Lesbian Nightlife in NYC Reviewed

As a black lesbian in this beautiful city, it has not always been so easy finding a bar or club that has just the right scene. Fortunately, my circle has expanded and I have been introduced to more lesbo-centric bars and nightclubs than necessary.

The Big Bad Lesbian

Hard femme's have a blended gender configuration that includes both feminine and masculine qualities.Within the queer world, a blend of these two characteristics isn't always embraced.

Reviewed: Lesbian Nightlife in NJ

I know how you feel. You're searching for lesbian clubs in NJ, and you're being directed to New York City. Well, there's two reasons for that: New York City has some of the best lesbian events and lesbian clubs in NJ are scarce.

What Women Want: Thirsty Edition

Now I know the "thirst" can be real and some people are far too quick to "fall in love", but when someone wants to see you and expresses that to you in a non-weirdo way; try your best to avoid using the term "thirsty".

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Lesbian Collective Podcast: Dreamers

People talk a lot.
They hope and dream about the places they want to see and the things that they want to do but they don’t often do it. Sometimes they dream so big that they begin to live in that dream. The dream becomes reality even when everyone else knows they are still awake. I try not to dream too big. I never want to be overcome by a dream that I lose all sense of where I actually am and what I’m actually doing. This might seem counter-intuitive to how to make a dream come true but that’s just how I work. I’ll research, watch and wait for the right time to make the leap from something I just talk about to something I can do.

The Lesbian Collective
Nelli, Soko, Stoney & JayMarie (left to right)
My friend Courtney has always been a dreamer. Since the day I met her she’s talked about being famous and for some time I believed she would. She’s attractive, outgoing and she has a way about her that always made her seem so cool. I’ve always thought she could probably have any person she wanted and on many occasions I’ve watched that happen right in front of me. A few months ago, Courtney sent a message in the group chat suggesting that we start a podcast. In 2017, there is no shortage of podcasts but there is room in this space for four queer black women to share their opinions. There is also the potential for Courtney to build her personal brand and one day, just maybe, get that fame she’s always wanted.
I took the bait.

Soko has always been about action. Behind the scenes she will be working on 4-5 different projects that exist outside of her 9-5 job. Best part about all of that is that you won’t know about it until she’s 6 months in and made enough money to be bored of it all. After I sent out the kick off email to help us begin our podcast journey, she immediately provided her feedback and began her own research toward making this idea something tangible. When I met Soko I knew that she was smart. She would build one page websites with raw HTML code to relax. I also knew that if we were to do this much of the work would fall on her lap. This wouldn’t necessarily be intentional but based on her skill-set and her work ethic, she would almost instinctively bear the burden.

NYC Pride 2017
The Lesbian Collective
Dreamers are nothing without that one person that can picture them at the finish line. Ciarra is that person. She wills herself to envision someone’s personal goals because Ciarra is also a dreamer. She has high hopes for herself and I can only hope that one day she conquers the world. As of right now, I can’t tell you how she will get there but that isn’t the focus for a dreamer; it is only the deep belief that they will achieve. She was in for the podcast before it even happened.

Four black, lesbian women discussing pop culture, politics, sex, relationships and LGBTQ issues on a public forum?! GASP. The Lesbian Collective podcast was born.

Black culture is always en vogue. We are the creators of culture and the unsung heroes of all things trendy. From our hair, skin, body type, art and vernacular we have been plagiarized more than any other group of people in history. All of this to say that black professionals in the media world are still grossly underrepresented so we took this as an opening. We can’t represent every black woman in the world or every queer person but we can add to the ongoing commentary about the way we live our lives with our own truth.

Don’t think it’s all been sunshine and rainbows. On three occasions or more we’ve almost lost a member. Personal insecurities have been used as insults and there have been more than enough fuck ups. If there was a VH1 “Behind the Music” episode on The Lesbian Collective it would feature Soko in a studio with sunglasses on drinking something dark talking about how she, “can’t teach people how to think.” She’s absolutely right too and we’re lucky for that because it’s our differences in thinking that make the show shine.

