Pop Culture

Firing Off Friday: Top 5 Moments of Premiere Week on TV

Happy Friday folks!

I, like many, have a difficult time saying goodbye to summer.  The end of summer means no more backyard cookouts, no more warm sunny days on the beach, no more drinks on city rooftops, and no more t-shirts and shorts.  However, one of the best things about the emergence of fall is the return of great TV.  And this week, we saw some of entertainment’s best.  For those that tuned into the Big Four networks, I’m sure you could agree.  So as a part of Firing Off Friday, I decided to list the top 5 moments of premiere week.

Pop Culture

Serena Williams is this Generation’s Greatest Athlete

Happy Friday folks!  Thankfully we’ve made it to another work week’s end.   In today’s rendition of Firing Off Friday, I find myself wanting to celebrate the accomplishments of one of my favorite women.  And no I don’t mean my mother or Queen Bey.  I actually want to talk about tennis phenom Serena Williams.

Every 20-30 years, one athlete comes along that redefines his/her perspective sport and helps define a generation.  He or she often defies what people deem physically possible, earns the respect and admiration from peers and friends, and carves a special unforgettable place in history.  During the 1960s and 1970s, Muhammad Ali was that athlete.  Ali is the only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, has a record of 56-5, and has fought in the most memorable matches in boxing (i.e. The Thrilla in Manila with Joe Frazier).  And boxing’s great was just as prominent outside of the ring.  The stance he took against the Vietnam War is still considered by many to be one of the most “courageous” positions taken by an athlete on politics.  And what is perhaps most amazing about this legend, is that he is as relevant now as he was during the height of his boxing career.

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In the 1990s it was all about MJ.  Michael Jeffrey Jordan is the greatest NBA player to dribble a basketball.  For those that have lived on Mars or in a time vault from the 1940s and don’t know his legacy, I’ll break it down for you.  “His Airness” is a six-time NBA champion, six-time NBA Finals MVP, five-time NBA MVP, has been in fourteen NBA All-Star games, and is the All-Time NBA playoff leading scorer.  And that’s just some of his accomplishments.  Michael Jordan was a genuine competitor that when statistics and even circumstances deemed it impossible, he shifted into another gear that helped his team to be victorious.  Plus, what he has done for athletes in terms of endorsement deals is unprecedented.  The man hasn’t played basketball in roughly 15 years, and yet Air Jordans are still arguably the most popular athletic shoe on the market.  Oh and I didn’t even mention he is the only athlete to successfully headline a film with Space Jam.

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Now cue Serena Jameka Williams.  She made her big splash in the tennis world in 1999, when the then beaded hair competitor became the first black woman to win the U.S. Open since Althea Gibson nearly 40 years prior.  Since then, Serena has won 21 more Grand Slam singles titles, 12 Grand Slam doubles titles, 4 Olympic Gold medals, completed two “Serena Slams” (consecutive Grand Slam singles titles), and is currently two wins shy of achieving a Calendar Grand Slam.  The last feat is something that hasn’t been done since 1988.

Let’s further put Serena’s accomplishments into perspective.  As it stands now, she is one win shy of tying Steffi Graf for the most Grand Slam singles titles with 22.  What’s fascinating about that, is that as the world’s current #1 on the women’s side of tennis, she shows no signs of retiring and is playing perhaps the best tennis of her career at 33.  At times it appears that she is several steps ahead of her competition.  Which leads me to believe, that she has the potential to claim the Grand Slam singles title record for herself.

I’d be doing Serena a disservice if I didn’t mention what she has done for tennis.  Well what her and her sister have done for tennis.  Both Williams sisters have made people want to watch the sport.  Individuals who usually wouldn’t have given the sport a second thought, are tuning into ESPN, CBS, and NBC just to watch these two go head to head with their opponents.  Heck think back to Tuesday, the Serena and Venus quarterfinals match was trending on timelines across the various social media platforms.  And even in the midst of ignorant lowlifes calling Serena manly or poking fun of her infamous backside, she has not once got out of character and maintained the integrity of the sport.

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And what impresses me the most about Serena, is that she is the definition of clutch.  I’ve followed her career for a long time, and have seen her bounce back in matches more than any player in tennis.  She will literally be a few points away from losing the match, and then dig into some reservoir of athletic ability to fight back and come up with a win.  I’ve honestly never seen such athleticism displayed in the face of losing, since MJ.  I know people talk about Lebron James as this generation’s greatest athlete, but to be clear that honor has to go to Williams.  Check her credentials!

