black utility boots, a white oxford shirt and the black suspenders that Adam bought me for my birthday the month before school started. I guess I was still reeling over the comments that my stepfather made about how tight my pants fit. I didn’t want to pose with Janna in the hallway; drawing added attention to my skinny legs. Janna handed her pink cell phone to her friend, Melissa. She then pinned me against one of the grey, metal lockers. Poking out her butt and pressing her breasts against my arm, Janna instructed Melissa to take a full body shot. Playfully, Janna snapped, ‘Elijah, you better smile BOY…or do something sexy. Don’t ruin my damn picture.’ The camera on Janna’s phone flashed twice. I tried to look comfortable while posing beside her.

Janna and I have been friends since the first grade. While Adam and our other classmates were playing kickball or tag on the playground, Janna and I would be digging to China near the steep hill. Our teachers in elementary school always paired Janna and I as partners for class field trips. She would split her ham, cheese and cracker Lunchables with me, and I would give her half of my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Even when our seats would be placed apart from one another in the classroom, we’d still slide notes back and forth between the desks. Janna and I have just always been close. Whenever she meets new people, most of who happen to be other girls, she introduces them to me.

Now that Adam’s schedule has been changed, I felt awkward being the only guy sitting at a lunch table with Janna and her new girlfriends. They all talk to me, of course. However, I now wondered if everyone else in the cafeteria looked at me as being a sissy of some sort. At least when Adam would sit across from me at the end of the long, laminate table, it appeared as if we weren’t co-stars of ‘The Janna Show’. I was nervous about having to defend myself, again. Aside from Adam, guys in school never talk to me unless we are forced to work together on a science lab or other group project. The majority of my friends have always been females. I didn’t realize how different or weird it was until the boys in middle school began to tease me about it. Some of them would call me Elizabeth instead of Elijah. Janna would curse in response. She dared any of them to call me Elizabeth a second time, in her presence. She would pull her poofy hair into a thick bun and challenge anyone who made fun of me to also make fun of her. Janna has always been ready to defend me, especially if Adam wasn’t around.

From the corner of my eye, I could see Jelani standing against the floor to ceiling, cafeteria windows. His dark, masculine complexion and broad, vertical stance positioned him at the center of attention. He was posted up alongside three other juniors from the track team. I watched them with bitter eyes as they were laughing and pointing at the table of girls from my Creative Writing class. I hated the way Jelani treated other people, especially me. He doesn’t speak if he is walking with one of his friends. We at least played video games, watched television and walked to the store together when I was in the fifth and sixth grades. Now, I can’t even ask him for a ride home from school. Though my newspaper meetings end the same time as his track practices, he’ll say there isn’t enough room for me.

I’ve told him to stop pushing up on Janna. He makes repeated comments about her ass whenever he sees us walking together. His eyes always move over her body. Janna smiles and rolls her eyes at him, but I think it’s disgusting. It would seem that Jelani would look at Janna as his little sister or younger cousin.

As fourth period lunch ended, I could hear Jelani’s voice chanting above the cluster of other voices. ‘Cake! Cake! Cake! Cake! Cake! Cake! Cake!’ belted from him as I walked beside Janna and her friends. The harmonized laughter from Jelani’s track teammates infuriated me. They were following behind us as the crowd dismissed from the cafeteria. I had never before expressed to Janna how irritated I was by Jelani’s advances towards her. I figured that she wouldn’t entertain his nonsense. Janna was a big flirt when she wanted to be. She dropped her purse on the floor and stopped in the middle of the doorway. She stuck out her tongue, rubbed her fingers through the back of her hair and started shaking her ass. Janna was wearing grey leggings that accentuated her full curves. Melissa laughed and started chanting in unison with Jelani’s clown posse. I darted ahead of them.

I loathed crossing the big, burgundy corridors that led to the gymnasium. This is the worst part of my day. An intolerable heaviness formed in the pit of my stomach as I slowly dragged my body down the long, dark, basement hallway. While captains chose the other, more athletic guys to join their teams, I was always the last pick. As beige, concrete walls frame my journey to PE, I can’t help but to want to skip class, again. I intentionally missed eighteen days out of forty-five during the last quarter. I also only changed into my gym uniform eleven of those eighteen days. Coach Miller gave me a sixty-five as a first quarter grade. Even though it’s considered passing, my mother was very disappointed. In the teacher’s comment section, Coach Miller reported, does not participate fully in class, attendance is unsatisfactory and does not present proper and appropriate class materials. Avoiding gym class in middle school was easy since I played the saxophone. Band was a year long, mandatory elective for all members. During the first week of this school year, I begged the ninth grade advisor to assign me any other class other than Physical Education.

