TKPS Episode #413-The Kyle Phoenix Show: "Lack of Women in China Forces Men Into Criminal Behaviors"

 This week's episode: "Lack of Women in China Forces Men Into Criminal Behaviors" Don't forget to watch The Kyl...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

5 Yoga Poses to Make You a Better Bottom by Barry Eichner on The Kyle Phoenix Blog

G Philly would like to welcome our newest health contributor, Barry Eichner. Today, he gets thing started with a bang: Good sex is something everyone wants. But it takes work. Don’t forget that sex is a physical activity that requires strength, stamina, and flexibility, so it only makes sense that the more flexibility, strength and stamina you have, the better your experience will be … well, in theory. Today, with the help of model Brian Swope, I’m sharing a few yoga poses that will help you open up your body to give you the physical tools needed to make bottoming more enjoyable. Incorporate these poses into your weekly workout routine for a lifetime of romps in the sack void of leg cramps, numb thighs, and a sore back.

Ananda Balasana: Happy Baby

I like to refer to this pose as Happy Bottom ASSana. It doesn’t need much explanation, but if you can’t glean from the photo, this asana opens the hips, the inner groin, and — maybe most importantly — calms the mind.

Bitilasana: Cow Pose

If you’re doing it doggie style, making sure you're able to arch your back is crucial. This pose stretches the front torso and neck, it helps to open your front body so arching your back becomes almost second nature.

Malasana: Yoga Squat

This posture puts the bottom on top, opens the hips, and strengthens and tones the belly.

Prasarita Padottanasana: Wide-Legged Forward Fold

This pose stretches the inner and back legs, because, lets face it, if you’re going to have your legs apart for an extended period of time, it’s best to make sure they are prepped with a good stretch.

Upavistha Konasana B: Wide Leg Stretch

This is the “power-bottom pose” of yoga. It's more of an advanced asana that will open the inner leg and lower back, and tighten that belly, giving you strength, flexibility and the ever important endurance.

Pleasuring Tops, Bottoms and Versatiles by Kyle Phoenix

Contact Info

Thank you for reading.
Thanks and enjoy!
You can Like Us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter!
Don't forget to watch The Kyle Phoenix Show on
Channel 56(Time Warner), 83 (RCN), 34 (Verizon)
At Thursday/Friday 12am/midnight simulcast on

All books by Kyle Phoenix are available through and Barnes & Noble.
Sign up for the mailing list on my website (I’ll never share your information with a 3rd party) and you’ll receive the E newsletter and alerts about new products, books, and Special Reports.

Copyright © The Omni Group, Inc , 2014
Kyle Phoenix, 2014

Manhattan, New York

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Black and Latino LGBT Organizations: Leadership Types and Flaws, Part 2 by Kyle Phoenix

And that brings me to the leaders.  Oh, the leaders.

            The statement slightly sexuality slandering about hairdressers advancing to Executive Directorship was so apropos that though it was coined by a man whose clay feet eventually left a feces-like mudslide behind, it has come to be the measurement by which I look at leadership within LGBT organizations.  Of the handful I’ve experienced and worked with closely they were hampered first by the nature of again, where the majority of the funding came from; the corruption of values and morals and  that the figurative left handed managerial stance, lacked a creative, innovative, educated and strategic right hand to create, not simply an LGBT service provider but a true, successful business.  It seems that it should seem obvious that in order to maintain an LGBT organization you would want it to be a prosperous business but the places I was at are bedeviled by the mentality that hampers and destabilizes and demoralizes countless companies, inappropriate leadership.

