A lot is being said about "B-BOY BLUES", the movie that is being adapted from the book which chronicles the love story of two men who shared their love in New York City's '90s hip hop culture (www.bboybluesthemovie.com). We also hear that "Noah's Arc" is not coming back to LOGO, but will supposedly be a feature film next year. Then, before all of this, there was E. Lynn Harris' "Invisible Life", a book I remember reading in 1992 before I came out of the closet. In the the two hundred-plus pages of that novel, a New York City-man (from the south - Alabama) named Raymond comes to terms with his homo-sexuality, after a long and harrowing drama surrounding his confusion. So much of the content in this book would foreshadow experiences I would have, once I moved from Atlanta to New York City. Well, Tony-award-winning legend George Faison (who choreographed and won the Tony for "The Wiz") is directing "Invisible Life" (The Musical) featuring the music and lyrics of Ashford & Simpson. George invited me to a READING held the other night at "THE APOLLO" and it is truly a work-in-progress with much promise. (www.INVISIBLELIFE.org). The script is written by Proteus Spann and Stanley Bennett Clay, who also wrote some of the music/lyrics. The performers for the special reading were pulled from many walks of theater and life - some newcomers (like Zoei Morris, who I had a chance to meet recently as she was hosting - a day job - at VOYAGE Restaurant) and some known veterans from the recording industry (like Tony Terry, Victor "Trent" Cook, and Natalie Wilson). Natalie plays Raymond's mother and sings a song that brought tears to my eyes as the words came out of her mouth (in addition to the melody). Since my mom was a singer too, it was as if Natalie was singing to me and it reminded me of what I would have wanted to hear from my mother's lips had I an opportunity to come out to her. (She died in July 1994, a few years before I would begin the journey of "coming out" of the closet). Thanks to George Faison, who is letting me share these lyrics here in "A Day in the Life of Riley: Pop Culture & Possibilities":
Spike Lee's wife Tonya was in attendance as was Leslie Lewis Sword ("Miracle in Rwanda"). And of course, Ashford & Simpson were in attendance - taking bows for their wonderful new music that promises to inspire another generation. When I told George how touched I was by the song and the show and what it means to me, he asked "Well, don't you think your mother knew?". And I guess she did. But I wasn't clear with myself at the time, but got more clear in the years that would follow her passing. I too remember the times she would "protect" me - if you will - by telling me not to walk a certain way or hold my bag a certain way or how not to do this or that ("like a girl"). Also, when I told my friend Murphy of how moved I was by the book and the piece-in-progress, he laughed at me and said "You have never lived an 'invisible life'". And at this evolved phase in my life, that's nice to hear. In fact, my attending "Invisible Life" got in the way of a benefit I've supported since it's inception six years ago: LIVE OUT LOUD Gala & Scholarship Presentation which awards scholarships to five incredible LGBT high school graduates. (www.liveoutloud.info). I want to shout out my friend Leo Preziosi, Jr., Founder and President of LIVE OUT LOUD... and let him know that I was still out in the world, being "HEARD",,, and "VISIBLE".