Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Brighter Days made for a Stellar Night

10,000 thank yous to everyone who came out to support "Brighter Days", the official launch party for the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Scholarship Fund. In addition to generating over two thousand dollars through on-site and online donations, the event allowed us to celebrate life in the way Rashawn was known to: dancing the night away at Luke & Leroy!




A special thanks to L&L owner/operator Dino, who was kind enough to pay us a visit and wish us well in our fundraising.





The RBMS banner. Standing at 78" tall and designed by yours truly, this banner greeted everyone who attended Sunday's event. It heralds the RMBS motto "Fostering diversity, creating change", and will surely be seen again.





It wouldn't be a "7" Sunday without these recognizable L&L icons: host Nathan "7" Scott and buffed, bronzed and braided bartender Chris.



Host Larry D. Lyons II sweats through his second outfit of the evening. But take note: these outfit changes do more than evince his divadom or animated dancefloor antics: they pay tribute to Rashawn.

Handcrafted by designer Alicia Piller, this is a tee with a message. She painstakenly created the design by replicating the words "Remembering Rashawn" hundreds of times in our trademark brown and pink colours. See more of her work here.


Some folks were too timid to ascend the flight of stairs to the dancefloor, where Amerie's "One Thing" quickly became the evening's anthem. We let them be.




Host Steven G. Fullwood models the limited edition RBMS tee, Kenyon Farrow -not to be outdone- models his highly coveted manpurse.



Thanks to the masterful photo imaging of Ocean Morriset, attendees were able to see the face of the handsome young man we'd gathered to pay tribute to.

Taking a break from dancing, blogger ShawnQt reads up on the scholarship fund.


DJ Shuji spins house and classics like a madman. A special thanks to Shuji for donating his services to our cause, and for accodating our requests to spin that hot Vivian Green joint not once but twice!

Most memorable moments:

1. When a certain host marched up the stairs with a limbo stick in hand. This was a scandal waiting to happen. (Needless to say, I was the first to oblige.)

2. When Rashawn's parents and sisters stormed the dancefloor and "got low", giving the bloggers a run for their money.

Feel free to add your own memorable moments!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Attack of the Praya-Haters

The New Internatonal Urban Bible (NUIB) paraphrases the deceptively un-Christian motto, "love the sinner, hate the sin"
Back by [un]popular demand, it's my boy Jesus Christ. Apparantly, folks can't seem to get enough of my commentary on the radical right's mis-use of the big guy's name. If you haven't heard the buzz, check out my earlier posts about 10,000Jesuses.com, a group that intervenes in American public discourse by challenging the "hijacking of Christian terminology and thought by institutions on the far right of the political spectrum".

As recently as this morning, comments were still pouring in to respond to the January 20th post. Of the many [less than compelling] arguments "Erik Nethken" presented, three were particularly noteworthy. Let's examine them together, shall we?

Argument 1: Peter's Sword

Larry, to protest Bush and policy with statements like "[Jesus] never owned an M16" is completely idiotic. Jesus was not a mere mortal man in a man's army, a police officer or working in any other such capacity. The Apostle Peter carried a sword as a disciple, the modern equivalent to carrying a gun everywhere you go.

Erik: Although I've never seen the then-to-now artillery conversion scale that you use to liken a sword to an M16, let's set that aside for a moment to get to the larger issue. The "10,000 Jesus" protesters were not holding signs that asked "What would Apostle Peter Do?". Peter's example was not the focus of the demonstration, and I don't imagine that it should have been, considering his fraught biblical legacy. Surely, you are a much more learned biblical scholar than I, so you know that in addition to his sword wielding antics, Peter is also known as one of the two men that sinned against Jesus (the other being Judas). Having denied Jesus on not one, not two, but three occasions (Mark 14:66-72), Peter's biblical legacy is hardly untarnished. In fact, even conservative theologians have drawn paralells between these two offenders and the lowly theives that become cross-mates with Jesus.

