Ra SHAWN-DA-PROFESSOR

Ra SHAWN-DA-PROFESSOR

Monday, September 17, 2007

COMMUNITY ACTIVIST JUGGLES RUNNING BOOK CLUB, TOPIC DISCUSSIONS AND EVENTS WHILE BECOMING A FIXTURE IN THE URBAN GAY COMMUNITY

BY Ra SHAWN CHISOLM

Derrick L. Briggs has a lot going on with his professional career. In between working for POCC, running his monthly book club, promoting weekly parties and resuming his acting career, he’s also becoming a fixture in the urban Black and Latino Gay/SGL community. I first met Briggs last year at a panel discussion last November, and two months later, I attended one of his discussion groups, and was impressed with the various topics his groups have dealing with the community. Not only are his groups informative, they’re also motivational and life changing, which is one of the reasons I starred my own blog page.
I had the opportunity to meet with Derrick at POCC where he talked about the book, club, the inspirations behind the topics and themes for his parties.

Q: Tell us something about yourself.
A: Twenty-six years old. An actor. Community activist. I work for POCC which stand for People of Color in Crisis. I also facilitate and the creative director of the Derrick L. Briggs Book Club which I started four years ago. I’m just a creative spirit. A Black man trying to do his thing.

Q: What made you decide to form the book club?
A: The reason I started the book club because I had a personal experience with a friend of mine who I was dating at the time who had contracted HIV, and that was an eye opener for me. I later realized it was something missing in my community and current generation. I wanted to start reading some books and I wanted to do it with friends so basically an idea to do with friends and collective.

Q: How often does the book club meets?
A: Book club meets once a month. I’ll do the book club more so in the fall going into spring and then the end of spring through the summer I do more topic discussions and parties than events.

Q: In July you threw your first pajama underwear party. What was the inspiration for that theme?
A: It wasn’t my first party, but it was my first underwear/pajama party. Basically it was the summer time, and I was in student government and we would always through theme parties, so I figured let’s take it and I still have that student government mentality. I love underwear and I have an underwear fetish (both laugh). I worked with the Chocolate Bar, and I threw the idea with them cusp I wanted to do something big for them, and they agreed and we had our first successful party on July 20, 2007.

Q: Congratulations on your latest role. What’s the name of the movie you’ll be in?
A: The movie is called “Finding Me.” The website is called www.thanks4finding me.com I’m playing one of the main characters’ love interest. I’m in a lot of scenes. It’s a great script and a great cast of people. I’m excited because Acting was my first passion. To bring that back in the foreground is every exciting for me.

Q: What made you decide to get back into acting?
A: School and having an uncle and grandmother saying that acting isn’t gonna pay the bills, but when I was ten years old, I landed a KFC commercial. I’ve done a Sprite commercial. Coke Commercial. I’m familiar with TV and acted in theatre, so I decided to take a hiatus because I wanted to do something new. So I went to school for marketing and advertising. Now I feel my whole life went full circle cuz now I’m doing something for the people. I’m being creative at the same time I’m able to create and perform.

Q: What topics have your group have discussed?
A: My current discussion is Boys vs. Men and which one have you been dating. That topic was very good. That was during Black Gay Pride; Pride in the City. I did another one in Miami at Miami Sizzle called Naked. Which was about the online hook up. I have another discussion coming up in September called “The Jump off” and “The Rebound” and that’s gonna be a two-part discussion, talking about a jump off on the side and the other topic is rebound and how men and gay men do relate and don’t relate to being a rebound in the relationship. These topic discussions are inspired from real life experiences. Someone will come up with a story or idea and we’ll start talking and I’ll be like ‘maybe we should do that as a topic discussion.” One of my discussions next year is going to be about roommates and how far does it go.

Q: How did you become involved with POCC?
A: I was secretly a fan of POCC. I went to one of their retreats called Many Men, Many Voices” and Mike Roberson, who’s the new director approached me about merging the book club with POCC over a year ago. We’ve been in talks for a long time. Not only have we’ve merged the book club, I’m actually an employee.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next five and ten years?
A; I want to see the book club and topic discussion on a national level. I want to have people outside myself running their own Derrick L Briggs book clubs and topic discussions. I have been talking to some people; I would like to have somebody do a Derrick L. Briggs book club in Philly, Boston, L.A. Atlanta. Just on a higher level and ten years, raising one of my kids. A kid of my own.

Q: I see a lot of Black Gay/SGL Men are becoming more active in the community and entertainment industry do you see mainstream media having no choice but to accept us?
A: I won’t say necessary accept, but they will tolerate because there’s gonna be so much you can’t ignore. I’m glad that there’s more topic discussions, there's people doing video blogs and web shows more magazines and more parties. We’ve come from a dark age there a lot of gay men passed away. Now we have a generation where people want to own their business and I see us getting to the level where they have to accept us. But sometimes saying you have to doens't mean they're going to cuz you know how the straights are. I see us at a level where we're very powerful and I;m focusing on the urban Latin and Black Gay comminity for us to stick togethr because we have alot of power and we have alot of work that has to be done.

Q: Good point. When I was growing up, there was many Gay men who were labeled and had to put on farcad and now there are lots of more young gay people coming out now then before.

A: They’re coming straight out the box. It’s great that they’re coming out early, but the sad thing is that we don’t have a lot of mentors and that’s what very, very important and I commend everyone to be mentors, fathers and mothers to these gay youth who are coming out. The pharcad thing is for the birds. I think now we’re at an age where people want to experirment with different colors and different fashions. We’re growing out the top the bottom and versatile labels so I think we’re in a good time and a time for change. It’s definitely a transformative year; so hopefully, it’ll grow for the better.

For further information about the movie, checkout www.thanks4findingme.com

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi im bigmase74u,

Im new here so im just saying hi, and heres a few things you should know :).
i am 26 years old,
i am employed as a programmer
i [b]love [/b]community chats :)

Thanks

[i]Nice meeting you all :)[/i]

lin said...

I agree with many points. But in some areas, I feel we need to be more aggressive. Just my opinion. Love ya. Wedding Dress Shops, Louboutin Shoes pumps christian louboutin. Empire Wedding Dresses