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Today is the 5th annual #TransphobiaIsASin campaign. As we witness the continued attack on trans people, Join @theblacktransprayerbook in reminding the world of trans people’s right to thrive.


Transphobia Is a Sin


The Co-Editors of @TheBlackTransPrayerBook (@jmaseiii & @ladydanefe) are hosting the 5th annual #TransphobiaIsASincampaign


to call attention to, and disrupt the religious violence Trans people experience every day, (especially those of us who are Black/Brown/Indigenous.)


Today, January 15th and we want your help!

1. Take a photo of yourself with a sign saying one of the following lines: “Transphobia is a Sin”, “Transphobia is Haram”, “Trans People are Divine”, or “Trans People Exist Because Our Ancestors Existed”

2. Use the hashtag #TransphobiaIsASin

3. Post on social media today, January 15th

“I am here to remind everyone that Trans People Are Divine. before colonization, before white supremacy we existed, and we will continue to exist long after the evils of trans antagonist are gone.” - @ladydanefe


pic one: @millusi0n holding a sign that reads “transphobia is a sin”

pic two: @elusive_rjay holding a sign that reads “transphobia is a sin”

pic three: louie holding a sign that reads “trans people are divine”

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When I pressed play on Menudo: Forever Young on HBO Max , the new docu-series on the iconic Puerto Rican boy band, I didn’t expect to learn something about El Salvador’s history. I was a little too young for Menudo, but for my big sister and others like her who came of age during the brutal war years — it was the soundtrack to their youth. Menudo’s cultural impact was so massive, that they briefly eclipsed the Salvadoran Civil War.

In the first of four episodes, Menudo’s meteoric rise to fame and international impact is highlighted. During one the group’s first Latin American tours included a now historic stop in the capital of San Salvador in December 1982.

Journalist Juan González is featured saying, “It was probably the worst possible time you could think of to do a concert, if you were aware of what the country was going through.” Juan totally read my mind! However, I was shocked to learn that El Salvador actually held a temporary cease-fire to accommodate the Menudo show. A bloody civil war that claimed tens of thousands of lives was temporarily halted for teen pop music. The power that has.

For context, the 12 year war (1980-1992) involved the U.S.-funded fascist Salvadoran government against the Marxist guerillas of the Farabundo Martí Liberation Front, and over 75,000 people were killed in a tiny country that’s roughly the size of Massachusetts. The war also created an unprecedented mass migration of Salvadorans to big U.S. cities like Los Angeles, Washington D.C, Houston, San Francisco and more. My family came to California during this period fleeing the violence and instability.


Johnny Lozada, who was one of the Menudo members between 1980 and 1984, talked about the heightened security upon their arrival in San Salvador: “I knew that we had 125 security guards inside the hotel, but I didn’t know why.” He goes onto to talk about the fun he had playing with the security guards, who were actually government soldiers. I was struck by how Johnny describes them as boys, not men, and said they were about “19, 20, 22, if not younger.” I’d argue they were likely on the younger side.

One of the key features of the war in El Salvador was the use of child soldiers, especially young boys. It was routine practice for boys aged 12 to be given guns and sent to fight. Oftentimes these boys were rounded up at schools or their homes. I know too many Salvadoran uncles, who when they got to be Menudo aged, had to migrate to avoid forced recruitment.


When the concert ended and it was time to part, Johnny recalls that one of the soldier guards said “we’re off to the front lines tomorrow.” The moment highlights the privilege the Menudo members had to continue being teen idols, while Salvadoran soldiers, boys roughly their age, had no choice but to fight in a war.

However, when you watch the entire of Menudo: Forever Young series, you learn that it was also a harrowing ordeal full of exploitation, sexual abuse and lifelong scars for the Puerto Rican young boys in the band. I can’t help feeling after watching this series that in a Latin America ravaged by imperialism, whether it’s Puerto Rico or El Salvador, childhood is dangerous and not guaranteed.