"All the disciples sinned against Jesus in one form or another. Among the disciples, two figures are especially important -- Judas and Peter. Judas betrayed Jesus and Peter disowned him. They are similar to two other figures in the drama of Jesus death -- the two thieves [that are crucified alongside Jesus]. "
- Rev. Robert J. Saunders (enemy of "liberalism")

Details of who forgave whom notwithstanding, it's clear that Peter's example needn't be the rock upon which we build our moral character, much less our weapons policies. After all, he's a sinner. Jesus wasn't.

If, in the course of your biblical studies, you discover that Jesus carried a pocket knife or or even a stone that he planned to cast (whose "modern day equivalent", using your handy-dandy conversion scale, must surely be an atomic bomb), do inform the rest of the class. If you can locate a single instance where the blessed messiah advocated any type of violence against his assailants (Caiaphas, Pilate, the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees, Judas, anyone), be sure to let us all know.

Argument 2: Trigger-happy Democracy

"If it wasn't for people like Bush or millions of others owning and using their M16's you would not have the freedom you have to "blog" all over the internet."

Let's be clear: Neither Bush nor the white-collar upper class men to whom he cateers have ever operated an M16. (How many congress members have a child actively enlisted in the military?)They "protect my precious freedoms" by exploiting marginalized folks both here and abroad. Further, though it is true that it's been a longstanding policy in America, I don't imagine violence to be the only way to protect one's rights. Somehow, I think we'd manage to fend off chaos and anarchy without the assult riffles that you love so well. Perhaps better.

Argument 3: The LovingHating God

"And yes God loves you Larry. God also loves homosexuals – but hates homosexuality. "

Come on down folks, it's time for your favorite show "The LovingHating God"! *cue theme music* Please give a warm welcome our host, your favorite wrathful patriarch and mine, The Notorious G-O-D!! *uproarious applause* Stay tuned as our heavenly host demonstrates how it's perfectly possible to be love and to experience hate. But first, a word from our sponsor.

I don't do this, Erik, to blaspheme your god. I do this to demonstrate the fundamental disparity between how you and I cognize the Divine. You believe that God is a willed being. I do not. You believe that God is capable of hating. I do not. I believe that God is love. You do not. Your God can simultaneously embody love and experience (and condone) hate. Mine can not. Hate, in any form, is antithetical to the essence of the Divine as I have experienced it. This, my friend, is where you and I differ.

Mind you, I'm not saying that either of us is right, per se. I only identify that the LovingHating God, with all of His wrath and jealousy and patriarchial attitudes, has been known to be inspire and cultivate hatred, condone war, promote socioeconomic disparity and nourish illegitimate hierarchies. That's all I'm saying. And thanks for tuning in to the Larry Lyons Experience.

Friday, August 26, 2005

"Brighter Days" nearing.

What do the following bloggers have in common?




they'll all be there.
will you?


bannermockup copy

Join us on Sunday for "Brighter Days", the official launch party for the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Scholarship.

While you're there, pick up your limited edition RBMS tee-shirt.

For a mere $15, you can show your support for the fight against racism and homophobia with this one-of-a-kind Rashawn Brazell Memorial Scholarship tee.

Over 1/4 of our supply of shirts have already been sold through pre-order. Reserve yours today with hosts Larry D. Lyons II or Glenlivet Wigglesworth. 100% of proceeds go directly to our first scholarship recipient.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

How You Can Help:

Q: How can I make a tax-deductible donation to the fund online?
A: Visit the North Star Fund’s secure online donation site by clicking here.
· Enter a donation amount between $5 and $10,000.
· Enter “Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund” as the recipient’s name.
· Enter RBScholars@aol.com as the recipient’s e-mail.
· Click the “donate” button

These steps are essential to ensure that your donation goes directly to the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Scholarship Fund. Note: you have the option of making monthly, quarterly or annual donations as well as making corporate or matching gifts. You also reserve the right to make only as much information available to the charity as you’d like.

Upon the completion of the transaction, a page will be displayed certifying that you have made a charitable donation, tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. This page may be printed and used for federal tax purposes.

Q: Are there other ways to make donations?
A: Of course. You have the option of donating in person at the Brighter Days benefit party. You may also send checks directly to the fund’s mailing address.
The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 211
New York, New York 10037-9998
To receive a receipt for your donation, kindly enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Q: How do I go about nominating students for this scholarship?
A: Although the RBMS does not solicit nominations, per se, we do encourage you to inform qualified students about the scholarship. Application forms will be available in PDF form on the RashawnBrazell.com website this fall. We also aim to make printed forms available in most New York City high schools.

