The Gatekeeper's Collective (TGC)


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Topic For Friday, December 5th, 2014:
or Religious Privilege As A Tool of SGL Oppression

- Are homosexual acts serious sins, as suggested by Leviticus 20:13? Or minor sins, not being mentioned in the Ten Commandments or by Jesus? *

- Is the New Testament prohibition against homosexual acts an important spiritual law for all times? Or was it a warning against creating a scandal by violating the cultural norms of that time in history, (as in the case of slavery, the role of women, dress, etc.?) *

- Is the friendship between David and Jonathan in Samuel 18:3-4, Samuel 1:26 an example of a homosexual relationship? *

- If homosexual acts were viewed as a violation of the "holiness code" of Leviticus (which separated the Israelites from the conduct of the pagans) then, do consensual homosexual acts violate Bible teachings, or were the Bible passages intended to apply only to homosexual acts involving idolatry, rape, prostitution or pederasty? *

- And what, if anything, has all of this to do with 21st Century Black people?

If accurate interpretation of the Bible is to determine what message was originally intended understood by people of that time, then specialized knowledge of the original Biblical languages, culture and issues of the time are necessary. *

* Christian Bible Reference Site

Many SGL/LGBT Black women and men have been injured by misinterpretations of scripture. 

Join us with Divinity scholar, Michael Elam, MDiv. for: 

The Terror Texts,
or Religious Privilege As A Tool of SGL Oppression

to reveal how homosexuality in scripture has been used to maintain religious privilege in the oppression of SGL/LGBT people, and begin a dialogue on reframing issues of sexuality and spirituality in the Black community.

Also joining us will be
Pastor Vanessa M. Brown of Rivers of Rehoboth Church.


JMG's Safe Space
730 Riverside Drive (@ 150th Street)
Suite 9E
Harlem, New York City
8:00 PM

OR THE M4, M5, M100 OR M101 BUS TO


Recommended Reading:
Their Own Receive Them Not:
African American Lesbians & Gays in Black Churches
by Horace I. Griffin

SUMMARY: The Gatekeeper's Collective (TGC) 1st Anniversary

The Gatekeeper’s Collective (TGC) celebrated it’s first anniversary in a rousing tribute during which participants acknowledged shifts which have transpired over the year, including Gatekeepers who have transitioned, challenges navigated, new self-efficacies developed, and expressed gratitude.

In checking in and saluting the work of TGC, one Brother who works in a facility with formerly incarcerated men who are intensely anti-homosexually disposed, remarked, “Our job is to help these individuals arrive at themselves…and, we’re doing it…”

“TGC has demonstrated one thing that has been lacking in the LGBT community is collaboration…”

“We’re fighting, not just for survival, but for elevation…”

“I was a little depressed over the election, but I Keep on [pressing forward}…”

“Next weekend, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent will be teaching a course at Union Theological Seminary on familiarizing one’s self with the SGL/LGBT community towards becoming a more effective and informed advocate…”

“TGC forges on…continuing to pursue, enrich and enhance the lives of SGL people…There will always be doubters, haters, naysayers, but it is imperative to forge on…”

“I’m writing a play about homophobia in the Black church and I want to include the Gatekeepers…and I had started writing about them two years ago, but then reading the posts from John-Martin, I realized I was missing something…I decided I have to go and find out who they are…Who are the gatekeepers?...”

Facilitator reminds the group that, {“The construct of gatekeepers was introduced to us here in the West by Malidoma Somé, and his then wife, Sonbonfu Somé who are from the Dagara people of Burkina Faso, West Africa, among whom there is a group who live on the margins of the society, and whose charge is, when there is conflict, strife, crisis in the community, taking cues from nature and the ancestors, to restore balance and harmony to the community…Seven years ago this time, we invited Dr. Somé to join us at BMXNY for a weekend-long symposium during which he shared with us that, while not all gatekeepers are same gender loving, all same gender loving people have gate-keeping potential as a function of what Indigenous Americans call our two-spirit energetic balance…As we are grounded in that energetic balance we are extraordinarily powerful…You all are powerful beyond measure…And most of us have no inkling of it…that’s what TGC exists for, to provide space for us to unlearn the myths of our inferiority and learn to tap into that energetic balance by which to heal ourselves and our community and such other communities as we deem appropriate...”