Daniel Alvarenga (he/him) is a queer independent journalist from California based in Washington, DC. He’s a child of refugees from El Salvador and has dedicated his career to developing a multimedia practice—text to audiovisuals—in service of Central American communities in the region and the United States. He’s previously worked for Telemundo and Al Jazeera with bylines in the Washington Post and Rolling Stone.

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growing up, i never believed adults were god. i was always curious about their ways and their secret jokes like what “NEWPORT” really meant. i knew they were flawed beyond belief. i had my own lived experience to rely on as scientific data. but one of the things that made adults god-like for me was their ability to create tradition and space - a kind of utopia with beautiful rituals. my aunt carmen was one of those people.

for as long as i can remember, her house was the place to be on new year’s eve. i have many memories of my mother taking us to carmen’s. i’d wind up dancing to patti labelle’s “stir it up” to speaking in the middle of a song’s mid-section break - just the way marilyn mccoo did on “solid gold.” (google all those references).

when my mother moved to florida in the late 90s, carmen’s house became the place i went for thanksgiving. she became another mother. her daughters, my sisters. the day became another of our traditions. it was also the only all-family event i felt the most welcomed.

my aunt carmen mothered me in the absence of my own. when i suffered my first broken heart and broke down in her kitchen, she held me and promised that i would find love again. i did. when my brother nicholas died, she reminded me i was not alone. when i became a father, i’d take my son to her house for new year’s eve, just as my mother had taken me. i was now the adult keeping tradition. and this was all made possible because of the space she created decades ago.


my dear aunt carmen was the closest to a god of any person i met. she never talked shit about anyone. she was one of the few family members to believe me - EVEN when it was the hardest for her. she believed me.

my aunt became an ancestor in march 2020. when she died peacefully in her home. the same home she made me and countless others feel welcomed, loved, and wanted. the home that is and will forever be my template, my yardstick for safety.

thanksgiving dinner and new year’s eve are now held at her oldest daughter’s house. it is now our charge to continue create space for each other.

to my aunt carmen, the creator of eternal space, we miss you & thank you.

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may we all find the safety that we deserve. may we hold each other closer. and may we all continue to protect each other.

we mourn and rage those lost, injured, and impacted by the attack at club q, the beloved lgbtq club in colorado springs.

we speak the names of the five people who did not survive the attack. may the world never forget.


friends and family have said that Raymond will be remembered as a “kind, selfless young adult with his entire life ahead of him.”


“She was like a trans mother to me…She came into my life at a special moment where I was so down and didn’t believe in myself.” – Natalee Skye Bingham


Daniel was a proud Trans man who touched a lot of lives in such a short period of time. “He had so much more life to give to us, and to all his friends and to himself.” – Daniel’s mom


Rump’s mother described her son to ABC News as a “kind, loving person who had a heart of gold” who was always there for the people he loved when they needed.


Ashley Paugh was a proud mother who loved her family and was committed to her work with a nonprofit that helps find homes for foster children.


“the government has blood on its hands. one AIDS death every half hour” poster created by art collective gran fury in 1988 remains relevant. over 300 anti-trans and anti-lgbtq bills, with more than half targeting transgender people, have been proposed in 2022.

violence by the state fuels the hate and danger faced by trans and queer people. the government has blood on its hands.


You know, just growing up and in that era of grandparents taking care of the grandkids, and the parent, you know, engaged in the street life. Im talking about the 90’s, the early 2000s. I had an amazing childhood. But then I had a troubling transition teen years because I had the addition of gender identity, with the struggle of a family trying to understand the difference between sexual orientation, which because of historical ignorance, didn’t know how to support me.

The first time I ever heard of HIV was it was in correlation to me and like my journey, but also like the realization that my uncle was living with HIV. I didn’t know it because I was a child. And so when I started to express who I was or how I felt, my family, jump straight to the “who I love’ kind of thing. It was like, “Let’s try to protect you is this disease” that people get “kind of mentality”.

I love my family down, you know, they didnt have the support. They also didnt have the the language. And stigma was really prevalent. I mean, as it is today. And worse back then.


