Connect with us

Miscellaneous

Queery: Jamal Ari Black

The local dancer answers 20 gay questions

Published

on

Jamal Ari Black (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Jamal Ari Black knew embarking on a career as a full-time dancer would be a tough road, but in his early years of college it became obvious the sociology classes he’d chosen were not clicking.

“I was taking a dance class just to take it,” he says. “I wasn’t really understanding the sociology stuff and it was so obvious this was panning out better for me so I switched.”

Black got interested in dance in high school. He was in a group called Ramjam that performed modern dance and poetry at elementary schools in his Goldsboro, N.C., hometown. He eventually graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a degree in dance and choreography. He tried New York briefly but didn’t like it so he came to Towson, Md., and found work with Edgeworks Dance Theater about four years ago. A few years after that, he met Daniel Phoenix Singh at a dance convention and joined that outfit as well.

Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company performs tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Gala Hispanic Theatre (3333 14th Street, N.W.) with a show featuring two of Anna Sokolow’s works from her time in Mexico, “Frida” and “homenaje a Siqueiros,” the latter of which is a U.S. premiere. The company’s signature work, “Vasanth,” which draws on movements from classical Indian dance, will also be performed. Tickets are $25. Visit dakshina.org for details.

Black enjoys the different experiences he gets with his two outfits — Edgeworks is mostly black and he’s one of only two gay men in the company. Dakshina’s male dancers are mostly gay and incorporate more cross-cultural elements.

“It’s a way of understanding people different than yourself,” he says. “That’s one thing I really love [about Dakshina]. Some of the modern dances we do are very old, stuff from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s that you normally wouldn’t get to do. It’s a totally different way of moving than we do now.”

Black, 27, and his partner, Duane, live in Temple Hills, Md. When he’s not dancing, he enjoys following pop music and watching TV.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I was outed in high school through a series of events a la the movie “Mean Girls.” A letter was being passed around school and it ended up getting back home to my mother. That began our initial conversations about my being gay.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Being an entertainer and a black man, I love how RuPaul has never been afraid to be who he is and have the amazing career that he has had. He is the epitome of bravery.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?

I have actually had my best nights at The Fireplace. Dive bar it may be but you can’t beat cheap drinks and good music.

Describe your dream wedding.

It would definitely need to be something small and intimate.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

The arts. I think music, dance and visual art helps give people a voice and an outlet for expression. It is a way into the mind and soul of another person.

What historical outcome would you change?

I don’t know that I would. I think things happen as they need to for whatever reason that we as people may never know. With that being said it is always unnecessary for innocent lives to be lost in wars, genocides and murders.

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

I think social networking has not only changed how I communicate with my friends but sometimes I find myself Facebooking my brother instead of just picking up the phone. Oh what a world, what a world.

On what do you insist?

I insist that we as people treat others how we would want to be treated.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

From Facebook: Whenever somebody over sings the “Star Spangled Banner,” I think of that Maya Rudolph SNL skit … Hilarious.

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Am I the Crazy One?”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

I would find a way to break into the building where this said science was being created and destroy it. It would be very “Mission Impossible”-like. The first one though because none of the sequels were very good.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

I have always believed that we aren’t alone in this world.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Not that this isn’t already happening but getting the youth involved in matters of human rights. I think young people have always had a way of helping people see past their own hate.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

I kind of just want to walk across hot coals. It seems like a very memorable experience. I would do it to save a life.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

The fact that people get annoyed with LGBT stereotypes.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

Does “The Wizard of Oz” count? If not, then “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

What’s the most overrated social custom?

A male giving up his seat to a female.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I hope that I am one day deserving of the Kennedy Center Honors.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

I wish I would have known that it is OK to put my happiness before the happiness of others.

Why Washington?

To me it is the perfect balance of a big city life with a small town feel.

 

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Celebrity News

Lizzo makes $50K donation to Marsha P. Johnson Institute

Singer is vocal LGBTQ ally

Published

on

Lizzo at the 65th Grammy Awards (Screenshot from the Grammy Awards)

When Lizzo sings “If I’m shinin,’ everybody gonna shine,” in her hit song, “Juice,” she means it. Proof of that came this week on Instagram when the LGBTQ ally announced the first winner of her annual Juneteenth Giveback Campaign is the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, a national nonprofit based in Richmond, Calif., dedicated to the protection and defense of Black transgender people. 

And she did so in song: “On the first day of Juneteenth, Lizzo gave to me,” she sang in her video, posted Tuesday, as she revealed her $50,000 gift to MPJI.

