Here is a random sample of tributes to Essex Hemphill posted to (glbpoc) The Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual People of Color list.
From: Chuck Tarver 
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 1995 20:56:57 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Essex Hemphill

Writer Essex Hemphill died this evening at around 5pm of complications 
due to AIDS in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 
Philadelphia.  It is my understanding that his family was with him.

Hemphill had been in and out of the hospital for the past few months.  
A friend of mine was one of his caregivers.  I had an opportunity to
see  him last Saturday when my friend and I went by to cut his hair and trim 
his beard.  We also had a chance to see him in good spirits and see how 
folks in his West Philadelphia responded to him when we wheeled him 
around the neighborhood.

His condition deterioted at the beginning of the week.  He was 
rehospitalized on Wednesday.  By Thursday my friend told me he was fading 
fast.  His mom and other family members arrived yesterday.

I'll pass along more information as I have it.

Essex Hemphill will be missed.


Date: Sat, 4 Nov 1995 21:51:55 -0500
Subject: Re: Essex Hemphill

I'm feeling very sad to hear of Essex's passing.  Since it's hard for me to
cry out loud, I cryied inside fiercely..  I loved him very much..I met Essex
for the first time in Manchester, England, while he was doing a reading tour
of his literary works.  I'd read a few of his poems, once given to me by a
friend, a couple of months earlier.  They were great!  I cann't remember
which ones I had read(he had many), but I remember that I was moved by them.
 So, when I read that he was going to do a readin in Manchester, I was very
anxious to have the opportunity to visit him in person.  I was near by in
Liverpool.  He was reading in a small Black community center, somewhat
removed from a lot of visibility.  The turn out was about 40 people.  Most
everyone were in high anticiapation to hear and feel his perspective on
life--life for black gay men and the sexual minority communities.  He was
absolutely brilliant!  He touch me--he touched me deep inside.  Later, after
his appearance on stage, I had to introduce myself to him.  He was kind; he
was tentive to my curious nature of questions about his life and profession
as a writer.  He really allowed me to feel free to probe and discover who he
was--at least that's what it felt to me.  It didn't seem as if he left out
much--he was together.  Just before we parted, realizing that I was heading
to London the next morning, he invites me to accompany him to London.  I was
gleeming.  Little did he know at the time, I'd become one of his biggest
fans.  I had a hard time sleeping the night before, just thinking about what
our conversation would generate.  Essex was so revealing, I thought,
considering that, neither one of us new much of the other.  I felt I could
quickly trust.  I'd had enough time to make that decision. That helped alot
to have the great converstion we had.  Essex could speak on any subject. And
the thoughts he had always had a good point to consider.  He could leave you
with questions and answers that sparked new ways of thinking about life's
many angles.  The train trip from Manchester to London was one of my most
memorable moment of my life--he helped influence, in a positive way, my
acceptance as a dignified Black gay man. He had such beautiful insights on IN
THE LIFE that I actually made many positive life changes due to his knowledge
on Black Gay Life in America--in the abstract.  

We parted ways in London, after we exchanged addresses and phone numbers.
 YES, we hugged and hugged hard.  I knew, at least for me, I was going to
miss him very much. And I must say this--I was very attracted to him
phsyically and emotionally.  I had only wished that we lived closer. 

To Essex Hemphill's family and friends--this is one Black Gay man who will
miss him very , very , much.  Essex, you will be in my heart FOREVER.  

From: (bershi)
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 1995 19:38:22 -0800
Subject: Essex Hemphill

I am very saddened by the news of Essex Hemphill's death. I didn't know
Essex personally, but rather through friends and, of course, his many
intuitive essays.
I shall greatly miss his ability to put into the written word the joy, pain,
anger, frustration and sometimes elation that we all as people of color, and
Black gay men in particular, experience daily. 

Essex, I am re-reading some of your essays this evening, thinking of you and
the strength and dignity you possessed.

You will never be forgotten.

Date: Sat, 4 Nov 1995 23:49:12 -0500
Subject: Re: Essex Hemphill

(For Joseph Beam)

When my brother fell
I picked up his weapons
and never once questioned
whether I could carry
the weight and grief,
the responsibility he shouldered.
I never questioned
whether I could aim
or be as precise as he.
He had fallen,
and the passing ceremonies
marking his death
did not stop the war.