I was like maybe 13 or 14 [years old], my first time learning that it really impacted my community as hard as it did is because when I came into the gayborhood, into the ballroom scene.

I came inthrough a House and I had a House mother and a House Father, and also how siblings who were experiencing this. We watched how our house mother and house father nurtured siblings back to hell, or healthier than when they were. As we assupporting them through their journey as they transitioned.

It reminds me of “Pose” That’s literally what it was like. One thing I did learn, too, is to stop apologizing when I take up too much space because, you know, our ancestors lost their lives so that we can be here today. So im offering up now more ‘ you welcomes” for me taking up the space because I am here. Im alive. 38 years old, a trans woman of color.

Naiymah (She/Her)

Philadelphia, PA

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Our stories hold our truths. Share your experiences in the US Trans Survey so that our community is seen, heard, and honored:

The US Trans Survey — live October 19 — November 21, 2022 — is conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality, the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people, in partnership with the National Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, the TransLatin@ Coalition, and the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance. The survey is conducted by a team of well-respected researchers, guided by a prestigious scientific advisory council who are experts in trans research.


Are you a Trans person of color? Let’s celebrate the beauty of our community by sharing your story at

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ariana debose is the embodiment of a powerhouse performer and human being. since competing in the sixth season of “so you think you can dance” in 2009, she has graced the broadway stages as part of numerous productions, including “hamilton,” “a bronx tale,” and “summer: the donna summer musical,” for which she received a tony award.

ealier this year, she became the first openly queer afro-latina to earn an academy award for her portrayal of anita in the steven speilberg’s “west side story.” the role also earned her a golden globe, a BAFTA, and a screen actors guild award. mama, is already a legend!

ariana was recently named the 2022 inspira award honoree by the 35th annual hispanic heritage awards. as part of her interview for the PBS televised show, debose shared her experience and journey with her puerto rican identity. “no matter how much i know about my background, or what i don’t know. what i do know is that this body is puertorriqueña.”

in her sharing part of her journey, she shined light on those of us who still and will probably be on the journey.

yesterday, me and armonté were sitting on the couch hanging out, talking shit and scrolling through channels when we came across the PBS channel and saw that the hispanic heritage awards were on. i am not even sure why we left it on the channel but we did and then boom!, ariana appears on the screen. as we listened, we both looked at each other and said, “i think i am about to cry. she is speaking to us.” ariana named and framed how we both have been moving through our identities as puerto ricans, as afro-puerto ricans. and this is why representation is important. it provided oxygen to those still learning to breathe comfortably in their skin.

thank you @arianadebose and congrats!

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To me, National Latinx HIV/AIDS Awareness Day means a day to bring some light to the darkness that has been overshadowing our Latinx community for decades.

A day where you can have some cafecito y chisme in the morning or afternoon with your comai or compai, and with your familia (both blood and chosen) to openly talk about why growing up, HIV was not spoken about and then dish out all the chisme on how to prevent it, how to live with it, and how not to talk shit if fulano or fulana has it, you know, ending el ESTIGMA. We no longer have to hide in the shadow or under the blanket like it was the cucuy. We sometimes see commercials about HIV, medications, and PrEP between our novelas orrr en el YOOTOO (YouTube) between “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” or “Titi Me Pregunto.” Yet it’s still uncomfortable to talk about it with compañeros/as/es. Which is why NLHAAD was created; for people like me to talk openly about living with HIV, to encourage others to get tested, use condoms, get treatment, to get on PrEP, and/or PEP if needed. To show nuestra comunidad that echar bochinche about this day can actually help prevent it between ourselves.

It is also a day to show some love to those who have been en la lucha fighting y echandole ganas. To remember those who we have lost to HIV/AIDS and to embrace those who continue to be with us. A day where we celebrate each other regardless of our own status. A day to remember everyone in our barrios que SI SE PUEDE eliminar el SIDA!