            The word leadership, particularly in my teaching world---non-profit, educational, academic is often tossed around without a quantification of what it means.  I personally think of Cyclops and Storm from the X-Men.  When a leadership training component is suggested and the deliberation for end goal outcome abilities for the clients is bandied about, I think are we trying to create a Cyclops or a Storm?  Or maybe a Jack Welch or a Martha Stewart?  Reginald Lewis?  Reginald Johnson?  Suzanne DePasse?  Chew Guevara?  Malcolm X?  Gandhi?  Bernadette Devlin?  How are we defining leadership and what kinds of leaders do we need?  Notice I pluralize the word leader.  There is always a need for multiple leaders and multiple kinds of leaders.  The hubris I’ve seen in Executive Directors and their subordinates has been contrary to that thought, hence the ailing disintegration of multiple organizations over the years.
            Beware of any program you or your nearest and dearest are entering as a client or professionally that can’t quantify leadership to the three forms first: managerial, visionary and strategic and then answer what kind of leadership they’re aiming to instill and what kind of outcome they expect from their endeavors.  Most leadership programs at LGBT organizations end up being bullshit because of the lack of understanding, first by the leadership in control of establishing them what leadership is in its three forms and more incisively, what kind of leaders they are and therefore will impose as their vision of leadership.  For years I’ve watched control, domination and ego be what passes for leadership and in spite of internal and external efforts to change, the reigning mentality has torn them asunder.  However again, HIV and leadership are key funding friendly words.  You know the whole plan is cockeyed and on the road to perdition, in my experience, when either goal is named during conception/creation time and that the train is way off the tracks when they’re publicly advertising too much of both.

            But I’m perhaps being unfair in not describing through clear definitions the kinds of leaders, their merits and weaknesses and what they look like so that you can picture for yourself how the integration of all is necessary.

Managerial leaders are:
·        reactive; adopt passive attitudes towards goals; goals arise out of necessities, not desires and dreams; goals based on, past
·        view work as an enabling process involving some combination of ideas and people interacting to establish strategies
·        relate to people according to their roles in the decision- making process
·        see themselves as conservators and regulators of existing order; sense of who they are depends on their role in organization
·        influence actions and decisions of those with whom they work
·        involved in situations and contexts characteristic of day-to- day activities
·        concerned with, and more comfortable in, functional areas of responsibilities
·        expert in their functional area
·        less likely to make value-based decisions
·        engage in, and support, short-term, least-cost behavior to enhance financial performance figures
·        focus on managing the exchange and combination of explicit knowledge and ensuring compliance to standard operating procedures
·        utilize linear thinking
·        believe in determinism, that is, the choices they make are determined by their internal and external environments

Visionary leaders are:
·        proactive, shape idea, change “the way" people think about what is desirable, possible, and necessary
·        work to develop choices, fresh approaches to long standing problems; work from high-risk positions
·        are concerned with ideas, relate to people in intuitive and empathetic ways
·        feel separate from their environment; work in, but do not belong to, organizations; sense of who they are does not depend on work
·        influence attitudes and opinions of others within the organization
·        concerned with insuring future of organization, especially through development and management of people
·        more embedded in complexity, ambiguity and information overload; engage in multifunctional, integrative tasks
·        know less than their functional area experts more likely to make decisions based on values .
·        more willing to invest in innovation, human capital, and creating and maintaining an effective culture to ensure long-term viability
·        focus on tacit knowledge and develop' strategies as communal forms of tacit knowledge that promote enactment of a vision
·         utilize nonlinear thinking
·        believe in strategic choice, that is, their choices make a .difference in their organizations and environment

Strategic leaders are:  
·     synergistic combination of managerial and visionary leadership
·     emphasis on ethical behavior and value-based decisions
·     oversee operating (day-to-day) and strategic (long-term) responsibilities
·     formulate and implement strategies for immediate impact and preservation of long-term goals to enhance organizational survival, .growth, and long-term viability
·     have strong, positive expectations of the performance they expect from their superiors, peers, subordinates, and themselves
·     use strategic controls and financial controls, with emphasis on strategic controls
·     use, and interchange, tacit and explicit knowledge on individual and organizational levels
·     use linear and nonlinear thinking patterns
·     believe in strategic choice, that is, their choices" make a difference in their organizations and environment