Standing at the front lines
flanked by able brothers
who miss his eloquent courage,
his insistent voice
urging us to rebel,
urging us to not fear embracing
for more than sex,
for more than kisses
and notches in our belts.

Our loss is greater 
than all the space
we fill with prayers 
and praise.
He burned out 
his pure life force
to bring us a chance
to love ourselves
with commitment.
He knew the simple
spilling of seed
would not be enough
to bind us.

It is difficult
to stop marching, Joseph,
impossible to stop our assault.
The tributes and testimonies
in your honor
flare up like torches.
Every night
a light blazes for you
in one of our hearts.

There was no one lonelier
than you, Joseph.
Perhaps you wanted love
so desperately and pleaded
with God for the only mercy
that could be spared.
Perhaps God knew
you couldn't be given
more than public love
in this lifetime.

When I stand
on the front lines, now
cussing the lack of truth,
the absence of willful change
and strategic coalitions,
I realize sewing quilts
will not bring you back
nor save us.

It's too soon
to make monuments
for all we are losing,
for the lack of truth
as to why we are dying,
who wants us dead,
what purpose does it serve?

When my brother fell
I picked up his weapons.
I didn't question
whether I could aim
or be as precise as he.
A needle and thread
were not among
his things
I found.

- -- Essex Hemphill 
(from "Ceremonies" a book of prose and poetry)

Date: Sun, 5 Nov 1995 01:55:19 -0500
Subject: Re: Essex Hemphill

I too am saddened by the transition of Essex hemphill. He left us great words
and blue prints to continue the work.

   Essex Hemphill, "Ceremonies"

I want to start
an organization
to save my life.
If Whales, snails,
dogs, cats,
Chrysler, and Nixon
can be saved,
the lives of Black men
are priceless
and can be saved.
We should be able
to save each other.
I don't want to wait for the Heritage Foundation
to release a study
stating Black men
are almost extinct.
i don't want to be 
the living dead
pacified with drugs 
and sex.

If a human chain
can be formed
around missile sites,
then surley Black men
can form human chains
around Anacostia, Harlem,
South Africa, Wall Street,
Hollywood, each other.

If we have to take tomorrow
with our blood are we ready?
Do our S curls,
dreadlocks, and Phillies
make us any more ready
than a bush or conkaline?
I'm not concerned
about the attire of a soldier.
All I want to know 
for my own peotection
is are we capable
of whatever,

Let's work together.


From: (Reginald Harris 396-0295 PNN)
Date: Sun, 5 Nov 95 02:36:52 -0500
Subject: [none]

Subject: Re: Essex Hemphill
Status: ON 32768
Mailed To: 

	I find it very difficult to put into words what Essex's work meant
(means) to me.  I first saw him read -- perform, actually, with
Wayson Jones -- at a small Black Gay coffeehouse almost exactly 10
years ago in DC.  Before that night the only Black Gay writer I knew
of was James Baldwin.  The entire evening was a revelation.  I had no
idea there were other Black men out there attempting to put our
particular experience on paper.  And Essex was by far the most
memorable. His work was accomplished, funny, heartbreakingly honest. 
I immediately fell in love with it.  And with him -- he was a damned
attractive man, whose warm personality and kindness made him
completly irristable. 
	I had the great pleasure to hear him read a
number of times after that, and of course enjoyed his work in
_Tongues Untied_.  I am always struck by the clarity of his work, the
vision of it, and its beauty.  He set a very high standard for those
of us who try to write, and who try to live honestly as Black Gay
	The last time I saw him was on the El in Philly a couple of
years ago.  I was on the train with my Other Half and a friend of our
who lived there, on our way to the Museum.  We were moving toward the
door to get off at the upcoming stop when I spotted him, and I went
over and (I'll confess!) I proceeded to gush like a starstruck
teenager.  I think _Ceremonies_ his collection of poetry and prose
had been out for a while, but, typically, I had just gotten to it not
long before I saw him.  So I was ready to tell him how wonderful I
thought his work was, and how much I enjoyed his completion of Joe
Beam's work on _Brother to Brother_.  He thanked me, asked me if I
wrote as well, and encouraged me to keep at it when I mumbled yes. 
My friends had to practically drag me off the train, I'm afraid, and
I really wanted to yell to the other passengers in the car, "Don't
you people realize you've got one of this country's finest writers
riding in here with you?!" 
	His work and example stands as a
breathtaking example for us all.  Now that our brother has fallen, it
is up to us to pick up his weapons and continue the fight.  
Essex --I love you and miss you.