Dinah Shore 2017 in Palm Springs, California
In 5 years, we might look back at all this and laugh at how silly all of this was. We could laugh at the thought of four friends coming together to do something instead of just talking about it.

How could there ever be space for four black, queer, women that lovingly refer to each other as “bitch” to share their opinions? I guess all it would take are a few dreamers.

Listen to the latest episodes of The Lesbian Collective podcast here:

Monday, December 5, 2016

Then vs. Now

Things have changed.
I once was a messy, immature and bold young woman stomping through Brooklyn and Manhattan with a clear vision for what success and failure look like. I wrote about online dating stories and relished the opportunity to meet new and different people that I knew would never stay in my life. Friends were my end all be all and my job was the only woman I was faithful to. I spent money on whatever with little care for overdraft fees and late payments. Nothing really mattered but the next happy hour and free before 11 at the club.

So who am I now?
I overthink and take the stresses from my waking life to my dreams. Waking up at night with my chest pounding because my contract ends in a few months and I haven’t secured my next position. Almost forgot to tell you, I’m finally faithful and the serial cheater has let the pimp hand rest. My mom and I are in a weird place where she doesn’t yet see me as an adult but leans on me like I have all the answers. Don’t get me wrong, happy hour is still dope but now it happens at my apartment where I’m the bartender and the sole patron. My job which is now a “career” is still god in my world but slowly becoming a means to an end.

Relationships are fragile.
Maybe I was just so self-centered and blinded by the other women I was juggling that I never realized how fragile a relationship is. My last relationship ended badly and I only took off a few months before hopping into another one. She loved me but I don’t know if I was ready to truly love anyone more than myself. When an object is seen as fragile it has to be handled with care. It isn’t just because it can be easily broken that makes something fragile; it’s also because of the value we have assigned to the object. Finally, I value someone enough to think about their feelings before making a decision and that’s why it’s so fragile It’s fragile because I’m actually in love.

Family is complicated.
From the outside my family would appear to be the most loving and supportive group of people in my life. From the inside that is also true. It’s their relationships with my mom that still needs some work. The stress of balancing my love for them and my love for my mom is still a burden at times. I’m not sure of what I can really do to improve their views on her but I’m slowly realizing that this might be a losing battle.

It’s still hard to make friends.
Bullshit. Making friends is not hard. I make it hard because I have standards. Here are my standards:
1. Be smart
2. Have a job or just have your own money
3. Present yourself positively
4. Be ethical and conscious
5. Be open to new things/experiences
6. Enjoy dancing and music
7. Be smart

Simple list but so hard to actually find people with this make up. Luckily, I have two friends and a cousin that embody my list. Unfortunately, no one else does.

Work to live or live to work.
I definitely work to live. I like to eat crab legs and steak. I like to go to movies and take vacations. In order to live this way, I have to work. Marketing is constantly changing. It’s a good fit for someone like me because nothing remains the same and I get to continuously experiment and learn new ways attract an audience with content. I love my job and I love the way my career is progressing. My impatience makes me feel like I’m never doing enough. Improving the visibility of my personal brand IS something I can work on and it could take my mind off of other stresses in life.

Writing took a backseat.
Putting pen to paper of fingers to keys was my therapist. Writing helped me to see things more clearly. It’s always been the best way for me to dissect a problem but I lost that somehow.
I’ll be back.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Violence Causes Silence #PrayForOrlando

I am in love with a woman who is genuine, kind, selfless and beautiful. She is one of the strongest people that I know and she is scared.

She is scared to share the part of herself that I see every single day; it’s the part of her that loves me. The tragedy in Orlando is monumental. It is yet another display of how loving someone can get you killed. It’s the reason why my father tells me to keep my sexuality to myself and it’s the reason why my partner is uncomfortable holding my hand in the street.