Part III
            In 5 LGBT organizations I worked for or under 1 managerial leader and 4 Visionary leaders, hence the layoffs, firings, piss poor integrity, vanity battles and general financial ruin they've all suffered (and continue to spin around the drain from.) 
            At one organization, wrangled in, I looked around at the whole business set-up, the level of services and production and the leaders themselves and estimated that they would collapse in two years.  Technically speaking it occurred in 23 months.  There was some emergency triage attempts to pull it back together but by then I had accepted a contract elsewhere and to examine the firm now---all senior management has left or been replaced, the membership has dwindled to staff and friends of staff, the funding was internally sabotaged so it’s already rapidly eroded and the work, all important for the community, has over a decade amounted to not even hill of substantial beans, more like small, calcified beans.  Which is a horrendous shame because the Visionary Leaders had a good vision….but damn that spotlight of ego didn't seduce both into following the path of least integrity.  In fact personally, having loved the play Macbeth for years, I marveled at how the crossover with Othello occurred so rapidly within the organization, precipitating its downfall.  This agency was evicted out of their office, set another one up under the aegis of a community leader, lied to…the CDC in an attempt to get more gravy train funding and has since risen from the ocean depths, like little shards of broken glass, indistinguishable from the glittery community.  By that clever metaphor I mean that so many members have re-christened, re-created, re-established, and reiterated the organization in churches, basements, apartments and once a school gymnasium, drawing in a loyal but ineffectual dozen or two, that another organization leader outlined to me, quite succinctly, how they were at heart and best, a cult.
            Another organization went very King Lear, with varying factions under the titular Visionary Leader fighting against one another because of their inability to unify against the Visionary Leader.  Anyone of professionalism and education abandoned the organization, the passive aggressiveness and general mental health turmoil being too much for anyone of sanity to tolerate.  Of course during this time, much like the first organization, the CDC was cutting funding each and every year, which tightened salaries, lessened chances for promotion, minimized healthcare (the irony at one organization I was at was that for all their salvos at the world about LGBT rights---they wouldn't pay for same sex partner healthcare), lowered social expectations, a clientele that was then at one point close to 80% HIV+ men which in turn meant that again our social measurements of poverty were disproportionately present to healthy men…and healthy men avoided the agency in droves.  The norm became programming from the CDC and Welfare agencies; in effect a vibrant organization was turned into a poverty based soup kitchen that ironically was bested by multiple other organizations that could provide housing, financial assistance, medical care, social groups and even the basics of food to HIV infected men.  The clientele stopped by for the odd Metrocard and occasional freebie cash or trips from surveys sponsored by…..the CDC.  Even, impossibly HIV testing dried up as the testing services just became a revolving door for HIV+ men to re-test for the free cash and Metrocard.
            The third organization, lead by a Visionary Leader began an escorting service.  I kid you not.  The staff also began sponsoring sex parties in their home; pimping out younger clientele; demanding sexual favors for services; using the Social Security numbers of the homeless to boost their own tax returns; taking extravagant trips, buying designer luggage and opening high credit limit charge cards for personal use.  Literally it was Sodom and Gomorrah personified.  One could not be expected to survive in such a climate as an employee because much like the last Jim Jones Revival, you were either drinking the Kool-Aid or figuratively executed for refusing.
            The fourth agency was investigated routinely by the IRS for mismanagement and mis-reporting of funds, the State for misappropriation of funds, the police for drug dealing and by several intrepid reporters/bloggers who created a Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin inspired spiked tea and crumpets website geared towards anonymously writing about the often accurate shenanigans going on at agencies.  The highlights being the Executive Director really earned the enmity of hundreds, if not thousands of men of color who found his Rottweiler-esque personality to be so abrasive that poverty, ostracism and even occasionally hunger, were preferable to coming to his agency or when the time came for his demise, aid.  Even the most inoculated to his acidic personality couldn't help but smirk when he was fired. 
            From what I understand, the Ding, Dong the Witch Is Dead party thrown by staff, the Board of Directors, clients and quite a bit of the LGBT community was so crowded that it spanned not only days but two boroughs.  I got, no lie, 14 emails about his termination and was stopped in the supermarket by a triad of former clients, now confirmed heroin addict to ecstatically tell me the news.  Then a few weeks later I bumped into a co-worker, who told me again.  Then I got some more emails with attachments to several articles written in newspapers and blogs about it.  Then I got an email and phone call from an Executive Director of another agency who wanted to share tea and crumpets about what had happened. You can’t make this stuff up! 
            The fifth agency simply eroded from not being able to turn the Titanic mass of itself away from the inevitable iceberg of the CDC.  Or better yet, once lodged into the iceberg of the CDC, it threw all engines into reverse---the wrenching free tearing a significant hole in the hull of the ship and to this day, CDC ice chunks lodged and trailing, it lists away, slowly sinking as clients, HIV+ overwhelmingly, no longer in death throes but due to medical advances, chronic throes, abandon ship.  However as we know no clients, no proof of services being rendered and therefore no funding.  Unfortunately every one sat on the deck of this LGBT Titanic sympathizing with their and others HIV for so long that practical, useful, vocational and profitable skills weren't offered in programming until it was too late.  Their investment in their clientele didn't generate as the investment in any community would a bulwark of men to turn back and assist and aid the agency.  Which is the great cost of focusing on only one aspect of poverty so intensely---you don’t cure any of the others….so when the wolves of karma come for these agencies, there are no warriors in their clientele, past or present to stave them off.