Reginald Harris
Enoch Pratt Free Library  
Baltimore, MD

From: Ron Buckmire 
Date: Sun, 5 Nov 1995 00:13:08 -0800
Subject: Re:  Essex Hemphill

Oh, f***! I'm REALLY struck by the fact that Essex Hemphill has died. 
He was the most powerful part of TONGUES UNTIED and the book "In The Life"
to me. I once spent 90 minutes interviewing for my local radio program 
HomoRadio in Troy, NY at Williams College *after* he had given a 2 hour 
reading of his work for their LGB Awareness Week. He was SO down to earth
and knew how to *work* a microphone. Only about 7 minutes of the interview 
made it onto the air [on HomoRadio, and the syndicated show ThisWayOut 
(heard in 8 countries on'nealy 100 stations around the world). Whenever 
I would see him I would beg him to start recording him reading his work. 
I don't know how much of it was actually done, but it's too late now...


- ---ron

From: Charles Clifton 
Date: Sun, 5 Nov 95 9:19:29 EST
Subject: essex hemphill

I never met Esssex Hemphill, but through his writings he has
become an important component of my life.  Three months ago
when my partner and I parted ways, I again picked up 
"Brother to Brother."  Re-reading Essex's work and those of
my other brothers - those who have made the transition and
those who are still among us - has provided me with many
hours of comfort in these trying times.
Through James Baldwin I discovered that my life and 
my experiences had a history.  Through Essex, Joseph
Beam and Marlon Riggs I discovered I was not alone.
I miss them all dearly and will forever love them for
expressing "love."
be safe my brothers.
peace & love.

Date: Sun, 5 Nov 1995 14:40:36 -0500
Subject: Re: Essex Hemphill

Sunday, November 5,1995;  2:03 pm

Reggie writes:

>I first saw him read--perform actually, with Wayson Jones--
at a small Black Gay coffeehouse almost exactly 10 years ago
in D.C.<

That Black Gay coffeehouse was D.C. Black Space,[Southwest corner of 7th and
E Sts, downtown(look, Colin, I wrote it down.)] then the
(new?) owner(s) dropped "Black"(I don't know why).  I also used to
see Essex and Wayson perform there.  Along with BETTY.  And Kwelismith.  If I
recall, "Dark Diva Darling"(correct title?  I'm
tired of looking low and high for my Essex book.  Will resume
the search later.)  usually brought the house down wherever
he/they performed it.   Sigh.....


From: "John R. Keene" 
Date: Sun, 5 Nov 1995 15:37:38 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Essex Hemphill

He will be missed tremendously, but not forgetten!


From: "John R. Keene" 
Date: Sun, 5 Nov 1995 16:04:50 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Essex Hemphill:  A Reminiscence and a Poem

I just was thinking of how important Essex Hemphill has been, and
will always be to me, as a person and as a writer, and how excited I
was the first time I ever heard him read.  It was in 1989, at the
Dark Room House in Cambridge.  I had read some of his work in "IN THE
LIFE," and had bought his collection "EARTH LIFE" at the Glad Day
Bookstore:  what I found in his work was a beauty and a courage that
I hoped then, and still hope now, to be able to approach in my own
life and work.

I can remember the palpable excitement I felt in getting the chance
to hear and meet him.  He read that afternoon to a crowd of perhaps
45 people, and turned the place out.  Other writers, like Philip
Robinson and Thomas Grimes, were present, and they can probably
attest to how marvelous he was then, and was every other time that he
read.  Before the reading, I had conducted an interview with him for
the Dark Room Archives, and had just been blown away by how much he
knew, how funny he could be off the cuff, and how much he had lived
and loved in what was then (and is now) such a brief period of time. 
I have not ever listened to that little interview, but I think I will
try to get ahold of it, just to listen again to what he had to say.

I can also say that he was a generous person, and one of the most
patient and understanding editors I have ever come across.  He was
responsible for publishing my first story, and was always encouraging
of me as a writer.  He could be fierce when he was angry, but I felt
that his criticisms were guided by truth, and that he was committed
to the cause of Black gay people and our literature.

