Another Holiday Weekend Where My So Called Friends Didn’t Bother To Include Me In Their Group Plans

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As Labor Day Weekend is coming to a close, everyone has begun to upload their group photos from the local pool parties, different out of town excursions and final summer outings at the beach. Meanwhile, you are sitting behind your computer screen and suffering from feelings of rejection or dealing with other self-deprecating thoughts. As you’re seeing pics of fun times filtering through your social media timelines, it’s tough to not wonder, “Why was I not invited?” – Another holiday weekend passes by and all you’ve done is clean up, watch movies and order carry out for ONE.

It’s easy to begin questioning whether or not you’re to be considered socially awkward when you’ve spent three free days behind closed doors and no one in your life has bothered to call or text about making plans. Your friends who decided to stay in town never made mention about going out to eat or getting drinks at the downtown bar, and the guy you’re sort of dating never said anything about coming over to keep your company. As far as you were concerned, everyone was going to lay low, lounge around the house or maybe engage in family activities. However, seeing pictures of people you thought you were close to, hanging out with others you don’t even recognize has made you feel out of the loop. You aren’t necessarily angry or upset, as much as you have become frustrated by not being included in the group activities.

Often times, we see or hear about our friends spending time with their other associates and we make ourselves feel insecure about those relationships. We assume that we are being intentionally left out of “exclusive” outings. As a result, we force ourselves into this mode of questioning our friendship status with certain individuals. It rarely crosses our minds however, that no harm was meant by the parties involved that did not directly include us in their group plans. Circumstances simply created a moment where a circle of people came together for a social event and you were not in attendance. It may seem shady on the part of your good friend, but you have to keep a few situations in mind…

THE PLAN WAS SPONTANEOUS – Every outing isn’t scheduled or detailed ahead of time. Sometimes, plans fall through with one circle of people and your friend is invited to join their associates at the last minute. Since your friend isn’t close to the majority of the group they’re being asked to hangout with, it would be inappropriate for him or her to simply invite you to come along. Their intention may have been to stay in the house the entire weekend. However, your friend never said that they wouldn’t go out if an opportunity presented itself. Did you make any suggestions to your friend for you both to see a matinee movie together or to randomly grab a cocktail on some uptown rooftop? NO.

THE OUTING HAD AN UNSPOKEN OPEN INVITATION – Sometimes, our friends assume that if they are hosting a cookout, movie night or game party at their place, you automatically know that you’re invited. Since the two of you have known one another for so long, your friend doesn’t always deem it necessary to formally ask you to come over or stop by. If you understand the dynamics of your relationship with certain people, the ones you are closest to consider you family. Family is usually the first to arrive with helping hands and possibly a homemade dish as well.

YOU DON’T GET ALONG WITH A PARTICULAR GROUP OF PEOPLE – Your friend has decided to attend an event where the majority of the attendees will be a group of individuals you don’t like or enjoy mixing with. On numerous occasions, you’ve made it clear that you don’t want to be present in the company of certain people your friend hangs around. Keeping this in mind, your friend didn’t even bother to mention the plans because they knew based on past experiences that you’d be uncomfortable or annoyed. YOU SAID IT.

IT WAS ASSUMED THAT YOU ALREADY KNEW ABOUT THE PLANS – Your friend sent out an Evite via email or created a Facebook Event. The digital invitation was sent to you along with everyone else days in advance. Somehow, between your busy schedule and other responsibilities, you had not been able to check your online inboxes. You can be bothered by the fact that you missed the party, but you can’t be angry at the host for not personally calling or texting to invite you. We are adults living in an age where most people plan casual get-togethers online.

YOU NEVER SHOW UP ANY OTHER TIME SO WHY SHOULD THIS EVENT BE ANY DIFFERENT? – We tend to exclude ourselves from group activities so often that our friends become too frustrated to even make mention of an upcoming party or get together. While your second job, romantic relationship or financial obligations don’t always allow you to hangout, the people around you become use to your absence. When the invitation list is being created, it’s assumed that you won’t be able to attend for one reason or another. The fact that you’ve missed the past three or four outings makes people think that you’re too busy or preoccupied to participate. Begin making yourself more available to socialize in public and your name may inch itself back to the top of the invitee list.

Most often, it is a harmless misunderstanding between friends that results in one person not being formally invited to attend an event, or another individual never hearing about a particular outing. However, we can’t rely upon our friends or other people to fill the voids in our lives. While being left out of group events or holiday weekend plans can be hurtful, our happiness or sense of comfort should never depend upon inclusion in social circles or other activities. It is the responsibility of the individual to engage themselves in solo tasks and hobbies that are just as entertaining behind closed doors, as hanging out with other people in public. Create situations for yourself where the absence of an invitation cannot create a hole in your attitude, mood or demeanor.

Xem VanAdams Releases A Personal Statement

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I love and embrace the fact that the large majority of my supporters truly respect my talents and look up to me as a “big brother”, boyfriend-in-your-head, loving friend or even a father figure. However, I’m just really starting to become ANNOYED that people hold me to a completely different standard than they do some of the others. Please understand that before I am ‘Xem VanAdams’; a public figure who enjoys writing and speaking about social issues or relationship topics, I am very much a human being. You may have been introduced to me through an online video or article post that focused on a serious, relatable matter. Then, you probably began digging for additional content from me that was created along the same lines. By natural order, you may have decided who I was in those moments and somehow placed me in this mental box of purity and other straight-laced confines. You assumed that because I speak a certain way or that I think along certain lines, I’m simply not allowed to be silly or sexual. You mentally painted me onto a canvas where my everyday personality and common interests aren’t given room to color outside of very black and white lines.

THAT’S COMPLETELY UNFAIR!

In my real, everyday life, I too enjoy looking at male celebrities or listening to TOP 40 music on the local radio stations. I too enjoy posting a shirtless pic every few weeks to show off the hard work and dedication that I’ve invested into building my body. I too am allowed to cruise MyVidster and make casual mention of it online if in that moment, I feel comfortable doing so. I AM NOT A MONK.

Every single pastor, professor and political figure you’ve ever come in contact with engages in the exact same activities as the individuals they serve. I have never presented myself publicly as being holier than thou. What many of you must remember about my platform is that I have been a present force for over six years now. When many of you discovered me circa 2008-2010, social media had not risen to the degree where it presently burns. As a result, I didn’t have to promote my content or myself across various platforms. I didn’t have to tweet at the high points throughout each day to stay connected to my audience. I wasn’t forced to update two different Facebook pages with links and status messages during peek hours in an effort to increase my web traffic. There was no Instagram in existence for me to post pictures regularly in order to maintain the attention of my readers & viewers in between the release of projects. All I had to do was release a video on Youtube once each week and post to my Blogspot or XemVanAdams.com. I wasn’t being pressured to meet quotas in order to receive a monthly paycheck from Google.

EVERYTHING I POST IS VERY STRATEGIC. EVERYTHING! Marketing 101 will teach you to grab your potential customer with an enticing visual and then slide the message or sale directly behind it. If you’ve paid close attention to the ways in which my social media pages are updated in association with the core content, you’ll notice a balance between surface imagery and quality sustenance. My platform does not rely heavily on celebrity gossip, reality show reviews, award show critiques and other mainstream topics of interest. As a result, to maintain my high reader and viewership, I must constantly attract new followers.