Adam was already changed into his gym shorts by the time I entered the locker room. He was standing shirtless, bow-legged and barefoot, while shoving his jeans and boots into his book bag. Since the start of second quarter, Adam has been weight-training afterschool, three days each week. I could already see results in his upper body. Adam’s pecs were sitting at attention, his back looked wider and his arms were definitely thicker. Before we started high school in September, Adam and I spent the summer talking about putting on more pounds. We were supposed to start lifting weights together. I instead joined the school newspaper. As I sat down at the end of the wooden bench, Adam laughed and said, ‘I see that sixty-five got your ass in here this afternoon.’ ‘Barely’, I responded. Adam grabbed my neck with one hand and playfully pulled me backwards. He then leaned over me with his little smile and said, ‘well, you’ll enjoy these next few weeks of swimming bro.’ The heavy knot instantly grew larger inside of my stomach. I was going to have to stand barechested in front of my entire gym class. While swimming is one of the few sports that I excel in, I hated my puny body.

The white, drawstrings on my gym shorts were tied extremely tight. I would normally have my tee shirt tucked in to prevent my shorts from falling down. Standing half naked around the pool caused me to freak out! My heart was beating like a fist banging on a locked door. I could feel my fingers trembling. They were cold and clammy like fish scales. Adam stood directly beside me while Coach Miller called roll. As each of my classmates names were called, I couldn’t help but notice their bodies. I avoided making direct eye contact with any of them as I snuck quick glances of their torsos. I was still the skinniest amongst the group. This was the first time I was seeing the other guys in my gym class half dressed. While changing in the locker room first quarter, I always took my clothes off in one of the bathroom stalls to avoid moments like these. I couldn’t wait for Coach Miller to blow his whistle so I could jump in the water. I desperately wanted to hide.

Wringing wet and funky with chlorine, I dried off while facing the lockers. My towel was wrapped around my waist as I slid my shorts off. I was afraid to peel my gaze from the cement wall. The fear of being seen naked or someone else seeing me, see them naked kept my eyes mounted forward. While Adam was rinsing off in the showers, some of the other guys walked into the aisle to congratulate me for swimming the fastest laps. It was the first time I had ever heard my name spoken inside of the locker room.

The remainder of the day felt like that moment between reaching the top of a roller coaster ride and dropping 144 feet into the depths of unknown territory. I was now tall. For once, I finally felt like all of the other boys in school. It made me wonder if God had finally answered my prayers by making me normal. I walked down the center of the third floor hallway with a gigantic smile on my face. Janna stopped me as I was headed to Spanish class and asked why I was grinning so big. I told her that I swam the fastest lap speed during gym. She jumped, brushed her hands through my wet hair and then grabbed me tight around my upper arms. Janna then shouted, ‘my winner…you Elijah, are MY winner!’ People were slowing down in front of Janna and I to see why she was once again yelling to the top of her lungs. Her enormous personality had a way of crowding open spaces. This time, the stares didn’t make me feel awkward or uncomfortable. In my mind however, I questioned whether or not this day would mark the beginning of my happily-ever-after. Had the listening walls finally heard my silent cries?

It was now four o’clock. Mr. Gibson ran afterschool newspaper meetings the same way he taught our last period, English class. Everyone sat around a semi circle of wood finish desks to toss ideas back and forth. It forces the group to engage with one another directly, I suppose. Aside from Mr. Gibson, I was the only other black sitting amongst seats that were filled by white students. I didn’t mind, for I rather enjoyed being the ONE everyone turned to for advice when completing sensitive article assignments. Since the majority of the student body was black, I did often wonder why I was the only African American student on staff. Mr. Gibson suggested I sign up to write for the school paper in the beginning of the year. He was impressed with my first thesis paper and said he enjoyed my unique, writing style. I guess he has become the only teacher I relate to outside of school. He took me to a journalism workshop in Georgetown a few weeks after I officially joined the paper. Hanging out with Mr. Gibson on a Saturday made me look at him a little differently than I do the other administrators. He’s only twenty-five, so our conversations reminded me of how Jelani and I would possibly talk to one another if Jelani ever spoke to me at all. I remember during our first staff meeting, the Editor-In-Chief of the paper assumed I would be interested in doing the sports column. She probably thought that black boys in Washington, DC didn’t enjoy life beyond the basketball court. I initially accepted the position, for I didn’t realize that I had the option to turn it down. Having no idea how I would cover games that I never attended, I later expressed to Mr. Gibson that I felt more comfortable writing editorial pieces. He spoke to the Editor-in-Chief days later. Together, they obliged my request.

