Monday, August 10, 2015

The Sizziling Hot of COP 24/7

The dog days of August in this last week has been a barn burning wave of heat and humidity that no whore in church joke can match. Of course its just Arkansas, where each summer season we must be ready to deal with Mother Nature's swelling and sizzling temperature that just drive folks almost to the brink of sheer madness. In the mean time, its always hot in the CP 24/7 kitchen and this next week the heat turns up as we blaze our way toward our final postings come this September. So without further delay, let's dive in....

Coalition begins to form to address LGBT Atlanta divisiveness and Arkansas

"Activists and other leaders have begun to meet to address issues of division within Atlanta's LGBT community and figure out what steps to take moving forward," was the lead in this item in the Georgia Voice written Patrick Saunders and posted 8/6/2015. However as we were preparing our COP 24/7 surmised how eerily this statement mirrored some of what's emerging in our own city.
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In case you haven't a clue about "what had happened" in Atlanta let us bring you up to speed on their situation before we tackle what's being proposed locally. Now stay we go.

Their ATL meeting was sparked by a July 9 incident in which popular Atlanta gay bar Blake's On The Park posted a controversial new dress code which many in the community felt targeted African-Americans. Now let's not get this confused with similar such signs posted at Little Rock venues such as Kahlil's Pub and at one time our own gay venues. Now that we've established that let's move on with the rest of the ATL matter in a nut shell. A contentious debate broke out, with one side saying the sign was racist and the other saying they saw nothing wrong with it. Blake's eventually removed the sign, but the conversation continued.

Enter  Mr.Gee Session-Smalls, co-founder of The Gentlemen's Foundation, who was at Blake's the night of the dress code incident and posted to social media the picture that led to the debate. He has met with Branden Mattox, director of LGBT rights group Love Under Fire, and Jeff Graham, executive director of LGBT advocacy group Georgia Equality, to discuss what's been done about such issues in the past and what to do next.

Mr. Small cited several issues to GV such as, "There's lots of segregation within the community." "It's not just black and white although black and white is probably the most apparent. From feminine to masculine to trans to the gays there is a lot of segregation and I think what happened at Blake's has started a larger conversation."

He says the next step is inviting key community leaders to another meeting, including representatives from Atlanta Pride, Lambda Legal and AID Atlanta. Mattox has been spearheading the meetings, but so far there is no official hierarchy.

HIV/AIDS activist Greg Smith created a logic model to help the group identify the problems, potential strategies and desired outcomes around the issue. "In the LGBT community, race is the 800-pound elephant in the room, and if it's not facilitated in a healthy manner, it creates even more division," Smith says. "This is about finding out what commonalities we have right now. It enhances the opportunities for us to collaborate on stuff so it lessens the chance of peoples' triggers coming up, whether it's around race, gender or sexual orientation."

Now that we've got that understood, here's the similarities that are either being talked about or not talked about in our own backyard depending on who you are talking too. What's in play is a supposedly follow up to a "Real Talk," meeting held during Black Gay Pride week 2015 featuring a roundtable of "real talk" about the post traumatic affects of the AIDS epidemic, the lack of or maybe even the sharing of local infrastructure, "do Black lives really matter,?" and violence that occurred the night before the Saturday meet up. (please see next posted item)

Although there was much talk about outreach, next steps, community engagement and other activities, to date as of this posting there has been nothing confirmed nor any plans further discussed. So what does this mean? Well, from a COP 24/7 standpoint, it means more of the same. Lot's of "lip service and basically low to no action or outcomes." Why keep having such sessions if the participants have no real interest in doing, contributing or making any commitments to anything. If anything changes, we'll update at

Added to this "community mash up," is the formation of the Equality Coalition which met a few weeks back and will be having a teleconference Aug 18. In full disclosure COP 24/7 was invited to the initial meeting and has been sought as a possible information portal. The group comprises of local like minded entities ranging from Pride Corp to Just Communities whom share some aspects making a difference in the community and their particular constituencies. This is the local mirror answer similar to the ATL decision to bringing key folks together.

Idealistically this body is to network among itself to create a "centralized event calendar" while possibly supporting a variety of agendas. As this evolves, we hope that we will be able to get as much in about this group before we throw in the towel later. Are you still with us...?

If that wasn't enough "community capacity building," then there's the impending Equality Summit, ( ) September 19 which is being touted as, "HRC Arkansas' first statewide Equality Summit, a one-day community-building and advocacy training for HRC Arkansas members and supporters, and other LGBTQ and allied advocates. At this summit we will continue building our base and empowering volunteer leadership across the state through strong relationships and training." One would assume that this is the space where Arkansas will create their "logic model," as to how to address possible triggers, what's in the agenda lens and identify which "800 pound Elephant" will be as prioritized. Amazing as it seems, ATL may be a mecca, but seems like we got much in common after all.

Shaking, Sneekin and Geekin at La Changes

Promoters Juiced Entertainment will be hosting regularly scheduled Friday night "Make it Shake," shows at La Changes, 3315 West Roosevelt according to items posted to the Arkansas CAN Facebook page. ( )
Ironically this is the same outfit that was a promoter of a Black Gay Pride event titled "Nite in the lights," that resulted in various incidents of violence.

In the aforementioned post, we made mention of the "Real Talk" session which was a part of the Black Gay Pride Week 2015 using the theme, "Unity in Community," sponsored in part by Arkansas CAN and acronym for "Creating Awareness Now."

In that recall, COP 24/7 cited that there was discussion as to "violent incidents" that occurred including gun fire, internal altercations, tempers flaring and parking lot exploits that could have been fatal. The overall description by those who were in attendance of the evening was "dangerous," which speaks volumes in itself. Also this forums finds it perplexing as to exactly where does Arkansas CAN stand on the matter. Where was there statement concerning the violent incidents? Why wasn't all advertising removed from their Facebook page as a further renouncement and why is their current advertising in place?

The subsequent day, promoters, Juiced Entertainment, Taurus Brothers and Heart Throb productions messaged that their Saturday night, "Hollywood Red Carpet Affair" event would be policed both in the yard and inside the former Club Good Times. This action was to offset the previous evenings crazy behavior and perhaps bolster $20 ticket sales. Only one of the actual promoters attended the "Real Talk," session to attempt to offer some explanations about the incidents even though this wasn't a scheduled topic to be discussed.

COP 24/7 is steadfast in raising the question as to why do such incidents happen during these events and what does this type of behavior signal about our community. There was a robust discussion yet no viable solutions determined including one participant stating that "maybe its not for us to understand and just accept it." This is why COP 24/7 speculates as if the management of La Changes is aware of past incidents and what would be their response?  Although the management can do whatever the hell they want to do with their facility, however perhaps maybe these folks are down with it all and this could be an opening for other activities. We'll keep our ears and eyes open on this one...

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