“That’s right, we know who Marsha P. Johnson is. We know what Marsha P. Johnson has done for the LGBTQ, emphasis on that ‘T,’ Q community,” said Lizzo to her 13.5 million followers. “Thank you so much to the people at the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. You deserve this, and I hope this helps you so much as you help protect our Black trans family.” 

“What the Marsha P. Johnson Institute does is protects and defends the rights of Black transgender people. They do this by organizing community, advocating for the people, and creating an intentional healing community, developing transformative leadership and promoting collective power,” she said. 

“We are overjoyed for the shoutout from Lizzo today, the generosity of her sharing her platform and the recognition of MPJI and its work,” said Elle Moxley, MPJI’s executive director. “The resources from this campaign will ensure the protection and defense of Black transgender people continue at a time where it is so vitally needed. We are so grateful for the support of Lizzo and her fans.”

As one of Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year for 2019 and a 2023 Grammy winner, Lizzo is more than a pop star but an inspiration to millions of fans for her body-positive attitude, her self-confidence on stage and in her videos, her empowering music and her activism. She’s also the founder of her own clothing line, Yitty. In 2021, she made headlines when she publicly corrected a paparazzo for using “she/her” pronouns and misgendering Demi Levato.

As part of her campaign, now in its 4th year, Lizzo recognizes Black-led grassroots organizations and businesses and encourages her fans to join her in supporting each of the five organizations she highlights this week. Fans who take action by donating are  entered into a drawing for an all-expenses paid trip to see her perform at Fuji Rock in Japan later this year. 

This week’s other nonprofits receiving gifts are: Black Girls Smile, Sphinx Music, the University of Houston and Save Our Sisters United.

Find out more about Lizzo’s 4th annual Juneteenth Giveback Campaign by clicking here.

Continue Reading

Celebrity News

Anne Heche dies after removal from life support

Actress dated Ellen DeGeneres in late 1990s

Published

on

(Screenshot/YouTube Inside Edition)

Actress Anne Heche died after she was removed from life support on Sunday, nearly two weeks after her Mini-Cooper crashed through a two-story house in Los Angeles’ Mar Vista neighborhood. Investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department believe she was intoxicated at the time.

She sustained a severe anoxic brain injury along with severe burns and was being treated at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital, near Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley.

The 53-year-old actress who was a star of films like “Donnie Brasco,” the political satire “Wag the Dog” and the 1998 remake of “Psycho,” had been declared legally dead under California law on Friday, however, her family kept her alive long enough to be an organ donor.

In a statement Friday, the LAPD announced that: “As of today, there will be no further investigative efforts made in this case. Any information or records that have been requested prior to this turn of events will still be collected as they arrive as a matter of formalities and included in the overall case. When a person suspected of a crime expires, we do not present for filing consideration.” LAPD detectives had previously made public that investigators into the crash found narcotics in a blood sample taken from Heche.

The actress’s family released a statement on Friday:

“Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend. Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact,” the statement added.

Heche was married to camera operator Coleman Laffoon from 2001 to 2009. The two had a son, Homer, together. She had another son, named Atlas, during a relationship with actor James Tupper, her co-star on the TV series “Men In Trees.”

Laffoon left a moving tribute on an Instagram reel in which he also gave an update on how their 20-year-old son Homer Laffoon is coping with the loss of his mother.

“I loved her and I miss her, and I’m always going to,” he said adding: “Homer is okay. He’s grieving, of course, and it’s rough. It’s really rough, as probably anybody can imagine. But he’s surrounded by family and he’s strong, and he’s gonna be okay.”

“Rest In Peace, Mom, I love you, Homer,” the actor’s 20-year-old son, Homer, said in a statement after Heche was declared legally dead on Friday.“ My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom,” read the statement. “After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully, my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom. Over those six days, thousands of friends, family, and fans made their hearts known to me. I am grateful for their love, as I am for the support of my Dad, Coley, and my stepmom Alexi who continue to be my rock during this time. Rest In Peace Mom, I love you, Homer.”

Tupper, a Canadian actor who starred alongside Heche in “Men in Trees,” had a 13-year-old son, Atlas, with her. “Love you forever,” Tupper, 57, wrote on his Instagram post’s caption with a broken heart emoji, which shared an image of the actress from Men in Trees.

Between 1997 and 2000, Heche was also in a relationship with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

“This is a sad day,” DeGeneres posted on Twitter. “I’m sending Anne’s children, family and friends all of my love.” The year after her break-up with the comedian, in September 2001, Heche recounted in her memoir “Call Me Crazy,” about her lifelong struggles with mental health and a childhood of abuse.