Miliani Varela (She/They), Gran Varones Fellow

Chicago, lL

photographed by: gran varones

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One could talk for hours about the cultural significance of an album like The Velvet Rope: the way its composition and construction provide a direct throughline to the songs and albums soundtracking our current times or how Its accompanying visuals amplify the project’s various moods and tones. There’s a weight to it that albums don’t seem to carry anymore, and it reaches all around the human experience to give you songs for lovemaking, party, and rainy-day playlists alike.

For me, what remains constant is the powerful permission that The Velvet Rope still gives listeners: the permission to explore. Its occupancy of the wondering, interrogating, grey space is what brings it to life and encourages listeners to ask hard-hitting questions of themselves and buckle up for the answers.


As a young kid, it would plant seeds of curiosity in me that with each returning spin grew me into adulthood. Queer adulthood. The Velvet Rope is queer as fuck, you may come to find. That’s my personal interpretation but it’s one that is shared among many listeners and critics. To me, it’s obvious. Janet summons the gays to liberation and the dancefloor on the funky detour “Free Xone” and refuses to switch the gendering on her cover of Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night,” a song that finds her taking a woman’s virginity. She grieves in “Together Again” which would become an anthem to those in our community who we lost to AIDS. The interludes, often overlooked, find Janet peppering in lines from queer-adored films and simulating masturbation while her girlfriend hilariously listens on the phone.

Since Control, we were to understand Janet as a young woman confidently using her voice in a world dominated by men. With The Velvet Rope, I bore witness to a more complicated Janet who was allowing herself to maneuver through the traumas of life (“Together Again,” “What About”), drum up questions and seek out answers (“Empty”), dream in and out love (“Every Time,” “I Get Lonely”) and leverage joy and pleasure (“Go Deep,” “Rope Burn”) as tools in her journey. All these things simultaneously.

I needed to hear that kind of heavy processing as I met, and still meet, the difficulties of the world. That’s why I and so many others still find refuge in it, 25 years since its release. All those loud messages the world sends to play down what makes you different, hide yourself, and quiet your voice sound like hums when Janet’s reminding you that “we’re all born with specialness inside of us” on album closer “Special.”


Never one to sell us a bill of goods, the lacquer of “Special,” meant to send us off on a positive note, abruptly wears, as Janet utters the pointed phrase “Work in progress.” It’s the perfect punctuation for an album that speaks to the complexities of our lives – and queer lives. The exploration that Janet so intimately shares with us on The Velvet Rope proves just how messy life can be but what it also does wonderfully shows how hopeful life can be when you give yourself permission to figure it all out.

Joshua Henry Jenkins (he/him/his) is an interactive media strategist, designer, & organizer of community-based out of Washington, D.C. by way of rural North Carolina. He is currently the Director of Marketing for Theatre Communications Group. He was previously the Director of Web and New Media Strategies at Americans for the Arts. He’s the co-creator of BLACK, GAY, stuck at home as well as the outgoing board chair of the Arts Administrators of Color Network. In service of the communities to which he belongs, he creates and amplifies work that uplifts BIPOC and LGTBQIA+ identifying folks, citizens of rural areas, and most importantly those who exist at those intersections. Joshua received his Master of Arts in Interactive Media from Elon University and his Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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My name is Sean Anthony. My very first Ballroom name given to me was “Baby”. I was the youngest in the house and had a baby face, still do til this day lol. As I grew older I changed my name to Kharma, I gave myself the name because I am a firm believer in the theory of “karma”, I added the h for a little spice. Which leads me to my newest name “Salsa”. This name was given to me by one of my house brothers from the House of Ebony. He said the way I vogued reminded him of salsa dancing, and that name has followed me since.

Who introduced or inspired you to attend your first ball or vogue night?

I started off walking face at the tender age of 17. I started voguing around 2010 and the rest is history. I’ve been involved in ballroom since 2008. An ex friend, who shall rename nameless, brought me to my first house meeting without me having much knowledge. I went to my first ball because I liked the idea of what they were discussing and was quickly intrigued. I was literally pushed out onto the runway to walk BQ Face and you guessed it, I won Grand Prize.

