*6 Questions with Terrence Dean
Terrence Dean is perhaps the most notable black gay author to hit the literary scene since E. Lynn Harris. With more than 5 books to his credit, (including the bestselling “Hiding in Hip Hop,”), Dean has built a reputation creating stories that reveal the complex lives faced by black gay men in mainstream society. In his latest book, “Mogul,” Dean continues to explore this territory, with his interesting candor and perspective. The Robertson Treatment recently spoke with him to talk about his new project and the lingering issues that a majority segment of the African American community still have with gay identities.
Robertson Treatment: Why is homophobia so prevalent in urban music?
Terrence Dean: Homosexuality is a taboo conversation in our communities. People are afraid to discuss the topic, and if they do some do it with so much venomous hatred that it leads to young people being bullied, and other’s committing suicide. It’s time for us to have an intelligent discourse on homosexuality, especially in Hip Hop. It says a lot about our communities when we continually attack someone based on their sexuality, and we saw that happen with DJ/Producer Mister Cee’s situation where he was arrested for having lewd sex acts with another man, as well as rapper, Lil B who announced that he planned to title his upcoming album, “I’m Gay,” and he’s a heterosexual male. Those two incidents created a firestorm in the Black community, especially in Hip Hop. And, it was a great time for us to come together with Black and Brown leaders, churches, and the LGBT community to have a, Gay In America dialogue. It would be awesome if people did finally speak up and say something. That is how conversations begin. That is how a dialogue is created. If people don’t feel anything after reading this book then essentially I have not done my job. I want readers to become angry, sad, upset, happy, or joyous when they read this book and get to know these characters. I want them to feel invested in their lives, and especially what and how the entertainment industry is about. People should feel engaged in such a way that they take what they’ve read to work, school, on blogs, chat room boards, Twitter, and Facebook. At the end of the day I am writing about a controversial topic and issue that has plagued our communities, and world, for well over a decade. And, despite the many hush-hush conversations, or speculations of a certain celebrity’s sexuality, not one Black celebrity (musical artist) has come forward. Not one has publicly announced they are gay. Why? Again, I ask in this day and age of us having a Black president, and a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ that not one Black celebrity will come forward and be who they are, and love who they desire, without fear of judgment or ridicule? Hopefully my book will create that conversation, and a platform for a Black celebrity/s to come forward.
RT: Why are stories that incorporate gay lives important?
TD: It’s important to see the varied lives of gay men and women who help shape, build, contribute, and uplift our world. Just as we are part of ever family, we are part of the world. We interact and socialize in all aspects of life, so it’s important to see us, on the pages, and on the screen, being integral parts of this world. Also, we’re your brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, mothers, fathers, doctors, lawyers, entertainers, and authors. We’re everywhere. When we see positive images of us being portrayed in society it will help those who are struggling to self-identify become comfortable and open to be their true authentic selves. You can’t keep discounting who we are and our pivotal contributions to our world. If so, then we need to discount and omit James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Bayard Rustin, and countless others who changed the landscape of the Black community.
RT: What’s the issue of the rejection of the homosexual lifestyle in the African American community?
TD: First, we have to inform and educate people that homosexual is not a lifestyle. It’s who we are. But, the rejection comes from the fear of the unknown. The African American community is not well-informed or educated on what being gay is, and thus we have so much misinformation out there that it cripples our community. We have to be advocates, and educators in empowering and educating our communities with resources and proper information about who we are. Thus, the books, stories, films, and other artists who shape, form, and create our identity for the world. We also have to be diligent in being open and living a true and authentic life. If we continue to hide, then we make it appear shameful. There is no shame in who you are. God designed and created all of us in His image, and if I am a creation of God, then respect me and show compassion and love just as I do for you.
RT: Is this something the black community can overcome? And if so, how?
TD: If we are to move forward as a community, race, and world we have to be willing to be open to our varied differences. There’s something amazingly powerful and dynamic when we can appreciate and accept one another despite our –isms. I hope readers will leave with a sense of entertainment, satisfaction, understanding, and food for thought. The book is a page turner. It explores a lot of what goes on in the entertainment industry, but at the same time it gives readers an insider’s view into the world of power, fame, down low and gay men, and a glimpse inside the illustrious and glamorous world of Hip Hop. There is a powerful message also about coming to terms with sexual identity, homophobia, and how fear grips and prevents us from moving forward. Hopefully, readers will strongly consider their own opinions, morals, values, and judgments. I really want readers to ask themselves what they would do, or how they would handle various situations that the characters find themselves. But, more importantly, I want readers to walk away with a sense of understanding, compassion, and love.
RT: If “Mogul” were a movie, who would you cast in the lead parts?
TD: I would be honored if any of these men played the lead characters: Donald Faison, Omar Gooding, Laz Alonso, Nick Cannon, Tristan Wilds, Seth Gilliam, Steve Harris, Michael B. Jordan, and Sam Jones, III.
RT: What’s next for you?
TD: I am excited and looking forward to creating more literary works that engage readers. I am an author who loves to educated, empower, inspire, and entertain. I’m hopeful my fans will grow with me with each book, as well as enjoy the many varied characters who will show up and grace the pages introducing themselves with their powerful and unique voices. As I’ve stated before, I have over 15 years of experience and stories from working in the entertainment industry. I think readers will be captivated with each plot, twist, and turn I create. And, with each new book I’m certain readers will thoroughly be engaged as they devour and savor these powerfully entertaining stories. And, yes, there is a series in the works for Mogul.
BEST BETS – PHILANTHROPY
The Clinton Ron Walker Foundation
RTSC would like to pay special kudos to a family who has turned the heartache of the loss into a vehicle of hope and opportunity for others. Established in 2009 by Candace Walker following the death of her son from an undetected congenital heart defect, The Clinton Ron Walker Foundation is a non-profit organization set up to provide education and free heart screenings for children in the Georgia area through the Youth 4 Healthy Hearts initiative. The foundation recently gave out scholarships ranging in amounts from $250.00 to $1000 to high school seniors who competed in a writing contest on the theme of friendship. This is just one program that the family sponsors annually through their foundation to keep the memory of their son alive and also to inform and educate other families about the dangers of congenital heart defects.
2011 Mazda 6
The Mazda 6 is a smart car. Powerful, stylish and efficient, it’s a ride that offers a driving experience that is a step ahead of the other cars in its class. With its sharp exterior design, the Mazda 6 is also great to look, which greatly adds to its on-the-road appeal.
Wow Factor: From the moment I got behind its wheel, I was immediately impressed with the Mazda 6 delivers above average on-the-road performance and “eye-candy” physical features. For a ride in its price and vehicle class, that adds up to lots of “wow” factor.
Ride: My ride’s 3.7, V6 engine delivered great authority under various road conditions. I was especially impressed with its great maneuverability on busy highways and solid suspension that easily absorbed the challenging roads in and outside of Atlanta.
Comfort: With power accessories, cruise control and pleasant cloth upholstery, the Mazda 6 is well equipped for even the most discriminate driver. Another plus was its ample interior space, which is spacious enough to handle the demands of busy families.
Spin Control: With its solid handling, competitive price and solid fuel economy (18 city/28 hwy.), the Mazda 6 should appeal to a variety of demos. Expect to see it out on the road on a highway near you.
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