“It’s a tragedy that we have this gift and we don’t have the balance…the support…If I was created as perfect [why am I not allowed to be as I am]…[Then,] what was I created for?...That day that I can commit to being who I am…I am being me…”

Facilitator says, {“You are right…The other part of what Malidoma shared is that, because of anti-homosexual attitudes here, we are not permitted to be who we are…and it is as if we are being fired from our job…and then, people are railing at us for not doing our job…} Sharing The Gatekeeper’s Collective rationale, he reads, {“The emasculation of black men has bred insecurity around the construct of manhood within the African American community.  This dynamic, coupled with patriarchal heterosexism incite anti-homosexual attitudes among African Americans so that many same gender loving (SGL), gay, bisexual and other black men who have love men experience social disorientation which short-circuits our developing fully-integrated personalities, and becoming self-actualizing.

Without integrated cultural identities in which we experience our sexuality, racial-ethnic and religio-moral selves cohesively, we are oftentimes bereft of the sense of entitlement that triggers indignation and impels us to redress disrespect of our human dignity.

The Gatekeeper’s Collective (TGC) operates as a self-reclamation, Historical Trauma relief and community development center  – a place wherein we unlearn internalized (racial and sexual) oppression, commit to valuing and integrating our multiple identities (including celebrating our sexualities), and building our communities.  It is a place where we learn to “Synthesize the language of indigenous tradition into a model the modern cognitive system can chew on.” – Malidoma Somê

TGC creates safe space in which SGL, gay, and bi Brothers are supported in doing the self-examination and illumination necessary to assimilate and tap that part of ourselves which uniquely enables us to guard and mediate constructive and destructive forces on behalf of the black community.  The self-awareness and fortitude we derive in this process disposes us toward spiritual militancy on behalf of our community, simultaneously redefining black manhood and learning how to collaborate with each other in this important work…”}

And then, reading an organization description he proposes is more of a {“mass consumption advertisement…The Gatekeeper’s Collective is a same gender loving Black men's revitalization center which employs education, advocacy and ritual to build resilience and leadership among this population.  As described by West African Shaman and scholar, Malidoma Somé, Gatekeepers are guardians who restore balance and harmony when there is crisis in the community.

Observing an Afri-centric paradigm, we recognize Gate-keeping as the birthright of SGL people.  According to Dr. Somé, while not all Gatekeepers are same gender loving, because of our unique ‘two-spirit’ energetic balance, all same gender loving people are Gatekeepers.

At The Gatekeeper’s Collective we create an Affirmation Station where SGL, gay and bisexual black men adopt strategies for self-actualization and community-building.

TGC’s mission is to build strength and fluidity, and explore approaches and activities for the advancement of SGL men in the larger Black community and the world…”

“Not realizing that we have a purpose that is greater than ourselves…that is [unfortunate]…That purpose may change…We may discover that we have more than one purpose…But, to not know that you have a purpose…”

“The first piece you read is powerful…There are words in it that may go over the heads of some of the people we are trying to reach…Because it is so powerful, it will hit you like a Mack truck…but, you may not know what hit you…or what to do with it because you don’t know what hit you…”

“There is a crystal value in speaking from your truth…It came from the source as it did for a reason…If it is a violin, don’t play it as a [tuba]…”

“As long as some of us, if most of us, are held down…we still have a chain around our leg…”

“That is why the uplifting of John-Martin is important… he has started an organization for the uplifting of others…He hasn’t made it if others haven’t made it…”

“What you’re talking about [with the ideas being understandable] has been done…In the two different versions…the second version…”

“Everything I’ve heard tonight is, ‘You are powerful… You don’t see it, but you are powerful…”

“When I came here, I didn’t read or speak very well…I didn’t even have a GED… I didn’t understand everything I was hearing…I just sat here and listened…and I wrote down what I was hearing…Today, I’m in college…I have a goal…A purpose…A purpose I know I will carry with me through my entire life…”

“The way to uplift others is to remain true to who you really are…That he had the courage to keep coming…not even understanding what he was hearing…and had the courage to keep coming consistently…and the honesty to admit that he didn’t get it…but, now he get’s it…is living it and intends to live it for the rest of his life…That is uplifiting…”

“Even if he couldn’t grasp the material, the sense of community made it safe for him to keep coming…”

Co-facilitator says, “Shifting gears…We want to do some brief brainstorming…What would you like to see TGC do?...”