Joe and Shmoe may start following me on Twitter because someone retweeted a Twitpic I posted of Trey Songz taking a selfie in his underwear. However, immediately following that tweeted pic will be a link to my latest article posted on XemSays.com or my most recent video uploaded to Youtube.com/XemVanAdams. Joe and Shmoe are more than likely going to click the link and then be turned on to my real work. It’s very calculated ladies and gentlemen. On average, each of my articles is read 5,300-5,500 times over a 30-day period. That traffic would be cut in half if I did not use certain types of images to attract the common reader. I don’t have the luxury of posting a link once, sleeping the rest of the day away and waking up to full readership or viewership. Unlike some of the others, I have to actually dedicate 50% of my time to simply promoting my material. Part of that promotion is also sharing content that is associated with my target audience, but not necessarily a direct parallel to the stories, articles and videos I create for that particular group. DO YOU UNDERSTAND? – No, I’m not going to record a video discussing Kim Kardashian. However, I will post a new picture on my basic, social media pages of North West posed in the fall 2014 Chanel ad. A random, Facebook friend named David Collins may see the picture in his timeline as he is scrolling one evening. Having only followed me because he liked my avi three months ago, David Collins may have NEVER read a Xem VanAdams article or even so much as watched a Xem VanAdams video. NOW, because David is home from work and has a little time on his hands, the chances are greater that he will go from ‘liking’ the pic of North West to now scrolling my entire wall. Once David begins perusing my Facebook wall, he sees a photo of a guy he finds attractive. That photo is attached to a link that connects to my article of the day. David reads the article and not only loves my writing style but also relates to the situation Ive described or the advice Ive given another reader. David Collins begins visiting my website daily and then discovers my youtube channel in the top header.

The reason why 15,000 people will watch me sit in front of a camera for 15-30 minutes and discuss a real, everyday issue is because I’ve shared many facets of who I am over a course of time. I’m not going to pretend that I’m some thirty-something intellectual who walks around each day preaching about sexuality, giving love advice or being serious from sunup to sundown. I pride myself on being vulnerable, honest, approachable and HUMAN. A large part of me being HUMAN is also sharing my appreciation for the male form, new music, paparazzi pictures, selfies and other social media ingredients that are mixed to create a substantial following.

Sometimes, in order to attract the attention of common individuals, you have to reel them in with conventional images, popular hash tags & headings, or mainstream interests.

As you obviously exist as a part of my core audience, please allow me to express myself in a personal and professional manner that has proven to be effective. As I eventually move beyond my sole, online platform, there will be additional sides of my character revealed as well. I’m not apologizing for any of it. At the beginning and end of each day, I feel very PROUD of what I have managed to accomplish in such a short period of time. I cannot and will not pretend to be a boy scout simply to appease those who mentally created that image of me a long time ago. I was never that person, even when I recorded “Young, Black & Gay In America” in August of 2008. Smart guys are allowed to be sexual. Pop culture junkies are allowed to discuss politics. And I must be allowed to continue sharing myself freely – until the powers that be are paying me to brand my media content separately from connecting to my audience, personally.

Men & Their Obsession With Shoes: It’s Not Only A Female Fetish

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The shoes you wear on a daily basis can send silent, visual cues to the rest of the world about who you are. Upon initially meeting someone new, one of the first things they will do is glance into your eyes or capture a mental picture of your smile. Then, without conscious thought, that individual will look down at your feet to see what type of shoes you are wearing. In that moment, a man’s entire surface character can be defined.

WHO IS THIS GUY & WHAT DO HIS SHOES REVEAL ABOUT HIS AURA, PERSONALITY & STYLE?

While it’s universally known that many women are possessed by an uncontrollable urge to shop for new boots, sandals and heels, the modern man also suffers from this contemporary, shoe obsession. Now, more than ever, men are aware that what they wear on their feet will be noticed by women and other men the moment they walk into a room. As a result, guys everywhere are choosing shoes that can be worn on different occasions to compliment their mixed styles at work, on a date, while with friends on a Friday night or praising the lord at church on a Sunday morning. Not only are men purchasing shoes specifically to attend different events throughout each season, they are also selecting multiple colors of different styles to wear with each of their ensembles.

Men who grew up in conventional households usually experienced a childhood where their parent(s) purchased new shoes once each year – two weeks before the first day of school. Those shoes were usually a gleaming, white pair of low top sneakers with clean laces and a sturdy, outer sole. As young children, we were told to take our sneakers off upon arriving home in the afternoons, as to not dirty -up our “school shoes”. Still, during recess, we’d play kickball on the playground in our sneakers, not giving a second thought to all of the scrapes being carved into the leather, toe-cap. While sitting bored at our desks waiting for the other children to complete their classwork assignments, we’d rest the back of our feet on top of our sneaker heel tabs. Before the end of September, our new shoes looked completely worn out …but we didn’t care. Shoes merely served the purpose of covering our feet and keeping our socks dry during inclement weather.

As we grew older and matured into our pre-teen and early teenage years, we began to pay closer attention to the shoes we wore on our feet. We would get a new pair of sneakers two weeks before the first day of school and then a new pair of boots for Christmas. Four months later, we’d request a third pair of shoes for Easter to then last throughout the spring and summer seasons. The teenage boys who were a little less fortunate, whose families couldn’t afford multiple shoe purchases, still took great care of the one pair they owned. Using tooth brushes, old rags and Comet cleaner, or that special foam spray from ‘Foot Locker’, that one pair was kept in immaculate condition. Our shoes became a staple of not only our sense of fashion and expression of style, but also a representation of the man we were becoming.

As adults, men have begun to invest just as much money and time into purchasing footwear as the women and other ‘fashionistas’ who exist in their lives.

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While the rest of the world is asleep at night, there’s a group of men feeding their shoe fetishes by placing new orders online via trendy, web shops like, CreativeBoysClub dot com, and searching the latest footwear releases on the HIGHSNOBIETY website. The shoe-obsessed, modern man isn’t walking into chain, retailers and standing in line with everyday shoppers to purchase the new, luxury flats. These guys have an unapologetic affinity for high-end, designer sneakers that aren’t readily sold at the local, athletic shoe stores. These are your premiere, sneaker obsessed men who go ga-ga over a one-of-a-kind design. Their fetishes include every brand from the Dior Homme high-tops, to the Balenciaga tone-on-tone sneakers, and the entire Giuseppe Zanotti 2014 collection. These guys place themselves on various mailing lists and online shopper newsletter threads. This private practice secures their leading position as one of the first to own this fall’s, Diet Butcher Slim Skin High-Tops – to be purchased in red patent, black, blue, olive green, cadet gray and white…of course.

Then, you have your guys who care about their kicks, but aren’t necessarily aroused by the luxury brands. The classic, Timberland boot, otherwise known in urban neighborhoods as butters, have become a symbol of power and aggressiveness. This particular brand has been made famous by male rap stars and athletes that exude dominant personality traits amongst their peers. As a result, the classic, Timberland boots have become a staple of hyper masculinity and surface confidence. Guys who tend to be a little rough around the edges will purchase multiple pairs of this rugged style of boot, as to always be wearing “fresh butters”.

In contrast, the guy-next-door who also likes to follow footwear trends will always purchase the latest release of high top Jordan’s, Jeremy Scott’s newest Adidas, anything on the Zumiez shelves from the SUPRA brand, or one of Nike’s recent line of sneakers. During his casual outings to summer concerts, cookouts, the local bars or even just to do a day at the mall, your guy-next-door craves to remain in the forefront of foot fashion. This particular guy who owns multiple pairs of the famous, Jordan sneaker or has a closet filled with black & white Adidas shoe boxes, is sending the visual cue that he values style, doesn’t mind investing money into his wardrobe and enjoys fitting into the fashionable crowd.

