reconcilingworks:

We uplift and honor Darlene Garner today for Spirit Month!
“One of the things that the United States has never been able to tolerate for long has been injustice and bigotry.”
Before Darlene Garner helped found the National Coalition of Black Gays (NCBG)— later known as the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays—“gay” was largely synonymous with “white.” Garner and other early black LGBT leaders were determined to make their voices heard and their unique experiences as LGBT people of color known. “What we were doing had the capacity to change the face of history,” Garner stated. “Our youth and naiveté helped us do it with a boldness. If we had been seasoned activists, we might not have taken it on. We know that if it was not us, there might be no one.” The NCBG became the first non-white LGBT organization in the country.
Following her involvement with the NCBG, Garner entered a seminary to serve the spiritual needs of the LGBT community. As an ordained minister of the Metropolitan Community Church, Garner devoted herself to religious, racial and LGBT advocacy.
In 2009 when the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act passed in Washington, D.C., Garner and her partner, Candy, were among the first same-sex couples to marry.
Garner helped demonstrate that LGBT issues are not white-only and that LGBT people exist in a rainbow of skin tones.

reconcilingworks:

We uplift and honor Darlene Garner today for Spirit Month!

“One of the things that the United States has never been able to tolerate for long has been injustice and bigotry.”

Before Darlene Garner helped found the National Coalition of Black Gays (NCBG)— later known as the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays—“gay” was largely synonymous with “white.” Garner and other early black LGBT leaders were determined to make their voices heard and their unique experiences as LGBT people of color known. “What we were doing had the capacity to change the face of history,” Garner stated. “Our youth and naiveté helped us do it with a boldness. If we had been seasoned activists, we might not have taken it on. We know that if it was not us, there might be no one.” The NCBG became the first non-white LGBT organization in the country.

Following her involvement with the NCBG, Garner entered a seminary to serve the spiritual needs of the LGBT community. As an ordained minister of the Metropolitan Community Church, Garner devoted herself to religious, racial and LGBT advocacy.

In 2009 when the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act passed in Washington, D.C., Garner and her partner, Candy, were among the first same-sex couples to marry.

Garner helped demonstrate that LGBT issues are not white-only and that LGBT people exist in a rainbow of skin tones.

reconcilingworks:

Spirit Month’s icon today is Fasial Alam!
“Our mission is to try to help Muslims to reconcile two identities.”
Born to Pakistani parents and raised in Connecticut, queer Muslim activist Faisal Alam has navigated the precarious terrain of clashing identities. From an early age, Alam felt a strong connection to his Islamic faith. He was an active member of Muslim youth groups as a way of engaging with his faith and his community; he became a model of Islam’s focus on goodwill and strong communal ties.
When Alam first recognized his queer identity, the seemingly irreconcilable disparity between being Muslim and being queer was devastating. Homosexuality is perceived as contemptuous, even criminal, in many Islamic societies. Alam said, “We really felt caught in between. The last thing you could do was call the mosque for help.”
From this inner conflict emerged Alam’s vow to help other struggling LGBT Muslims. “This level of schism in one’s life can only last for so long until it takes a toll on your body, your soul, your psyche,” he said. “The promise I made to God, to my creator, is that I would never let what happened to me ever happen again.”
At age 19, Alam created the Al-Fatiha Foundation for LGBT Muslims. Al-Fatiha—literally “the opening”—offered new possibilities for people who live at the intersection of Islam and queerness. What started as a tiny e-mail listserve blossomed into an international organization that held regular conferences and engagements for LGBT Muslims.
By striving to embrace these two identities and encouraging other to do the same, Faisal Alam challenges notions of identity and reflects the positive attributes of his communities.

reconcilingworks:

Spirit Month’s icon today is Fasial Alam!

“Our mission is to try to help Muslims to reconcile two identities.”

Born to Pakistani parents and raised in Connecticut, queer Muslim activist Faisal Alam has navigated the precarious terrain of clashing identities. From an early age, Alam felt a strong connection to his Islamic faith. He was an active member of Muslim youth groups as a way of engaging with his faith and his community; he became a model of Islam’s focus on goodwill and strong communal ties.

