David Morrow

Afro Blue Self Portrait, David Morrow, 2017

David Morrow was born on August 7. He is an expatriate New York painter and photographer who has resided in Northern Europe for more than two decades, following in the traditions of African American artists Beauford Delaney, James Baldwin, and others, who were in search of escaping the oppressive racism and homophobia they encountered in the United States.

Born in Mount Vernon, New York, David Jonathan Morrow is the son of Robert E. Lee Morrow from South Carolina, and Dolores Morrow from Harlem. David grew up in the Bronx, where, as a boy, his mother enrolled him in the Metropolitan Museum’s summer art program. Later, he attended the Art Students League followed by the School of Art and Design.

A few years after leaving high school in the late 1980s, David traveled to San Francisco to escape the oppressive racial conditions often directed at young Black men in New York. Along with a high school classmate and a friend from Paris he met in New York, he traveled cross-country to California. Scared and riddled with fear and anxiety, David traveled with his companions along the old Route 66. His fears were based on the stories of Black folks traveling home to the south from the north, a trip he and his family made when he was a boy. The journey across America was successful and without a single incident; people of all colors were kind and helpful to this odd urban trio.

After a year of feeling frustrated and struggling with being racially marginalized, particularly by San Francisco’s gay community, David returned to New York. In Manhattan, he worked various odd jobs while attending the Arts Students League. It was at this time, by chance, that he attended James Baldwin’s funeral. It was the spark that gave him the courage to travel to Europe alone.

After saving his money, he arrived in Rome, where he visited many of the artistic and historical sites that the city had to offer. It was his love for classical drawing and Caravaggio that he experienced during visits to the Met that drew him to the classical city of Western art. During the last two months of his stay in Italy, David enrolled in a language course at the Universita per Stranieri in Perugia, Italy. Yet, it was a day trip to Florence at the Boboli Gardens where he made a definitive decision to be an artist.

Returning to New York, David spent most of his time in Greenwich Village while living in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side. He frequented the downtown art scene and places like the Pyramid Club. During this period, he met an earlier Danish partner. The couple planned a two-week vacation to Copenhagen, only to wind up being partnered together legally and becoming one of the world’s first same-sex couples.

In Copenhagen, David continued his interest in drawing, though on a grander scale. He enrolled at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek drawing school and drew inspiration from the museum’s extensive collection of Greek, Roman and French sculpture.

While living in Copenhagen, David would visit his family in New York whenever possible, and in 2000, he organized a program which allowed him to stay for six months and return to the Art Students League funded by the Danish State. He explored the history of Abstract Expressionism and frequented galleries with the hope of showing his work.

It was on a gallery excursion that he met Corinne Jennings and Joe Overstreet at gallery Kenkeleba—a world he was never introduced to while growing up in New York. Corinne had asked him to bring some paintings to show her. He was overjoyed to finally meet two African American artists. Corinne particularly was very kind and showed an interest in him and his work.

In 2001, David organized what is known in art as the “Grand Tour” to Florence, Italy. Here he copied drawings from the Old Italian Renaissance masters such as Perugino and Jacopo da Pontormo in the library of the Uffize Gallery. David spent most of his time sketching and drawing while visiting many of the city’s museums and gardens. One subject of interest for him was Michelangelo’s David, housed in Galleria dell’Accademia.

After a month in Florence, he returned to Copenhagen and, because he was not satisfied with the art scene’s covert racism and homophobia, he began his studies as a part time student. David felt that he never had the opportunity to obtain a full degree in anything while in New York, and thus he enrolled himself in adult education courses. As a foreigner, he struggled with the language, and after some years he obtained his gymnasium degree, which allowed him to enter the University of Copenhagen’s English Department. He wanted to be able to teach English as a second language in order to pay the bills.

Putting his art work on the shelf, David dedicated his full attention to obtaining his bachelor’s degree. Frustrated, depressed, and missing working with art, in 2008 he took a much-needed trip to Berlin. It was here that he returned slowly to his art through the medium of photography. After seeing Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photograph of the World Trade Center after 9/11—which moved him to tears he as he recognized the artist’s sense of alienation, isolation, and melancholy—he concluded that photography could express what he was feeling at that moment. That same afternoon, he was introduced to Wolfgang Tillman’s work for the first time at a retrospective of the artist’s work. It was the first time he saw photography’s potential as a medium.

In 2012, David obtained his Bachelor’s degree in English and Art History as a minor, but only to be confronted with a teacher’s strike during this period. Despite this setback, he began to photograph the city of Copenhagen and its people. Because of his past experiences with the Danish society, he had his reservations; however, today David is well-known among the younger generation as a talented photographer. In his photographic work, he has explored street photography in Paris, Berlin, New York, Stockholm, and Copenhagen.

Today, David holds workshops in photography and painting, he has taught English, held several exhibitions, and is a regular in the rave scene in Copenhagen and Sweden. He has documented the queer movement, gay scene, the art scene, and music and fashion in Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin and New York. David has worked with various disciplines within art, including drawing, painting, installation, writing, digital collage, and photography.

At present, David is working with abstract photography as his prime medium and genre. His writing and photography has been featured in various publications in Europe. He says that his next medium will be street art. David also mentions that at times he is deeply homesick for New York, and would love to return home and explore artistically the city of his birth.

We thank David Morrow for his contributions to the arts, and for his support of our community.

Darieck Scott

Darieck Scott was born on August 7, 1974. He is an author, educator, and scholar.

Darieck Scott was born in Fort Knox, Kentucky, and lived there for all of six weeks before his parents, a young officer in the U.S. Army and a high school math teacher, whisked him off to Texas. This was the first of many relocations, as his father’s military assignments took the family to small towns in Georgia, North Carolina, Kansas, and abroad. The most powerfully formative and vivid experiences of his youth took place in Germany, where his family lived for six years. The semi-nomadic existence of an Army brat kindled his intense interest in themes and theories that deal with people’s longing for community, experiences of feeling different, and the various masks that outsiders wear in order to belong.

As an undergraduate at Stanford University, Scott won several writing prizes and wrote a column for the Stanford Daily but nevertheless escaped majoring in English, instead getting his degree in Human Biology. After college he worked as assistant to R.W. Apple at the New York Times Washington bureau during the year of the Iran-contra scandal. After his brief stint in journalism he attended Yale Law School to pursue his longtime dream of becoming a civil rights lawyer. Scott moved in a different direction, however, due to various developments and events—coming out, the rise of AIDS activism, the general academic and cultural excitement generated by the commercial and critical success of Black women’s fiction, an upsurge in Black gay political and artistic activity—all of which inspired him to seek an M.A. in Afro-American Studies, and to begin writing his first novel. He graduated Yale with a J.D. and M.A., and then went on to get a Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford.

Scott is associate professor of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley where he teaches literature and creative writing. He is the author of “Extravagant Abjection: Blackness, Power, and Sexuality in the African American Literary Imagination” (NYU Press 2010), winner of the 2011 Alan Bray Memorial Prize for Queer Studies of the Modern Language Association. Scott is also the author of the novels “Hex” (2007) and “Traitor to the Race” (1995), and the editor of “Best Black Gay Erotica” (2004). His fiction has appeared in the anthologies “Freedom in This Village” (2005), “Black Like Us” (2002), “Giant Steps” (2000), “Shade” (1996) and “Ancestral House” (1995), as well as in the erotica collections “Flesh and the Word 4” (1997) and “Inside Him” (2006). He has published essays in Callaloo, GLQ, The Americas Review, and American Literary History.

Darieck and his husband Stephen Liacouras make their home in San Francisco, California.

 

Michael Peters

Michael Peters was born on August 6, 1948 (to August 21, 1994). He was a celebrated dancer, pioneering choreographer, and film and television director who specialized in music videos, and was recognized with a Tony Award for Best Choreography in 1982, Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Choreography in 1987 and 1993, and a 1994 American Choreography Award for Outstanding Achievement in a Feature Film. His music video choreography credits include Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and “Beat It,” and Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield.”

Mark J. Tuggle

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Mark J. Tuggle at age five

Mark J. Tuggle was born on August 6, 1960. He is an activist, educator, humanitarian, mentor, writer, and spiritual being.

Mark J. Tuggle was born on the south side of Chicago, and raised by Lawrence Tuggle, a CTA bus driver and business owner, and Mary Tuggle, a dancer and teacher. Mark was the fifth of seven children that included three brothers and three sisters. He graduated from Kenwood Academy High School in 1978. Later that year, Mark attended the University of Illinois at Chicago as a business administration major. His emerging interests were not defined by social norms, and he learned to value critical thinking, cultural affirmation, and self-determination.

Mark played tennis for three consecutive years at the University of Illinois, and earned a letter annually for his competitive spirit and team play. He was the only player of African descent on the squad each year, and sometimes endured racial profiling when the school traveled around the country. There were no Black-affirming groups on campus, and Mark struggled with feelings of alienation, inadequacy, and loneliness.

As a freelance writer and poet, Mark has been published in various magazines, newspapers, and online zines. Mark has been featured in, on, and with: Africana.com, Afrikan Poetry Theater, BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley, BLACKLIGHT Online, BLACK NOIR, Brooklyn Moon Cafe, KLMO-FM, Longmoor Productions, MasculineUs LIVE, New York Times, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Our Corner, POZ, PULSE, Rolling Out New York, Rush Arts Gallery, Sexplorations, Sports Qualified, Soundz Bar, The CITIZEN, Trenton Times, UPN News, UZURI, Venus, VIBE, Village Voice, WBAI-FM, WNYC-FM, and WQHT-FM.

Mark started his personal blog (www.markyourtruthhere.blogspot.com) in the summer of 2005. His intention was to provide a community resource of information for diverse people worldwide, as well as share his provocative thoughts about various issues which include anti-homosexual thinking, body image, domestic violence, family patterns, genealogy, immigration laws, mental health, prison industrial complex, racist imagery, sexual fluidity, terrorism, voting rights, and white supremacy.

Mark feels most passionate about serving humanity. He actively supports, and has volunteered with organizations such as Bailey House, Central Harlem HIV/AIDS Network, ColorofChange.org, East Harlem Tutorial Program, Exponents/ARRIVE, Housing Works, IMAGENATION Film and Music Festival, Drug Policy Alliance, Sidney Hillman Family Practice, The Osborne Association, and The Sledge Group, where he’s mentored a young, Black male since 2002.

Mark is a same gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved Africans. He’s single, has no children, and lives in Harlem. Mark is an NBA junkie—“minus the needles,” he quips—and cannot(!) survive w/out ESPN, NBA TV (or NBA on TNT) for more than 24 hours. He loves dancing to classic house music, and was inspired as a young man in Chi-town venues (Club Rialto, Power Plant, Warehouse, etc.) by the late Frankie Knuckles, the godfather of house music.

Mark wants to travel around the world, and learn more about his powerful ancestral legacy. In June 2015, he visited Rio de Janiero, Brazil, where he spent ten glorious days, residing just blocks away from Copacabana Beach. He feels compelled to visit the slave dungeons in Accra, Ghana, and the prison in South Africa where Nelson Mandela was brutally oppressed for 27 years. Mark is also a proud member of Adodi.

Mark began 2016 by renewing his annual gym membership, and working out several days a week there with a personal trainer. He’s committed to exercise and nutrition, prayer and meditation, and continues to explore new ways to affirm his body, mind, and spirit. Mark intends to edit a book about Black male sexuality in contemporary America, self-publish some of his poetry, and become an entrepreneur in the greeting card industry.

We thank Mark J. Tuggle for his contributions to the written word, his activism, and his numerous contributions to our community.

 

Earl D. Fowlkes, Jr.

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Earl D. Fowlkes, Jr. was born on this day, July 1. He is the founder, president and chief executive officer of the Center for Black Equity, the Chair of the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Caucus, and a widely respected HIV/AIDS activist.

Earl Douglas Fowlkes, Jr. was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Earl Douglas Fowlkes, Sr., who worked for the United States Government and is a Baptist minister, and the late Elsie Fowlkes (nee Addison-Henderson) who was a homemaker. Earl Jr. was the oldest of five children who include Kenneth, the late Sharon, Steven and Cheryl. He attended John Greenleaf Whittier Elementary School and Willingboro Memorial Junior High School. He is a graduate of John F. Kennedy High School in Willingboro, New Jersey. After high school, Earl attended Rutgers University and earned his history degree at City College of New York.

Growing up in the suburbs, Earl Fowlkes often felt a sense of isolation and frustration because he had no one to talk to about his feelings. He immersed himself in sports, excelling in tennis, baseball and football. He says that he felt no pressure growing up to have a girlfriend, and was not exposed to homophobia, not even at his father’s church.

Earl Fowlkes is the founder, president and CEO of the Center for Black Equity (CBE), formerly known as the International Federation of Black Prides (IFBP). He founded the IFBP in 1999 as a coalition of Black Pride organizers from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and South Africa which came together to promote a multinational network of LGBT pride and community-based organizations. There are currently over 40 Black Pride events with more than 350,000 attendees each year.

The CBE is the only Black LGBT international organization in the world with organizational and individual membership in Canada, United Kingdom, Ghana, Uganda, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Kenya, South Africa, Brazil and Zimbabwe. The Center for Black Equity works to achieve Health Equity, Economic Equity and Social Equity while promoting individual and collective work, responsibility, and self-determination. Earl’s leadership has strengthened the CBE’s global efforts to support leaders, institutions, issues and programs that lead to social, economic, and cultural equality for all LGBT people of African descent. He is committed to growing his organization to meet the needs of Black LGBTQ men and women around the world.

Earl has traveled extensively, and he interacts daily with men and women of African descent who are same-gender loving/trans. He is touched by the similarities that others reflect, and the common hopes that unite this community of individuals. Everyone echoes a similar desire to live in peace and harmony with their family and community, to be allowed to be a full person in both public and private, to worship their higher power with others of the same faith without judgment and to build a family in whatever form that comes.

Earl Fowlkes previously served fifteen years as the Executive Director of the District of Columbia Comprehensive AIDS Resources and Education Consortium (DC CARE Consortium) and for Damien Ministries, organizations that provided services to persons living with HIV/AIDS in Washington, DC. Licensed as a social worker (New Jersey), he served as Assistant Project Coordinator and Project Coordinator of the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation’s Hudson County office in Jersey City, New Jersey, from 1990 through 1996. His current and past service includes Chair of the Washington, DC Mayor’s GLBT Advisory Committee and the city’s Commission on Human Rights; At-Large Member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Chair of its LGBT Caucus; President of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club; and member of the Washington AIDS Partnership Steering Committee, the Metropolitan Police (DC) Critical Incident Team, and the DC Commission on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.

Earl has put a very public face on the Black, gay community in our nation’s capital and yet strives to keep his public life and private life very separate. But that public life frequently asks much of him and he responds in his quiet and determined fashion. Earl has received numerous honors and awards, and was named one of three 2013 Grand Marshals of the Heritage of Pride (NYC Gay Pride) march along with Harry Belafonte and Edith Windsor. Earl is considered an expert on LGBT and HIV/AIDS issues, has written numerous articles and op-eds, and has appeared on the Roland Martin and Michael Baisden shows.

Earl is passionate about his work and finds encouragement from his many friends around the world. He loves sports, and is a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles, and the LA Lakers. He can be found at the US Open in New York every year, and passionately supports the Washington Kastles of the World Team Tennis League. Earl also enjoys reading, especially history. He currently resides in Washington, DC.