            The specific question to me, several times from others was why didn't I stay and fight the good fight; turn the places around, change the climate if I knew the impending disasters on the horizons?
            Honestly, most times I was outnumbered by inequity.
            At one agency, a true Strategic Leader left and without his presence, I knew the organization was now on the E Ticket ride to failure, so I left.
            Another time I sensed the financial maelstrom of mismanagement about to be revealed, politely refused to submit grants or sign anything financially related and resigned a few weeks before the IRS stepped in and closed them down.
            For most of them I often wondered if I wanted my destiny to be marred by this kind of social fight against other men of color to institute order, integrity, responsibility, accountability---manhood into the “community”.  It was often with a heavy heart I left, my last works to transfer the neediest clients to better agencies, better services, and better life possibilities.  I realized within the decade experience that for me personally and professionally it gave me a solid lens to focus my education through; it gave me a solid Petri dish to watch all these machinations and madness inspired shenanigans transpire; it gave me an insight into how and why men of color who are LGBT undercut themselves when handed the opportunity to progress their sub-community and that gave me greater insight into the Black and Latino community.  The fears and biases that prevented LGBT agencies from logically partnering with non-heterosexual agencies (once to the loss of $75,000 in a weekend---but myself and the other agency coordinators, risking our jobs because our “leaders” couldn’t agree how to split the money, covertly started programming with that funding to get it to the HIV- and HIV+ clients alike; guerrilla transformational work, indeed!) and reaping the social and material rewards of a larger community that isn’t in total opposition to LGBT people of color. 
            I learned a lot about leadership, about what kind to desire to be, what kind not and what kind to avoid working for.  Much like the coordinator who I inadvertently inspired to leave his position, I inspired myself with my accumulated work to press on higher, to greater educational goals and teaching expansiveness.  A few days ago I was looking at the demographics of my television show, videos, books and blogs and saw that I was being read/viewed in among dozens of other places,  Zimbabwe, China, New Zealand, Portugal, Greece, France, Canada, Brazil, India, the United Arab Emirates!  The handful of agencies I worked for landmines, lily pads and sinkholes alike, I would've never embarked on such a globally expansive career.  I looked at my accumulated boxes upon boxes of materials and thoughts and notes and memories and realized that I could coalesce it in some ways, I could codify it and more importantly disperse it throughout a world community, to achieve some of that parity I was always seeking. 
            Somewhere, someone is agreeing, disagreeing, considering my work beyond simply my own experienced context of the term men of color as African American and Latino---I’m talking real men of color throughout the world.  The world.  Really colored men, all over the world, who recognize something within their hearts, their minds, their souls that says to them their sexuality is something else, not simply heterosexual as we define it, perhaps one of the myriadical other sexualities possible in a human
            Going into that meeting a decade ago, looking for fellowship, companionship, friendship I could’ve never dreamed I’d get such an education and avocation to what I’ve taken my learning and created.  I was thinking recently about a relative, a good person, give or take, who works at a very uninteresting, tedious job; that eats nearly the same thing every day; that watches the same level of TV and then washes his clothes and repeats his life the next week.  I was thinking about the 15 years he’s spent at this current job and I was wondering other than the monetary pay a week and the material survival that brings---what had it actualized or manifested into his life?  What had it manifested into the community around him at large? 
            Then I turned the question back on myself, I review my life and its winding roads often so that I don’t fear the future, and I realized my relative hadn't been anywhere that really challenged him to learn a new field, become an expert, tested his manhood (integrity, responsibility, accountability), blossomed into seeds of work that spreads across the Earth.  I put up a world atlas over a wall (I use it in classes sometimes) and I started putting little post it strips onto places where the demo-graphical survey has shown my readers/viewers.  I would've never electronically traversed the world without these faulty organizations, without my outrage and frustration and disgust at them.  I wouldn't continue to do so, getting bigger and bigger, receiving so many communiques from distant lands, I’ll probably never see without the above described organizations.  Even in their madness, if personally honed, if walked away from, if ignored and even if seen clearly, they have value.  The individual can make it what I term anti-mentors, those who teach us what not to do and not to be and inspire us to do something good, useful and educational.
            If you’re personally in, as an employee or a client, such a mix, such a madness, know that you can take the bile, the lessons, the foolishness and act out the vision, perhaps with some consciousness and strategic editing, but know that the individual can transcend the poverty of some LGBT men of color and the misshapen organizations they form and affect and effect the world.  And more importantly broader than clients meetings that are often focused on one disease, chicken and chairs and piteous emoting, corrupted staff members and gross mismanagement, you can transcend all that rubbish and strike out, strategically again, to truly advancing the community of African and Latino LGBT to its desperate need of eliminating and mitigating all forms of poverty that riddle it.