If you are personally familiar with the student’s qualifications, you may consider providing a letter of recommendation to accompany the student’s application.

Q: Is there anything I can do to help out with the “Brighter Days” event?
A: Certainly! In addition to circulating word about the event amongst friends, co-workers and family through blogs, e-mails, listservs, etc. you can also e-mail RBScholars@aol.com to get involved in our flyering efforts.

Do you party at the Playground? Dine at Day-Os? Work at a CBO? Attend weekly or monthly gatherings of folks affected by the rise in racist and homophobic violence? If so, we could use your help.

Any place that we gather; any place where you think Rashawn’s story should be shared is an ideal place to distribute flyers. Rather than leaving stacks of flyers to go unnoticed, we are placing each of our 2,500 flyers into the hands of a potential supporter of the cause. If you have a particular venue or gathering in mind or if you just want to be notified of where we plan to be, e-mail us today and get involved!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Celebrate Life

You're Invited: the RBMS launch party
Join us on Sunday, August 28th as we celebrate the life and legacy of our brother and friend Rashawn Brazell. Between six pm and midnight Luke and Leroy, one of Rashawn’s favorite places to party, will proudly host “Brighter Days”, the official launch party for the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Scholarship. The requested donation is a mere ten dollars, every cent of which will be used to support the college education of a New York City student committed to the fight against racism, sexism and homophobia.

websiteFlyerFront
flyer design: larry d. lyons II

Interested in helping to get the word out about the event? Contact us at RBScholars@aol.com to receive print flyers to distribute at your office, organization or amongst interested friends. We can coordinate a convenient drop-off or pick-up in most parts of NJ and NYC. Also, copies of the flyer are stored (in jpeg form) in the file section of the Rashawn Brazell Collective yahoo group. Download them now by clicking here to share them on your blog, listserv, website or direct e-mail. You may also e-mail RBScholars@aol.com to have the jpeg sent directly to you.

WebsiteFlyerBack

About the Scholarship
The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Scholarship was established in the wake of the brutal slaying of 19-year-old Rashawn Brazell, whose February 2005 murder touched many in the black gay community and beyond. The scholarship aims to provide a sustainable tribute to Rashawn by encouraging New York City high schoolers to think critically about the impact of intolerance and violence on our communities. Selection for this need-sensitive scholarship will be based on the student’s investment in the struggle against racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression, as well as their commitment to creating peace in the community by affirming diversity.



logo design: ShawnQT

The scholarship will be hosted at The North Star Fund. Founded in 1979, North Star is a unique partnership of donors and community activists dedicated to building a permanent institutional and financial base for progressive social change. Each year North Star funds cutting-edge groups who are dynamic and daring in their approach. The RBMS is proud to be one such group.

For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, contact:
The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 211
New York, New York 10037-9998
E-mail: RBScholars@aol.com
Fax/E-mail: 206-339-5449

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Blog Infiltrators Revive Jesus: The Difference Between Christ and Christian

. Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the most misunderstood brown man in America.

It is an interesting time to be Larry Lyons. Recently, I've experienced an suspicious influx of responses to my satirically titled January 20th post, "Jesus Appears at Inaugural Ceremony". In it, I call attention to the wonderfully creative and subversive organizing of 10000jesuses.org, a group that intervenes in America's public discourse by challenging the "hijacking of Christian terminology and thought by institutions on the far right of the political spectrum". Essentially, the group draws attention to the blasphemy and hypocrisy that inhere the invocations of Jesus' name as a means to support fundamentalist agendas, highlighting the very poignant distinction between the example of Christ and Christianity itself.

Why did I blog about it? The November 2004 elections reminded me just how prominently faith figures into the American political system. Surely, the injudicious dichotomy of republican=religious, democrat=irreverent hedonist played a considerable part in the outcome of the election. It appears that nothing invigorates voters like talk of fire, brimstone and the cautionary tale about the dangers of moral slippage that echoes throughout every single election campaign. Too frequently, the "return to the trusty moral standards upon which this mighty nation was built" equates to a return to a mythical edenic state where the hegemony of Christianity is sovereign and uncontested. How's that for the land of the free?