An early fall sunset illuminated the tips of the bright red oak trees that framed my ride home. It was now a quarter after five. As I sat in the rear corner seat of the transit bus, I thought about Adam. He had been teaching me to take precautions when traveling the city alone. Adam insisted that I sit in the back row whenever we weren’t together. He said the back row provided the best view to see everyone. Adam said to never place myself where someone I couldn’t see would be able to watch me. I directed my gaze outside to witness the city get darker between each bus stop. I somehow didn’t want to go straight home. My mind wandered as I thought about James Baldwin’s adventures in New York City; the ones I had repeatedly read about. I recounted in my head the stories about him meeting other writers and artists in Greenwich Village. As I imagined living somewhere like Manhattan or Harlem, I envisioned myself sitting outside of a tiny café. I’d sip coffee beneath a white, bistro umbrella and people-watch between writing journal entries.

My daydream was then interrupted by the acrid smell of smoke. I looked up to notice three guys sitting near me in the rear of the bus. They all looked familiar, but I couldn’t immediately place their faces. The thicker one of the group had taken up two seats on the opposite side of the back row. He was looking at me from the corner of his eye and moving his lips soundlessly. The visible wear and tear of his clothing made me think that he had just left his job at a warehouse or something. I saw the other two staring at me from their seats as well. They kept tapping one another on the knee and motioning their fingers towards me. The bus driver peeked at me through his long, rearview mirror before turning into my neighborhood. It was then I realized that the guys were a part of the group that hung out in front of the corner store.

My stop was coming up. I wanted to ring the bell, but the muscles in my arms were frozen in fear. The thought of these guys following me off the bus made me wish I had Janna or Adam sitting beside me. My first mind told me to remain seated and simply allow the bus to roll by Branch Avenue. I figured the boys were getting off there anyways to do whatever it is they do on the storefront at night. If I got off at the stop after Branch Avenue, I could easily take the alley behind the church. Id cut across the street in front of Adam’s house to get home. Jelani nor my stepfather would care if I made it home tonight or not. However, I knew that my mother would be heartbroken. It was the thought of seeing her smiling face at the receiving end of this Monday that forced me to get up. As my mind raced between the ideas of being ambushed by the group and my mother finding my mutilated body lying in the street, I began fidgeting with my house keys. For a moment, I felt silly even having these thoughts about three guys I didn’t know.

I fearfully lowered my gaze to stare at my shoes. Though my tiny fists probably wouldn’t inflict severe pain during a fight, I knew the front of my utility boots could. Lifting my right arm to pull the bell, I stood and began walking towards the back door of the bus.

The boy wearing the black thermal shirt and black puff coat turned his head towards me. He was sitting in the seat directly across from the back door. His wicked gaze traveled from my shoes, resting on my book bag and up to my face. I caught only a glimpse of his eyes before turning to face the outside. I shuddered as I could see the window reflection of all three boys standing up behind me. I held tightly to the silver pole that was parallel to the back exit sign. My house keys were now clenched in my right fist. The taller, light skin boy had a devious smirk wiped across his face. He kept looking back and forth between the heavyset boy and me. Neither of them seemed too threatening. However, the guy in all black appeared to be someone who could be capable of anything. I recognized him as the one who called me a faggot after I spoke to Jelani’s friend at the storefront.

The bus finally stopped on the corner of Branch Avenue and Hampstead Road. As the backdoor swung open, I felt a brisk wind blow against me. My body filled with panic as I walked down the exit stairs. My throat tightened for a brief moment. I tried slowly to breathe-in the air that was smacking against my face. The tingling of pins and needles in my toes made it difficult for me to walk. I knew once the bus driver pulled away there would be no one to protect me. ‘Where’s your little boyfriend?!’, the one in black shouted. I didn’t respond. The two other boys laughed while standing behind me. He continued, ‘you heard me FAGGOT.’ I turned to face the group of boys and said, ‘I’m not that.’

A high-pitched squeak from the brakes on the bus drowned out whatever the boy in black said next. His eyes were cold and empty as he jumped towards me. He grabbed the collar of my coat and viciously shoved me to the ground. When my face hit the concrete, I heard a familiar ringing sound in the distance. It was a torn, chilling metal, clapping against the evening skies. Curling my body into the same fetal position that I usually sleep in, I covered the back of my neck with both of my hands. The thick lining of my coat seemed to cushion the heavy blows from shoes kicking and stomping my body. It hurt then it didn’t hurt. As angry hits then streaked across my face, I could still hear the chime of church bells in the background. Sharp knuckles pierced my skin causing blood to gush from my nose. I laid nowhere. Shadows from tree branches framed around me. My body was being protected. I wanted to scream for my mother, but I knew she wouldn’t hear me above this Monday night storm. It had come. It was doing its damage and then it would hopefully be gone.

