Ra SHAWN-DA-PROFESSOR

Ra SHAWN-DA-PROFESSOR

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

YOUNG QUEER BLOGGER SPEAKS WITH SUPREME WRITER

When I first met Steven Emmanuel at the premiere of "Christopher Street" this past June, I was extremly impressed with his personality, and character; he was able to participate in intelligent conversations about issues concerning the Gay/SGL community with the adults, while getting his dance on during Singer Jesse O's performance, showing that young people can be intelligent, mature, and have fun at the same time, and he's using those qualites as a way to uplift many in our communtiy who still have fears and concerns of living a happy life, due to shame and fears of being stigmatize. In addition to working on "Chirstopher Street," Emmanuel, who's currently enrolled in college on a full scholarship operates his blog queerkidofcolor which deals with issues concerning our community, and serves as a tool for education and empowerment.
This cool young man was kind enough to grant me this interview via email where he spoke about being a activist, a television production and a virgin.

RC: Thanks for granting me the interview. Tell the viewers who is Steven Emmanuel.

SE: Steven Emmanuel is an optimist, a realist, a queer theorist. Steven Emmanuel is an advocate for a community who values exclusivity, and a community where image means everything.

RC: Congratulations on your scholarship. How is college life treating you?
SE: I love this college. I have met so many wonderful people. I love it here. This is officially my home, and I just can't imagine being anywhere else. The people here are so nice, so gentle, so understanding. There are numerous activities on campus everyday that are happening, the area is beautiful, everyone is friendly. The only thing I'm having a hard time adapting to is the fact that this town is made up of progressives and liberals. And I'm a Republican. So it's hard politically here.

RC: I see that you're still involved with the series Christopher Street, while attending school in another state. How did you become involved with the show and how do you manage to balance your course load and working on the show?

SE: First of all, my course work is filled! Everyday I'm working on a different paper. But, you know, Ra Shawn, I love being kept busy. Most of all, I love to learn. I love opening a book and discovering new things. I love being able to share with people what new things I have learned. I love coming together with my hall mates and ranting about our classes, raving about the fun things happening here. Education is a lot of work, but at the end of the day it is our liberation. It is our responsibility. And it's the only way for someone to create and inspire change.
Right now, I'm on hiatus from the show Christopher Street. So, I'm really not actively involved with it. Dwight {the creator} is doing so much for the show; he's on pre-production for the new episode going into production soon. I went into producing Christopher Street by replying to a call for producers. I was 15 at the time, and I was desperately looking to get into TV projects. Dwight said to me that I stood out and eventually he gave me the job as a producer and writer.

RC: What made you decide to create your blog Queer Kid of Color?

SE: People who look like me made me create my blog. I don't think the world knows how devoted I am to changing our community. I want to say this, put this on record, quote me if you will, but I'm the real deal. I'm not a fame whore, celebrity addicted blogger/advocate. There are a lot of fake people out there who want recognition for their work. I can't even begin to tell you how many things I have turned down in order to not be considered a fame seeker and someone who's blandly trying to get his name out there. Sadly many people think that that's what I'm after. I had this one well known activist, very popular person, boldy say to me that all I want is attention. What I want is to be heard, and I want the things I'm fighting for to get attention. I am truly out there, because I want to give back. I want to be that voice Ra Shawn, for the young men and women who are too afraid to speak, who are hiding in the dark. I want to be the voice for married closeted Same Gender Loving men everywhere, for SGL men and women who are tired of hiding. I created my blog because I knew I was rare. I'm a rare breed of queer and Black. I'm apart of a community that values exclusivity, that values image, that is not unified. I'm out to change all that.

RC: You're originally from East New York Brooklyn, How was you able to survive knowing you was gay?

SE: I actually grew up in Bedstuy. Being queer was just another aspect of my identity. I didn't really sugarcoat the fact that I'm queer, and I still don't. I'm lucky I've survived though. I can't say the same for many.

RC: You've interviewed many public figures such as Keith Boykin, Shorty Roc, and the creator of Noah's Arc. What was it like interviewing them?

SE: I respect and admire Keith Boykin, because he is someone who has inspired me to be a better person. I loved interviewing Shorty Roc, because he's a refreshing voice, and Patrik Ian Polk is someone who has influenced me in so many ways. I'm glad I'm able to say that I interviewed many of the people that I have. Because so many of those people have touched me in more ways than anyone can ever imagine.

RC: I've noticed on your blog that you write about topics and issues concerning the Black and Latino community such as violence, HIV, dating. How importance is it for you to discuss these topics?

SE: Well no one else is talking about violence, HIV, or dating. No one talks about anything that they do not live. I hate that about people. I talk about things that I myself have not lived, but is still very much essential to my life. Everything that pertains to this society is important to me because another human lives it.

RC: Speaking of HIV you was featured in a HIV Plus magazine and you spoke about the rates of HIV and choosing to remain celibate; which is something not expected with Black and Latino men Especially Gay ones. What inspired your decision and what feedback have you received from choosing not to have sex at this point in your life?

SE: Being a virgin is not easy. I'm a virgin for several reasons, I haven't found 'the one', and am not ready for the repercussions of sex. Surprisingly a lot of people can't grasp the fact that I'm still a virgin. Those are the very same people who regret losing their virginity. When I lose my virginity, I know I won't be regretting it. I'm going to lose it to someone I care about. As much as I say I want to get laid, I know I won't be getting any in the near feature. I'm not eager or desperate. And there is certainly no rush.

RC: We know that many guys who read this interview may be compelled to try to get you in bed now. How do you manage to hold your ground when it comes to holding your standards?

SE: I can't believe you asked me that question! I'm a prude, Ra Shawn. Being prudish allows me to keep standards. I'm also very aggressive—seriously. I let 'em know what I'm looking for beforehand. I hold no surprises.

RC: I've also noticed that you're extremely young, fun, mature and business minded. How important is for you to be serious about life, while being able to maintain your youthfulness?

SE: One of the reasons I'm an advocate is because there are not a lot of young queer people of color who have become a staple in this community. I'm using my love of life and my youthfulness in order to fill that void. My life is not about maintaining anything, it's about being able to use the circumstances I'm under to become an influence.

RC: In addition to the blog and Christopher Street, what other projects are you working on?

SE: I'm working on my short film "Welcome To Rainbow's End." Thus far, I have been able to raise $2,000 for it. I'm still in the process of raising funds for it. I'm working on a collection of PSAs with fellow advocate Hannah Horwitz. The project is called Our 30 Seconds. I'm also working on a book.

RC: Which famous person would you like to work with and why?

SE: Hmm... I don't care to work with famous people. I want to work with people who are involved in civil rights activism, and social justice work. I would love to work with Phil Wilson, the executive director of the Black AIDS Institute, on an HIV/AIDS project/campaign someday.

RC: How do you think that you're making an impact in the Gay Black and Latino community?

SE: I don't know. I'll leave that up to the individual to decide.

RC: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 and 10 years?

SE: Oh Ra Shawn, wouldn't the world like to know. We'll just have to wait and see.

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