As a same gender loving/gay black man, the issue of femininity is just as controversial as it's opposite, masculinity. It was of no coincidence that we decided to make masculinity our very first topic of discussion last year when we launched BSC. Therefore in honor of Women's History Month, we decided to finally address the other side of the spectrum. There are a million and one things to discuss surrounding this topic and hopefully our addressing this topic will spark even more dialogue about the importance of honoring, acknowledging the energy of the feminine.
With that said, go with me on this for a moment if you will.....
1. possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.
2. making a fine appearance.
3. Archaic. excellent; fine; admirable.
4. a brave person.
5. a warrior, esp. among North American Indian tribes.
-verb (used with object)
6. to meet or face courageously: to brave misfortunes.
7. to defy; challenge; dare.
1. the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.
2. the spiritual part of humans regarded in its moral aspect, or as believed to survive death and be subject to happiness or misery in a life to come: arguing the immortality of the soul.
3. the emotional part of human nature; the seat of the feelings or sentiments.
4. high-mindedness; noble warmth of feeling, spirit or courage, etc.
5. the animating principle; the essential element or part of something.
6. the inspirer or moving spirit of some action, movement, etc.
7. the embodiment of some quality: He was the very soul of tact.
When I did a search just as an idea, to get an official definition of what the words brave soul mean, what is printed above is what I came up with. After really sitting with these words and the provided definition(s), the energy, the spirit, the essence of the feminine speaks to what all of this means. With March being Women's History Month, I really have been sitting with my thoughts about how influential women have been in my life. When I truly think about the majority of my heroes...the people in my life who have inspired, supported, and loved me the most, the vast majority of those individuals are women. Short of my father, and a few other meaningful men in my life, there haven't been that many males surprisingly enough who have had the kind of impact that women have had on me. The energy, the strength, the resilience of the feminine species is something I've always been motivated by.
When Brave Soul Collective began, we (the founders) had very distinct discussions about who and what we were targeting in terms of our message, our mission and goals. From the very start, just as I knew that shutting out heterosexual people would prove counterproductive, so did I know that excluding women from BSC would do the same. Addressing the issues most relevant to us as black gay men is a conversation that includes much more than just "us". We all have mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, daughters, co-workers and friends. HIV/AIDS is now affecting the lives of women the same way it has been affecting the lives of gay men for over two decades. The [problems] didn't start with just "us" and therefore, they cannot be resolved, or cleaned up by just "us". The 'Collective' in our namesake is not by mistake. Our families, churches, workplaces, inner circles almost always include men and women. Who we call family is who we feel most comfortable around. Comfortable to be ourselves, to tell the truth, and to have that be enough.
After all, it was at First Sunday where I was given the inspiration and courage to even embark on this 'bravesouljourney'. First Sunday is faciliated by two of my spiritual advisors, blood relatives-sisters, Janice & Musinah. Since 1999, these two women (both of whom are like mothers to me) have watched me grow, and blossom into the man I am today. I first met them and came in contact with First Sunday at Innervisions, the bookstore and spiritual life maintenance center created by another one of my mentors, Iyanla Vanzant. As I sit writing this entry, I reflect back on the person I was when I first discovered Innervisions, and I know that who I am today is directly connected to the fact that I've surrounded myself with strong, spiritual, vibrant, beautiful women, and creative, spiritual feminine energy.
When I think about the presence, the importance of women and their contributions, a number of women come to mind immediately.
Some of those women are as follows...
My mother, Carolyn Price, both of my grandmothers, the late Jessie Blakely, & Lola Goines, my sister Sherry Price, my numerous aunts, cousins, Josette Murray, Jocelyn Murray, Mama Janice & Mama Musinah, Kai Green, Jennifer Dogan, Ashley Phillips, Choklate, Queen Aishah, Sarah Hambrick, Frenchie Davis, Stephanie Mayfield, Joell Royal, Thakira Manley, Wilma Lynn Horton, Mary J Blige, Lalah Hathaway, Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, Natalie Cole, Anita Baker, Minnie Riperton, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Teena Marie, Sade, Sheryl Lee Ralph....and the list goes on and on and on....these are all women from whom I've drawn strength in one way or another and for this month, this day, and all the time, I honor and salute them.
Image, "She Comes Full Circle" by Kevin Dapree