However, the cultural, Renaissance man who is about his business doesn’t care as much about fitting into the crowd as he is concerned with leading it. He compliments his knit sweaters, tailored suits or blazer and dress pant combos with a smart, cowhide, leather shoe. This man-in-charge selects a hard bottom as his footwear of choice. His obsession is with pointed toe, sleek oxfords. He owns wingtips in the conventional black, but also mixes in shades of light brown oxfords for business lunches, walnut colored Steve Madden boots on casual Friday and maybe a dark chocolate, suede desert shoe to wear with jeans or casual slacks on the weekends. Since he abandoned the minimalist square toe shoe ions ago, his new fetish has set a standard amongst his peers and other business partners.

Meanwhile, the laid back, artistic types or rather reserved, male students aren’t able to save a lot of money to strictly purchase new shoes. However, they have managed to save every flip-flop and casual sneaker they’ve owned in their adult lives. The male, artist type and struggling student are mostly obsessed with comfort. His closet is filled with Vans and Converse to match every color splashed across his canvas of creations. When he does have extra dollars to his name, the artist or student will fixate on the light, skinny sneaker that is sitting on the shelf or thrown in the sale bin at Urban Outfitters. If he has to dress up for a presentation or special affair, there’s an entire row of Sebago loafers and classic docksides lined on the bottom deck of his closet. Though his look may appear to be thrown together as he jumps from classroom to classroom on campus, the shoes he puts on his feet always punctuate his intentional effort to walk in style.

The modern man has easily moved away from owning only one pair of shoes, to now filling his closet with various styles and multiple brands. HOW MANY PAIRS OF SHOES DOES ONE MAN NEED? The answer to that question depends upon how obsessed he is with owning enough footwear to accommodate the many demands of his lifestyle.

7 Reasons Why Your Co-Workers Cant Stand You

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Many people spend forty hours each week strapped to a swivel office chair that is positioned comfortably behind a cubicle or a cherry wooden desk of some kind. Between taking calls, inputting computer data, running reports or managing a staff that completes all of these tedious tasks, your job has become an intricate part of your life. You either love what you are paid to do from nine to five everyday or you’ve grown to loathe everything associated with your title, position and responsibilities. However, you’ve become very comfortable or complacent in the routine of each day. You don’t have to consciously think about what needs to be completed first thing in the morning. Your boss no longer has to remind you about turning in certain files after lunch, or remembering to shut down your computer and lock your phone at the end of the day. When you are in the office, you pretty much do whatever you want because you’ve been employed with the same company for years. No one of authority addresses your attitude, mood or demeanor and that’s precisely why most of your co-workers can’t stand you.

For quite some time now, you’ve been allowed to get away with being less than professional. Everyone who works around you has become increasingly bothered by your behavior. The things you say out of your mouth and everything you do during office hours has become so normal to the higher ups that they basically allow your actions to slide. As a result, you’ve become the topic of lunch hour conversations for seven of your most annoying, in office habits….

7. PROLONGING GROUP MEETINGS – You are the only individual who sits in the back of the team room and actually responds to the boss when he asks if anyone can share a story or give an example of a situation that supports a statement he has made. You see meetings as the perfect opportunity to ramble on and on about how things use to be when you were hired before all of the new people came on board. Very little of what you have to say in meetings is concise or even relevant to the topics that are being presented. Your entire point and purpose in raising your hand is to verbally remind everyone that you have some level of seniority or advanced experience.

6. YOUR OFFICE PARTY CONTRIBUTIONS ARE ALWAYS BASIC – As much as you love to brag about your seniority on the job, you never like to bring real food or necessary items to the holiday parties or other company events. While everyone else makes homemade pasta, grilled chicken, baked cookies or a special seven-spice punch, you’ll bring straws – a pack of 20 for a staff of 53. Even when it’s your turn once a quarter to contribute to the Friday staff breakfast, you’ll simply stop at Dunkin Donuts to purchase one, twenty-five count box of munchkins. You’re the first person in the office to pile your plate with everyone else’s homemade dishes. However, when it comes to contributing food items that most of the other staff would eat and enjoy, you choose to bring the flimsy, white, dentist office cups.

5. YOUR GOSSIP HAS CREATED A LOT OF OFFICE TENSION – Since you’ve been working for the same company for so long, you seem to know the personal and professional business that’s associated with the admin, supervisors, newcomers, janitors and support staff. Although you don’t maliciously cause drama by sharing people’s business with others in the office, you certainly don’t stop yourself from gossiping either. Since you spend more time walking by everyone’s cubicles than you spend sitting at your own, you tend to catch the tail end of personal conversations. Anything you hear, whether it is accurate or only the partial story, you take the information and tell it to anyone willing to listen. If you see Tony tap the vending machine with his fist to help Janet retrieve her soda that was stuck, you’ll begin telling others that they’re dating. Your mouth and half-truths are always found at the center of controversy that ignites between your co-workers. When people approach you to ask why you said certain things about them, your first and immediate response is always, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Where did you hear that?”

4. YOU DON’T RESPECT THE OFFICE CLOCK OR OTHER COMPANY POLICIES – As far as you’re concerned, everyday is casual Friday and your ‘lunch hour’ is merely a title that has little to do with a set, 60 minute time period. Despite the fact that you work in a fairly business-casual environment, the outfits you decide to wear to work are always inappropriate. You will come into the office on Monday wearing thong flip-flops and a wrinkled, graphic tee. Sometimes, your explicit body art and other piercings are blatantly on display. You have violated the dress code so often that for you to actually be dressed appropriately for an office environment would appear abnormal to the other staff. Meanwhile, though a five-minute grace period is in effect to give employees time to return from their hour lunch break and settle down, you return to your desk at your own leisure. Often times, without notice to anyone on the administrative staff, you’ll leave for lunch fifteen minutes early and return thirty to forty-five minutes late. Not only do you return from lunch way beyond your scheduled period, you’ll also then sit at your desk and carry on the cell phone conversation that contributed to your lateness. You’re loud, laughing and talking to the top of your lungs. Never mind the fact that cell phone usage is only permitted outside, in the break room or in case of an emergency – your desk is used as a phone booth. Your co-workers know the intimate details that surround the lives of your family and close friends because they’re exposed to your “personal” conversations on a regular basis.

3. YOU THINK YOUR POSITION IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT IT REALLY IS – Sweetie, though you’ve been employed with the same company for three years, you have never been promoted beyond your entry level position. You hold the same title as all of your co-workers who were newly hired or brought on board permanently after completing a temp assignment. However, you make it your business to send out mass emails and other memos that detail what others in your same position need to have completed and processed by certain deadline dates. You’ve taken on this self imposed leadership position over individuals who have completed higher levels of education than you’ve achieved. These same co-workers have also garnered just as much experience working at other companies. You wear your job title on your sleeve, but you aren’t willing to actually do the work that is attached to your position.

2. YOU’VE TAKEN CREDIT FOR TASKS YOU DID NOT COMPLETE – Often times, it’s other staff members who have had to show you how to use the new programs, software and other equipment. You’ve grown so comfortable with the tools and resources that were used years ago, that you’ve never adapted to the system updates. As a result, you’ve been unable to effectively contribute to the projects that have been assigned by the higher ups. However, you’re the first person to volunteer to turn in the completed projects, as to receive credit for the organization and presentation of each assignment.