“[I’d like to see individual members communicate with each other…”

“With permission, I’d like to get some information out via the TGC website and fliers…and/or a presentation about [our issues]…”

“A Facebook page…”

“My dream would be for TGC to meet more [frequently]…To grow to be strong enough to take this to a networking level…That I have become strong enough to pursue my own path shouldn’t just be for me…With cameras in this room…a webinar and other formats…[This] comes with a tremendous amount of generosity…Books are being written in this room…plays are being written in this room…The same way it heals us, it can heal others…The same way it has helped me, it can help others in Dallas or on the other side of the world…We are ready to share what we are in this lifetime with the world…to take this out to the world…[to create] a global platform…”

“We can use Skype…”

“To have more guest facilitators…To take this to other venues…To have a weekend retreat…”

“Having TGC-style conversations in the homes of homebound Brothers…”

“Having an outreach person to connect with Brothers who may not be present…”

“More parties…Fundraisers…”

“More meeting educating ourselves on our history as SGL Black people…And more conversations about health…”

“More collaborations like the one with the National Action Network…”

“These are great ideas…The fact is though, you need people who are actually going to do the work…The more ideas [the merrier, but] the actual implementation of those ideas require bodies to do the work…”

Co-facilitator says, “Moving forward, we are incorporating as a non-profit so as to institutionalize the work we’re doing together…And, we need your support in this effort…”

Topic For Friday, November 7th, 2014:
The Gatekeeper's Collective (TGC) 1st Anniversary Invite

Brothers & Sisters, Come Celebrate a Magical Milestone!

It has been one whole year since we stepped out in the spirit of self-determination and hope to become The Gatekeepers Collective (TGC).

Join us on Friday, November 7 at 8 PM, at JMG’s safe space for a special evening in which the TGC elements of ritual, advancement strategies, tributes, music, food, and dance will be held up, celebrated and commemorated – as we take a moment to acknowledge the beauty and simplicity of a collective of SGL men and women who have spent the last year building circles of support, learning and collective growth. 

JMG's Safe Space
730 Riverside Drive (@ 150th Street)
Suite 9E
Harlem, New York City
8:00 PM

OR THE M4, M5, M100 OR M101 BUS TO


SUMMARY: Financial Freedom & CALL ME KUCHU Film Screening

During the most recent Gatekeeper’s Collective caucus, participants took a tour through what most proposed were new perspectives in financial literacy, and viewed the film, CALL ME KUCHU.  The Phoenix Group’s Wilson Prunier and Tammy lead TGC through a fast-paced seminar exploring 27 ways to build wealth and protect our families.  Among insights included a breakdown of American wealth distribution and concrete strategies for acquiring capital no matter where one is on the wealth totem.

CALL ME KUCHU is the 2012 documentary film exploring the human rights struggles of SGL/LGBT Ugandans against a rabidly anti-homosexual lobby.
Among considerations taken up by viewers following the screening included:

Where did the anti-homosexual attitudes come from?

“Religious Christians.”

“Two places…Colonial Britain and reintroduced by [American] right wing evangelicals who fear they’ve lost the cultural wars here…”

Why are the laws against homosexuality so extreme?

“If you can divide a group of people, then it’s easy for them to come in and take over your country…A constant undermining of a people and a country…And once you do that, you can come in and extract their resources…[the anti-homosexual campaign is] a distraction…[It] distracts people from what’s really going on…”

“[The laws are so extreme] to prevent people from being able to gain more rights…In our country they used the Sodomy Laws…But, we’re not so extreme, so that people could congregate and fight for their rights…”

“Fear, loss of control…I visited my father down South…[He’s a member of] a Haitian Creole church…can’t take those people…A woman running for office came in and spoke out against gays who were moving in[to the community]…We challenged her…I said, “You don’t know who’s here who might [be gay]…You don’t know how people love…[Moreover, gay people] move in and increase the value of their neighborhoods…”

“It shows how some groups allow other people to indoctrinate them…Part of the fear goes back to [colonialism]…As a group feeling disempowered…so that, when somebody comes to you with this BS, you don’t even know that religion has been used many times to [manipulate people]…You think this is gonna’ uplift you…You don’t even know what your human value is…”

What, if anything, does their struggle have to do with us?