I wrote a poem this August for him, and sent it, as part of a passel
of awful poems, to him shortly before I moved to New York.  I thought
I'd share it with the list.  It is personal, but I think it expresses
how I, and perhaps many other people, felt about Essex as a brother
and a writer.

As I wrote in another post to this list, I will never forget him.


	for Essex Hemphill

Shuttered light, just us.  An audiocasette whirring
at half-speed, you leaning forward to tell me
for posterity how you got from there to here,
the attic of this half-house on Inman.  Washington,

the world, I hardly knew then, or much about the men
between your lines, loves, lives, that language-kitty of diamonds
I laid my hands upon had as if I had been there, which you so freely offered.

So much said and heard that day, though Adrian Stanford's Black
and Queer I recall as clearly as if you were whispering
it to me now--"Count your blessings"--how the room's penumbra framed you in 

as others rumbled below that sanctuary, unaware of our informal ceremony,
in which the flame left your lips to fill my apprentice's eyes and ears 
and veins.
O my vigil against grooving too hard to your words, swooning, embracing you;
such are the moments nothing prepares us for, to love and learn under 
those conditions.

(c) John Keene, 1995.

From: "Terrance Heath" 
Date: Sun, 05 Nov 95 16:18:23 EST
Subject: Re: Essex Hemphill

     I am deeply saddened.  Hemphill's was one of the voices that reached 
     me, strengthened me and nurtured me through coming to terms with much 
     about my life as a black gay men.
     His words were often a mirror in which I could see a whole, loving and 
     lovable reflection of myself.
     It is all I can do not to sit here and cry at my computer.

From: "DA BRotha from another WAMlab." 
Date: Mon, 6 Nov 1995 07:30:21 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: essex hemphill

I've never met the brotha either but I felt like he was a part of my 
family. I've read everything has ever written and it hurts me to the
 center of my heart that he has passed away. Mr. Hemphill was not only a 
fellow poet but a key figure in "our" healing process. But even though he 
is gone his words will always bring him back to us.

Brotha in Mourning!!!!

From: (Reginald Harris 396-0295 PNN)
Date: Mon, 6 Nov 95 09:03:19 -0500
Subject: [none]

Subject: Re: DC Space or the Coffeehouse, "Brass Rail" & painful memories
Status: ON 32768
Mailed To: 
Courtesy Copy: 

> In response to Reggie's musings about a coffeehouse, Audrey wrote:
> >> That Black Gay coffeehouse was D.C. Black Space,[Southwest corner
> >> of 7th and E Sts, downtown(look, Colin, I wrote it down.)] then 
> >> the (new?) owner(s) dropped "Black"(I don't know why).  
> >> I also used to see Essex and Wayson perform there.  Along with 
> >> BETTY.  And Kwelismith.  If I recall, "Dark Diva Darling"(correct title?  
> >> I'm tired of looking low and high for my Essex book.
> Funny how Essex Hemphill books seem to disappear. I've had not one but two
> personally autographed copies of Conditions journey from my house
> mysteriously. Now yesterday, Brother to Brother is missing.

	It is odd.  I can't find my copy of "Conditions" either.

> Was it DC Space; or was it the Enikalley Coffeehouse in the back alley of 
> 8th & 9th I and K. I spent six months dating a guy in DC who was Wayson's
> roommate, and I too heard Essex and Wayson perform at both the coffeehouse
> and DC Space back in the day. An incredible generation of Black Gay and
> Lesbian writers and performers cut their teeth at the coffeehouse. That was
> my introduction to Black Gay community and arts and there's so much history
> and memory that Reggie's post kicked up for me too.

	For me it was the Coffeehouse, not DC Space.  DC Space was (?) great, 
	too, but I fist saw them in that alley.  The place just glowed, was 
	electric with talent and love.  It's difficult for me not to weep 
	remembering being there.

> I don't think Essex ever published the poem from which those lines "Dear ...
> diva ... darling" come. It's this inverted poem that he and Wayson and he and
> Larry Duckette performed together called "Brass Rail," the quintessentially
> seedy DC institution that just closed. Both performers had the same lines,
> going in opposite directions. The poem was written, I believe, after a series
> of men had been picked up at the Rail and killed. What I remember of it is
> just fragments and doesn't do it justice, but it goes something like:
> I saw you last night
> in the Brass Rail
> your eyes a green light
> you were there in the lights
> the mirrors
> I want to be naked with you
> Dear diva darling
> .....
> Many canoes are overturned
> Many occupants are never found
> Does anyone else remember it?