Contact Info

Thank you for reading.
Thanks and enjoy!
You can Like Us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter!
Don't forget to watch The Kyle Phoenix Show on
Channel 56(Time Warner), 83 (RCN), 34 (Verizon)
At Thursday/Friday 12am/midnight simulcast on

All books by Kyle Phoenix are available through and Barnes & Noble.
Sign up for the mailing list on my website (I’ll never share your information with a 3rd party) and you’ll receive the E newsletter and alerts about new products, books, and Special Reports.

Copyright © The Omni Group, Inc , 2014
Kyle Phoenix, 2014
Manhattan, New York

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Black and Latino LGBT Organizations: Members, Leaders, Drama and Poverty, Part 1 by Kyle Phoenix

            In the course of my work, I get asked to do a lot of things: appearances, interviews, workshops and recently for the third time I was asked by a small organization to do something that I focus more in my business educational work, strategic assessment and planning for an organization.  In particular this was a Black and Latino LGBT organization.  My experience is over ten years working, volunteering, teaching and administrating at such agencies but my wider business focus includes another life spent with an MBA, being a financial analyst, a business consultant and a securities litigation paralegal.  Bringing all of that skill and knowledge to bear I’ll finally break my silence and discuss the demise of the Black and Latino LGBT agencies and more importantly what can be done in an organization to avert that.

            First off, for definitions sake, I’ll admit that I’ve worked or  I’ve dealt with a range of organizations  that would fall within the following categories:
·        Grassroots: less than $250,000 as an annual budget.
·        Micro: less than $2 million as an annual budget.
·        Small: less than $5 million as an annual budget.
·        Medium: less than $50 million as an annual budget
·        Large: less than $125 million as an annual budget.