“The world is a lot smaller than it has ever been…Technology allows us to see what’s going on in a second…What affects one part of the world affects [all parts]…Such as Ebola, HIV…That homophobic attitude can be spread…”

“When I look at the three main religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, [there is] a constant battle with one religion fighting for supremacy over the others…”

“Are Black people here so different than in Africa?...We reflect just enough law to show [up] for protection of homosexuals…”

“There are places in Africa pre-dating [Western] colonization that had laws against homosexuality when Islam took over…From Egypt to South Africa, these cultures had no anti-homosexual laws in place…When people fail to practice reasoning [they can be bamboozled]…”

“People are being confused over there…Converted…They don’t have their old ways to fall back on…They’re being given [material resources]…”

“I think about my Brothers, but there comes a time when I gotta’ think about myself…You have to understand the system in order to be able to flip it…”

Topic For Friday, October 3rd, 2014:
Financial Freedom
CALL ME KUCHU Film Screening

Hello Gatekeeping Family,

Continuing our reclamation and celebration of ourselves, we invite you to join:

The Gatekeeper’s Collective (TGC)
Igniting the Power of Black same gender love

on Friday October 3, 2014 as the World Financial Group - Phoenix Team’s Tamara Cantave and Wilson Prunier share an eye-opening presentation on easily accessible solutions to financial challenges and paths to financial freedom.

Comedian Chris Rock once quipped, ‘When white people die they leave a will; when black people die, they leave a bill.’

Is debt a way of life for you, as it is for so many Americans?

If opportunity-building investments (e.g., education, training, a new career, etc.) were available, might you risk going for them?

How much are you worth? What is your number? [In fact, you are likely worth a good deal more than you ever imagined.] 
a screening of the film, Call Me Kuchu
depicting the struggle for SGL/LGBT rights in Uganda.


Building Business III: "Okoa Nyumba" Economic Development Model
Risky Business: The Pros and Cons of Sex Parties, Hookups, Parks and Anonymous Sex (Facilitated by F. Romall Smalls)

At the Most recent Gatekeeper’s Collective caucus, TGC board member, F. Romall Smalls led Brothers through considerations of a for-profit economic development model called, Okoa Nyumba, (a Swahili term meaning, Saving Together) which members had conceived in previous forums, viewed a short film, titled Slow, and  took up a dialogue about The Joys and Woes of Sex Parties, Hookups, Parks and Anonymous Sex.

In reviewing the real estate investment model described by TGC board member, Omar Salam, among participants’ responses included:

“You shouldn’t necessarily tie membership to meetings…People may want to be members who don’t necessarily [attend] meetings regularly…”

Safe space is a failure among a lot of organizations…Talking about entrepreneurial [interests] requires risk…[you  may need to] let go of safe space…Especially where you’re talking about economic development…”

Facilitator proposes the idea of expanding the work of TGC out into the community including conducting forums at Teacher’s College, a neighborhood institution.

A consensus is formed around this idea among participants.

Facilitator says, {“We are the safe space…each and every one of us, as we come together, we create the safe space for each other…Safe space is vitally important to [what we do and who we are]…It’s vitally important to me…I’m forty-five years old and I credit Adodi and BMXNY and [now,] TGC with shaping the man I am [by creating safe space within which I could find and affirm the man I am]…”}

Participants are told, the investment model entails a pool of member investors acquiring real estate on behalf of organization members.

“I heard that a lot of organizations folded because of fraudulent activity on the part of people who handled the money…What are the checks and balances in terms of it being audited [regularly]…including external audits?...I am capable of making sure that it’s audited, and I’m thinking of transparency…Monthly expense reporting…How much money was raised by membership, and how are those monies being used?...It’s not a question of a lack of trust…[It’s about sound business practices]…”

After answering participants’ questions about the model, a majority of participants cited interest in further exploration.

Following a screening of the short film Slow, participants cited:

“I think the blind man gave the other man a different perspective on dating…”

“It speaks to the lack of intimacy among Brothers…I don’t know where it starts or where it will end…”

“I’m just as confused as the guy who came over [for the hookup/date]…What kind of [web]site did the blind guy go on?...”