	My lord, I haven't heard that in years!  I remember hearing it, but not 
anymore lines.  It's not in "Earth Life", hence my search yesterday for 

> PPS I just read Chuck's post in which he says:
> >> I've know of his [Essex's] condition for quite some time and even had the 
> >> chance to see him recently on two ocassions.  I was asked to keep 
> >> quiet about the situation. 
> I don't think Essex or anyone else was doing a good job of hiding his
> illness. Everyone knew he had AIDS. Essex himself had been talking publicly
> about his illness since his emergency hospitalization and near death in
> Chicago a year or two ago; and had gone public about being HIV+ before that.
> Is it how sick (near death) he was that folks were trying to cover up? I know
> folks trying to reach him over the last few months have had difficulties. Was
> the concern that there'd be a pilgrimage of folks come to pay last respects?
> I know some folks in the coffeehouse circle in DC were advised in recent
> weeks to do just that. I know Essex was always a private person, but I'd hate
> to think that he or folks caring for him would try to hush up the fact that
> he had AIDS.

	I think it might be more a case of keeping people from disturbing him, 
rather than hiding his HIV status.  As "out of the loop" as I am, my friends 
and I all knew he was Positive.  We didn't know how ill he was.

Reginald Harris
Enoch Pratt Free Library  
Baltimore, MD

From: Lee Patrick Jones 
Date: Mon, 06 Nov 1995 07:58:04 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Essex Hemphill

Although i only started reading Hemphill's work about 2 years ago, he was 
very influential to me. I enjoyed mainly his biting social critiques, and 
his personal experiences. I really enjoyed, and still read, CEREMONIES. I 
feel a sense of loss. But his words will live on. 


From: "J. Alan Kendrick" 
Date: Mon, 6 Nov 95 12:02:08 EST
     I was saddened to hear about the recent passing of Essex Hemphill.  His
faith expressed in his writings and interviews let me know that his passing
is cause for celebration rather than sorrow.


From: Jerome Offord 
Date: Mon, 6 Nov 1995 17:02:25 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Essex Hemphill


	As I sat in front of my computer to think about the impact of 
Essex's departure, I was both joyful and sad.  You see, I came out in 
Colorado.  Not many Black people in CO and I sought out books to deal 
with my coming out process.  Shocked, I found a copy of Brother to Brother 
in our school library.  I LOVED the book.  It thought me more about being 
Black and Gay, than my counselor.  Then, I got a hold of Tongues 
Untied.  Well, let's say I have gathered several of Hemphill's books.  
So, for a younger person (in gay life), Essex is a role model.  A Trail 
Blazer.  A Brother that Understands.  I am sadden that he left us and 
that I have never had the opportunity to personally met him.  I am joyed 
that his suffering and pain is over.  His spirit will live in the hearts 
and souls of many more Brother and Sisters.  His books will sooth the 
ache for knowlegde, it will calm the anger, it wil reveal some of 
unknowns.  That's what Essex Hemphill means to me!

Date: Tue, 7 Nov 1995 11:09:02 -0500
Subject: Essex Hemphill

Hey folks:

I've been taking a break from email for the last couple of weeks (other
assignments ...) and just got back into it this morning. I was -- and am --
feeling pretty devastated to hear about Essex's passing.

For what it's worth, I wanted to add some words on the issue of "outing"
Essex. In mid-1993, I co-organized a symposium, "AIDS: Images and Analysis in
the Arts and Media" at the Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Essex was on the "Arts" panel, along with Bill T. Jones, John Greyson, and
Robert Atkins. He spoke eloquently about being a person with AIDS, about
being a gay man, and about being a "working-class nigger," as he put it in
his remarks. I don't think he had any compunction about being "out" about any
of his several identities. As for whether he wanted to keep his last illness
out of the public light, you can hardly blame him. Seems like dying is hard
enough without an audience. And we know Mr. Thing could be vain about his

But, like all of us, I've also had a lot of experience with people in their
last days, weeks, or months. It not infrequently happens that, whatever the
dying person's wishes, those around him/her start getting into the court
intrigue of who gets to visit and who doesn't, keeping the ill person from
taking phone calls, etc. It seems to be worse if the person has some
notoriety, and it can get all very *Dynasty* at times. Maybe that was partly
the case with Essex's people.