The clouds would no longer cover my scars as dusk turns to dawn. I stumbled across Hampstead Road with my torn book bag still strapped to my back. The three boys had darted into the darkness. My foolproof plan to pray away my differences had been outnumbered. I was coughing and crying beneath the streetlights that lined Branch Avenue. The air was foul with the smell of mothballs and whisky; the same scent that stayed in my clothes for weeks after my father would lower me from his shoulders. I felt his presence in the series of short steps that led me closer and closer towards my front door. The dollar bills I had shoved deep into my left sock after buying snacks at lunch were now soggy and sticking to the bottom of my foot. It was as if my father was taking this walk ahead of me. A barrier of protection from the intolerable world. He spoke a silent language in my ear this night. Over and beyond the thoughts of what I would tell my mother or how Janna and Adam would react, I heard my father saying, ‘Get home, Elijah.’ Blood trickled down the side of my face, but I somehow wasn’t in physical pain. Shame fell away from my heart, even knowing that Jelani and my stepfather would see my wounds. I felt no more threats of having to defend myself against their verbal lashings or the physical blows from strangers. There was no need to be forgiven for my being feminine, soft spoken and frail. I began thinking about what Adam said to me in the morning as we walked down this same street. And he was right. I had to face the trials and tribulations of each day in order to celebrate the triumphs of tomorrow. There was no majestic place I could travel to escape my way of living. No faint ability to blend into the crowd. No miracle. No miracle on Monday.

The Male Stars Of iCloud’s Hacker Hit List

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By now, everyone has been made aware of the nude selfies that have been spread across the World Wide Web. Various female celebrities including Meagan Good, Gabrielle Union, Rihanna, Jill Scott and Kim Kardashian have fallen victim to a hackers sweep of Apple’s now infamous, iCloud. Apple iPhone users are able to snap photos using their iPhones and then back up those pics and other files to this now ‘glitchey’, operating system. Two weeks ago, nude selfie’s and other types of suggestive photos were stolen from actress, Jennifer Lawrence’s iCloud system and plastered across the internet. The pictures spread like wildfire across blogs, internet sites and other online forums. This then began a weekly cycle. Two or three nude photos of female celebrities posed in their bathrooms – using their iPhones to snap intimate photos of themselves have been shared for public viewing. Many of these actresses, singers and other starlets have come forward to either deny the validity of the stolen shots or to state that the photos were specifically taken for their husbands and boyfriends. While some of us truly feel that these photos violate the privacy of these hardworking women, many others have copied and pasted the uploads to their tumblr pages, Facebook walls, Twitter timelines and Instagram as well.

This onslaught of female celebrity photos posed naked in their home mirrors has made the rest of us wonder: WHERE ARE THE HACKED PHOTOS OF OUR FAVORITE MALE STARS? Many of the male celebrities own iPhones and willingly share their half-naked photos on social media regularly. I think I speak for my thousands of readers and viewers when I ask, “can we please hack into their iCloud accounts & upload the below the waist shots they’ve snapped, saved or deleted?

So many of my supporters have been contacting me and asking for my thoughts regarding why the male celebs aren’t being attacked as heavily. Honestly, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that men aren’t as sexually objectified in society as the everyday female. A man isn’t necessarily measured as being only as powerful as the size or arousal factor of his bare chest, exposed buttocks or erect penis. Men are not seen as the object of sexual glare or voyeurism. Men are considered to be the subject. Therefore, what society creates in the form of visuals to sell or market products and ideas is the female form. Basically, it’s assumed that “no one really cares” to see a naked male body, and those who do don’t exist in the majority.

However, I am to believe that the contemporary man has grown to not only spend more time in the gym sculpting his body, but he also enjoys showing it off. Over the past few years, male celebrities have used social media as their stage to put their physiques at center stage for their adoring fans. Many of them flirt with their iPhones while standing in their bathroom mirrors and covered in nothing more than a towel or boxer briefs. These male stars are proud of their bodies and are waiting for an opportunity to unwrap them.

If these hackers would simply shift their interests a little to the left, I’m quite sure they would find great pics hidden in the iCloud accounts of this HIT LIST

AUGUST ALSINA

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NELLY

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TANK

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RL from “NEXT”

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SAGE THE GEMINI

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CASH OUT

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SAMMIE

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DIGGY SIMMONS

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FRANK OCEAN

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JASON DERULO

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MARIO

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LIL ROMEO

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BOW WOW

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TYGA

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NEYO

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TREY SONGZ

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USHER

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MICHAEL B. JORDAN

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DRAKE

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MACK WILDS

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TERRANCE J

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IDRIS ELBA

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LUKE JAMES

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NICK JONAS

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JUSTIN BIEBER

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These fellas are proud of their pecs and satisfied with their overall, physical form. It is their pleasure to have fans fawning over their toned and chiseled physiques. Since they are celebrities, many of their publicists won’t allow them to simply “leak” their own uncensored, bathroom selfies.