Recent news reports have revealed that the Orlando shooter used gay dating apps and had visited the Pulse nightclub. From this we can assume that his uncontrollable self-hatred resulted in the death of so many people last weekend. This isn’t the first time that someone so ashamed of their feelings and desires has lashed out at others for being free and unfortunately it will not be the last.

We have to stop pressuring and judging people for how they look or who they choose to love because many times it just ends in violence. Masculinity has nothing to do with sexuality and I truly believe this is the heart of the matter for so many closeted men out there. You are no less of a man for loving another man just as I am no less of a woman for loving another woman.

My partner will continue to be scared. As I rant and rave about this senseless tragedy she sits next to me in complete silence, so far removed from what has happened to people just like her. She has nothing to say about events such as this because this isn’t her community. She could not and does not want to be aligned with a group under such figurative and literal fire. How could she want to be part of a group that is so unsafe? That can be shot down even in a place they call home. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

... Well It's Cause He's White

Racism and prejudice have been hot topics in the media and society for the past 3 years or so, and this doesn't mean that racism was dead prior to this but it's just been brought to light on a much larger scale. In my mind, we as a people should have outgrown prejudice and racism long ago. If only the strong survive then weak minded racists should have died off long ago.

Before I continue, let's define prejudice and racism.

Prejudice - preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience 
Racism - creates or reproduces structures of domination based on existentialist categories of race
Let's use an example:

P:  I've never met a dumb blonde before but she's so blonde she's gotta be dumb!
R: I hate that black woman because all blacks are lazy and stupid.
Now let's dive into why I'm even mentioning all of this at all.

I have a coworker(let's call him Paul) who is probably one of the most open-minded people that I know. Paul is funny, witty and he happens to be a white man that adores women of color. This doesn't define him as a person, but for the purposes here I'm using this as a display of how far he is from racist or prejudice.

On one occasion, we got to talking about another much older coworker(let's call him Tony) that I felt may not have felt comfortable around me because of my skin color. Paul couldn't understand why I could feel this way and told me that Tony couldn't possibly be racist because his son has a disability. He then told me that Tony is an older man and may still be adjusting to seeing a young black woman walking down the hallways. We won't even get into the reasons why that's absurd right now, so let's move on.

On a more recent occasion, I expressed to Paul that my interactions with one of our coworkers (let's call her Joan) are so awkward despite us having been around each other in and out of work. Paul instantly jumped to tell me that Joan is a nice girl and that she comes from a wealthy family. After thinking about it, I was unsure how knowing these things about Joan would help me to work through the awkwardness in our interactions.

On both occasions, Paul used "whiteness" as a reason why these coworkers might not interact with me easily. Paul could have flat out said, "Listen they are REALLY white people and that's why they just might not get along with you, Blackey!"

Bottom line: none of this is okay. Despite having all "black friends" and loving women of all color, Paul is still willing to make excuses for any preconceived notions anyone might have about me based on the color of my skin. Instead of charging these people with diving into this multicultural society I am supposed to understand why they might be uncomfortable.

This won't work in 2016. It won't work anywhere. I'm over it.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Taming of The THOT

Getting ready for a pride celebrations always starts off with the same thought, "what will I wear?" This preparation includes going to at least three different stores, deciding on a hairstyle and skimming through party flyers for themes. Looking good usually equates to feeling good and in a crowd filled with beautiful ladies, I'd like to look my best.

Well, in 2015 I can safely say I could not care less.

Hanging out with my cousin yesterday, he kept referring to me as "domesticated". It's his way of saying locked down or fully committed to my current relationship. I've been with several people prior to this particular relationship, but it's the first one my family has really known about. As a young man, the world is his oyster and part of him cannot imagine being that invested.

Why? Because's he's 21 and life is fucking dream. He also, at least halfway knows, that I was a THOT.