I didn't know Essex well enough to say he was a friend, but he's always gonna
be one of my heroes -- and a model of how to be true to all of your "selves"
without lying about or cheating any of them. These days, news of someone's
death should hardly be shocking, but this morning I'm having a hard time
believing that Essex is gone. I knew he was out here (in SF) when Marlon
died, and I've kind of just been waiting for him to turn up again ....

Wendell Ricketts

PS Essex's service will be held in DC either Wednesday or Thursday, I hear.
Folks in Philly and New York are already also talking about local memorials
as well. I'm trying to see who going to Creating Change wants to organize
something out there during the conference.

PPS I just read Chuck's post in which he says:

>> I've know of his [Essex's] condition for quite some time and even had the
>> chance to see him recently on two ocassions.  I was asked to keep
>> quiet about the situation.

I don't think Essex or anyone else was doing a good job of hiding his
illness. Everyone knew he had AIDS. Essex himself had been talking publicly
about his illness since his emergency hospitalization and near death in
Chicago a year or two ago; and had gone public about being HIV+ before that.

Is it how sick (near death) he was that folks were trying to cover up? I know
folks trying to reach him over the last few months have had difficulties. Was
the concern that there'd be a pilgrimage of folks come to pay last respects?
I know some folks in the coffeehouse circle in DC were advised in recent
weeks to do just that. I know Essex was always a private person, but I'd hate
to think that he or folks caring for him would try to hush up the fact that
he had AIDS.

This whole question about the ethics of HIV silence/disclosure is so very
complicated and difficult, even more so than the outing issue.

Date: Tue, 07 Nov 1995 11:56:33 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: A poem

Essex, I know your not gone, just in the other room.

Strong and Silent Soldier

You were lunged into a life you didn't choose.
Given a gun and a word of advice:  Stay alive.
You begin to survey the battle field, and had the courage to
look ahead to see the enemy.  On this mission, you know deep within
your soul it's going to be impossible to win.  You reflect on the
casualties behind you, and with utter horror, as far as the eye can
see, they're are many.  Yes, some have names, and some are just faces.
You see Black, White, Red and Yellow faces.  You see Women, Childre and
Men, Fathers and Mothers, Daughters and Sons, Lovers and Friends,
Rich and Poor, Gay and Straight, Actors and Dancers, Lawyers and
Doctors, Preachers and Politicians.  The fallen are many.  Some have
smiles on their faces.  You turn away to go forward, to begin your tour
of duty.  Ahead, you see others like yourself, not sure weather to go
forward or give up.  Some of them look weak, as though they could fall
at any moment.  Some look angry and confused, not knowing exactly what
they should do.  There are soldiers that are fighting with all they have.
They move with the force of a charging bull.  Ready to combat the
enemy with every breath.  You stop to observe them, to see how the fight to
stay alive, for this war required no training.  You notice the fight
is sometimes long and hard, yet at other times, it short, but far from

You kneel to the ground, and you say "The Lord's Prayer", one more time,
you even add, "I'm your child lord, my very breath belongs to you, take me
, keep me, lead me and guide me, save, heal, and forgive me, oh lord,
oh lord, amen".  You rise from your genuflection, and move onward, knowing
and believing, God, The spirit, The higher Power, Yahwey, Jehovah,
Allah, The Supreme Being, is with you.  As you walk forward with
frustration, pain, anxiety and demensia, you come face to face with
the enemy.  It's evident the enemy's fighting power is much greater than
yours, your vulnerable to it's attack.  You know within you soul,
you will soon fall.  But, you fight with the persistency of a true warrior.
Your peace comes in knowing you had a good life.  A life filled with
Family and Friends, and a life overflowing like a cornucopia with
the fruits of Love.  You tell yourself not to cry, scream, shout or holler.
You want to be a *Strong and Silent Soldier* in this battle, this war
against AIDS.  You exhale the last breath of this battle and inhale
the first breath of the spirit, and you begin to smile.