Ballroom has many different meanings to me. Family and friendship being first. I realized I had the control of creating my own intimate family. Friendships that still stand to this day have seen developed, many of which I now call my brothers and sisters. I love the creativity of ballroom, the challenges it faces you with, and the confidence it forces you to have. Trust me it takes a lot of nerve to walk a ball. I feel like ballroom has helped me develop extreme confidence in any room I walk in, and it made me fall in love with myself. I was timid beforehand, now you can’t tell me nothin!

How does “support” actualize within your family structure?

I remember the first time my real mother saw me in a pair of heels, it wasn’t pleasant. I felt defeated and discouraged. I was 17 years old. Fast forward to this day she now comes to me and says “did you see those pumps?! I think they’re so hot” I even feel comfortable enough to actually show off any of my new purchases. My mother is one of my biggest fans, I’ve even taught her how to catwalk and give a little hand performance here and there. My family loves to watch me vogue, and many family gatherings I always hear “Sean pump a beat!” And we just go awfff!!!

How important are conversations around sexual health and exploration in your family? And why should these conversations exist?

I’ve actually opened the door to many of those conversations. My mother lost one of her younger brothers to HIV/AIDS in the 90s epidemic. I always felt she feared I would face the same fate seeing as I too was gay. She always loved her brother but never truly understood what it meant to be gay. I’ve always seen it as my business to open her eyes to always see “me as me”. Just because you now know who I like in my bed, that doesn’t ever change my heart.

Is there a place for HIV prevention within the ballroom scene? If so, how do you think the HIV/AIDS Epidemic affected Ballroom?

Ever since I joined ballroom, the conversation has always existed. From the parents always telling us “make sure you wrap it up” to witnessing news that another friend was now positive, it has always been prevalent. From on site testing, to condoms constantly being handed out at events, there is definitely space for knowledge and education within our community.

Is it vital to offer direct HIV preventative services at balls? Why or why not?

My thoughts teeter when it comes to this. I’ve never personally been tested at a ball because I’m simply there to have fun. How devastating would that be if I just so happened to receive bad news right before I went to compete, when my confidence needed to be at the most high! Now I do however love the idea of the education and conversation being there in the room, but sometimes people are scared and we just never know, ya know.

Is there anyone who you would love to pay homage to or dedicate this story to?

My uncle, my godfather, Daniel Arroyo. He was the first vision I ever had of a confident gay man. I remember when I was younger watching him sashay through the living room while listening to “Groove is in the Heart” twirling his scarf, singing and dancing without a care in the world. I miss him oh so much and I always wished he was there to witness my coming out at the age of 15. I do know that he is my guardian angel, and I know he watches and protects me from the heavens above! I love you Tio Daniel Bendicion! May you forever sleep peacefully!

Sean Anthony

(he/him/that bitch)

Buffalo, New York

interviewed by:

David Sell


gran varones fellow

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in 1986, house music was still on the ascent in the US and abroad when “love can’t turn around,” a collaboration of chicago house music pioneers farley smith, jesse saunder and vocalist darryl pandy became the big bang moment for the genre in the UK.

often described as a flamboyant house music diva, darryl pandy fused his gospel, broadway, and opera background into both his vocal and performance artistry. it was this fusion that detonated house music in the UK and cemented pandy as chicago house legend.

in 1986, chicago dj and producer steve “silk” hurley reworked the 1975 isaac hayes song “i can’t turn around” featuring vocals from keith nunnally into a blazing and pulsating house track. the song topped the billboard dance in the fall of 1986.

hurley’s version served as the inspiration for farley “jackmaster” funk’s “love can’t turn around” which featured additional production by jesse saunders, new lyrics by vince lawrence, and a masterful vocal by darryl pandy.