When Alam first recognized his queer identity, the seemingly irreconcilable disparity between being Muslim and being queer was devastating. Homosexuality is perceived as contemptuous, even criminal, in many Islamic societies. Alam said, “We really felt caught in between. The last thing you could do was call the mosque for help.”

From this inner conflict emerged Alam’s vow to help other struggling LGBT Muslims. “This level of schism in one’s life can only last for so long until it takes a toll on your body, your soul, your psyche,” he said. “The promise I made to God, to my creator, is that I would never let what happened to me ever happen again.”

At age 19, Alam created the Al-Fatiha Foundation for LGBT Muslims. Al-Fatiha—literally “the opening”—offered new possibilities for people who live at the intersection of Islam and queerness. What started as a tiny e-mail listserve blossomed into an international organization that held regular conferences and engagements for LGBT Muslims.

By striving to embrace these two identities and encouraging other to do the same, Faisal Alam challenges notions of identity and reflects the positive attributes of his communities.

reconcilingworks:

We uplift Bernice Bing today for Spirit Month!
“Drawing was the thing that kept me connected.”
A leading Asian-American artist, Bernice Bing spent her early childhood in a Chinese orphanage, in Caucasian foster homes and with her Chinese grandmother. She described her grandmother as having residual feelings of “anger and subservience” combined with an underlying strength. “For me there was the difficulty of being an Asian-American child going to a basically very middle-class white school and trying to assimilate both of these cultures,” Bing said.
Bing attended the California College of Arts & Crafts. After changing her study to painting, she encountered Japanese painting professor Saburo Hasegawa. A practitioner of Zen, Hasegawa’s structured lessons, Eastern philosophies, style, and introspection inspired Bing and influenced her life and her work.
In discussing her time with Hasegawa, Bing said, “I had no idea what it meant to be an Asian woman, and he got me started thinking about that.” 
A three-month trip to Asia helped influence Bing’s most iconic works, in which she incorporated Chinese calligraphy. Just as her connection to her grandmother influenced her identity, so too did her trip to China. Her journeys through the streets, cities and small villages left her feeling that she was apart. “I suddenly realized that I was in the majority, yet, also, though I had the same skin color, I was a stranger,” she said. “My posture, my dress was different, my accent was quite different—everyone knew I was a foreigner.” Bing’s masterpieces reflect her lifelong feelings of cultural duality and incorporate Eastern technique.

reconcilingworks:

We uplift Bernice Bing today for Spirit Month!

“Drawing was the thing that kept me connected.”

A leading Asian-American artist, Bernice Bing spent her early childhood in a Chinese orphanage, in Caucasian foster homes and with her Chinese grandmother. She described her grandmother as having residual feelings of “anger and subservience” combined with an underlying strength. “For me there was the difficulty of being an Asian-American child going to a basically very middle-class white school and trying to assimilate both of these cultures,” Bing said.

Bing attended the California College of Arts & Crafts. After changing her study to painting, she encountered Japanese painting professor Saburo Hasegawa. A practitioner of Zen, Hasegawa’s structured lessons, Eastern philosophies, style, and introspection inspired Bing and influenced her life and her work.

In discussing her time with Hasegawa, Bing said, “I had no idea what it meant to be an Asian woman, and he got me started thinking about that.” 

A three-month trip to Asia helped influence Bing’s most iconic works, in which she incorporated Chinese calligraphy. Just as her connection to her grandmother influenced her identity, so too did her trip to China. Her journeys through the streets, cities and small villages left her feeling that she was apart. “I suddenly realized that I was in the majority, yet, also, though I had the same skin color, I was a stranger,” she said. “My posture, my dress was different, my accent was quite different—everyone knew I was a foreigner.” Bing’s masterpieces reflect her lifelong feelings of cultural duality and incorporate Eastern technique.

reconcilingworks:

We are proud to honor Tseng Kwong Chi as our Spirit Month’s icon today!
Tseng Kwong Chi, also known as Joseph Tseng, was the preeminent photographer of the 1980s New York pop scene. His work engages a wide variety of traditions, from landscape photography to portraiture. His best-known photographs examine perceptions of “foreign-ness,” as he experimented artistically with his Asian-American identity.
Tseng immigrated as a teen with his family to Canada. After studying Fine Arts in Paris, he moved to New York City. Tseng compiled portraits of the period’s most celebrated artists. He produced the largest Keith Haring archive, taking more than 40,000 photographs of the renowned graffiti artist and his drawings and murals.
Tseng’s most famous body of work is his collection of self-portraits, titled “Expeditionary Self-Portrait Series” or alternatively “East Meets West.” In the series, Tseng adopted the identity of a stereotypical Chinese dignitary, donning a Mao suit, mirrored sunglasses and an ID badge that read “SlutforArt.” He situated himself in front of well-known Western monuments and tourist sites, including the World Trade Center, the Eiffel Tower and Mount Rushmore.
Tseng’s photographs exploit the juxtaposition of perceived and self-assigned identities. Reductive stereotypes were particularly relevant for LGBT Americans of his generation.
At age 39, Tseng died of AIDS-related illness. The stunning portfolio he amassed in his brief career secured his legacy as one of the best photographers of his era. His work has been displayed in museums worldwide, including the Guggenheim and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

reconcilingworks:

We are proud to honor Tseng Kwong Chi as our Spirit Month’s icon today!

Tseng Kwong Chi, also known as Joseph Tseng, was the preeminent photographer of the 1980s New York pop scene. His work engages a wide variety of traditions, from landscape photography to portraiture. His best-known photographs examine perceptions of “foreign-ness,” as he experimented artistically with his Asian-American identity.

Tseng immigrated as a teen with his family to Canada. After studying Fine Arts in Paris, he moved to New York City. Tseng compiled portraits of the period’s most celebrated artists. He produced the largest Keith Haring archive, taking more than 40,000 photographs of the renowned graffiti artist and his drawings and murals.

Tseng’s most famous body of work is his collection of self-portraits, titled “Expeditionary Self-Portrait Series” or alternatively “East Meets West.” In the series, Tseng adopted the identity of a stereotypical Chinese dignitary, donning a Mao suit, mirrored sunglasses and an ID badge that read “SlutforArt.” He situated himself in front of well-known Western monuments and tourist sites, including the World Trade Center, the Eiffel Tower and Mount Rushmore.

Tseng’s photographs exploit the juxtaposition of perceived and self-assigned identities. Reductive stereotypes were particularly relevant for LGBT Americans of his generation.

At age 39, Tseng died of AIDS-related illness. The stunning portfolio he amassed in his brief career secured his legacy as one of the best photographers of his era. His work has been displayed in museums worldwide, including the Guggenheim and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

reconcilingworks:

We celebrate celebrity Wanda Sykes today for Spirit Month!
“They pissed off the wrong group of people.  Instead of having gay marriage in California, we’re going to get it across the country.”
Wanda Sykes is an Emmy Award-winning comedian and actor praised for being one of the most entertaining women of her generation. She was the first African-American and first openly gay master of ceremonies for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Sykes was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, and raised in the Washington, D.C., area. Her father, an Army colonel, worked in the Pentagon; her mother worked as a bank manager. At a young age, Sykes discovered her passion for making people laugh. She was outspoken and entertaining in high school. In 1986, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from Hampton University and began working for the National Security Agency (NSA).
Sykes’s stand-up career began spontaneously at a talent showcase. She quickly made close friends in the comedy world, including rising star Chris Rock. She was a performer and writer for “The Chris Rock Show” and won the 1999 Emmy for outstanding writing for a variety, music or comedy special. In 2002, Sykes won her second Emmy for her work on “Inside the NFL.”
In 2003, Sykes launched her first television show, “Wanda at Large.” On the show, she played Wanda Hawkins, an unsuccessful stand-up comic hired to be a correspondent on a political talk show. Sykes acknowledged, “Wanda Hawkins is basically me personified. We have the same attitude, the same point of view—pointing out hypocrisies in the way we see the world.”
Sykes has starred in “Wanda Does It,” “The Wanda Sykes Show” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine.” HBO has produced two Wanda Sykes comedy specials, “Sick & Tired” (2006) and “I’ma Be Me” (2009).
Sykes appeared in the feature films “Evan Almighty,” “Monster-In-Law” and “My Super Ex-Girlfriend,” and provided the voice for characters in the animated films “Over The Hedge” and “The Barnyard.” Her first book, “Yeah, I Said It,” is a collection of comedic essays on current events, family and life.
In 2008, Sykes came out when she announced her own marriage while speaking at a rally for gay marriage. She lives in California with her wife, Alex, and their twins, Lucas and Olivia.

