Sunday, December 25, 2011

One Liner of the Week Award: Kellee Terrell

It has been years since the same person has earned the One Liner of the Week Award twice in a row, but if you knew the crazy ass Negress that is Kellee Terrell, you would know that if anyone was going to do it, it would be her.

The last few weeks have been emotional as Hell for this here queer, and last night I dealt with a not so fun moment that often happens at holiday time with family. At the end of it, I basically ran into the guest bedroom at my ex-partner's house, started playing songs from Sister Act 2 and had myself a good cry.

I posted a status on Facebook that said, "Does anyone else get tired of crying?"

Kellee Terrell replied:

"No cause i dont cry that often...2 to 4 times a year..I do however get tired of cussing mofos out...i do that 2 to 4 times a day...the shit is chronic fatigue syndrome."

Now you can see why I love me some Kellee Terrell, and why that is the One Liner of the Week.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Great Expression Dental Denies HIV Discrimination Claim; I Deny Their Denial

Today I received word from Mr. James White that Great Expressions Dental has filed a defamation suit in federal court and a counterclaim saying that the EEOC finding of discrimination and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was erroneous in his employment discrimination case in Detroit where Great Expressions followed him around and sprayed down surfaces with Lysol after he disclosed his HIV status.

Shortly after receiving a personal email from Mr. White, I received, at my work address of all places, an email from Great Expressions Dental. There is one of those funny little disclaimers at the end of the email suggesting that the email I received is not necessarily public information.

I am the media and therefore I am reprinting this memo here, I love freedom of the press:

If you have any questions, please contact Michael Layne at 248-855-6777, or 248-320-6202.

December 21, 2011

A Statement from Todd Gustke,
Vice President of Human Resources
Great Expressions Dental Centers

Great Expressions takes pride in being an equal opportunity employer – not just in adherence to the law, but because we believe it makes us a better company. In order to provide equal employment and advancement opportunities to all individuals, employment decisions at Great Expressions Dental Centers are based on merit, qualifications and abilities.

Recently, numerous public and false allegations have been made in an online campaign seeking to paintGreat Expressions Dental Centers in a negative light. This malicious campaign has resulted in emails and harassing telephone calls to our employees and shareholders. We immediately petitioned the United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, seeking a declaration in the proper forum that we did not discriminate or otherwise violate the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. We are confident that the Court will find these accusations to be without merit.

It is our corporate policy to not comment on employees and former employees in the media or online, especially on issues related to employees' health status.

Great Expressions Dental Centers employs over 1900 people in 7 states. Our team reflects the community we serve, including individuals from the GLBTQ community.

This was my response:

Dear Ms. Cherry:

Thank you for your note. Unfortunately, I have reviewed the EEOC finding, and I support the work of the EEOC. Great Expressions Dental violated the ADA of 1990, and I am confident that Great Expressions will be made to pay substantive damages to Mr. White.

And the question at hand is not alleged discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Great Expressions Dental was found in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 for discrimination based on HIV status.

Your letter is misleading contains misinformation and is very much unappreciated. Thank you!


If you have questions or comments, please feel free to call Michael Layne at the numbers provided above. I am sure that Great Expressions would love to hear from any and all of you that believe that discrimination against people living with HIV is reprehensible.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Supporting the Homeless and Kicking Class! Support Queers for Economic Justice!

QEJ Close? Never.

Yet a year ago, the recession had QEJ by the throat. Facing a significant deficit, a leadership transition, and a diminished foundation base to help QEJ stabilize and move forward, QEJ confronted the very real possibility of closing.

A year later, QEJ is here -- growing, stabilized, and redefining what it means to do transformational economic justice, class, and poverty work through a queer and gender non-conforming lens. And we have you, our community, to thank for it.

You proved what QEJ has always believed; A community invested in the work of social change will be committed to funding that work. Our community understands that a recession created by the same systems that QEJ seeks to hold accountable (until they are dismantled), cannot be allowed to shut down the only queer economic justice organization in the United States.