“It’s a metaphor for miscommunication…”

“On A4A, you need not even speak…when you go to a pick-up or hook-up site…You’re saying, ‘I want a quickie’…”

“Don’t the gay sites have menus?...”

 “Don’t Brothers who go to Prospect Park say [‘I only do this on occasion’],…You consider yourself to be the exception to the rule?...”

“The man that is on A4A doesn’t have time for…”

Facilitator says, (“The point of screening the film was to provoke thought and give us an opportunity to look at ourselves…our behaviors…desires…our choices…and how those have a larger effect on our lives…If we say we want to be in relationships, how do those behaviors impact our ability to connect in ways of intimacy…love that is long-lasting?...”}

“When I first saw it, it brought up all those feelings for me…When we invite people into our homes, [what are we inviting?]…”

Co-facilitator says, {“Considerations about hook-ups and anonymous sex are about balance…The question regarding the extent to which anonymous sex might be destructive or unhealthy has more to do with who is having it and how they’re having it {safely or otherwise] and why they’re having it, as distinct from it precluding the possibility of intimacy…I remember instances of all but exquisite intimacy with strangers…the question is, if I say I want an intimate relationship, but I expend most of my energy seeking out hookups then, I might be out of balance…”}

“Unless we know who we really are and what we really want…Unless I change the message I’m putting out, maybe what [I’m] putting out is the opposite of what [I want]…”

“A person who’s been out of a relationship for five months may need to bust a nut before he wants another relationship…Or, maybe they’re tired of using their hand…”

“Sex has become this kind of improper commodity…Nobody’s meeting in church anymore…it’s all about sex…And now, what you’re finding is all these men in their thirties and forties who don’t know how to communicate…And, if I don’t like that physical characteristic, I just [dismiss him] and just go to the next, and the next…and so on…”

Co-facilitator says, {We should consider some points R makes for us…For one thing…When you speak of propriety…what is proper of improper, for our purposes, value judgments are not particularly helpful…But, where you talk about communication…Tweens, Millenials, X-ers and now, older people too, can be sitting right next to each other texting in code, such that, interpersonal skills are being eroded…So, in terms of how we’re using technology… Particularly, if we profess to seek intimate relationships, let alone a monogamous intimate relationship…if we find ourselves spending more and more time on sex and hookup sites, and comparison shopping partners’ physicalities like inanimate objects, once again the notion of balance becomes a player…”}

“The internet holds possibilities for finding intimacy too…It can be used to find a life-partner…”

“You get to the point where you want somebody to touch you…Especially when you’ve been with somebody that you were in love with…It’s very hard to fill that gap…Loved ones can support you, encourage you, but…[It’s not the same as having some there to touch you]…When the internet came out, I was afraid…I would rather go to a bathhouse than meet somebody on line…It’s like a drug, to have that intimacy…Once you’ve had it, you can’t get enough [or, feel like you can’t live without it]…”

“The internet allows you to take your time to get to know someone well enough to say, ‘I want to meet you’…”

“I’m old school…I’m usually in the park or on the streets…I’ve had some bad experiences…Now I go to the hot sheets motels…That would be a good business for TGC…”

“These sites offer different options…Does that speak to the sites or to who we are?...It’s not the venue, it’s the community itself…People have this view point of relationships that you meet somebody {and, magically, everything is wonderful]…He meets him…You have to keep an open door to the opportunity…[Don’t be so quick to count each other out]…”

Topic For Friday, September 5th, 2014:

BUILDING BUSINESS III: Discussion of The Gatekeeper’s Collective Economic Empowerment Model
Risky Business: The Pros and Cons of Sex Parties, Hookups, Parks and Anonymous Sex
Hello Gatekeeping Family,

Continuing our reclamation and fortification trajectory, we invite you to join:

The Gatekeeper’s Collective (TGC)
Igniting the Power of Black same gender love

Discussion of The Gatekeeper’s Collective
Economic Empowerment Model
Risky Business: The Pros and Cons of
Sex Parties, Hookups, Parks and Anonymous Sex

JMG's Safe Space
730 Riverside Drive (@ 150th Street)
Suite 9E
Harlem, New York City
8:00 PM

OR THE M4, M5, M100 OR M101 BUS TO


SUMMARY: Unresolved Sexuality Trauma & the Quest for A Mate Caucus (Part II)

In August, The Gatekeeper’s Collective welcomed back sexual trauma therapist and interfaith minister, DeShannon Bowens as we gathered in pursuit of bridging gaps in participants’ experience resulting from unresolved sexuality trauma, and towards anointing same gender loving sexuality as a gift.  
Picking up from where we left off during the last caucus, among questions explored included:

What is your relationship to the construct of unresolved sexuality trauma?

