The Gatekeeper's Collective (TGC)


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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.


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