“love can’t turn around” hit airwaves in the summer of 1986 and reached #13 on the US dance chart. later that october, the song was a bonafide pop hit reaching the top 10 on the singles chart in the UK. this led to a rousing performance by darryl on the british music tv show “top of the pops” that remains one of the show’s most memorable.

the success of “love can’t turn around” in the UK paved the way for steve “silk” hurley’s “jack your body,” which topped the chart in 1987. it also made darryl pandy one of the most dynamic house vocalists releasing numerous singles including “animal magnetism” (1986), “i love music” (1990), and “sunshine & happiness” 1999.

darryl pandy became an ancestor on june 10, 2011. he was 48 years old.

since the release of the pivotal “love can’t turn around” in 1986, house music has not only ascended as a genre internationally, but it changed the sound and direction of pop music. and darryl’s flamboyant and exuberant performances helped to shape the world of house music. and oh what a beautiful world it is.

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we are back! in our brand new episode of COLORED PEOPLE’S TIME we talk shit, process the netflix documentary “untold: the girlfriend who didn’t exist,” and celebrate the legend that is tevincampbell

so yeah, y’all should give a listen.

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most recording artists only wish to have recorded with quincy jones and prince, but by age 14, tevin campbell worked with both. tevin’s first two singles, the jones produced “tomorrow (a better you, a better me)” and “round & round” (written & produced by prince) landed inside the r&b top five, with the former reaching number one – and this was just in 1990.

campbell would release his debut album “T.E.V.I.N.,” hit records stores in november 1991 and was proceeded by the r&b chart-topping and pop top 10 “tell me what you want me to do.” the success of the single helped propel the album to platinum status paving the way for greater success.

in october 1993, tevin released his sophomore album “i’m ready.” the album proved to be a high mark in his career resulting in several pop and r&b hits including the title track, “can we talk,” “always in my heart,” and “shhh.”

tevin later voiced the character powerline in the 1995 disney animated film “a goofy movie” before transitioning to broadway actor, appearing as seaweed on the hit musical “hairspray.”

throughout his entire career, tevin had to contend with endless speculation about his sexual identity. tevin chose to never address the rumors. for some, it may be difficult to imagine in a world where black queer artists like lil nas x had conquered pop charts, it was almost unimaginable in the 1990s – during a time of AIDS and extreme homophobia.

on august 17, 2022, during an interview with people magazine’s “people every day”podcast, tevin confirmed that he identities as a gay man. “what makes me happiest right now is how far I’ve come in life,” tevin stated on the podcast. “There are a lot of kids, especially young Black boys that need to see representation. They’re not being taught to love themselves because of who they are.”


for a generation of young black gay boys who saw themselves in tevin campbell’s music videos, we thank him for his existence and for being so generous with sharing his journey. we celebrate you. we love you now and forever.

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I recall my time in high school. During this time, I’m making intercity commutes and my mom was struggling with eviction notices and constant housing moves. For a period of time, we were homeless and struggled to make a smooth transition between the last place and the next option. I vividly remember nights sneaking into motel rooms to budget as much as possible. Moving in the dark and keeping it secret, I associated so much shame around these experiences.

In school I was quiet about what we were going through, but I remember watching the story of Liz Murray and how she made it work and got herself to Harvard. It was a story like hers that really influenced me to keep going and while I didn’t always have a home, school became a makeshift haven for me. The earliest I could be on the school grounds, I would be there; the latest I can stay on school grounds, I was still there.

I sometimes dwell on what could have been if I spoke up and told someone. It wasn’t until senior year that it came time to write our personal statements for college that I shared portions of my family’s experience. I figured it was appropriate to write about my “endeavors” and share about “overcoming barriers”. When an influential teacher of mine read it I still remember her shock.

She asked why I didn’t reach out for help and she reassured me that there are people who are able to help. In that exchange, she emphasized that at any point in time I can call her for support.

That left an impression on me. The value of speaking up and reaching out for help. How toxic it is to experience life’s challenges alone with shame but from that I learned that our circumstances are better when we ask for a helping hand.

j aces lira (he/him)

chicago, il

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