QEJ is back in force. Actually, we never left.

In the last year, as QEJ faced its challenges and came through to the other side, we have had some truly significant successes. In the last twelve months, QEJ has been the queer social justice voice on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart , brought our queer economic analysis to Occupy Wall Street, been instrumental in helping organize LGBTQ community and union members to fight for a living wage in NYC and have begun to create a queerly classed and raced labor and workers anti-bullying campaign. In short, we have been redefining the way that economic justice, sexual orientation and gender identity activism happens.

We have expanded from working in four shelters to eight, and by the end of the year, we will be operating in ten shelters. Nationally, QEJ will again lead the economic justice institute at the Creating Change Conference in Baltimore, continuing to be the engine nationally that is defining the queer agenda thru class and race. In 2012, QEJ will launch Survival Economies, a radical new lens that centers queer immigrant, HIV positive, homeless, women, workers and elders in a innovative model, based in class, that outlines a fresh paradigm for radical justice work in the moment of a Great Recession.

Not all of our work has been uplifting. On October 1, a member of one of QEJ's support groups, Yvonne McNeil was murdered by the NYPD outside of the shelter in which she resided. QEJ has been working to help shelter residents grieve and heal from this murder while also working systemically to address the police violence that is real and present in the lives of homeless queer and gender non conforming people. Working in close partnership with the Coalition for the Homeless, the Center for Anti-Violence Education, The Anti-Violence Project, and the Audre Lorde Project, QEJ is pushing the district attorney's office to complete an independent investigation into the use of deadly force against Yvonne, as well as examine the mass raid and arrests in the same shelter a few weeks after Yvonne's murder.

Here's where you come in.

QEJ makes minor miracles with the resources that we have, but without support from our community, what we can do and how we can respond is limited. Your gift of $50, $100, $250 or $500 will help ensure that our work continues to grow and expand strategically.

We also understand that for some people, giving $500 in one lump sum is beyond their means. But, a gift of $45 a month translates into more than $500 a year. In fact, 22 monthly sustaining donors at QEJ, with an average gift of $40 a month, together give more than $5,000 a year to QEJ. Small gifts add up into big change; You can also join us by becoming a monthly sustaining member at
Also, for ANY NEW DONOR TO QEJ, any gift of $35 or more will be matched by a generous anonymous donor!

Together, we can center the most invisible and impacted in our work to create a just and vibrant world.


Brandon Lacy Campos
Development Director

PS Your support is what keeps us alive and strong, our year end appeal has already raised more than $11,000 from generous community members. Help us continue to grow by making your donation at

Friday, December 16, 2011

One Liner of the Week Award: Kellee Terrell

Last night, I went to the annual holiday party for I have a blog on The Body called Queer, Poz, and Colored: The Essentials, and I have said blog because two years ago, I was at a GLAAD event on the LES in Manhattan, and I met Kellee Terrell.

Kellee comes over to a group of folks I was with and says that she works for TheBody, and she is looking for bloggers to contribute to their Pride edition. I volunteered that I was both positive and a blogger, and her sassy eyes sparkled. It's been a deep love affair since then.

And when I found out that she not only loved but was basically the straight girlfriend of my beloved Kenyon Farrow, I just knew I was going to love this woman.

Sweet Jesus, I love her even if she is cray cray super cray.

So last night, we are at this holiday party, this woman, bless her heart, was finishing a grad school application, while drinking and talking smack (do you SEE why I love me some her).

Then we get to talking about the HIV....because...well....we are at, and I tell her that I am a nonprogressor (which means that my body keeps HIV in check by itself without medication).

This girl gonna look at me and say..."You are like a magical leprechaun. No. Wait. A unicorn. You are a unicorn. That's that white in you. Ain't nobody ever met a person of color nonprogressor. Unicorn"

My horn is big and long and hard.

Word up.

And that is the One Liner of the Week.

PS She is REAL bougie....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Everyday Heroes: Natasha Johnson

Seven years ago, I came to New York City to visit my best friend RJ Thompson and his boyfriend at the time that we shall call Cray Cray. It was my first time in New York in years, and a number of my closest activist buddies from my days as a youth organizer had relocated to NYC. If you have ever been to New York, you know that this city is huge and depending on where you are located, it can take up to an hour and a half from one point in the city to another. So, when visiting on a limited time frame, it makes sense to try and arrange to see as many people as possible in one location at one time. RJ and Cray Cray knew that I had lots of people I loved that I would love to see so they threw me a party at their spot in West Harlem.

What if your friends threw you a party and none of your friends showed up (because they were all together at a house party in Brooklyn?). I almost friend divorced a few people that day (SAMER AND YK ARE YOU LISTENING!)

But never-the-less, the apartment was filled with awesome folks, none of whom I knew, but several of whom are now my friends and none closer or loved more dearly than Natasha Johnson.

Tasha walked in the door that night, and I was in love instantly. She was brilliant. Beautiful. Styling. Had a hot ass husband AND a fine ass girlfriend (the girlfriend wasn't there but I saw pictures later). I mean DAMN! You know you got magical pussy when you can hold down a black man as fine as John and a hot girl too.

I bet Tasha's coochie sparkles and gives birth to leprechauns. (Note, Tasha is single...taste the rainbow ya'll. TASTE THE RAIBOW).


Since 2004, Tasha and I have built a beautiful friendship. When I moved to New York in 2009, Tasha and her former partner Natalie (who I also love and adore)....were two of the first people that I made an explicit point to build more deeply with. And Tasha has become someone so very amazingly special to me. She is intentional. She is beautiful. She can weave a rainstorm into a pair of panties and three pieces of cat hair into a full length gown and make it look couture. She is a human rights lawyer that left us for a year to help stop sex trafficking in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean area. And she is kind. She is gentle. She is no bullshit. But all love.

For all of these reasons and so so so many more, Natasha is my Everyday Hero.

Love you boo.

Monday, December 12, 2011

HIV Positive Detroit Man Faces Massive Discrimination By Employer: The James White Story

At least once a day, I hear a piece of news that makes my blood boil and sends me into a nearly apoplectic rage. Usually it has something to do with injustice, hate, ignorance, willful stupidity, fear, and violence against the vulnerable.

Rarely do I have a personal connection to the story. Today, I do, and the story is so horrific that I am committed to supporting justice. No one attacks my community and gets to walk away from their acts of violence.

I have a friend named James White of Detroit, MI. James lives with HIV, as do I, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of the United States has found that James suffered overt and intentional acts of discrimination based on his HIV status by his former employer Great Expressions Dental Center. The EEOC attempted to mediate, after substantiating James' claims, and Great Expressions rejected the proposed settlement. The EEOC has now given James the right to sue, which he is doing, and it is my hope that Great Expressions is slapped with a judgment so harsh that James lives the rest of his life in comfort and that Great Expressions leaves such a devastating example to hatemongers that no one else in the United States will dare violate the equal opportunity employment rights guaranteed to HIV positive individuals by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Let me be clear, in an article at, James' lawyers say that this is the worst case of HIV related job discrimination that they have ever encountered. I agree.

After testing positive and disclosing his status to his immediate supervisor, and requesting that she keep it confidential, said supervisor informed the regional director. Soon afterwards, James was forced to deal with staff following him around and wiping down any surface he touched with Lysol, a ban against touching doorknobs, constant shifts in this work schedule at the last minute and then being written up for missing shifts if unable to make it, and finally facing hospitalization due to the stress and being diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

In 2011, particularly in an urban environment, absolutely no one has any excuse for being unaware of the ways in which HIV is transmitted. Anyone that has ever had even rudimentary sexual health education knows that HIV is not spread by casual contact, including touch. And an employer has a moral and LEGAL obligation to protect its employees from discrimination, particularly vulnerable populations.