Let's break down the word "thot" for those that might not be as informed.
Commonly used by black twitter and Fabolous, a thot is a hoe. Thot = those hoes over there.
My best friend has also often referred to me a "slut". This is all quite fine with me because I can state confidently that college was a BLAST, and after it was pretty good too. I didn't have sex with random people, but I often was on the hunt. I attended pride, clubs, bars etc. with the intention of flirting the entire night. This all happened while I was in a few relationships.

That has all changed since I've become fully domesticated.

My current relationships is strong and I have never been so committed. I only have eyes for her. Not quite sure why now or why her, but I'm not interested in the answer. I'm in love and focused on the future in a way past girlfriends could never get me to do.

The thot has been tamed... 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Gay Friends

A single bead of sweat dropped from my forehead as she walked by me. This perspiration wasn't from nerves, I was just working out. When she looked over, I went back to lifting and averted my eyes to ensure we never made contact. She stopped at a machine and started her reps and this would be the 5th or 6th time I was too scared to introduce myself. 

In the past, I've spoken about how difficult it can be to make friends as you get older. Many of my strongest bonds are with people I have known for years. Outside of work, it seems tough to go out of your way to connect with people but goddamn it I need to. I was sharing this with my girl and her response made me question all of my intentions. 

"Do all of your friends have to be gay?", she said in a flat text message.

My mouth got dry and I scrambled to spit out an answer to a question I had never really thought about. Several of my friends have been hetero in the past, but I do tend to lean more towards the gay scene. Then I started to wonder why that is...

Have I been prejudice all this time? 

Being a lesbian isn't just who I sleep with, it is also part of my identity. I'm aware that in social situations, my sexuality can affect my outlook on certain issues. Also, sometimes explaining that you ARE in a relationship and NO it's not a man can be unnecessarily awkward. 

Do I prefer to hang out with other gays? Yes. Am I anti-Hetero? Absolutely not!

Friendships are based on connections. However, how those connections are formed will play a role in the strength of the relationship. Preference is part of every single one of the decisions we make in life. Some people prefer sugar in their coffee and others don't. It's just preference. 

So the next time you're asked about your "gay friends" tell 'em you like your friends with a little more sugar.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Island

New York City made me feel alive. The city seemed to embrace all that was weird, misunderstood, unapologetic and creative. In NYC, I could be anyone that I wanted to be because the spotlight shined on all of us. There was nothing that seemed unobtainable when I lived in that beautiful city. 

Since moving things have dramatically changed. I have become isolated, uncommunicative and somewhat aloof. All that made me who I was seems to be muted. There is no spotlight in New Jersey only tolls and jughandles. Yes, moving here was completely based on my career but I'm starting to realize that my environment means more to me than I once thought. 
The rent is too damn high! Metrocards go up every month, while the trains slow down. Drinks are fucking over priced but goddamn it, I cannot think of a time when I was happier. Something has to change. 

Ricardo and Raymond were the first. Kwame was next. Then there was Tony, Joya, Tinesha and probably some others I forgot but I completely lost touch with all these people I saw regularly. I stopped talking to them because I was ashamed. Part of me equated leaving NYC to failure and I didn't want them to think less of me for leaving. I left for a pay raise and a better position, but I left the city for the suburbs and that's just not cool. What really isn't cool is ignoring phone calls just because your hiding from your friends. Eventually they stopped calling because... out of sight out of mind

I've become an island. Only a few have ever touched my shores and even less have gotten through the jungle. The butterfly that flittered through New York is no longer here. 

So here's the plan:
Step1: rediscover myself 
Step 2: change the course
Step 3: breathe 
Step 4: make moves 
Step 5: LIVE
Step 6: repeat steps 3-5

I am the master of my own destiny and I have ZERO to lose so it's time to take action. Being happy isn't a passive thing, it requires work.

It may not be NYC. Shit, I don't know where I'll end up, but I no one thing for certain: I'll be leaving the island