reconcilingworks:

We celebrate celebrity Wanda Sykes today for Spirit Month!

“They pissed off the wrong group of people.  Instead of having gay marriage in California, we’re going to get it across the country.”

Wanda Sykes is an Emmy Award-winning comedian and actor praised for being one of the most entertaining women of her generation. She was the first African-American and first openly gay master of ceremonies for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Sykes was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, and raised in the Washington, D.C., area. Her father, an Army colonel, worked in the Pentagon; her mother worked as a bank manager. At a young age, Sykes discovered her passion for making people laugh. She was outspoken and entertaining in high school. In 1986, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from Hampton University and began working for the National Security Agency (NSA).

Sykes’s stand-up career began spontaneously at a talent showcase. She quickly made close friends in the comedy world, including rising star Chris Rock. She was a performer and writer for “The Chris Rock Show” and won the 1999 Emmy for outstanding writing for a variety, music or comedy special. In 2002, Sykes won her second Emmy for her work on “Inside the NFL.”

In 2003, Sykes launched her first television show, “Wanda at Large.” On the show, she played Wanda Hawkins, an unsuccessful stand-up comic hired to be a correspondent on a political talk show. Sykes acknowledged, “Wanda Hawkins is basically me personified. We have the same attitude, the same point of view—pointing out hypocrisies in the way we see the world.”

Sykes has starred in “Wanda Does It,” “The Wanda Sykes Show” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine.” HBO has produced two Wanda Sykes comedy specials, “Sick & Tired” (2006) and “I’ma Be Me” (2009).

Sykes appeared in the feature films “Evan Almighty,” “Monster-In-Law” and “My Super Ex-Girlfriend,” and provided the voice for characters in the animated films “Over The Hedge” and “The Barnyard.” Her first book, “Yeah, I Said It,” is a collection of comedic essays on current events, family and life.

In 2008, Sykes came out when she announced her own marriage while speaking at a rally for gay marriage. She lives in California with her wife, Alex, and their twins, Lucas and Olivia.

reconcilingworks:

We celebrate Orlando Cruz today for Spirit Month!
The 2000 Olympic Games were pivotal for boxer Orlando Cruz. After representing Puerto Rico in the games, Cruz launched his professional boxing career. He won a world featherweight title and went nine years without a defeat.
The homophobia that Cruz experienced growing up in Puerto Rico made it difficult for him to accept his sexuality, especially in the world of boxing machismo. Cruz’s internal conflict continued as rumors spread among boxing fans. This tension culminated during his 2008 world title fight. “The spectators bad-mouthed me; they called me a faggot,” Cruz said. “That’s when I realized that something had to change.”
Cruz spent the next few years meeting with a psychologist to work through coming out publicly. In 2012 Cruz became the first professional boxer to come out during his career and one of the first professional athletes to come out while still active. Soon after, he won a major fight wearing rainbow shorts. A year later he married his boyfriend.
In 2013 the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame made Cruz an inaugural inductee. He stated, “I want kids to know that you can be whoever you want to be, including a professional boxer.”

reconcilingworks:

We celebrate Orlando Cruz today for Spirit Month!

The 2000 Olympic Games were pivotal for boxer Orlando Cruz. After representing Puerto Rico in the games, Cruz launched his professional boxing career. He won a world featherweight title and went nine years without a defeat.