            As an opening caveat I will say that in the interest of professionalism, I can’t divulge complete information but I will use pseudonyms and combine multiple sized and similar agencies where necessary to protect the innocent, not give spotlight to the woefully guilty and not harass the dumb.  As an opening salvo I will say that one of the most accurate statements I’ve ever heard about Black and Latino LGBT organizations is that they are “…often run by hairdressers who become Executive Directors”.  This comment was made by an Executive Director, his hubris and managerial incompetence somewhere between legendary and shameful.   Though I do honestly believe that at one point he did care---then them checks started rolling in with his name on it and that credit card arrived that allowed him to charge flights to and fro and rub shoulders with a few celebrated people and have autographed pictures on his desk. You’d be surprised how many Executive Directors name drop their own acquaintanceships.  I think it comes from the nature of being the leader of a non-profit, you’re always trumpeting your agency to others---there is often a point though where the cause, the organization and the individual become unhealthily interchangeable.

            This comment was made by a leader of one that ironically suffers from massive internal problems.  But it’s stuck with me as an accurate assessment and so in spite of its internalized homophobia; I like this statement though because it will accurately answer a lot of the systemic issues and the possible course for re-invigoration.
            The first problem all categories of the agencies suffer from is twofold: the CDC and society.
            In the past decade, the CDC has consistently lowered the monies it disperses out for funding for HIV related programming from an initial large increment of $5 billion annually to be distributed in grants to organizations, to now less than $3 billion.  While the resource has decreased in size the need has increased because of societal forces.  The particular societal forces that I would offer to Black/Latino LGBT organizations that their clients/membership deal with are poverty, homelessness, unemployment, lack of appropriate education, lack of mental health treatment, lack of social support for sexuality, lack of relationship skills and lack of financial management skills.  Statistically, using the demographic of African American and Latino males, regardless of sexuality in the United States, the current numbers are that 40% of AA and 55% of Latinos are in permanent, generational poverty.  What is meant by this is that they earn less than $20,000 a year; have a  high school education or less; and therefore have greater health risks (HIV, AIDS, heart disease, diabetes, syphilis, Hepatitis C) than the other 60% to 45%.
            I can testify that this is pretty accurate, if not higher in the overall estimation of the effected populace numbers.  Many men of color come from poverty and carry with them habituated behaviors that reflect and reverberate those of their kith in poverty.  Unfortunately in the 21st century, a non-heterosexual identity for men of color seems to be make or break for them, I’ve observed.  The compounded pressures, ostracism and stigmatization of racism and homophobia from their own internal communities and the larger external (other and White) communities, takes out at least half of the MSM population, knocking them into a varying forms of social, emotion, educational, economic and health poverty.  For the purposes here I’m using a broader definition of poverty than simply financial---I’m using it as a lack of mental, emotional, social, mentoring, support systems, educational systems plus perhaps financial, health, etc..  When I say a client is in poverty---I’m directly saying that they have severe lacks in several of those areas and need intervention or are beyond intervention.  I would easily argue though that since Emancipation this has been the state of men of color and that immigration doesn’t shield other Latinos brothers from these ramifications either, it simply gestates for them in their own way.
            Therefore to the CDC the challenges just inherent in the funding stream and the client base are pretty big for any organization dedicated to helping LGBT men of color.   Ironically, because until one graduates to a Medium or Large Organization, the organizations are often run by those from the pool of potential clients who suffer from the poverty ills of their racial, cultural and ethnic group, they are consigning themselves to a form of intentional suicide.  And this is important; many impoverished clients become staff in these organizations---which is tremendously good and tremendously bad.  It’s good because who else could understand and sympathize with the client base better than a compatriot?  It’s bad because following our percentage paradigm, if 40% to 75% of the populations of men to pick from are infused in some forms of poverty, then immediately an organization is infected with the very ills it seeks to redress.  The CDC’s monies put into the organizations hands to cure ills unfortunately has a chance of falling into the hands of the most ill to administrate.
            It might seem judgmental to see organizations that are ostensibly committed to helping men of color through such a critical light but over the years I’ve discovered that HIV has eroded the basis for an organization being a real help to a community.  Since most of the funding comes from the CDC or private grantors to do HIV testing and HIV programming very little outside of that paradigm occurs.  All of the monies are geared towards HIV testing, HIV programming, HIV interventions, HIV care and HIV preventative programming.  However the communities whose numbers are increasing in HIV infection are still historically plagues with issue around racism, financial disparity, employment shortages, educational lacks, social skill impediments, relational skill impediments.  It’s as if  the CDC is constantly and consistently buying blankets and chicken soup for all of the flu infected residents of a house where the windows are never closed, rain and snow come through the holes in the rooftops and the administrators of the home, rush to the front door---tell the CDC that everything is fine, snatch the check and slam the door.  All that is required are audits financially and programmatically to the CDC of how their money was spent and what the outcomes of testing and programming were.  The CDC’s defense is of course that numbers have dropped, can’t drop any further, won’t drop any further and they too are under the pressure of a government that is constantly undermining their funding (and they have other health issues to manage.)  A perfect storm of moral midgetry is set up.