The work of groups like 10,000 Jesuses is essential in that, true to its name, it democratizes Jesus. Jesus is not the exclusive possession of the religious right. In fact, if Jesus' message meshes with the platform any partisan group at all, it is with those of us who rally for a greater distribution of wealth, more peaceable means of addressing conflict and compassionate treatment of the less fortunate. Now, that's the Jesus I know and love.

Which brings me back to this recent influx of responses. I don't know how these conspicuously anonymous folks have found their way to my blog (particularly to a blog entry that is now SEVEN months old). What I do know is that, true to form, they've missed the point of the entry altogether and used my comment section for their grammatically-challenged prayers, confessions, judgments and damnations.

For example, one anonymous poster writes: "God loves us all more deeply than we can imagine, but it doesn't mean that we can believe anything we want and still be correct, nor can we behave any way we want and still be physically, spiritually and emotionally healthy."

I don't disagree with you, kindred. We can not behave any way we want and expect to maintain our health. We can not bomb poverty-stricken developing countries and amass our wealth through self-interested profiteering. We can not ensure tax cuts for the upper class while cutting healthcare and educational programs for the poor. And this is precisely what the folks at 10,000 Jesuses are saying, verbatim.

But perhaps you were talking about me in particular. Perhaps the gender of the person I share my life with is of greater importance than all of this. Perhaps the exploitation of entire nations pales in comparison to the gender of the person that Larry Lyons loves. If this is the case, then it's clear that you do not believe that God is Love. If you did, you would understand that any manifestation of Love is a manifestation of the Divine, and that anyone that desires to police, invalidate and vilify such manifestations of love are contradicting the fundamental essence of the God of Love.

If this be the case, all I can offer is an old quote of mine:
"You create your own reality - the conditions of your own suffering and the means for your own liberation. Consequently, you are subject to the God that you cognize - the God that you create. Show me a god who hates his own children - who sanctions bloodshed, endorses war and requites his displeasure with wrath, and I'll show you the man-made God of a defective and terroristic theology."

In short, you and I do not serve the same God. Your God has been made in the image of man: jealous, wrathful, hierarchal and gendered. This God looks entirely too much like man to serve as my supreme being and central pillar of my faith. For me, yours has been a terroristic theology and it has failed to affirm the beauty, complexity and precariousness of the universe as I have experienced it.

.
But hey, that's just me. I won't knock your hustle. I won't come to your blog and post anonymously about seven-month-old topics, overlooking the value of the affirmingly transgressive work that's being done in order to articulate a threadbare and antiquated theology. And do you know why? Because I know where you're coming from. I served several years in Christianity and I know that you're just acting on what you've been taught. Some well-intentioned man has used some well-intentioned scripture to convince you that it is your moral obligation to save wayward and resistant sheep like myself. And, sweet sweet you - you are trying to oblige. Earn your wings. Get your halo. Do your job. Fulfill your Christian duties by witnessing here in cyberspace about His goodness and His mercy. O, how your cup runneth over! Sweet sweet you. I understand your role because I spent about fourteen years of my life memorizing the lines. So, let me save you the frustration that is sure to ensue and give you the raw uncut right now: if salvation is laying prostrate before a jealous, wrathful, hierarchial, gendered god - I'll have none of it. None. However, if you play nice, I'll share with you how I managed to cultivate a heterodox brand of salvation that makes Christ himself proud.
.
Of course, I realize and affirm the fact that everyone has a right to believe and practice as they please. I use this blog to share my beliefs and practices with those who desire to hear them. Should you find yourself in disagreement with these beliefs and practices, by all means - engage me in dialogue about them. I caution you, however, that the lord of hosts will punish you with plagues, locusts and loathesome boils if you use my comment area as your personal soapbox for judgment and painfully flawed, invariably futile conversion attempts. It ain't gonna happ'n cap'n. Not on my watch. This is a safespace for the heterodox: those of us who believe differently. This is a space for dialogue and critical thought. There is absolutely no room and no tolerance for judgment and damnation.