Great Expressions has willfully and actively violated it social, moral, and legal obligations to James White resulting in hurt, harm, and unwarranted damage. Ignorance, fear, prejudice, and overt and active discrimination based on his HIV status is the absolute root cause and it is not only unconscionable, it is unjust. I hope with all my heart that the federal court that hears James' case, finds in his favor, and Great Expressions and all those that participated are made to feel the full weight of the law.

There has been a petition started to let Great Expressions hear from the greater community about its actions. Greater Expressions has clinics in Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Connecticut, Virginia and Massachusetts, and this business needs to know that the business of hate and discrimination costs, and costs big.

Please consider signing this petition and supporting a man that has suffered from the ignorance and hate of others.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

POEM: Just Breathe

Just Breathe
for him

If you let me
I would love you
Hold you
Tell you how to see
Beyond reality into dreams
Sweet fantasies
Babies and ever afters happily
Wedding bells that never stop ringing
Take you to the places
Inside of we glimpsed already
Those mornings when you pulled me
Back to you, into you, into me
In the sweet softness of midnight
That night has been replaying
Sustaining me in this in between
Where I can't see
You clearly enough to know
If I should let you go or hold tight to hope
Is it mercury in retrograde or a decision you have made
In this Christmas season reason says commercially
Belief is a commodity
But I'm here to tell you Santa Claus is real
If you want him to be if you
Just breathe
Believe in me
Not in bittersweet memories
Or best friend remedies
Just breathe
No need to go at hyper speed
Need you near me
Hear me
Hark the Herald Angels sing
Just breathe
I see your history sometimes crushing your chest
Hot mess compressing your blessings into stocking stuffers
Instead of massive presents covered in wrapping paper
Wait for a moment
Just breathe
Tear back the corner just a little
Peek at the golden center it's even better
When you open it slowly
Savoring each moment hold it
Don't fold it back over
It's golden
Just breathe
You deserve it
Earned it
Worked for it
Made the nice list
This is it
24k opportunity
Just breathe
I'll breathe with you
Just breathe.

-Brandon Lacy Campos
-New York, NY
-December 10, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Origin of Love

Generally, I am one of the first folks around to connect the dots between sometimes disparate experiences. I have a knack for drawing the lines between various points and pointing out how sometimes seemingly incongruous moments are actually directly connected.

In fact, I believe that unless you are able to pull certain points together, you can't really understand what is going on in the present. This is no less true about the political than it is for the personal.

This morning, I was listening to the song Origin of Love from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. And I had a moment of realization that hit me so hard that I gasped on the subway platform. The gay next to me looked up in alarm, and I pretended to cough and scrubbed angrily at my face at the tears that seem to have taken great liberties lately with coming and going as they please and often in very conspicuous places.

I repeat....Minnesotans do not do public displays of vulnerability...I have been gone from the cold, heartless homeland of my people for far too long.

This week has been good and hard and rough and difficult and a whole host of other adjectives. There have been some dramatic highs and some fucking terrible lows...but it has all been about growing (and loving) myself and someone else in the best absolute possible way, while holding on to my truth and his truth and a whole lot of not so easy but oh so good honesty. Oh yes Daddy....loving someone the right way can tear you up and put you back together and leave you breathless all at the same time. This one and I have done that to each other and for each other this week.

But there has been a fear sitting inside of me that goes way beyond what is actually happening right now. Right now, my insides tell me that he and I are in a good place with each other and at some point will be in a good place together. Not yet. Not now. But it is what I absolutely believe will be true. Or, as my coworker Jay said today, "From the first time you two saw each other, there was an instant attraction and affection. We all saw it when you two didn't. I believe in my heart that you two will be together."

Guess what? Me too. It's not possible quite yet. But I have faith..and faith is stronger than belief. It doesn't require proof. And I have plenty of proof. BAM!

So, if I am so sure about something that is still unsure, then where the Hell is this fear coming from. I finally figured it out. Let me tell you about the dots that I connected.

In 2006 was the last time I fell for someone anywhere nearly as intensely as this. I have loved people since. Read this blog to know that to be true. But this reminds me of that previous love. The kind that makes you cry for no damn reason when you see a toothbrush or when some stupid as song comes on. Or makes you wait for the first communication of the day like you are in high school or when you are far apart it makes you want to rush back home. That person's name was Chris Johnson, and I love him because he was just that damn amazing.