The homophobia that Cruz experienced growing up in Puerto Rico made it difficult for him to accept his sexuality, especially in the world of boxing machismo. Cruz’s internal conflict continued as rumors spread among boxing fans. This tension culminated during his 2008 world title fight. “The spectators bad-mouthed me; they called me a faggot,” Cruz said. “That’s when I realized that something had to change.”

Cruz spent the next few years meeting with a psychologist to work through coming out publicly. In 2012 Cruz became the first professional boxer to come out during his career and one of the first professional athletes to come out while still active. Soon after, he won a major fight wearing rainbow shorts. A year later he married his boyfriend.

In 2013 the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame made Cruz an inaugural inductee. He stated, “I want kids to know that you can be whoever you want to be, including a professional boxer.”

reconcilingworks:

We uplift Lee Daniels to celebrate the start of the second week of Spirit Month!
“I don’t work with fear, and I don’t work with actors that are fearful.”
Lee Daniels is an Academy Award nominated producer, director, screenwriter and actor. 
Daniels survived a traumatic childhood. After being caught wearing his mother’s pumps, he was violently assaulted by his father. Daniels stated, “When I came out it was because I loathed my dad so much.”
Torment also followed Daniels to school. He was gay and black in a predominantly white school. “I was always told that I was nothing because I was gay,” he said.
At age 21, Daniels started a nurse staffing agency, which he sold a year later. The sale made him a millionaire and allowed him to pursue his dream of working in the entertainment industry. He first worked as a casting director and later as a talent manager. He built a client base of Academy Award winners and nominees, most of whom later worked in Daniels’s films.
Daniels became a Hollywood force in 2001 when his production company released “Monster’s Ball,” a movie for which Halle Berry won the Oscar for Best Actress. Daniels later directed the film “Precious.” His experience as a sexually abused child inspired his direction of the film. “Precious” received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Director, and earned two Academy Awards.
In 2012 his film “The Paperboy,” with Nicole Kidman, was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
In 2013 Daniels directed the critically acclaimed film “The Butler,” with Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, John Cusack, Jane Fonda and Mariah Carey.

reconcilingworks:

We uplift Lee Daniels to celebrate the start of the second week of Spirit Month!

“I don’t work with fear, and I don’t work with actors that are fearful.”

Lee Daniels is an Academy Award nominated producer, director, screenwriter and actor. 

Daniels survived a traumatic childhood. After being caught wearing his mother’s pumps, he was violently assaulted by his father. Daniels stated, “When I came out it was because I loathed my dad so much.”

Torment also followed Daniels to school. He was gay and black in a predominantly white school. “I was always told that I was nothing because I was gay,” he said.

At age 21, Daniels started a nurse staffing agency, which he sold a year later. The sale made him a millionaire and allowed him to pursue his dream of working in the entertainment industry. He first worked as a casting director and later as a talent manager. He built a client base of Academy Award winners and nominees, most of whom later worked in Daniels’s films.

Daniels became a Hollywood force in 2001 when his production company released “Monster’s Ball,” a movie for which Halle Berry won the Oscar for Best Actress. Daniels later directed the film “Precious.” His experience as a sexually abused child inspired his direction of the film. “Precious” received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Director, and earned two Academy Awards.

In 2012 his film “The Paperboy,” with Nicole Kidman, was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2013 Daniels directed the critically acclaimed film “The Butler,” with Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, John Cusack, Jane Fonda and Mariah Carey.

reconcilingworks:

We honor Stonewall veteran Stormé DeLarverie today for Spirit Month.
She was also the sole female performer for the Jewel Box Review, a traveling drag show that toured the country from 1939 into the 1960s. At that time, cross-dressing was considered a criminal offense in most municipalities. The review included 24 drag queens and Stormé (pronounced “Stormy”), the only drag king.
When DeLarverie wasn’t traveling with the troupe, she lived at the Hotel Chelsea in Manhattan and worked security at Henrietta Hudson, a well-known lesbian bar in the West Village. Constantly vigilant, DeLarverie thought of the bar patrons as her “babies” and patrolled the streets as their defender.
At the Stonewall Riot on June 27, 1969, DeLarverie threw the first punch. As the story goes, the New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village frequented by gay men, lesbians, and drag kings and queens.
The police raids were habitual. That night DeLarverie saw three officers ganging up on one young man and sprang to the victim’s defense. One of the policemen shouted, “Move, Faggot!” mistaking DeLarverie for a man. The officer shoved DeLarverie, who retaliated with a punch to the face. The officer dropped to the ground, bleeding; thus began the Stonewall Riot.
DeLarverie preferred the word “rebellion” when it came to describing the events at Stonewall. She felt the term “riot” connoted chaos and criminality.
In 2003 filmmaker Sam Bassett produced a documentary about DeLarverie. When she died at the age of 93, hundreds of admirers attended her West Village funeral service.

reconcilingworks:

We honor Stonewall veteran Stormé DeLarverie today for Spirit Month.

She was also the sole female performer for the Jewel Box Review, a traveling drag show that toured the country from 1939 into the 1960s. At that time, cross-dressing was considered a criminal offense in most municipalities. The review included 24 drag queens and Stormé (pronounced “Stormy”), the only drag king.

When DeLarverie wasn’t traveling with the troupe, she lived at the Hotel Chelsea in Manhattan and worked security at Henrietta Hudson, a well-known lesbian bar in the West Village. Constantly vigilant, DeLarverie thought of the bar patrons as her “babies” and patrolled the streets as their defender.

At the Stonewall Riot on June 27, 1969, DeLarverie threw the first punch. As the story goes, the New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village frequented by gay men, lesbians, and drag kings and queens.

The police raids were habitual. That night DeLarverie saw three officers ganging up on one young man and sprang to the victim’s defense. One of the policemen shouted, “Move, Faggot!” mistaking DeLarverie for a man. The officer shoved DeLarverie, who retaliated with a punch to the face. The officer dropped to the ground, bleeding; thus began the Stonewall Riot.

DeLarverie preferred the word “rebellion” when it came to describing the events at Stonewall. She felt the term “riot” connoted chaos and criminality.

In 2003 filmmaker Sam Bassett produced a documentary about DeLarverie. When she died at the age of 93, hundreds of admirers attended her West Village funeral service.

reconcilingworks:

We recognize Rudy Galindo for Spirit Month today!
In 1996 Rudy Galindo became the first United States skating champion to come out as openly gay.
Galindo is famous for his grace on the ice. A singles and doubles skating phenomenon, he won the World Junior Championship in 1987 and the U.S. National Championship in 1997. With doubles partner Kristi Yamaguchi, he won the World Junior Championship in 1988 and the U.S. National Championship in 1989 and 1990. In 1996 he won the bronze medal at the World Championships.
In 1997 Galindo published his autobiography, which recounted his childhood of poverty, the death of his older brother and a coach from AIDS, the death of his domineering father, and his mother’s mental illness.
In 2000 Galindo came out as HIV-positive. In 2001 he was awarded the Ryan White Award for Service to Prevent HIV/AIDS.

reconcilingworks:

We recognize Rudy Galindo for Spirit Month today!

In 1996 Rudy Galindo became the first United States skating champion to come out as openly gay.

Galindo is famous for his grace on the ice. A singles and doubles skating phenomenon, he won the World Junior Championship in 1987 and the U.S. National Championship in 1997. With doubles partner Kristi Yamaguchi, he won the World Junior Championship in 1988 and the U.S. National Championship in 1989 and 1990. In 1996 he won the bronze medal at the World Championships.

In 1997 Galindo published his autobiography, which recounted his childhood of poverty, the death of his older brother and a coach from AIDS, the death of his domineering father, and his mother’s mental illness.

In 2000 Galindo came out as HIV-positive. In 2001 he was awarded the Ryan White Award for Service to Prevent HIV/AIDS.

*me wearing a binder*

"Look ma, no boobs!"