So…lets do these handsome gentlemen a favor by hacking into their iCloud’s and showering the public with the goods. Let the male cycle begin NOW.

Trying To Explain To My Mother That Im Not The “Woman” In My Relationship

Couple enjoying dinner

Good afternoon Xem,

I hope this email reaches you in spiritual peace and wellness. I want you to know that I pray for you just as I would my own brother. I have so much respect for what it is that you do not only for the LGBT community but for mankind as a whole. You really are a spiritual warrior and I know that God has amazing things in store for you. I am writing to you this afternoon because I am having a very difficult time trying to get through to my mother as of lately. Xem, my mother and I are extremely close, especially now that she and my father’s divorce has been finalized. I consider her to be one of my very best friends. It has been tough for her emotionally trying to accept the separation, as well as now living in our house alone. I recently moved out to live with my boyfriend, Troy. He and I are both grad students at UIC here in Chicago. I lived home during my undergraduate studies, which is when my father first moved out. My mother is very supportive of me and my relationship. She treats Troy (my boyfriend) just like her second son. His mother isn’t at all supportive of his sexuality. They have a very estranged relationship, so he and my mother have established their own special relationship. We usually invite her over to our place on Sundays for dinner. She and I will cook together, which is something we’ve done since I was probably thirteen years old. It’s my way of trying to maintain some consistency in her life now that she feels I’m all she has left. However, it irritates me so much Xem that my mother doesn’t seem to understand that just because I cook for Troy and I or she sees me wiping up the table once she comes over, that I am not the woman in my relationship. My mother raised me to be able to take care of myself. Before she knew I was gay she would always say that she never wanted me to have to rely on a woman to do everything the ways that she had to do for my father. So, for me it’s just natural to keep everything in a certain spot or to try new recipes and things. Troy does not know how to cook and when he does call himself cleaning, I end up having to go behind him to really CLEAN CLEAN if you know what I mean. LOL! Even though my mother and I discuss practically everything, I do not discuss my sex life with Troy, with her. Therefore, she doesn’t realize that Troy and I have always had a very equal relationship, if you know what I mean here as well. LOL! My mother is only 56, but her idea of gay relationships is so stuck on who plays the man role and who plays the woman. She always asks me ridiculous questions like, “if you and Troy get married, will both of you wear tuxedos or will you wear something else?” I fall out laughing at this lady because it’s like she expects me to come down the aisle in some ballroom gown or wedding dress. She will also joke but really being serious when she’ll tell me to just drop out of grad school to spend my days with her and let Troy take care of us once he graduates. It’s a little frustrating because I know she really means what she says. Now I will say that Troy is taller than me and he is thicker than me. I guess from the outside looking in, my mother and others may see us and assume that because of the physical differences, we have strict roles in our relationship. However, even if that were the case Xem, why is it that I would have to be looked upon as the “woman” or Troy’s wife. Do you know what I mean? I just really don’t know how to explain to my mother the difference between straight relationships and my relationship. As much as I truly love my mother and get along with her, it’s when she makes these comparisons that I sometimes just want to scream and throw my plate at the wall. I try not to get upset however because I know she means well. Troy thinks the entire situation is hilarious. Like yesterday when she came over and saw him watching the game and doing his homework while I was trying to change our bed. In her mind I think she sees Troy as the role of my father who would spend Sundays doing office work and me playing her role as my fathers wife, or ex wife now. That’s what it is. How can I possibly break things down to her in a way that she will finally understand? I look forward to hearing from you soon if you see this and can reply. Also, I don’t mind if you choose to post this on your Xem says site. I love reading your advice!

XEM SAYS…

Believe it or not, your mother’s misguided idea of how gender roles shape same sex relationships isn’t so farfetched from how many others examine the romantic union between two men. Your mother only understands her position in the world as a woman, a mother and a wife. As a result, the traditional practices and values that have defined those positions since the beginning of time, frames her perception of how you are also to exist in this world. Your mother understands how a man typically acts as a husband to his wife based on her personal experiences living alongside your father. In contrast, your mother also understands how a woman typically acts as a wife to her husband. However, now that she witnesses you, her gay son, modeling some of those same actions alongside your live-in boyfriend, she only has her personal experiences to use as comparison. As a wife, she cooked for your father and cleaned the house while he watched television and worked from home on Sundays. When she visits you and Troy, she sees you changing the bed linens while Troy is doing his homework with the football game playing in the background. Your mother’s perception then is that you have taken on a traditional female role, and Troy is playing the traditional “man of the house”. Your romantic relationship with Troy is probably her first time ever witnessing two men living together and loving one another, up-close. At the age of fifty-six, your mother uses her past experiences to figure out present situations that are new and unfamiliar to her. She honestly thinks a label is supposed to exist on how you interact and engage with the man in your life.

It is important that you explain to your mother, the way you stated to me – that you and Troy have established a very equal, romantic relationship. Make it clear to her that you label Troy as your boyfriend, as he labels you with the same title. Let her know that with those “titles”, the two of you expect the same levels of courtesy, consistency and commitment from one another. Remind your mother that she is the one who raised you to be able to prepare a meal and clean a house without the help of a spouse. Tell her that even if you were a straight man who was married to a woman, you would still be changing bed linens on Sundays and cooking dinner for the family if your wife was unable to. Remind her that your wife would then still consider you her husband, and would not alter her perception simply based on your ability to cook and clean. Your mother may not realize that Troy does indeed clean up on a regular basis even though he doesn’t necessarily do a good job. Explain that contemporary culture has widened the gap between what is considered traditional male roles in a relationship and what is seen as modern day, male performance.

To really lay the situation in her lap, talk to your mother about the “masculine work” you perform in your relationship, but compare it directly to the “masculine work” your father played as her husband. For example, inform her that there are times when you come home from class, take out the trash, plop in front of the TV and call Troy to bring home dinner. It may seem trivial to have to water the details of your love life down to such ground levels. However, older people sometimes have to see things from the very point where they stand.

I think people in general are more comfortable when they are able to specifically categorize other people. It’s a part of our human makeup to mentally make sense of how others operate in society by labeling the roles they play within it. You’re actually very blessed to have a mother who has the desire to understand the dynamic of your relationship with your boyfriend. You may want to consider the fact that your mother inquires about your gender role because she is afraid to directly ask you questions about your sex life. Because your mother obviously equates you doing the chores to a display of feminine behavior, she may also assume that you are always “biting the pillow” in the bedroom. You made it clear to me that you and Troy practice a very equal, versatile, sexual relationship. Possibly, it would blanket your mother’s understanding of your relationship if she knew that Troy wasn’t the strict, sexual aggressor between the two of you. It is universally understood that women traditionally “lay on their backs” to engage in sexual intercourse. Well, if your mother knew that you are sometimes on top of Troy as he lays on his back for you, she would be forced to erase the comparison between you as the “woman” or female figure. I know openly discussing your sex life with a parent or sibling can be extremely uncomfortable. However, since the two of you have established a close, best friend relationship, it may be easier to share those details with your mom.

I’m not sure how long you and Troy have been together, but over time, I truly believe your mother will witness the balance in your union. The more she sees the two of you engaging with one another in and outside of your home, the more she will begin to understand that a same sex relationship isn’t necessarily framed by traditional, gender roles. Be encouraged in knowing that you are one of the lucky few; having a mom who embraces not only your sexuality, but also your decision to live openly with the partner  you love. Continue to cherish every moment that your mother spends alongside you and Troy, for it’s her silent prayers helping you two remain united. Believe me. She feels at peace knowing you have a special man in your life.

The “Jocelyn” Runway Performance That Brings The Entire Crowd To Their Feet

JocelynAmongst the now internationally recognized ballroom circuit, Female Figure Runway has become one of the most competitive and eagerly anticipated categories. Transgender women, men dressed in drag and biological women as well, walk against one another to snatch the trophy or cash prize for ‘runway ruler’ of the night. The larger and more grand the particular ball, the more female figures that turn out to grace the floor with their poise, decorum and perfect model effect. Last year, the annual LATEX BALL was once again held in New York City; the home where gay houses were built and the first balls were birthed to the nation. The Latex Ball was hosted at Terminal 5 on August 16, 2013 and was sponsored in part to support HIV prevention and awareness.

Towards the end of the night, the Female Figure Runway category was called to the floor. Little did anyone know, runway would reign as the most entertaining and talked about category amongst the spectators that crowded the three-story venue.

A woman who walked under the stage name, “JOCELYN” was able to sit down every other female figure who dared to compete against her. The commentators and judges were all initially taken aback by Jocelyn’s very professional runway presence. Then, as she continued to grace the room, it seemed that Jocelyn had a few tricks up her sleeves. No other competitor could stand against Jocelyn, as she revealed a new twist to her routine each time she paraded down the runway and back again.