I need to own that this blog was fairly easy to write until I named Chris. And now a fear just settled on me has put a weakness into my hands.

Chris was amazing from the beginning. I met him in rehab. He had already completed inpatient and was in the transitional program. He was a Southern boy from Virginia. He was my SoCo, Southern Comfort. We dated for a short while and even though there was intense and powerful love present, Chris decided that he couldn't be in a relationship at that moment. And to justify it, he declared that he didn't love me as anything more than a friend.

I knew that motherfucker was lying from the gate. At least the man that I am in love with has owned his love for me, and though he cant really say it, he allows his eyes and body to do so. When he hugs me. When he looks at me. It's there. And, it has been acknowledged as best as he as able right now.

Chris' dumbass looked at me the same damn way and then tried to tell a story that his body gave the lie to.

When I decided to leave Minneapolis, Chris collapsed crying. He decided he was going to drive with me to Albuquerque. He actually drove me all the way to Albuquerque. I confronted him before we left and told him that I knew he was in love with me. He got angry. He denied it. So I let it go. And I did what I had to do to move on. I did the work to survive the longing. I did the work to survive the desire. I did the work to amputate the bleeding from a wound that was created when he walked away and that was slashed wide open when he denied that he loved me all the while acting like a partner would act minus the sex.

A year later, I moved back to Minneapolis. He had just gotten out of a relationship with an asshole. And, finally, he admitted that he had lied. That he loved me. That he still loved me.

Holy shit was I an angry human being in that moment. I resisted slapping the shit out of him. Instead, I simply told him that I knew that. But it was too late. I still loved Chris, but I was too afraid to open back up that ridiculous floodgate of desire and passion again. He hadn't been brave enough to at LEAST admit his love for me, so I couldn't trust him a second time. It just wasn't something I could risk. The first time had almost done me in. And I am survivor if nothing else. Once bitten....

Chris became one of my best friends. And all the love that had always been sat between us. It was there and continued to grow. And it was there the last time I talked to him. I was the last person he talked to the night before he shot himself. Not his boyfriend. Not his Mom and Dad. Me. And the last thing he said to me was that it was too painful to hear me voice, that he loved me, and then he hung up the phone. At least I got to tell him that I loved him before he had to leave. I still tell him that I love him, because I believe in Heaven, and I believe that good people go there. Chris was more than good. He was great.

The person that I have in my life now, is someone that I care about as much as I did Chris. If possible, more. More because the way it started had nothing to do with sex. It had everything to do with respect, politics, support, energy, and friendship. That is still the basis of it. We aren't together. But the similarities are enough that I finally realized today that I was sitting with an irrational fear related to Chris. I have learned that the people you love the most and best who are afraid to name their love...are the ones that leave...and leave a hole the size of an exit wound in your life.

This isn't the same as that. And just writing this blog has my spirit telling me that this is so very different. I listen to my spirit...and the fire that is now glowing inside of me. The work is different...there is still work to do...but damn if it doesn't feel like work that is about love and bravery.

Hey Chris. I still love you. Sleep well. Now, I can let you go.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

One Liner of the Week Award: Miss Major Griffin-Gracy

If you don't know who Miss Major is, you better ask somebody. This giant of a woman not only was at Stonewall and was the fabled tranny that took off and threw her shoe, but she was also at Attica (as an inmate) within days of the riots. It was at Stonewall and more so at Attica that Miss Major was politicized, and for 40 years she has been kicking ass and calling names all across the land.

I first met Miss Major a few years ago when she was honored by Queers for Economic Justice at QEJ's annual award reception during the Creating Change Conference. Last week, I was with Miss Major and about twenty five other individuals, representing 14 organizations, at the ROOTS meeting in Minneapolis. Over the course of the two days of meeting many witty and impactful zingers were let loose by the mostly people of color queer and trans folks in the room (we found out later that two of our favorite people in the room were actually straight....I was flabbergasted...but we love our straights doing the work as well). But at one point, Miss Major, when referring to opening her home from time to time to her "girls," when one of them finds themselves without shelter, she said,

"It's not that I don't have boundaries, it's just that the motherfuckers keep moving."