            While one can argue that this level of management is necessary it also has two negative effects upon the community.  It passively creates an environment where unless you’re HIV+, you don’t receive premium services because the bulk and quality of funding is not to HIV- men.  If all of the available programming then focuses on HIV prevention, all of the food, all of the cash, all of the transportation cards go to servicing the HIV+ programming first, you lose the physically one, and perhaps in other ways, healthy men of color as a base.  If one kind of group is a larger percentage than another, whatever norms, even if their norms are abnormal, become the norm of the group.  HIV- men having no use for constant repetitious programming about HIV infection leave, and return less and less because the group no longer speaks to them.  If however they need support systems in their struggle with poverty, their only option is to return HIV+.  Several of my clients over the years have gone out and become HIV+ on purpose because of the benefits to being so.  

Logically I know that if I can point to handful or a dozen men over the years, that group can be multiplied hundreds of times over.  Is then the explosion of HIV infections among men of color more to do with their need for services than a misunderstanding or irresponsibility around HIV infection prevention?  Is the failure of LGBT organizations of color not only their self-management but their attention to what byproduct they’re creating in their zealous pursuit of HIV funding?   
            Then wouldn’t the first point become an organization recognizing the needs of men of color as a community, alongside their sexuality?  To my experience, it’s understood and ignored for the goal of the organization: CDC funding.  (And the reasoning behind the CDC funding hunger is because it was historically easy to obtain.  No longer.  But we’ll get to that irony later.)  The CDC money becomes tantamount to manna from Heaven with little regard from the outcome of the addiction to manna and the problems singular source funding incurs.

Part II
            First I’ll share my experiences as a client, an employee and the leadership demands both demanded.
            I discovered several agencies pretty much within the same year.  I’d returned to New York City after working in another state directly after college.  I’d thrown myself into my career and for several years, went out occasionally to private parties, nightclubs and professional gatherings but had never engaged an LGBT organization of color specifically.  (I’d maintained a light membership in a couple prior to school and in school but found that I was always the racial demographic and therefore found it uncomfortable.)  A close friend moved out of town and I realized that I wanted to maintain having a close male friend of color so I started looking for an LGBT group of color to join.  I found a handful and adjusting my schedule, I soon began attend meetings of several.  Immediately in one group I was approached by an older man (I was in my twenties) and he started to explain the group and its purpose to me.  Since it was a cool summer night we left the meeting place, took a leisurely stroll---and it soon became apparent that one, he was hitting on me…excessively and two, he had allowed me to believe he was in a leadership position in the organization but wasn't.  I rebuffed him but returned for more meetings.