“Not being present in your sexuality, and not knowing how to date…We simply don’t know how to date…If [a man] invites a brother out to have a coffee, [automatically] it’s a date…”

“It’s more about [damaged] self-esteem…”

“Being with people who demand a certain type of behavior from you [that doesn’t match what you feel]…”

Moderator says, {“We also talked about shame…One can cover…the Latin root of the word, shame is ‘to cover’…hiding an assumption of being wrong…”}

“I was in a three-and-a-half year relationship…I talked [about it] with my therapist…My lover died of AIDS complications…brain cancer…Ever since then, I’ve been afraid of [relationships]…”

Moderator says, {“Even if we haven’t experienced sexuality trauma [ourselves], being aware of others’ trauma [might dispose us to] being prepared to spare ourselves, [or] protect ourselves [from being traumatized]…We must have compassion for and [patience with ourselves]…Wherever we are, remembering not to judge ourselves…”}

“How can we not feel guilty when we have pressure from [our families and people whose respect is important to us?]…”

“I don’t date guys…I don’t know how…I’ve tried a couple of times…And, sexuality [is a stumbling block]…That’s why I come [here]…to listen and learn…I’m so afraid of hurting other people…I work in places where it’s so homophobic…I just watch…I don’t have the energy to fight it…”

Moderator says, {“It’s not the world [you have to] take on…Your family, society…The work starts in here (she says, pointing to herself)…In yourself…Where you feel the pressure of others, push them out and [just take care of you]…Can you look in the mirror and say, ‘I desire to be with another man [and that is perfectly fine]’…’I love myself’…When you can do that, the pressure from the family and from others will lessen…”}

Co-Moderator asks,  {“How many among us present in our sexuality in all areas of our lives?...”}

(A few hands go up)

Co-Moderator asks,  {“Were you ever told that your sexuality is the source of great power?”}

(A couple of people respond in the affirmative)

“There is a step we need to take into consideration…Like [the Brother who just spoke]…To go out and [attempt to] fight the world when you don’t believe [fully in your right to be as you are in] it, is a set-up…You have to sort of disown you…There are many things about us that we own and take pride in which, in reality, we just walked into the body [and they came as part of the package]…One must humble one’s self to understand that the body has parts and does things which we do not know [how or why they work]…The One that created them, created me too…[Once I accept that] Then, it’s easier to defend myself...”

Co-Moderator says, {“In my experience, what owning myself has meant is that I don’t have to defend myself [to other people]…By in large, I experience myself as whole and complete and my sexuality as Divine…On the way to that relationship with myself [and my sexuality] I had to do what DeShannon talked about when she spoke of letting go of other people’s expectations…and then...over time I began discovering that my self is not simply acceptable, but, in a number of ways, exceptional...until finally, I no longer have to defend myself…I celebrate myself...including my a gift…”}

“Fighting is much harder when you don’t have your identity...People are exhilarated by hate...Because of [the] power and aggression [inherent therein]...[It’s] not necessary to fight with the outside [world]...Soul salvation [lies within] the safeness in yourself…”

“When I felt in the space [our hurting Brother] is in, [I] was as a younger person…[What helped me was to] find a passion...Just do the work...Be the best you can be…and, in the end [you will prevail]...”