On a side note, although her dating life doesn’t lend its hand to her champion legacy, she is definitely winning there too.  Not only has she dated the fine Chicago rapper/actor Common.  But she has also been linked to Canada native Drake.  And I’ve said weeks ago how cute I think 2015 Drake is.  Serena Williams you are a hero, legend, and this generation’s real MVP!

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Pop Culture

Firing Off Friday: Good R&B Is Back

Welcome to another rendition of Firing Off Friday.  This week I actually want to celebrate the resurgence of real and good R&B music back into mainstream America.  In a music genre that is marred by lower album sales, allegations of unauthenticity, and claims of stunted creativity, it’s good to see some musicians deliver quality projects that defy such low expectations.  Three artists in particular have really stood out to me.

Pop Culture, The Lifestyle

Hiding in Plain Sight

Dear T,

I’ve been out of the closest so to speak for about 2 years now, but I still feel like I’m hiding the real me.  I mean people know I’m gay, but I feel like I have to pretend sometimes.  I like to listen to Nicki and Beyoncé, love to twerk, and Bravo is a mainstay on my television.  However, if I share that with people, especially in the gay community, people throw labels at me like feminine and bottom.  And the truth of the matter is, I consider myself masculine and am a strict top.  I guess what I’m asking here is how to deal with people misjudging me and making assumptions?

From,

Book Judged by Cover

Pop Culture

Firing Off Friday: Black Lives Matter

Happy Friday folks,

Welcome to another rendition of Firing Off Friday.  This week I think I’m actually going to touch on the Black Lives Matter movement.  Up until now, I haven’t said a whole lot about it.  And that’s not because I don’t support it, but rather I didn’t know how to gather my frustrations to put into a post.  I’m still not sure I do, but at least I’m going to try and make an attempt.  So forgive me if my thoughts bounce from A to B rather quickly.

Pop Culture

Pet Peeves of Social Media

Hello folks,

I’ve come to realize that social media has really empowered many people and given them a voice.  These persons wouldn’t have a voice in communities without platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.  And therein lies the problem.  These platforms have given some people a license to be bullies, and others an opportunity to vent their sincerest form of ignorance.  And then there are those that feel social media is the place to spew every negative emotion they are feeling.  Honestly, all three mentioned uses of social interaction tend to get on my last nerve.

Pop Culture

Firing Off Friday: Drake

Hello good people,

And happy Friday to ya!  I’ve decided to start something new called Fire Off Friday.  On the occasional Friday, I will use my platform here to get something that’s been bothering me off my chest, or to share some revelation I’ve come to.  Essentially, I will be “firing off” my opinion.  And with that said, let’s jump right into this.

Dating, Pop Culture, relationships, The Lifestyle

Is 30 too Old for a Midlife Crisis?

Dear T,

I’m not really seeking advice about dating or relationships, but you did say people can ask you anything, so I’m asking.  I kind of feel like I’m failing in life.  I had always envisioned that by the time I was 30, I would be in a career I loved, with a man that adored me, and in a nice house with a dog.  Unfortunately, I’m 28 going on 29, and I’m not even close to achieving any of this.  I’m up to my neck in student loans, can’t find a GOOD man anywhere, and I’m stuck in a job I hate that’s going nowhere.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for what I do have; but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed.  I guess my question is, do you think I should feel like a failure?  I hoping you can help.

Thankfully,

Almost 30

Pop Culture, The Lifestyle

In the Wake of THE Decision

Hey guys and girls,

Happy Monday to each of you! I was going to answer another question and offer some more advice today, but once again I feel pressed to speak my mind about something.  Although this is a sensitive topic and I hope not to offend, I wanted to share my thoughts on homosexuality and Christianity.

Following the historic decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, I started noticing the expected backlash from the gay/lgbt opponents. Some notable gospel artists expressed their “disappointment” with the Court, and the overall direction of progress in this country. While conservative presidential nominee hopefuls, have come out the box swinging, claiming the justices have made a grave error, and God still only views marriage as a sacred union between a man and a woman. And heck, some folks have even threatened to burn themselves and dissolve their heterosexual marriage, all in an attempt to stand up for Christianity. I’m not only offended by such opposition as a gay man, but as a Christian as well.