            I share the above because later as an employee for an LGBT organization that was the main complaint of my youth (under 25) male charges as to why they avoided that organization: the older men immediately pounced on fresh meat so they as a mass had passed the word informally to avoid the organization except in crisis level need.  I found that this was the thought around two other organizations as well---that men were unfettered socially so that even if one went there hoping to meet a nice guy to perchance date, you were pounced on so fast that you didn’t even get a chance to breathe or ascertain who you were interested in.  Going deeper into the social aspect of the problem, myself and others were able to discuss the issue and expand it in some ways into a level of programming into workshops. My colleagues and I  realized from the persistently resistant to boundaries and decorum, that the LGBT males of color “community” had no concept of limitations and therefore acted inappropriately.  What this meant was that one the community itself wasn’t learning and growing and policing itself.  It was existing yes, throwing parties, discussing its issues but it wasn’t maturing.  However you couldn’t throw a stick twenty feet without being invited to the propagated CDC HIV programming like Many Men, Many Voices.  (I’ve attended 3 as a client and run countless ones as a facilitator.)

            Normally in a community when values and mores are challenged the community enforces or deliberates and answers what the standards are, whether that’s as a mass or as a small group of less than a hundred.  Unfortunately one of the most grievous errors of all LGBT organizations is that in a form a pity-allowance, unhealthy mentalities are allowed to flourish in an attempt to create a “safe space” for men who have been marginalized.  When one tries to placate someone like a victim by abdicating rules or guidelines for behavior, then those offended or emotionally assaulted, flee.  Flight had become my decision when I was invited to take on a more leadership role, to facilitate, to be part of the change that a few were trying to institute.  Had I not been perhaps bored, not deeply focused on anything else, lived so nearby and genuinely had made friends in the groups, I might’ve simply walked away.

            However years later I can tell you that men of color are now fleeing based on the programming being repetitive to one specific thought and if they stay the values and mores of the community are dicey at best.  I’d personally found that there had been a culminating program around HIV, taught by a great facilitator and looking around at the weekly meetings, the clientele (many HIV+ or in a state or poverty) I didn’t see a future for myself there.  I expressed this to one of the coordinators and he agreed and came up with a unique solution: what if we tried to change that?  If I was willing, he was and we would focus on seeking out materials, creating a true democratic safe space and minimizing excessive repetitive programming that was done just for CDC dollars.  We did for awhile, a year and then so inspired by the workshops we’d created and their message and self-empowerment and actualization, he quit his job to follow his passion.  I stayed on for several years there as well as floating through other organizations, trying to find a community “home”.

            I found in many organizations that not being HIV+ was a detriment to my own advancement professionally and socially, to my becoming one of the inner circle; that coupled with racial colorism, where I, medium toned to my eyes, too light to others and extensive education, was minimized, ostracized because I just wasn’t…impoverished enough.  When the problem becomes that you’ve volunteered to serve within an organization (or been hired) and the staff nor clientele can’t find, other than superficial, a crack in your foundation, you begin to think you’re insane.  

I lived on my own, dated (neither from the client base nor from the staff and their peripheral friends) and lastly, had an extensive education that only the folly of idealism could explain my willful choice to be involved with them, I was branded untrustworthy, perhaps even an elitist, a dilettante.  The untrustworthiness stemmed from the fact that I often disagreed with the practices of immorality and lack of integrity on staff and client’s parts.  I’ve noticed looking back on that decade, which inspired me to jot down this article and others, that there was a distinctive lack of morality in the places I was at.  Each agency I would work for or volunteer at to some degree expressed a racial self hatred through a lack of integrity around finances, programming, sexuality, etc..  Even when the purported to being racially consciousness, they weren’t---that organization crumbled under a bonfire of the vanities, in two leaders who both wanted to be center stage and in the spotlight.  And the Diana Ross and Mary Wells on stage battle commenced.

What kind of leaders are then needed to manage, direct and steward organizations that are filled with such diverse human egos, race, sexuality, fragmented identities and financial challenges?  I'll cover that in Part II!

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Kyle Phoenix, 2014
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