1. YOU IGNORE ALL HAPPY HOUR INVITATIONS & OTHER OUT OF OFFICE ACTIVITIES – You love being the center of attention inside of the office, but you’ve made it perfectly clear that you don’t want anything to do with your co-workers or boss after work hours. When everyone is going out for cocktails and wings on a Friday evening to celebrate someone’s promotion or new job offer, you’re the first to say, “oh…I have a doctors appointment”, or “wait…I have to pick up my son from daycare”. Everyone knows that you’re lying to simply get out of attending the out of office functions, especially since you don’t have children. Even during times when everyone has donated a dollar or two to purchase a wedding gift or flowers for a co-worker who lost a family member, you opt out of contributing anything. You don’t enjoy socializing with your co-workers outside of the office, but you will certainly make their lives a living hell while on the job.

As you pack your bags at the end of each day and unplug the portable heater that’s not allowed and hidden beneath your desk, you don’t even realize that you’ve alienated everyone sitting around you. You’ve become so set in your poor professional ways that much of what you do and don’t do in the office is acceptable as far as you’re concerned. The vice president of the company thinks the world of you and his supporting staff simply follows his lead. As a result, you’ll never be reprimanded for your bad office habits and that’s the only reason your co-workers need to hate your incompetent guts.

The Complex Kiss That Changed Everything Between Music Producer, Tariq Muhammad & Rapper, Kaldrick King

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In early 2012, I began watching a new, CW series called, “The L.A. Complex”. The one-hour drama focused on the lives of a group of young adults who were all chasing their artistic dreams in Los Angeles, California. I was initially drawn to the showcase because of the central theme of twenty-something’s all residing in the same apartment complex; each aspiring to become the next big actor, actress, writer or music star. I could relate to the synopsis directly, as many of you know that I relocated to California six years ago in an effort to change the direction of my life as well. As I watched the first full season of “The L.A. Complex”, I never fell in love with the entire cast of characters. However, I was very drawn to the storyline that surrounded the personal and professional life of Benjamin Watson’s character, TARIQ MUHAMMAD.

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Tariq works as an intern for a major music producer. With aspirations to create his own beats and establish himself as a heavyweight amongst the music industry, Tariq hustles his days away doing any and everything inside of a Hollywood, recording studio. While completing one of his assigned tasks to forward a series of beats to the team of famous rapper, Drake, Tariq intentionally sends one of his own creations along with the specified samples. Drake’s management team falls in love with Tariq’s work, which then prompts Tariq’s boss to request that the up-and-coming producer contribute to KALDRICK KING‘S forthcoming album. When Kal and Tariq meet for the first time, a flame is ignited that erupts into a bonfire of emotions. The series follows the complexities of their loving and tumultuous relationship.

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Despite the fact that Andra Fuller’s character, KALDRICK KING is a famous rapper who doesn’t publicly acknowledge his same-sex attractions, his character isn’t treated to the typical, “down low” storyline. The internal struggles that Kal endures to balance the external challenges of his career and public persona are so poetically delivered on screen. The personal and professional dynamic that exists between he and Tariq plays against the sensationalized & over sexualized interests that often umbrella same sex couples.

It was also very refreshing for me to watch Tariq’s character especially, as he totally represents the ‘middle men’ in the black, gay community that are hardly ever portrayed in mainstream television or film. Tariq’s character is given three-dimensional development. The ‘L.A. Complex” audience is given an opportunity to peek behind Tariq’s artistic passions, professional endeavors, everyday friendships and romantic relationship with another black male.

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I have never shared the below posted video footage previously because I assumed that the large majority of my audience had already been exposed to this on-screen relationship. However, as I was reading a message last night in response to my ‘Derek J Effeminate Gay Black Men In Mainstream Media’ post, I realized that many of my readers and viewers might not be familiar with this very intriguing storyline. I encourage you to spend some time today or this evening, just really watching the relationship that forms between Kal and Tariq. You will smile during some of their scenes together and you will certainly cringe while watching others. The acting is very fluid, the outpour of emotions is realistic and the structure of their relationship is quite infectious from afar.

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I also think you will be very impressed by the way the series portrays the openly gay, black, male attorney, CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR. Played by Jarod Joseph, the attorney is very outspoken, confident, proud of who he is and desiring a monogamous relationship. For the first time ever, I saw certain elements of myself in this fictitious, television character.

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Naturally, as with any scripted series that focuses on the lives of gay men of color, the show was canceled after only airing for two seasons. However, during the nineteen episodes, I think the writers did a great job of answering viewer questions and wrapping up solid plot points. Very little is left on the shelf about what happens between Kal & Tariq or how they face their personal challenges outside of their romantic relationship.

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(SEASON 2)

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EPISODE 18 & EPISODE 19

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BENJAMIN WATSON Discusses His Character of TARIQ MUHAMMAD

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ANDRA FULLER Discusses His Character of KALDRICK KING

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JAROD JOSEPH Discusses His Character of CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR

Please feel free, as always, to contact me via TWITTER, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM or EMAIL – XemVanAdams@gmail.com to share your thoughts about the characters specifically and/or the relationship that exists between them.

Xem VanAdams Responds To Derek J’s Facebook Post About The Dominant, Effeminate Image Of Gay Black Men In Mainstream Media

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This morning, I woke up to the Facebook post that has been embedded above. Written by an obviously frustrated, gay, black male, I certainly understand his point of view. While I do not agree with all of his piercing statements, I certainly empathize with his feelings regarding the image of gay, black men in mainstream media. Derek J, Atlanta based hairstylist and on-air, BRAVO personality, shared the online post via his Facebook wall. I read Derek J’s thoughts in response to the original writer, and have publicly replied to both. I am sharing my feelings with you below. If you have followed or supported my platform over the past six years, you’re already very familiar with my thoughts and ideas regarding this particular issue…

DEREK J’S POST: So this post by Trent Britian Jéter was brought to my attention. The points that are brought up in his post are valid and very well understood, but it always amazes me when people pick and choose what they want to support and stand for. You don’t want to support a feminine man in media because you feel like we are not a good representation of the black gay community. But on the other had you would support a black woman that has rape the gay culture for their lingo, fashion sense, and beauty creating skills. Or better yet you would support the rapper that don’t even see the lifestyle at all in a positive way for the black community. I can on speak for myself, before I was on tv I was and still a black gay business man who owns a successful salon, that also mentors gay youth and give back to the community. I am also a gay black man that’s not trying to be a woman, who is comfortable in his skin and don’t mind being who I am. So with that said I challenge all the “masculine” men that have a problem with the representation of black gay men on television to stand up and do something about it. Ooooooo I forgot you didn’t want anyone to know you were gay.