Despite what some would like to believe, I don’t think homosexuality is a polar opposite of Christianity, nor do I believe homosexuals are the enemy. And I get there are a few passages in the Bible that openly speak out against same-sex coupling, but the Bible also speaks out against slaves disobeying masters, and women not being fully submissive. I’m not suggesting the Bible is not true in its entirety, but rather perhaps some of the Bible is reflective of the times it was written.  And to my recollection by the way, Jesus himself didn’t mention homosexually specifically in the Bible.  However, He did mention the responsibility we have to love one another.

And newsflash believers in Christ!  Two main components about being Christian is loving your fellow man and ministering to others.  Many gay non-believers are not rushing to Jesus, all due to the judgmental (and often ignorant) expressions from a few that wave the Christian banner.  Where is the love in telling someone “you’re going to hell,” or “God hates you”?  Where is the ministry in condemnation?

I’d also like to point out, that the judgmental (and often ignorant) expressions have the power to drive gay believers from the church. And worse yet, drive them to serious states of depression and even suicide. There are countless stories out there of LGBT individuals taking their life in part because of certain pressures applied by Christian conservatives.

And look, I’m NOT saying that everyone must approve of homosexuality either. People are entitled to their opinion, and I respect that.  Besides, I think it’s difficult for someone to approve of what they don’t understand.  Many Christians, and people in general, don’t get that being gay isn’t a choice, but a personal trait.  Heck, until I came to accept myself, I didn’t get it either. However, I’ve come to realize that trying not to be gay is like trying not to be black or not to have brown eyes. Yeah I can buy skin bleaching agents and color contacts, but at the end of the day, I’ll never escape the real me.

What I AM saying, is that everyone should learn to respectfully disagree, and allow God to judge in his timing.  If I as a gay man am not serving as judge in your meeting with God in the afterlife, don’t attempt to serve as mine.  Also, I think people should come to realize that if same-sex marriage is something they don’t agree with, then they don’t need to do it! Point, blank, period! Just know that if I choose to jump the broom, I will because it’s now my nationally recognized right to do so!

In an attempt to wrap this up, let me just make a few final quick points.

  1. If you’re out there reading this and you are anti-Christianity or have turned away from God because of a run in with a specific church or church members, please don’t give up on your relationship with Christ. I promise you Christ loves you, and is willing and ready to embrace anyone that comes to him.  Don’t allow a bad experience or encounter with the church or its members to deter you from having the greatest relationship one can have in life. Think of it this way, if you have a bad experience with a restaurant, you won’t stop eating.  You’ll simply go to another restaurant to find nourishment!
  1. The national legalization of same-sex marriage was about awarding basic civil rights. It had nothing to do with launching an attack on “Christian values.” So if certain Christians aren’t offend by accepting “gay” tax money, “gay” tithes, and “gay” contributions to society (via certain athletes, politicians, entertainers, and businessmen), then they shouldn’t be so offended if gay and lesbian couples are heading to the alter.
  1. I once heard “that the best thing some Christians can do for the faith, is hide their membership!” I now understand the expression.
  1. Fasten your seatbelt people! The court may have sided with the LGBT community, but my “spidey senses” tell me this fight is long from over.

As always nothing but love,

T.

Pop Culture, The Lifestyle

“I Do.” Marriage Equality is Finally here

Hey all,

I know you guys are used to me handing out advice; but, today I felt the need to discuss the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent verdict on same-sex marriage.  Believe it or not, I, as a black gay man, I once stood in opposition to the issue.  Shocking I know!    However, back in the day I really didn’t accept myself as gay; and therefore; couldn’t accept the idea that two people of the same sex should be married.  Additionally, I’m Christian and due to some teachings, I had a hard time conceptualizing God’s approval of LGBT marriages.  However, after some soul searching, prayer, and self-evolution into the man I am today, I realized how WRONG I was.  We in the LGBT community have a right to love who we want to love, and marry who we want to marry. And, I don’t believe it’s anyone’s job to play God in deciding what’s acceptable under the umbrella of love and marriage.  But I do believe it’s everyone’s job to acknowledge basic civil rights, and the U.S. Supreme Court seems to agree.