Having an elder both in age and in relationship to the movement let loose with that line made my everlasting life. And that trannies and gentleman, is the One Liner of the Week.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Conflict Isn't A Four Letter Word...Running Is

At this point in my life, I should really know better than to avoid my feelings. Actually, let me be clear. At this point in my life I should know that when I avoid owning my feelings, particularly when I am afraid of my feelings or afraid of how those feelings may be received, I tend to wild out and do some dumb shit.

I am hoping to avoid that this time around.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. Absolutely everything happens for a reason. I often get pissed off because I don't usually understand why certain shit happens when it does and in the circumstances when it does (I would be simple courtesy if the universe could give me a heads up when it is going to fuck with me and turn everything topsy turvy....perhaps a post it note on the fridge or a text message...GChat? Im? No? Okey dokey)....

For the last week, I have been in Minneapolis for two series of meetings. The first was the ROOTS Coalition meeting. ROOTS is a coalition of the 14 leading queer and trans people of color organizations in the U.S. (though the coalition is multi-racial and includes white led organizations, all of the groupings either center people of color in their work or are explicitly people of color organizations). Getting 14 organizations together to form an entity that can work together to push a new kind of LGBTQ organizing agenda by forming a strategy and education tank (StratTank) is hard work. Lots of the folks in the room have personal histories as well as organizational histories that are sometimes difficult.

Moments of difficulty and conflict are necessary for growth and lay the foundation for really being able to do tremendous work together.

This weekend, there came a point in our work when the entire body started to run from a potential conflict. I am no stranger to running from something that seems hard. I am no stranger of walking away from something that seems complicated. It's the fear of being hurt or being wounded or being rejected or being denied or being found wanting/unworthy that has always been behind my high stepping away from difficult moments.

This week I decided to force a confrontation by holding the group accountable to its attempt to run from a hard decision. I knew absolutely that I could come out the other side hurting. I risked being rejected by my peers and I was forcing myself into a confrontation that I absolutely understood was going to be difficult and could trigger some old and deep hurts. But I also knew that if this body of allies didn't stop running from the hard work, and if I couldn't, personally, face up to the piece of the hard work that was sitting in the room that was attached to a history that belonged, in part, to me, that the coalition was in deep fucking trouble.

Not only did the confrontation happen and it was difficult, the end result was so beautiful that it absolutely confirmed for me that it is beauty and healing that lays on the other side of bravery and risk.

By no means did I make it through the conflict on my own. Part of being willing to engage in healthy conflict is trusting that the folks that are in it with you are going to HOLD you if you come to the hard stuff with integrity. It's trusting that love is stronger than hate/anger/hurt/wounding/sadness/loss/fear. It is trusting that if you come to the moment with hope and care not just for yourself but for the process and with the small bravery of dreaming and wishing for something better and more beautiful to come the other side of the hard moments, that it WILL work out. For those of you to whom I reached out and reached back, thank you. To those that reached out on your own, thank you. And to the one who answered the phone a whole lot that day, thank you.

We can all think/fear/nightmare out the horrible possible outcomes of any situation. Particularly those of us that have been hurt and are still holding on to our hurts. The pain and fear tells us that this situation is going to be a repeat of the one before it and the one before that and the one before that. We lose sight of all of the happiness and beauty that we have experienced and the OVERWHELMING number of times that our families/communities/lovers/friends/comrades have held us. We forget about the times when we took a risk and it led to something transformative and beautiful.

Hurt screams while love whispers...but hurt eventually loses its voice while loves voice keeps steady and strengthens.

I won't run any longer. My hurt doesn't get to win and difficult moments do not get to derail potential. The work of living, the work of growing, and the work of justice demands more than that.

I love you all.