KTLA’s entertainment reporter Sam Rubin noted that over the past two decades, Heche’s career pivoted several times. In 2017, she hosted a weekly radio show on SiriusXM with Jason Ellis called “Love and Heche.”

In 2020, Heche made her way into the podcast world. She launched “Better Together” which she cohosted alongside Heather Duffy Boylston. The show was described as a way to celebrate friendship. 

She also worked in smaller films, on Broadway, and on TV shows. She recently had recurring roles on the network series “Chicago P.D.,” and “All Rise” and was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.”

People magazine reported that several of Heche’s acting projects are expected to be released posthumously.

These include “Girl in Room 13,” expected to be released on Lifetime in September, “What Remains,” scheduled to be released in 2023, and HBO Max TV series “The Idol,” created by Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson.

In her Instagram post from earlier this year Heche stands between her sons Atlas, 13 and Homer, 20.

From KTLA:

Continue Reading

Celebrity News

‘Star Trek’ actress Nichelle Nichols dies at 89

George Takei tweets ‘we lived long and prospered together’

Published

on

(Screenshot/YouTube The Smithsonian Channel)

She was a groundbreaking cultural icon who broke barriers in a time of societal upheaval and battling for the civil rights of Black Americans. An actress, a mother and thoroughly devoted to the legions of fans of “Star Trek,” Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Nyota Uhura, has died at 89.

The announcement on her Facebook page by her son read:

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Friends, Fans, Colleagues, World

I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years.

Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration.

Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.

I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.

Live Long and Prosper,

Kyle Johnson

Nichols was born in Robbins, Ill., in 1932, according to her IMDb page. Legendary composer Duke Ellington “discovered” Nichols and helped her become a singer and dancer. She later turned to acting, and joined Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek,” where she played Uhura from 1966 to 1969.

Out actor George Takei who played ‘Sulu’ on Star Trek the original series with Nichelle Nichols who played Lt. Nyota Uhura, at a Star Trek convention in this undated photo. (George Takei/Twitter)

It was in that role of Uhura that Nichols not only broke barriers between races, most famously her onscreen kiss, the first between a Black person and a white person, with castmate William Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk, but she also became a role model for young Black women and men inspiring them to seek out their own places in science, technology, and other human endeavors.

In numerous interviews over the years Nichols often recalled how the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a fan of the show and praised her role and personally encouraged her to stay with the series.

When the first series ended Nichols went on to become a spokesperson for NASA, where she “helped recruit and inspire a new generation of fearless astronauts.” She later reprised her role in several successful “Star Trek” films and continued to advocate for the advancement of Black Americans especially in the areas of science and technology.

Formerly a NASA deputy administrator, Frederick Gregory, now 81, told the Associated Press he once saw an advertisement in which Nichols said “I want you to apply for the NASA program.”

“She was talking to me,” he recounted. The U.S. Air Force pilot would apply and later become the first African American shuttle pilot.

President Joe Biden weighed in Sunday afternoon on her passing in a statement issued by the White House:

In Nichelle Nichols, our nation has lost a trailblazer of stage and screen who redefined what is possible for Black Americans and women.
 
A daughter of a working-class family from Illinois, she first honed her craft as an actor and singer in Chicago before touring the country and the world performing with the likes of Duke Ellington and giving life to the words of James Baldwin.
 
During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she shattered stereotypes to become the first Black woman to act in a major role on a primetime television show with her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek. With a defining dignity and authority, she helped tell a central story that reimagined scientific pursuits and discoveries. And she continued this legacy by going on to work with NASA to empower generations of Americans from every background to reach for the stars and beyond.
 
Our nation is forever indebted to inspiring artists like Nichelle Nichols, who show us a future where unity, dignity, and respect are cornerstones of every society.

Nichols son said that services will be private for family members and her closest friends.

In 2008 the actress at a news conference, coordinated by the filmmakers of the motion picture “TRU LOVED,” in honor of the more than 900 students at Los Angeles’ Miguel Contreras Learning Complex’s School of Social Justice who participated in the GLSEN Day of Silence.

Nichelle Nichols speaks on LGBTQ rights:

Her fellow castmate and life long friend, openly Out actor George Takei shared his sadness on hearing of Nichols’ passing on Twitter:

From the September 2016 edition of the Smithsonian Channel: “Star Trek’s decision to cast Nichelle Nichols, an African American woman, as major character on the show was an almost unheard-of move in 1966. But for black women all over the country, it redefined the notions of what was possible.”

Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols on Uhura’s Radical Impact:

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular