Nine LGBTQ Stories Big Media Ignored in 2014

Laverne Cox and CeCe McDonald.
Laverne Cox and CeCe McDonald. (Photo by Sabelo Narasimhan/The Opportunity Agenda)

By Toshio Meronek, Truthout

Radical queer organizing was alive and well in the US in 2014; you just may not have heard about it in mainstream media.

The mainstream “Homosexual Agenda” in 2014 revolved around conservative issues like gay marriage and transgender military inclusion. That meant lots of important queer and trans stories didn’t get much of a voice.

Buzz about the criminalization of trans sex workers and the horror stories of undocumented queer people in immigration detention centers may have been muted by the Big Media gatekeepers, but these issues deserve a wider audience. Here are nine stories that will no doubt reverberate in 2015:

READ the rest of the story: HERE

Reprinted with permission of Truthout

Randi Sylve Presents ROS Artistry

There’s nothing like the spirit of New Orleans, open and welcoming to anyone who loves her. This is the personality and spirit of Randi ‘Obi’ Sylve, principal of ROS Artistry. A couple of months ago Randi Sylve introduced the world to his new venture, ROS Artistry. Sylve with his bold, eclectic jewelry collection is set to take the fashion world by surprise.

Since making macaroni necklaces as a kid, Randi knew he had an affinity for creating jewelry. A few years back one of his fashion creations of a ruby Converse was put in the Invisible Man exhibit at the McKenna Museum in New Orleans. But while working for HIV prevention, his creative juices began to flow and out came the ROS Artistry collection.

The humanity of Randi Sylve is undeniable for his need to give back to the community. With each day of his life, he is dedicated to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS particularly in the black community. It is this spirit that will help me incorporate philanthropic efforts with ROS Artistry as it blossoms. Randi’s big heart and dedication to giving back, combined with his bold designs make him a great role model for black men everywhere.

Name: RaRandi RAWndi ‘Obi’ Sylve

Position: Principal of ROS Artistry

Interview

1. What is your current job position? How did you go from that to jewelry designer?

I have two jobs – By day, I do STD/HIV Marketing,  and by night I work as a Cosmetology Advisor. Both jobs have supported me in developing the skills to be business savvy, creative, detail-oriented, and people-centered; which has supported the vision of ROS Artistry, and my jewelry design.

2. Do you have any formal training in jewelry design and creation? How did you come to realize your talent?

I have not taken any formal training in jewelry making, however, have an artistic background in installation art. I also studied architecture briefly in college, which has been beneficial in my ability to create and craft jewelry. – I think I realized my talent about 10 years ago when I started making much of my own jewelry and would receive compliments on the design and craftsmanship. It wasn’t until about 3-4 years ago that I started designing professionally and investing time into learning about the elements that I incorporate into each piece.

3. What was the first piece of jewelry you ever made? How have your designs evolved?

My first piece of jewelry  was probably the glued macaroni necklace that most kids made in school, LOL! Ironically, I think that the macaroni necklace shaped the evolution of my jewelry today. – Macaroni scientifically has two forms; hard and soft. Similarly, my designs have a balance  between masculinity and femininity, shine and matte, subtlety and boldness, rare and familiar.

4. What did you focus on to start ROS Artistry?

My primary focus was in making sure that I could offer something special to others, without it being typical (diamonds). I wanted to focus on the understanding that we commonly love things that are one-of-a-kind, timeless, and fairly-priced.

5. How do you go about creating a new piece? We’d love to know about your design process – choosing materials, design development.

I usually start with the idea of  making items that are unique and transitional for various occasions. I then consider what elements could be incorporated that are not seen everyday on the street. From there, I just create and try not to focus on gender-specific concepts.

6. If you could see any woman or man wearing your beautiful designs, who would it be?

My ideal muse would be Amel Larrieux! I remember meeting her about 12 years ago wearing a bold necklace of woods and strands of beads that felt indigenous. It had the most beautiful luster and aroma. Since then, I’ve always admired her cultural style and appeal. She would be ideal.

7. What advice would you give anyone who want to follow their dreams while working full-time?

My only advice would be to understand that chasing dreams requires work, tenacity, and passion! If you’re working a full-time time job and concurrently following another dream; use your job to gain and refine the skills needed to make your business a success. Those skills can be in customer service, money management, marketing, research, etc.