In the middle of typing this, my SO called and said another friend
had made the transition to the next room.  He was indeed a "Strong
and Silent Soldier"


Peace with much Love,

From: Randolph Webb 
Date: Tue, 7 Nov 1995 10:33:34 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Hemphill & P.Q.

I don't want to hear you beg.
I'm sick of beggers.
If you a man
take what you want from me
or what you can.
Even if you have me
like some woman across town
you think you love."*
	..11/4/ said..
"Advocate men is in the Brnes & Noble superstore near my job.  Not the 
sort of place one FEELS most comfortable buying PORN.  I glanced at Basic 
Black because of..and put it back."
"When it comes to the whole notion of WHO WE ARE AND HOW WE'RE PRESENTED 
as black men in this country, regardless of sexuality, there's a lot of 
reworking, there's a lot of RECLAIMING of our IDENTITIES that has to go 
on.  EACH AND EVERYONE OF OUS IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT." I asked the "problematic query" because I (too) 
attribute the invisibility of MOST black gay men to "largely silence.." 
which leads to misrepresentation on a massive commercial 
distribution..through-out the national/international consumer 
world..bearing in mind that Advocate Men is not PORN>which is why Barnes 
& Noble superstore carry it in their general magazines..Why cann't we 
FEEL comfortable seeking and/or admiring images that 
should(?)/could(?)/would(?) represent OURSELVES..Why be SILENT> unless we 
don't agree with the images..then again why be silent in this 
misrepresentation(?) and finally, again is this representation of "out" 
as dictated by white (gay?) males inclusive of US ALL or limited to their 
sterotype(?) that WE allow in our silence of identification?

"We sneak all over town
like two damn thieves,
whiskey on our breath,
no street lights on the backroads,
just the stars above us
as ordinary as they SHOULD be.

We always have to work it out,
walk it through, talk it over,
drink and smoke our way into sodomy."*

	..11/4/ said..
"Soucouyant..why not (feel comfortable buying..Advocate men..) we SHOULD 
be out wherever we are.."
"African-American community by and large, the literary and academic
community is ver homophobic.  After a point, I got tired of trying to
deal with getting work in their publications or even getting them to
take an interest.."

Ron what Advocate Men triggered for me was the question of sales of
black male images that hardly continued or captured the rich and
varied texture of our sexuality, homo/or straight..Black male images
capitalized on by white males as well typecasting or placative(?) to
white gay males typecasting of our black homosexuality..or why didn't
Advocate Men work with surviving/struggling black male journals to
promote "real," i.e., money where mouth is>no pun intended<
commercial/art cohesion and/or representation of black queer
males..or since money is the only motive..behind the ACCESSIBLE
publications like Advocate Men..How do we or When do we break (i.e.,
define in or out side silence, reclaim,) from the bondage of white
gay male exploitive corporate culture sterotypes..When is enough,
enough..(before the letter writing..the editors know better?) I could
care less about the Advocates potential to do better and if I cared
about their sales its re: how much of those monies go into black gay
male concerns..directly?

Also the question remains.."what is out?" in the context of
Advocate's Men..are we to "answer to.." the questions of type these
images cast if we are not silent in our same sex, sex..if we do not
answer to these images, why then are we not represented by ourselves
to ourselves, even within a commercial market..or Why doesn't
Millennium survive as readily as Advocate..because we don't buy the
images?  Why..because we are not "out" enough(?) to go beyond Barnes
& Nobel to purchase images by and of us..? because "real" black men
don't look at images of black men..?  The problematic query remains..

As I too miss Essex, a black gay man, I never met but
who--out--represented me and I was glad to be associated to him.

*Conditions, Poems by Essex Hemphill; Be Bop Books.  Washington, D.C.

From: "James Miles" 
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 95 18:06:25 
Subject: Essex Hemphill National Day of Rememberance

The writer, poet, and activist Essex Hemphill made his transition
from this life on Saturday, November 5, 1995.  To recognize his
accomplishments, console one another and celebrate his life, members
of the Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD), Other Countries, Black
Nations/Queer Nations? and the community at large are declaring
December 10, 1995 as a National Day of Rememberance. We are asking
all those around the country that knew, loved or were inspired by
Essex and his work to join us by staging memorials in your city on
that day also.  To best exemplify  his life and commitment to
co-gender organizing and the diversity of the arts, we ask that this
event encompass both men and women and not be limited to poetry and
writings.  Although others may deny it, make the world know of his
true life as a black gay man and his contributions to black gay life.