HOWEVER, it isn’t until the 15:30 mark that Jocelyn brings the entire crowd to their feet. I have probably watched this video fifteen times since the footage was released last August, 2013. What Jocelyn delivers to the crowd in those few captured moments seals her standing in ballroom history. WATCH how the crowd reacts to Jocelyn’s secret weapon. Her performance overall is just so polished and refined from the very beginning of the category, until the ‘WOW’ moment that solidifies her win.

 

Later, it was revealed that Jocelyn is a professional supermodel. She walks runway for Ebony Fashion Fair as DEONNA PINKERTON – and has been positioned for the past four years as a leading face for the Ebony brand. I absolutely LOVED this moment and I know many of you will enjoy it as well.

I Don’t Understand Why I Was Stood Up When He Was The One Who Planned The Date

stoodup

Let me start off by saying that you have been such a blessing to my life Xem. I smile when I see you smile in pictures. I get sad when I watch you cry on videos. I get excited when I see you posting new blogs and I feel disappointed when you don’t. lol! To me and this may seem crazy but I feel like you are apart of my life. I had just graduated from high school when I first watched your video about the 5 types of guys that travel to sizzle in 2011 and then I spent that entire summer literally watching every video you had ever created. I’m being completely serious right now. Your entire self has been so comforting for me through my college years. I am a senior now at Hampton University and I find myself at a crossroads when it comes to dating or meeting someone who will actually be by my side as I enter into the next phase of my life. To know that you are single has always been very puzzling to me because you’re so smart and you have all of this special traits that I admire. I began to feel like maybe Xem just has really high standards but now that I see how guys truly are I’m beginning to understand what you have probably had to deal with as well.

I was stood up last Saturday afternoon by a guy I met through Instagram. He sent me a DM during the summer basically just telling me that he thought I was cute and really liked my pictures. I also thought he was attractive which is the reason why I started following him in the first place. Usually guys like him don’t try to talk to me because I’m what you could consider a feminine type and he is very masculine based on his pictures. I was really surprised to even receive a message from him because after I followed him I never liked or commented his pics. He asked if we could exchange numbers to get to know one another and I agreed. We started texting one another on a Thursday night but our conversations were always very dry. He replied to all of my questions with one word answers and would sometimes take like 20-30 minutes to reply at all. It got to the point where I simply wasn’t interested in texting with him anymore. Then out of the blue a week later, that next Saturday he asked if we could talk on the phone. I really didn’t want to but was curious about how he would sound. I called him that Saturday night and he didn’t respond. I didn’t bother to leave a voicemail. I just figured he was out or asleep. It was around 9pm. Then he called me that Sunday morning but I was at church with my roommate. We eventually talked that night and our conversation was surprisingly very interesting and entertaining. His voice was so sexy to me Xem. He was very talkative on the phone and told me stories about him growing up and moving away from home at 17. He talked about how he bought his first house at the age of 21 and had been collecting vintage cars for the past 5 years. He told me he lived in the Western Branch section of Chesapeake, which is like a 30 minute drive from Hampton. The majority of the time for the next few weeks I would wait for him to call me because he’s a personal trainer and nutritionist. He doesn’t really have set work hours. For like the next 3 weeks he was very consistent in calling me every night and we would talk about everything, more than I’ve really opened up to a guy about since high school. He would joke and say that I was high maintenance and that guys like me never paid him attention years ago. He told me that he never even had a boyfriend. It really shocked me to hear him say these things like that because he is so handsome and has a banging body. I guess this may seem weird, but I started catching feelings for him because of how special he would make me feel on the phone. I asked him if he talked to other guys the way he opened up to me and said he had not in years. I suggested to him Labor Day weekend that we should finally get together and meet face to face. He said he was busy. Then he set a date for that next Saturday after Labor Day at the Six Little Bar Bistro. He said he had been there several times before and thought it would be a great place for us to spend some time. It’s a spot right here in Hampton. I told him that I didn’t mind driving to his house but he insisted that he really wanted to come down this way.

We talked everyday leading up to that Saturday except for that Saturday morning. Which was odd but I knew that he had two clients that morning. We were supposed to meet at 2oclock outside of the Six Little Bar Bistro. I waited like 20 minutes Xem and then texted him to say that I was going to get a table since the restaurant was getting crowded. He didn’t respond. I ordered an appetizer and a glass of water as I waited and it was now probably 45 minutes later. I called him because I thought that maybe there was traffic between Chesapeake on the 664. He did not answer my calls. I sat at the table looking around and continuously checking my phone. He never replied to my text messages or returned my calls. I finally left the restaurant around 3:30. I HAVE NOT HEARD ANYTHING FROM HIM SINCE THEN. I do see that he’s still posting pictures on Instagram so I know that he’s alive. I have DM’s him and he will not reply to me there either. This is the weirdest situation I have ever experienced with a guy in the past four years. I do not understand what I may have done wrong. I even left a voicemail saying that it’s okay if he changed his mind about us meeting face to face so soon. I offered that we could still just talk on the phone and continue getting to know each other. He will not say anything to me or reach out. What do you think happened based on all that I have shared with you? I was wondering if maybe he showed up and saw me from a distance but didn’t like how I looked in person even though I look just like my pics.

XEM SAYS…

Please know and understand that the reasons why this guy did not show up for the scheduled date has little to do with you, directly. I have never been stood-up by someone who I was scheduled to meet for the first time. However, I have endured situations where the other man involved was too uncomfortable or insecure to spend one-on-one time with me. I have often wondered if I rushed the initial date or whether or not I said something to scare off the other party. Then, as I began examining our conversations and previous interactions, I realized that the problem existed long before the guy and I ever met.

You stated that during your phone conversations, the other dude would joke and say that you were high maintenance – and that guys like you never paid him attention years ago. He also told you that he never has had a boyfriend in the past.

This information should have immediately let you know that your new guy was dealing with various self-esteem issues. Despite the fact that he now has this “banging body” that you described, he obviously didn’t appeal to certain types of guys prior to his transformation. A large part of why this guy has worked so hard to build this “banging body” is to garner the attention of the ‘high-maintenance’ men who never seemed to look his way years ago. In his mind, despite how he may presently look on the outside, parts of him may still feel unworthy of the praise. It’s easier for him to mask the insecurities through pictures, text messages and phone conversations. However, face-to-face, he was possibly afraid that you would notice his lack of confidence. A lot of guys who appear to be very attractive and well put together on social media apps, are quite insecure and emotionally wounded once you meet them in person. The realization of the two of you actually sitting across from one another, possibly sent him into a frenzy of social anxiety. He would be faced with old demons – making him feel he didn’t belong with certain guys, or otherwise wouldn’t stand a chance of establishing a relationship with someone he deems as being better than him. The newfound, online popularity doesn’t heal the day-to-day discomfort that some guys experience within themselves.

Additionally, this man made up in his mind that you were high maintenance. I’m unsure if he came to that conclusion based on your enrollment at Hampton University or maybe as a result of the other interests you shared with him over the course of your phone conversations. He may have also looked through your series of Instagram pictures and determined that your surface lifestyle is beyond his norm or comfort level.

It is possible that this man doesn’t own the home or all of the vintage cars that he spoke about over the past few weeks. Maybe his employment as a personal trainer and nutritionist isn’t as stable or lucrative as he has alluded to. As a result, he didn’t show up to meet you because that first date would ignite further inquiries into his daily life. Eventually, your café dates would turn into sleepovers at your apartment and then time spent at his “alleged” house in Chesapeake. This guy may not own a car or a home of his own. Keep in mind that he insisted you not meet him at his house when you suggested taking the drive instead of him traveling to the Hampton area. Yes, he could have simply been taking caution – not wanting to invite a new individual to his residence. However, you must remember that people are able to easily create lies and scenarios about how they live when there isn’t great expectation of meeting the person they are lying to.

Also, the same way you unexpectedly caught feelings for this man, he may have begun to feel similarly about you. His intentions from the very beginning may have been to simply flirt, exchange pictures and move on to someone new. The fact that you two actually connected beyond physical attraction may have scared him. He knew showing up for your date would possibly intensify feelings on his part. For whatever reasons, maybe he isn’t in a mental or emotional position to build the foundation for a healthy relationship. After all, this man has never actually existed in a romantic relationship with another guy. His fear is possibly that he doesn’t know HOW to date or engage with other men beyond online flirtation or basic, phone conversation. Social anxiety is a real disease, especially for people who were treated as outcasts during their childhood and/or teenage years.

Overall, I believe this man was afraid to meet you. He possibly felt that you were out of his league and would reject him after that first, face-to-face encounter. His wounds have not healed from the lack of attention received from men in the past. It could be that he exaggerated the lifestyle he lives, and therefore didn’t want to face the embarrassment of having to reveal the truth to you. Then, there’s the possibility of this man having grown so comfortable with meeting other men online, that he simply doesn’t know how to engage with other guys as it pertains to being romantic or getting to know others in person.

You have certainly dodged a bullet, as you do not have time at this point in your life to build another man’s self esteem. You are soon to be a college graduate and should be involved with a guy whose confidence will compliment the journey you’re about to face in the world. Meanwhile, don’t allow this isolated incident to prevent you from eagerly accepting the next lunch or dinner invitation…because there will be many others.