Sunday, February 07, 2010

Fox News' DADT coverage gets nailed by Saturday Night Live

Sometimes a lot of truth comes out through comedy.

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Black History Month lgbts of color - Sylvester

One who needs no introduction. From, Sylvester:

Imagine him. Spry brown-skinned little gay boy. Voice and spirit of equal and magnanimous proportions.

Standing, with the assistance of an apple box, tall and proud before the congregation of Palm Lane Church of God and Christ and wailing Aretha Franklin's "Never Grow Old" just like the Queen herself. Tearing up the church and causing the Holy Ghost to break out all over the Tabernacle. It was only a foretelling sign of things to come.

He was a force of nature even then, barely six and singing like he held some secret that world knew nothing of, just yet. Somehow, he was a rare breed of young manchild, nubile Black being, who was born perfectly comfortable in his skin. He knew who he was and operated as though it was the world's mission to catch up and catch on to his fabulousness.

He was Sylvester.

James was his last name, but Diva was a title he wore as readily and easily as the opulent attire (never drag) that he adorned. But Sylvester James-performance artist, recording star, Disco icon, advocate, activist, soul singer-was more than just a Tall Man In Drag. Sylvester was a revolution! Before RuPaul took over the radio and television airwaves, there was Sylvester. Before Harvey brought his fabulous brand of Fier(stein) to Broadway, there was Sylvester. Even before the real benefits of music videos (though he did have a few) and national Black Gay Prides, he made an impact that is still felt almost two decades after his untimely death.

Born September 6, 1947, he was a strong-willed Virgo, who had an opinion about everything and wasn't afraid or ashamed to share it. Sylvester knew at an early age that there was a creative force within that had to come out. After the church couldn't contain his fiery behavior and his parents could not tolerate his wild ways, he ran away from the "quiet streets" of his Los Angeles suburbs and found himself, literally and figuratively, in San Francisco.

He started as many would have expected, performing drag, as "Ruby Blue," in clubs where he was an innovator, singing live and evoking Bille Holliday and the blues icons his grandmother had poured into his musical ear. He would still sing in church and felt completely comfortable doing both, unlike Marvin Gaye, Prince and other artists who struggled with the polarity of their Spirituality and their Musicality. Sylvester was alright with God and truly believed that God was alright with him. He felt like he could express himself any way he pleased and he was pleased when The Cockettes, a performance arts group that dabbled in drag and drugs, made him a part of their act and later got him to teach them to sing, instead of just pantomiming to other people's songs. He made them believe that they could do more.

That unwavering belief and talent would take Sylvester and the troop from sold-out shows to New York and back. But he couldn't stay there long. He wanted and needed much more. But he didn't really find his voice, his authentic voice, until he started to record. After a few failed attempts at recording, he found his niche, when in 1975, he went against the grain again and instead of trying to find thin, cute singers for the audience's eye, he enlisted Two Tons of Fun and gave the people something for their ears! Martha Wash and Izora Armstead were two women, who though not traditional beauties, were the kind of performers that the Gay-infused Disco era adored. They could wail and didn't mind doing it.