New York's memorial "Observance in the Life of Essex C. Hemphill"
will be held at the Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center at 208 W.
13th Street from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.  Anyone interested in
participating, should contact Miles at (212)337-1245.

Date: Sat, 11 Nov 1995 00:19:44 -0500
Subject: Essex memorials

First, the chomping-at-the-bit memorial planners in New York have in mind a
national day of remembrance for Essex with events in several cities. We put
the idea out in Detroit. Call George Bellinger, Jr. at (718) 260-9541; it's
his idea. Jacqui Alexander (BN/QN) (Audre Lorde memorial planner) and Jacquie
Bishop (Assoto Saint planner) are both eager to do something. Folks in DC
should contact Wayson Jones, Larry Duckette or Ron Simmons (at Us Helping

Well, our litlte remembrances here at Creating Change in Detroit went well.
Phill Wilson brought the horror stories from the family service. I dunno: I'm
unwilling to fight families over their needs to do historical reconstruction
of their children in death in order to get them into heaven. Phill said
Essex's life was retold without any mention of queerness and with its
crowning moment his being saved on September somethingth.

Two remembrances took place here at the conference: at the POC institute
lunch Barbara Smith talked about her relationship with Essex and her work on
Brother to Brother and two Detroiters, Terrance O'Neal & Charles Girvan, read
from Ceremonies. Today we did a circle where folks remembered Essex. Elias
Farajeje-Jones poured libation to "our newest ancestor" and reminded us to
stop sanitizing queer folks as sexual beings, talking about running into
Essex at 3 or 4 am while they were both cruising Malcolm X Park. Papaya Mann
remembered the Coffeehouse and how she produced work there alongside my ex
Ray, and Barbara Smith talked about how that time of Black Gay writing in the
mid-eighties was in many ways like a Harlem Renaissance for Black queer
folks, Terrance talked about how Essex's visit to Detroit was the most
powerful thing that he thought ever happened in Detroit's Black Gay community
and about Essex's accessibility and patience with his late night calls for
solace; Charles talked about how folks like Essex and Marlon who wrote on the
margins of Blackness will become be found by future generations to have been
the central figures of Black consciousness of their lifetimes; Keith Boykin
talked about leaving off studying for the bar to read and re-read
"Ceremonies"; Karen Job-Wills talked about the toll of HIV deaths in our
lives and running into someone from DC on the bus to Detroit who was going
there as well, not to the conference, but to bury a friend; I talked about
Essex's 1984? Say Brother column in Essence where he talked about being a
Black Gay man, the relationship with Alexis deVeaux that led to it, the Gay
Art Against Apartheid reading he did with Audre Lorde where he had to run
from the podium to throw up, and some of the comments on this list; Cathy
Cohen and a White woman both talked about being able to rely on Essex as a
feminist and Cathy about bringing Essex to Yale and requiring her huge Black
politics class to attend, and how Essex's story about his first sexual
experience with a White man so worked the Black young men's nerves that they
talked about it for six months; a White man talked about working in a
bookstore and finding more meaning in "In the Life" and Essex's work thaan
other Gay writing, sharing with a friend his glee that Essex was coming to
town to read only to have to argue with him that Essex wasn't dead, running
into Essex in the club the next night and sharing the story only to have
Essex retell it at the end of his reading and announce that they had just
been read to by the ghost of Essex Hemphill; and we all remembered Essex's
signature goodbye and inscription: "Take care of your blessings." Ron
Buckmire has it all on tape.

On the subject of family funerals, I will tell the story of Assoto Saint's
performance at Donald Woods's service in another post.

Reporting for GLBPOC from Detroit,

Colin Robinson

PS Lance: I thought what Craig said he had in his pocketbook was an
opera-size skillet. (<>) And in the grand old tradition of Black
Gay men use Audre Lorde quotes to build signature prose pieces around, Craig
uses Audre's words from "A Burst of Light" to name and form the closing image
in his powerful piece on living with AIDS, "I'm Going to Go Out Like a
Fucking Meteor," published in "Sojourner." 

going out like a meteor."  Who said/wrote that?

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