XEM SAYS: I partially AGREE with the writer, Trent Britain Jeter. The mainstream media carefully and very specifically features gay men of color on nationally televised platforms who wear high heels, carry handbags, adorn makeup, work as cosmetologists and hail Beyonce as their holy grail. While the effeminate male is a very necessary and immediate figure amongst the black, gay community, he is always only painted as a one dimensional caricature. The viewing audience is NEVER given any real insight into his romantic life, relationships with biological family or his lifestyle outside of doing hair, makeup or styling for the lead, female characters. THAT IS MY PROBLEM. The focus of his character is centered on his over-the-top, outlandish antics, and never geared towards the struggles he has faced to feel safe in being so open or free. I love effeminate men, as I too possess feminine and masculine qualities. However, when placed on a television screen, gay men of color are ONLY EVER cast as the over-the-top, “clown-characters” – mostly one dimensional and realistically flawed. The writer wants a bit of what I’ve been fighting and pushing for over the past few years. WE should have the privilege of seeing ourselves in the light under which many of us live on a daily basis. I have been pushing forever to have gay men of color centered in media as three dimensional characters who have healthy relationships with both parents, professional jobs that have absolutely nothing to do with fashion, makeup or hair, working out at the gym, studying in a typical, college setting, enjoying happy hour and brunch with male friends or interacting with our female counterparts who don’t snap and label us “miss hunni” or “gwarl” upon greeting. I want to see the representation of myself and the others I’ve met over the past 13 years featured on screen; those who fall somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. I believe THAT is why so many individuals are creating these online reality and scripted, web series showcases. It’s because the black, gay community overall does not identify with the lineup of televised, minstrel acts that are shoved down our throats. When young boys growing up in small, rural communities are ONLY exposed to the individuals mentioned in the writers post, it gives them a very false sense of who they are & what it means to be a gay man of color in 2014. If their idea of homosexuality is solely based upon what’s televised under the powerful, media umbrella, they begin to question whether or not they really are gay. WHY? Simply because…as human beings, visual representation and imagery dictates a great deal of how we see ourselves and how we are viewed by others. If I were a 15 year old boy, questioning my sexuality, living in a small, remote area of Mississippi, I’d be a bit puzzled and confused if my acceptance of being gay meant that I was supposed to dress in women’s clothing and carry myself like one of E! Televisions, spoiled rich kids. White gay men are given a balance of images to identify themselves with. The white, male teen characters on the new 90210, Glee & various soap opera’s, combined with the images of white homosexuality on Showtime, HBO, ABC, NBC and CBS allows for white, gay men to be represented in a way that’s balanced, seasoned and three dimensional. We are emasculated on-screen, and I’ve watched it unfold since I began sharing my voice online 6 years ago. I’m tired and frustrated with having my ideas rejected, as I continue to fight for the change that our black, gay community is ready to see. It’s network executives and production companies who band together in an effort to maintain the one-sided, foofoo image of black, gay men that dominates mainstream media. It’s frustrating and completely unfair. I certainly don’t want to see a cast of gay characters that are all hyper masculine, but we do NEED scripted and non-scripted shows that portray the reality of who most of us are – the ones standing in the middle.

My Barber Is BAE – based on a recent conversation with an anonymous friend.

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He and I have a longstanding, Saturday morning date. I arrive fifteen minutes to eight and park my car directly behind his copper-colored, Infiniti Q70 Hybrid. He owns the popular, mid-city barbershop – Perry’s Place. The modern, two-level building sits on the corner of Sedgewood and Middleton Parkway. It’s directly across the street from Gino’s infamous, pizza & sub shop. I’m always the first customer to arrive, as to secure my spot as Perry’s first cut of the day. He unlocks the glass door as he sees me coming, flipping the white, cardboard sign from CLOSE to OPEN. I greet him with a bass filled, ‘good morning’, and he replies, ‘wassup’. Between the heavy bites he takes from his sausage, egg and cheese, sour dough biscuit, Perry sips from a sixteen ounce bottle of water. He always offers me the half of his breakfast sandwich that is still wrapped. I routinely decline. We’ve never discussed the fact that I’m a vegetarian, but then again, there are a lot of details about my life that I don’t go out of my way to share at the barbershop.

Inhaling the aroma of wintergreen skin oils blended with musk-like pomades and lemon based Lysol, I take the empty seat in front of Perry’s barber chair. A crinkled, five by seven photograph of his daughter hangs above the row of dangling, gray and black clippers. Beside a collection of white, hand mirrors, Perry has a copy of his owner’s permit and license that are framed and on display. His center booth is always the cleanest and most organized amongst the other barbers who tend to stroll in around nine o’clock or nine thirty.

There’s a reclined manliness that shapes Perry’s Place. I never feel as if I have to go out of my way to butch up before coming to get my haircut. I wear my favorite, yellow flip-flops from Abercrombie & Fitch, paired with light denim shorts that are cuffed at the knee. Though I have friends and associates who put on their baggy, high top, colorless boy-drag before they go to the barbershop on Saturday mornings, I’m comfortable wearing the same clothing I run my errands in. Sometimes, tension mounts between the neighborhood boys and myself, as they walk in with no appointments, wearing sweats and other nonnegotiable, masculine attire. I know they see me in my foofoo accouterments of style and wonder where I get the guts to ingrain my expression of manliness into their urban dwelling. Visually digging for the pink cues and soft hues that would normally color a black man queer, these locals aren’t able to make sense of the easy back and forth that flows between Perry and I. Perry is the razor sharp alpha male; father, business owner and big brother figure to many of the patrons.

He scurries around the shop in his black, Adidas flip-flops. Carrying a broom in one hand and his partially eaten sandwich in the other, I watch Perry slide between stations. The telephone has already begun to sound off. Perry dashes into the back of the shop to take the calls. He tosses me the television remote and asks if I can power on the flat screen that hangs above the wall mirror. I always turn to CNN in an effort to create a moment where Perry and I aren’t forced to negotiate conversations that either focus on my love life or his affection for sports. He is more intriguing to me when openly expressing his views about Obama’s most recent executive orders, than he is when he discusses the pre-season, football lineup.

Perry heated the white towels by the deep, basin sink. He raised his voice over the CNN correspondent to tell me how crazy he thinks people are for even talking about impeaching President Obama. I responded, telling Perry that Obama will forever be chastised for basically being a civil rights politician. At that moment, one of the young, neighborhood guys sitting two seats down from me jumped up and shoved his iphone in Perry’s face. He’s one of many who respects Perry’s hustle. “This the bitch I smashed two weeks ago…the one I was telling you about!”, the boy shouted. Perry laughed out loud, covering his mouth with a bald up fist. He then joked in response, “if she has an older sister, you need to find out and give me her name on Instagram”.

Perry is a typical guy on the surface, but then again, he isn’t. His only tattoo is of praying hands, inked onto his upper, right arm. The tiny, black diamond studs he wears in each ear compliment his basic, tee shirt and basketball shorts style. We’re just about the same height, maybe five-eleven. He’s six feet tall at the most. His face is clean-shaven and butternut smooth. Aside from the thin, dark brown hairs that coil beneath his chin and strap across his top lip, his facial hair is barely there. Perry is an attractive man, but seemingly unaware of his physical appeal.

In the eight months that he has cut my hair, I’ve seen a side of Perry’s character that makes me believe it’s possible for gay men to form healthy relationships with our straight, male allies. He and I share similar political views, and are able to discuss our thoughts and ideas every Saturday morning. Perry and I never discuss women or sex, but more so because he doesn’t bring up those topics with me. He may sense that my sexual interest in women crossed the finish line over ten years ago. I just appreciate the fact that Perry does not make me feel like I have to be silent in order to blend in with his other customers.

Despite my attractions towards Perry, when I take a seat in his chair, and he wraps his black, barber cloth around my neck, our interaction is social and professional. (B)efore (A)ll (E)lse, we are two men who have established a mutually respectful relationship. Sexuality does not hinder our ability to openly engage with one another in an environment known to strictly tolerate traditional forms of masculinity. When Perry is done cutting and lining my hair, I pay him twenty-two dollars and I tip him five. I leave his barbershop as a customer who has been provided the type of safe space service that makes me want to uphold my longstanding, Saturday morning date.

I’m A Single Mother Of Two, Desperately Trying To Motivate My Youngest Son To Get Serious About The Upcoming School Year

SingleMotherUse

I just started following you on Twitter two weeks ago. I saw a few of your posts retweeted in my timeline about praying, but also taking action in your own life to assist with the prayers. It was very interesting to me because my pastor has been preaching the same message lately. You said something along the lines about movement or change comes into people’s lives only when they begin doing the things that we ask God to do for us. And I truly believe in what you’re saying. You said if we do our part using the resources that he has given us then he will do his part and open doors that no man can close. That was the exact sermon in my church this past Sunday. I have been praying and asking God to help me with my youngest son and asking him to give me the proper tools to deal with him as of lately. I have two children. My oldest son is 18 years old and my youngest just turned 14 in May. I’m a young mother of 36 and raising both of my boys pretty much on my own. My oldest son’s father has been in his life since birth as far as spending time with him but I still take care of everything financially. He just graduated from high school and will be attending Mid Michigan Community College in Harrison this fall. He has always been a good student in school, active in our church youth group, works part-time at the Lakeside Mall and has never given me any problems growing up. My youngest son seems to be the total opposite of his older brother and I don’t understand it. This will be his first year in high school and I am trying my best to get him academically prepared. Although his 8th grade state test scores rank in the top percentile, his grades from middle school weren’t high enough to get him accepted into the school he is going to, the same high school my oldest son just graduated from. It’s a college prep type of high school. I had to pull strings with the principal in order to get my youngest enrolled because he plays around a lot. Just too much to really concentrate on his work. I let him go out for the JV football team this summer only because I know that it looks good in the community that my son does have extra curricular activities under his belt like my oldest did. However, I told him that if he starts bringing home grades lower than 80-85 then I will snatch him from the team during the season. I mean that. I have had to constantly remind my youngest son to complete his homework all throughout middle school. Now I am having to keep on him about reading the two summer books that the high school requires for all incoming freshman. He is suppose to be keeping a journal for each chapter he reads but he only writes 3 or 4 sentences that are just general statements instead of the 3-4 full paragraphs that are required. I ask him all of the time why he can’t be more like his older brother instead of me always having to run behind him to make sure he’s doing schoolwork and other tasks. I have tried my hardest to get him to spend more time with my oldest son at the church or even just sitting down to talk to him and he just wont do it. If he fails his English or Math class after this freshman year, the principal will automatically send him to one of the neighborhood schools and I can not have that. Everyone at the church knows our family very well and I was raised in our church. I don’t want my children looked at as being failures or drop outs like some of the others. Years ago the women in the church gave my mother a hard time when I got pregnant at 18 and we were determined to prove to the congregation that I would still graduate from college and make a healthy and successful life for my boys. I want only the best for both of my sons but am having a challenging time trying to get my youngest to understand the importance of his education. Since on Twitter you talked about actually taking action after praying what do you think I can physically do to help my youngest son actually achieve in school this year? They go back in two weeks. Any advice you could offer would be appreciated. I love your website by the way.

 

XEM SAYS…

 

Thank you so very much for supporting my platform by following me on Twitter, reading my articles and now trusting me to offer you advice on issues pertaining to your youngest child. As I was reading your email, the one line that stood out to me most is when you shared the fact that you ask your youngest son why he can’t be more like his older brother. With that statement, you are verbalizing to your youngest son that he isn’t behaviorally, academically or socially as good as his older brother. One of the reasons why your youngest son rebels against spending time with his older brother in church or otherwise is because you have unconsciously created an environment where now your youngest son feels that he is in competition with his sibling. You have somewhat created silent labels of GOOD SON VS. BAD SON. Your youngest child has obviously taken the cue that he is the ‘BAD SON’ and therefore, he acts out accordingly. He is playing the role that he thinks is expected of him. Sometimes, parents assume that hailing one of their children as the ‘golden child’ will encourage the other siblings to model their behavior after that particular brother or sister. However, in many circumstances, the siblings who are being compared to the ‘golden child’ will intentionally act opposite of how the ‘golden child’ behaves. It’s their way of maintaining a forced identity within the household.

Instead of saying, “why can’t you be more like your older brother”, I advise that you begin saying to your youngest son, “try YOUR best to pay attention in class and complete all of your assignments. YOU are intelligent and bright.” Remove the focus from simply ‘getting good grades’. We often place emphasis on the end results as opposed to encouraging children to meet the standards at every stage of the education process. Every child should be made to feel like an individual within the structure of the household, school and community environments. Verbal comparisons between siblings create an unhealthy competition.

Additionally, your youngest son may be acting out because he resents you and his older brother. The absence of his father in his life may affect him in ways that he doesn’t verbalize to either of you. The fact that he has watched the father of your oldest son come around for years, probably makes him feel neglected. You didn’t mention whether or not the father of your youngest son is ever in the picture, but I am assuming he is not. Your youngest son may feel like the outcast whenever the father of your oldest son comes over to the house or when your oldest son leaves out to spend time with his dad. Your youngest has been forced in those moments to accept that his older brother has an established relationship with both of his parents. Once again, by comparison, his older brother appears to have the advantage. Do you have open discussions with your youngest son about his biological father and why he isn’t active in raising him? If not, at fourteen years old, your youngest son is ready to hear the truth.

Though I am very confident that you are an amazing mother, I do suggest that you possibly turn towards your pastor or even the JV football coach and ask one of them to begin mentoring your youngest son. Now that he is entering high school, it is crucial that your son begin receiving positive, male energy in his life on a regular basis. He should be receiving this sense of guidance outside of his male, peer group. Since he obviously doesn’t feel a natural attachment to his older brother right now, another adult, male figure that you trust should begin building a solid relationship with him. There are certain issues that your youngest son simply isn’t going to feel comfortable bringing to you now that he will be experiencing early manhood thoughts and feelings.

Also, you may be a little too concerned about public ‘appearances’. You mentioned the fact that you only support your youngest son playing JV football because of how children who participate in extra curricular activities are “looked upon” positively by others in the community. You then went on to say that if your youngest son had to attend the actual neighborhood high school that he was accepted into, members of the congregation would see him as being a failure. I could understand if you suggested you didn’t want your son to attend the local high school for safety reasons. However, it seems that you are encouraging your children to reach for a standard of success that is measured by outsiders. You cannot push your children to make decisions based on how they will be judged by a community of onlookers.

Now that you have pulled strings to have your youngest son placed into the college prep high school that your oldest just graduated from, he is going to face greater levels of academic difficulty than he experienced in middle school. Your son is obviously intelligent, as he performed exceptionally well on the standardized tests for eighth grade students. However, if your youngest son isn’t an independent student, as you suggest he isn’t, the pace of his classes are going to be challenging for him. It would have been wiser for you to allow your son to attend the school where his academic performance matched the structure and pace of the curriculum. If he started to feel out of place or more advanced than his classmates, he may have pushed HIMSELF to earn a transfer slot into the college prep high school for his sophomore year. By calling in favors to have your youngest son placed in a high school above his progress level, you also sent the message to him that he doesn’t have to work for certain opportunities because his mother can pull strings to arrange them. Keep that in mind before calling in favors next year to secure your youngest son a seasonal or part-time job.

Honestly, your youngest son will begin to display academic progress once he is able to sort out his internal struggles, as well as carve his own position at home and in his new school. Give your son room to step from behind the shadow of his older brother. Allow him to develop a positive relationship with his coach and classmates during this freshman school year. I encourage you and your oldest son to attend as many of the football games as possible. Your presence will make him feel that his individual accomplishments are being supported. Do not pull him from JV if he isn’t bringing home all grades above 80 during the first or second quarter. Beyond the physical training, team sports have the ability to build self-esteem, confidence and focus in the lives of many young boys. The confidence your youngest son feels on the field will translate into his determination to achieve academically. He is already a smart young man. People don’t always perform poorly in school because they’re lazy or unintelligent. It’s often that these individuals are dealing with internal stressors as well. Help him to cope by using language and love that is specific to his needs – not as your youngest son in comparison to his older brother, but as a fourteen year old boy who is still trying to find his way in the world.

I Am Lonely, Barely Making Any Money & On The Verge Of Returning To My Hometown

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Before I get into my situation I want you to know that Im looking for real advice on what to do. No disrespect to your beliefs or anything but I am pass the point of praying or asking God for help because Ive already done all of that. I’m not thinking about killing myself even though sometimes I don’t think anyone would care even if I did. I moved here to Atlanta back in January from Tennessee. I hated living there. No one was doing anything special and I just got sick of being in such a small area. One of my ex best friends had been living here for 8 months and kept telling me that I should come out here for modeling and acting jobs. I want to be an actor for tlelvision shows, movies, plays or anything that will get me some exposure. When I came here my ex best friend told me that I could stay with him for a while, but he didn’t tell me that he already had 2 other roommates in his 1 bedroom apartment. Then he expected me to pay $500 a month to basically sleep in the living room with the other 2 people. So I ended up taking my stuff to stay with another mutual friend of ours who does hair and she lets me stay in her extra bedroom for the same $500 a month. But being here in Atlanta is nothing like I expected it to be. Right now I’m working for Wayfield Foods which took me forever to get the job with them and trying to save enough money to move into an apartment of my own and at least buy a bed. But I don’t know how im going to do that with the bullshit checks that ive been getting. My life is the same every single day and Im just tired of the same routine of waking up, going to work, sometimes having to babysit my friends daughter while she runs out once I get home from work and then just going to bed. I don’t know how to even get my foot in the door as far as acting or modeling because my ex best friend was suppose to help me with that. He has been an extra for Love & Hip Hop a few tims and has met people there. That’s the type of chances that Im looking for!!! I want to be like on reality tv and show the world what Ive got. I am also very lonely here because all of the guys are very clickish. I have only been to the club once and I felt very out of place when I first got here. My ex best friend took me and the other 2 roommates with him. I tried to talk to a few guys there but it was a total waist of my time. Everyone was just drunk or with their friends and not really trying to talk. I thought it would be esier to meet other men here instead of Tennessee since it’s Atlanta. I just feel like my life would be easier right now if I had someone to love me or help me instead of me doing everything bymyself and not getting anywhere. I don’t have a car to drive so I have to catch the Marta everywhere I go if my friend who I live with doesn’t want to take me somewhere. And she sometimes acts like she has an attitude with me being at her house even though she said it was cool for me to come. I really don’t know what else to do and praying isn’t cutting it. I’m ready to just say fuck everything and go back to Tennessee where at least some of my real friends are. Im sorry for typing a lot but this is just for real how I feel.

 

 

XEM SAYS…

 

Well, you’ve certainly shared quite a bit regarding your present situation and circumstances living in Atlanta, Georgia. Since you want me to offer concrete advice, as opposed to sharing dosages of my spirituality, I’ll be very direct. You made a huge mistake leaving home without having a solid plan in place. While I certainly commend your efforts in jumping out on faith to pursue your dreams of acting and modeling, you did not prepare for any of the obstacles you would face in a new city. Atlanta is a very busy and competitive area, especially as it pertains to a growing population of aspiring, black artists. I think the excitement of joining your friend in his ATL adventures blinded you to the reality of having to be responsible for your own means of survival. You arrived to Atlanta without having a job, employment prospects, a clear idea of your temporary living arrangements or your own contacts related to your acting/modeling career goals. Now, you are faced with an uphill climb that is paved with more obstacles than you may have had to endure had you properly prepared.

First, please understand that no one is going to magically come along to save you or to make life easier. You must suspend those “knight in shining armor” fantasies and replace them with the idea that only YOU have the power to change your temporary circumstances. Though we have witnessed the Amber Rose and Black Chyna stories of an acclaimed rapper that transforms the nightclub stripper into a housewife, that reality isn’t to be hailed as your saving grace. Even if you did meet and fall in love with a wonderful guy in Atlanta, Georgia, it is not his duty or his responsibility to make you happy. Your focus right now must continue to be aimed towards securing your own place to live. I am glad that moving out of your girlfriend’s apartment is one of your top priorities. You do not want to wear out your welcome in her home and be faced with the dilemma of having nowhere to rest your head. Continue to be respectful towards your girlfriend despite her occasional attitude, as she is probably your best, tangible resource right now.  I would also advise you to begin looking at affordable apartment buildings and placing your name on potential waitlists while saving your money. Give yourself a deadline to be ready to move out on your own and ask your girlfriend within the next few weeks if that timeline is appropriate. People are more tolerant with houseguests when they know that individual has a set plan to vacate.

While you are working at Wayfield Foods and saving money to move on your own, I think it is also important that you specifically decide to first invest your time into building a modeling career or establishing a career in acting. As an upcoming artist/performer, it is best that you initially invest all of your extra time and energy into one craft. You didn’t mention having any previous experience, so I am assuming that your first booking in Atlanta would be your first, professional gig in the entertainment industry. Once you determine which field to pursue first, set a goal that is higher than simply being cast as an extra for “Love & Hip Hop”. If your goal is to someday star as the lead in a summer, blockbuster film, you then give yourself a big dream to work towards while taking little steps. If your first booking is as a production assistant that sweeps up trash at Tyler Perry’s Atlanta studio, you wont then return to this feeling of failure or frustration. Your mind will automatically process the opportunity as a tiny step towards your larger goal. I don’t want you feeling less than your former friend if you aren’t presented with the chance to appear as an extra on “Love & Hip Hop”. His career may be aligned with yours, but you have to remember that your career goals and journey overall are going to always be separate from his.

Additionally, keep in mind that we exist in a very digital age where everyone has become their own casting agent, manager and marketing executive. There are numerous online, web series that are constantly casting for pilot episodes or returning seasons. You can use your cell phone or web cam to record yourself performing a 1-3 minute monologue. Upload the content to your Facebook wall, Vimeo or Youtube account and begin emailing or tagging the link to individuals you find on the internet who have their hands involved in an online, scripted series. You have to create your own opportunities in this day and time. It is a huge mistake to wait for your former friend or anyone else to carry you with them to meet the powers-that-be.

Once you secure your first acting or modeling opportunity that is when romantic love may find you. Going to the clubs in Atlanta in search of a relationship or companionship isn’t necessarily the best option. Ideally, the guy you end up dating will already share similar interests and have common, career goals if the two of you meet on set. Right?…

Finally, I certainly don’t advise you to return to Tennessee. There was a flame that ignited in your spirit that led you away from your comfort zone. When that flame was lit within me in the summer of 2008, I ended up moving to California and creating the platform where you obviously found me. It was so puzzling to me then why I had to travel 3,000 miles from home in order to start something that I’m sure I could have created in Baltimore. However, we are often pulled from our comfort zones in order to give our wings room to spread completely. Your energy was smothering in Tennessee and you will experience that same feeling if you return. I know that the financial struggle is difficult and the loneliness can sometimes feel excruciating. However, if you are able to endure the next few months of hardship, I guarantee you that each day will become easier. When I recorded my first video that went viral, I had less than $50 in my checking account, an air mattress plopped in the corner of a 650 square foot apartment in North Hollywood, and a half eaten Panda Express meal saved for dinner the following night. You stepped out of your comfort zone in search of unique opportunities, so please stop expecting your present journey to be normal or convenient. Had I understood that lesson, I would have never left Los Angeles prematurely.

You are indeed on the right track, despite how long and overwhelming your days may feel. Even though you didn’t properly plan your move to Atlanta, you are now in the perfect place and position to bring your tiny, Tennessee dreams to fruition.

My Man Is A Starving Artist & I’m Tired Of Financially Carrying The Relationship

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I have been a fan of yours since I was 25 years old & now I am 31. Your videos have helped me get through some of the saddest and most frustrating periods of my life. When my mother passed away you made a video talking about getting through lifes storms and surviving heavy times. You cried in that video and Xem I cried along with you. You have encouraged me to live a stronger and better life and I pray that you receive all the opportunities that you’ve been working so hard to achieve. You deserve them. You are the only person I watch on the internet for inspiration or a positive outlook on tough situations. This is why I am writing to you today Xem. I have been in a serious relationship for the past 3 years. We live together in the house that my mother left to me and my older sister. My sister is married and has children so it’s just me and my boyfriend living in the house together. I asked him to move in with me at the time because I didn’t have anywhere else to go and it was tough being in the house alone with just thoughts of my mother. Him coming was such a blessing because he helped me remove my mothers wall paper in the rooms, paint all the walls, redecorate the entire downstairs and make the house easier to live in. My boyfriend didn’t have a job when we met but I was so into him because of how creative he was and how there for me he was after my mother died. I needed the support because my older sister had her husband and was just a mess so I was having to even be strong for her. It’s 3 years later Xem and my boyfriend and I still share my car, but he doesn’t ever have money to put gas in it when he’s driving it. I pay ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL of the bills in the house including buying all of the food, toiletries, dog food for his(our) dog and anything else we may need. My boyfriend is a photographer and a semi professional painter. Sometimes he gets paid for the photo shoots he agrees to do for other people but most of the time he allows himself to be taken advantage of and will take hundreds of pictures for free. My boyfriend doesn’t work a regular day job because he says it doesn’t give him enough time to dedicate to his artwork. He refuses to even consider taking a job painting houses where he could make so much money to at least help with the utility bills we have. I do believe in his talent but it’s hard on me at this point trying to financially keep our heads above water by paying for everything on my own. I have tried to organize and design a website that would feature all of James’s work. One of my best friends is a graphic designer and has agreed to do the website for me as a favor. She knows our situation all too well. I have written an official bio for the website, I designed the layout and have even come up with a price list for my boyfriend to begin charging people for all of the photos he takes. I used my camera to take pics of all of his paintings to also go in a special section of the website. I even began planning a little art show three months ago where my boyfriend could have all of his paintings on display at my godmothers beauty salon and possibly begin selling them to customers. He catches an attitude with me whenever I try to sit down with him to discuss the website or even selling his work. I am getting frustrated Xem because I cant do all of this on my own anymore. My boyfriend just turned 32 and cant even go to the grocery store with a simple list Ive given him and come back home with all of the items. When I leave out to go to work I’ll leave a list on the dining room table of simple things he needs to do to help clean up before I get home and he ignores it. I am literally doing everything. I support his painting and photography, but I need him to be able to financially contribute to supporting our expenses. How do I get through to him because I’ve tried everything at this point?

 

XEM SAYS…

 

First, I want to thank you incredibly for supporting my online platform. I love receiving messages from those of you who have been with me since the very beginning. As an artist of sorts myself, I totally and completely relate to the challenges that your boyfriend faces at this stage in his life. He’s mentally battling between doing what he loves everyday and taking on the daily tasks that society dictates for a thirty-two year old man. However, as an adult with grown-man responsibilities, I also understand your financial hardship, as well as your frustrations with your boyfriend’s ‘starving artist’ mentality. You are involved and in love with a man whose passions haven’t yet evolved into a paycheck. You believe in his artistry, but desperately need him to contribute more to the household and daily upkeep of the home you two share.

You must first understand that most artists aren’t driven or motivated by money. For as long as they are able to create freely, they’d be willing to sleep on the street and eat whatever scraps they can get their hands on. This is partly the reason why your boyfriend shoots photographs without charging the models. His compensation comes in the form of seeing the beautiful images that he captured and also being able to add them to his growing collection. Your attempts to put a price tag on your boyfriend’s work may be as frustrating to him, as his lack of income is to you. However, I do applaud your efforts in offering to help him create a website to showcase his photography, as well as organizing an art show that would feature his paintings. I think the issue is possibly your approach to helping your boyfriend create revenue. I’m laughing in my head because my idea of assisting a friend or romantic partner in creating anything is basically to take over, which is precisely what you’ve done. Instead of sitting down with your boyfriend and asking him for his vision or input as it pertains to making money from his artwork, you wrote his biography, took photos of all of his paintings, created a price list for his services and booked your girlfriend to package it all into a website. It was a great idea, but it was also YOUR idea. Just like I’ve done many times in my past, you began taking control of someone else’s life instead of simply aiding them. Some men are receptive to this type of aggressive help, but many others begin to feel emasculated. I’ve learned to make verbal suggestions based on how I would handle a certain issue or dilemma. Then, I allow my friend, associate or romantic partner to ask for my help. At that point, I move forward with the creation of price lists and websites and the other amazing tasks you began handling on your own. It’s not always the idea that our partners reject, as much as it is our tone or presentation that turns them off.

It is also important for you to remember that in the beginning of your relationship, you embraced your boyfriend’s ‘starving artist’ lifestyle. You knew that he did not have a stable job or concrete income when you invited him to move into your mother’s house. It was his creativity that captured your attention, and it was his emotional support that framed the relationship between the two of you. I think it’s unfair that you now hold him to a different level of standards than those you placed on him three years ago. He hasn’t changed from the man you initially met. It’s simply that you are beginning to feel the strain of being with someone who cares more about creating than he does cleaning up, buying a car of his own or contributing financially to the household. Now, you have to really decide whether or not you’re willing to move into a fourth year alongside this man. Do you believe that his talents and passion will someday turn into a paycheck or are you too tired and frustrated at this point to wait until that day comes?

We cannot change, nor can we control the men we choose as our romantic partners.  If we allow our unemployed boyfriends to live with us without financially contributing to the relationship, it’s then unfair to get upset as they become increasingly comfortable in the situation we’ve created. If our boyfriends weren’t doing the grocery shopping or cleaning up around the house when we first started living with them, leaving lists of daily chores on the dining room table isn’t going to encourage them to begin taking on those tasks.

Dating a ‘starving artist’ can be extremely difficult for those who don’t have the patience to endure extended periods of financial struggle. I encourage you to sit down with yourself and make a solid decision about how you want to move forward. Your boyfriend is a man who isn’t going to trade in his camera or paintbrush for a cubicle job or steady income. You don’t have to feel guilty for no longer wanting to finance the relationship on your own, and it’s perfectly okay to share those feelings with him for the final time. I’m certainly not going to tell you to leave your man, but I am encouraging you to choose a peace of mind. Nothing in life compares.