Co-Moderator asks,  {“Were you ever told that your sexuality is magical?”}

(People shake their heads and say, “No”)

“I think my sexuality is potentially magical…If you overcome something...Every burden that is mastered and turned into a gift can be magical…”
Moderator engages participants in an Emotional Freedom Technique exercise, advising: {“Thought-Feel Therapy comes from Roger Calhoun...It’s kind of like acupuncture…[It has been] used [successfully] with people who have phobias, PTSD, etc…Used in this context…If there have been any negative experiences around your sexuality…traumas…If you want to move toward feeling more whole, safe, this might be useful…Like fear…What do I want to release from my life that’s holding me back?...”}

“Fear of the unknown in terms of career path…life choices…has stopped me from going for things…taking risks I’ve needed to take…”

“Fear of being alone…”

“Fear of no one accepting me completely…That, I will have to change myself [in order to able to be with someone else]…”

“[I am afraid of] Sexuality getting in the way of things that are important…Because there is a mojo involved, and a hard-on involved…It’s sort of a problem because it takes so much time and energy…I don’t want to be ninety and to be trying to figure out who looks hot…”

“Being left…”


“Fear of being poor…”

“Fear of being hurt…”


(As the exercise ends…)

“I feel a difference in my body…”

“What if a person feels shame for having done something wrong…Like stealing?…”

Moderator says, {“It’s not about focusing on the past, but about making a promise to myself about where I want to be…We talked about releasing [negative experiences and expectations and things that do not empower us]…The value [of the exercise will vary]…You can try it and see if it’s useful to you…”}

Co Moderator says, {“In terms of processes which support us in unlearning negative beliefs about ourselves and learning to value ourselves, therapy can be an invaluable tool…There are different types which, from one to the next of us…and from one pocketbook or kind of health insurance to the next…may tend to be best suited to us…It requires a commitment to researching options on the way to finding the process which best enables our becoming self-loving…”}

DeShannon leads participants in a ritual to consecrate SGL sexuality as a gift, saying, {“[We] pour libations because, once you release something, you should claim something…Libations [are] a water prayer… Calling on the Creator and thanking the Ancestors [for being as we are] and calling on them for support to lift us up…to acknowledge that we wouldn’t be here but for those who have gone before…We stand on the shoulders of others…”}

What, if any usefulness, has this exploration had for you?

“[It’s encouraged me that] I have to speak my desires out and take steps to make them happen…I have to do that work on myself…Not to be fearful…Tap into each other…Give myself permission to see in my Brothers what’s in me…[For this engagement} I’m more open to going out and being present…”

“[It was] wonderfully touching…rich…meaningful and quite sacred…Giving ourselves permission to let go of things…And, the silence…Sometimes, in the silence [wonderful things can happen]…”

“I heard the word ‘permission’ used twice…[It] Provided the group the opportunity to be right [in the world]…and not judge your own self…We don’t give ourselves permission to see ourselves beyond others’ expectations…”

“I’m going to be understanding of other people…This is the first time I’ve been in a situation like this where people were trying to release things…Each one of us have an idea of what we lack and what we have, and there’s an on-going negotiation [between those properties]…For us to be given a space to say how you feel…When we sanction how we feel with words, something shifts…Courage starts with a declaration…‘This is something that’s hindering me’…”

“I think this experience gives [us] space [we don’t normally have]…”

“It’s very helpful…”

“I’m leaving here a different person than when I came in…I was really down…I was smiling…But I felt really bad…It takes a lot of energy to keep up a happy face…I was tired…Something gave me the spark of courage to go off and have a healthy life…”

“The ritual is reminiscent of what we do at Adodi…”

“Any time you resolve to do something, it kind of clears away anything else…Adding clarity to where they were going…What I got…She made individuals make resolves…Clear[ing] away all the debris...”

“A mechanism to measure [the value of] that is to add numbers to that…”

“There is a way to turn what we are doing into assets…What can we do that is going to support us?...If there is someone in Wyoming who wants to get what we have…we can provide what we’re doing to others [across the country]…”

“There are ideas that happened here that are magical…When someone learns that their ideas are sacred [that’s magical]…It’s very different to unlearn that [you are wrong in the world and that that you are magical]…”

An SGL Black Sheroes & Heroes Monthly Series
August's Focus:
Jackie "Moms" Mabley (1894–1975)

Jackie "Moms" Mabley was a trailblazing African-American 20th century comedian known for warm yet raunchy stand-up routines and hit albums.