I would also recommend keeping in mind that having patience is important. Sometimes we get so excited about our personal goals that we neglect the everyday lessons that aid our paths, that we realize later.

8. How does living in New Orleans influence your design style?

Everything about New Orleans inspires my design style! – NOLA’s unique appeal, climate, people, colors, aroma, and history all inspire what I envision ROS Artistry Jewelry to be. I want my jewelry to feel like the ‘gumbo’ we often refer to New Orleans as. I want ROS Artistry to be bold yet comforting; to smell good, and to evoke a sense of peace and spirituality that New Orleans provides. If I can, I want it all to feel like wearing LOVE everyday.

9. What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?

Whoa! – Hmmm? – I would’ve told myself at 21 to reflect the beauty that others see in me today. I would’ve also told myself to be more confident and to use my resources wisely; to practice, and know that it’s doesn’t always ‘make perfect’. I would also say to respect the doors that closed in my face, and to reflect on the ‘no’s’ to be better, until the yes’s come back around. I’d also tell myself to enjoy the process of growing and getting better.

10. Who is Randi ‘Obi’ Sylve? And why should we buy ROS Artistry jewelry?

Randi ‘Obi’ Sylve is a multi-faceted individual that loves to polish new ideas. He loves a challenge, and taking advantage of opportunities to make people feel wonderful; in whatever that may mean to them. My jewelry is just a start to spearheading that goal. Purchasing ROS Artistry Jewelry means a lot to me in terms of my business, but I’d rather make people feel appreciated and worthy for free. I am just fortunate to do what I love in a way that it impacts others through my art. But yes, Buy away! — Did I say that I am silly, and tons of fun? Haha.

To check out the ROS Artistry collection and/or purchase at www.ROSartistry.com.

The Transition – From Femme to Stemme

By Aryka Randall, The Fab Femme

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to transition from a feminine woman to a “stud” or “stem”? If you’ve ever really sat down and thought about it, you probably would come up with a variety of questions that would send you into a total tail spin. Really stop and think about it for a moment. “What does it feel like to transition from a feminine identified woman to a masculine identified woman”?

Last week the TFF team had a chance to sit down with a young lady who experienced all the trials and tribulations included in “coming out as a stud”. We talked about a number of topic including how she first came about dressing in a more masculine manner.

The first time I decided to dress a little more boyish was because I felt more comfortable with myself in mens clothes. Some people stopped talking to me once I became more open with my wardrobe but I didn’t care. It made me feel good. I felt more comfortable and more confident. I started to wear t-shirts and boyish accessories.

I also realized that if I wanted to attract a certain type of woman i’d have to dress a certain way. Getting femmes to notice me was much easier once I started dressing the way I liked.

Interestingly enough, femmes have quite the opposite problem when they come out as they are nearly impossible to recognize out and about. While it is nice to have feminine women recognize you as a lesbian immediately, there are also con’s to “looking like a lesbian” in public.

People think because i’m gay I wan’t to talk to any girl who crosses my path. Sometimes people also think i’m a boy and call me sir or young man. I have a good sense of humor though so I laugh it off. “Looking” like a lesbian allows others to prejudge you right away. There are pros and cons to dressing like this.

One question we had for our guest that everyone was itching to know was “how does your mom and family feel about your transition“? Most mothers dream about their daughters marrying someone who’s tall dark and handsome, has six figures sitting in his bank account, and is ready to create grandchildren at the drop of a dime. The dream of watching their little girl walk down the aisle in a luxurious white wedding grown is gone once she comes home with a fitted cap on.

I waited like two years to come out to my mom. She was understanding and she said she knew long before I told her. She just told me that as long as I still go to church and talk to god she’s ok with it. My dad used to ask “when am I gonna get my little girl back”, but he doesn’t say that anymore. He’s come around.

When it comes to addressing qualms about your sexuality things can get complicated. Part of learning more about who you are as a person is becoming comfortable with the way you look and dress. The more you experiment with wardrobe choices the more comfortable you will become with your sexuality.

Make sure you are comfortable and don’t do what everyone anyone else is doing; dress yourself. Don’t dress however people think a “stud” would dress. Play with different styles, have your own identity, and be true to yourself.

Transitioning from a femme to a stud can be difficult. If you are a woman who’s toying with the idea of getting closer to your masculine side, know that you aren’t alone. Be comfortable with yourself and trust you gut! The real you will emerge at just the right time.

Reprinted with permission from The Fab Femme.

…living life on our own terms