Moms Mabley was born in Brevard, North Carolina in the 1890s, and went on to establish a career as the top standup comedienne of her time. She starred in several films, became a headliner at the Apollo Theater and in the '60s had hit comedy albums. She was also a top draw for a number of TV variety shows. She died in New York on May 23, 1975. Comedian Whoopi Goldberg has directed a documentary on Mabley's life.


The woman who would become known as famed comedian Moms Mabley was born Loretta Mary Aiken in Brevard, North Carolina, on March 19, 1894 (some sources say 1897), to a large family. She experienced a horrifying, traumatic childhood. Her firefighter father was killed in an explosion when she was 11 and her mother was later hit and killed by a truck on Christmas Day. And by the beginning of her teens, Aiken had been raped twice and become pregnant from both encounters, with both children being given away.

Becoming "Moms" Mabley

Aiken left home at the age of 14 and pursued a show business career, joining the African-American vaudeville circuit as a comedian under the Theatre Owners Booking Association. Fellow performer Jack Mabley became her boyfriend for a short time, and she took on his name, becoming Jackie Mabley, with "Moms" coming from her eventual reputation as a mentoring, mothering spirit.

By the early 1920s she had begun to work with the duo Butterbeans & Susie, and eventually became an attraction at the Cotton Club. Mabley entered the world of film and stage as well, working with writer Zora Neale Hurston on the 1931 Broadway show Fast and Furious: A Colored Revue in 37 Scenes and taking on a featured role in Paul Robeson's Emperor Jones (1933).

Public vs. Private Persona

Starting in the late 1930s, Mabley became the first woman comedian to be featured at the Apollo, going on to appear on the theater's stage more times than any other performer. She returned to the big screen as well with The Big Timers (1945), Boarding House Blues (1948), and the musical revue Killer Diller (1948), which featured Nat King Cole and Butterfly McQueen.

Mabley's standup routines were riotous affairs augmented by the aesthetic she presented as being an older, housedress-clad figure who provided sly commentary on racial bigotry to African-American audiences. Her jokes also pointed towards a lusty zest for younger men. Yet, belying that persona, offstage she had a glamorous, chic look and was known to be a lesbian.

Hit Albums

Mabley began a recording career with her Chess Records debut album The Funniest Woman Alive, which became gold-certified. Subsequent albums like Moms Mabley at the Playboy Club, Moms Mabley at the UN and Young Men, Si - Old Men, No continued to broaden Mabley's reach (she ultimately recorded many albums). She landed spots on some of the top variety shows of the day, including The Ed Sullivan Show, and graced the stage of Carnegie Hall.

Legacy, Whoopi Goldberg Film

Mobley had a starring role in the 1974 picture Amazing Grace, which she was able to complete despite having a heart attack during filming. She died on May 23, 1975, in White Plains, New York.

Actress Clarice Taylor, who portrayed Bill Cosby's mother on The Cosby Show and was a major fan of Mabley's work, staged the 1987 play Moms at the Astor Place Theater in which she portrayed the trailblazing icon. More than 20 years later, fellow comedian Whoopi Goldberg made her directorial debut with the documentary Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin' to Tell You, which was presented at the Tribeca Film Festival and is slated to air on HBO in 2013.


Topic For Friday, August 1st, 2014
Unresolved Sexuality Trauma & the Quest for A Mate Caucus (Part II)

Hello Gatekeeping Family,

Here's hoping All are observing a sumptuous summer.

Below please find a Summary of our Unresolved Sexuality Trauma & the Quest for A Mate caucus.

And, picking up where we left off in the work of sexual identity affirmation and restoration, consider the following:

- How often have you been hailed as 'a real man?'

- Have you ever heard that your sexuality is magical?

- Were you ever made aware that your sexuality is the source of great power?

- What does a free, vibrant, sexually empowered same gender loving black man look like?

For the answers to these and other questions, join The Gatekeeper’s Collective where we will convene with Interfaith Minister, DeShannon Bowens around a ritual Celebrating the Gift of our sexuality(ies).
JMG's Safe Space
730 Riverside Drive (@ 150th Street)
Suite 9E
Harlem, New York City
8:00 PM


OR THE M4, M5, M100 OR M101 BUS TO


The Gatekeeper

The Gatekeeper

The Gatekeeper's Collective Venue

(@ 150TH STREET)
8:00 PM

M4, M5, M100 OR M101 TO


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