In the new year our goals include adding more contributors to the site, better HTML coding, creating an interactive extension, provide more current news stories, add exclusive content like in-depth interviews and use this platform to expose more of the efforts from the talented men in our community.
Keeping in line with these goals for the new year, we give you the DISCREET CITY'S BEST OF 2011 AWARDS.
This is the first annual year-end rundown of everything we loved about the previous year, as it relates to masculine gay men of color.
See the winners of the all the categories, In Just One Click.
While movies like "Drive," "Shame" and "The Tree of Life" may be better works of art, no film released in 2011 featured more unabashed masculinity, testosterone, bulging biceps, explosions, gunplay, sexy Latina women and over 20 muscle cars than the epic sequel "Fast Five." Granted, the film is about 30 minutes too long…but whenever we got bored something would explode and wake us up.
The highlight of it all is Dwayne Johnson's massive tattooed arms that simultaneously made us stare in freak-show wonder and also made us want to run to the gym to workout.
Honorable Mention: Attack The Block, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Darius Clark Monroe's beautifully shot short film "Slow" about two black gay men and their online hookup encounter is undoubtedly the best and most accurate rendition we've ever seen. To be brutally honest, "The D.L. Chronicles" filmmakers Deondray Gossett and Quincy LeNear could have easily won this category if their verbose, sometimes boring, exposition dense web series, "The Chadwick Journals," didn't pale in comparison to this short film.
Both the web series and the short film featured one location, two black male actors, gay subject matter, short formats and a limited budget. However, Darius Clark Monroe proved he was in a completely higher filmmaking league with his vivid cinematography, excellent use of music and ability to follow filmmaking rule number one: Telling the story with visuals, not dialogue. If the fellas are successful in bringing back "The D.L. Chronicles" (which we'd love to see) we suggest that they look to Monroe's powerful film for creative inspiration.
Honorable Mention: The Strange Thing About The Johnsons, The Chadwick Journals
With all the buzz about Vampire and Zombie TV shows, many people may have overlooked the best show on television, "Breaking Bad." This series is like no other currently airing and continues to surprise us. This season, longtime character actor Giancarlo Esposito finally stepped to the forefront with his chilling scene-stealing performance as Gustavo "Gus" Fring.
Admittedly, certain aspects of the series require huge leaps in logic for you to accept that a ailing high school teacher and a drug addict could go up against a well organized crime empire…but the ride is fun and addictive nonetheless.
Honorable Mention: The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones
Handsome England-Born actor Idris Elba had a good year. Not only did he continue to impress us as the title character of the BBC crime drama "Luther," he also racked up numerous awards for his performances.
However, the reason we really love Elba is for the controversial comments he made as a guest speaker at the Lens Project’s “Artist Spotlight” series on the campus of Rutgers University:
“Can I be candid? I don’t like all of Tyler Perry’s films. Yes, I did work with Tyler for “Daddy’s Little Girls” because it portrayed a positive image of a black father. I am happy for Tyler’s success…we need Tyler Perry…by going to support his movies, we need to show economic strength. But we are also responsible for elevating film. I’m not with buffoonish characters like Madea or Big Momma.”
Honorable Mention: Morris Chestnut, Omari Hardwick, Laz Alonso
What makes heterosexual Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo our favorite athlete of the year is not only due to his actions on the field but also his impressive and admirable actions off-field as well.
Not only did he volunteer as a sexy model for California's NOH8 Campaign, he also became a vocal supporter for Marriage Equality being legally passed in Maryland (the vote was eventually postponed for mid-2012).
We appreciate his spirit and wish there were hundreds more like him!
Honorable Mention: Grant Hill, Jared Dudley, Michael Lahoud
While openly gay rapper Kaoz didn't release a new solo project in 2011, he still made his presence felt. After a problematic emotional outpouring during a YouTube interview back in January, he rebounded with solid lyrics on musical guest appearances, producing a free full-length advocacy/health awareness compilation project that featured fellow Minnesota artists and he released some brand new music videos (featured below) that he himself co-directed.
Although we have some minor issues with Kaoz, without a doubt he's a skilled wordsmith and growing entertainer. He's also (deservedly) still the current leader when it comes to music & showmanship from Out artists. No question, he's one of only a handful of Out artists that we hope to see a lot more from in 2012.
Honorable Mention: Lasto, Medino Green
Don't get us wrong, we love Common's "The Dreamer/The Believer"… we love The Roots' "Undun"… We love J-Cole's "Cole World: A Sideline Story"… Hell, we even kinda liked Drake's new R̶&̶B̶ album "Take Care"… But as much as we hated to admit it, no album made as much of an impact on the world than the surprisingly non-leaked Jay-Z and Kanye West album "Watch The Throne."
Let's not even talk about how many bona fide radio and club hits are on the release, how about the RIDICULOUS so-called 'filler' tracks like "No Church in the Wild" produced by the amazing 88-Keys and "New Day" produced by legendary The Rza.
Honorable Mention: Common - The Dreamer/The Believer, The Roots - Undun
We were hip to 21-year-old Canadian crooner Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, long before fellow Canadian musician Drake publicly co-signed for him. So it feels good to see the rest of the country slowly coming around to this talented young man.
His free debut mixtape "House of Balloons," released back in March, was one of those albums that made you believe in R&B music again. His subsequent free releases "Thursday" and "Echoes of Silence" continued to up the ante musically making us think, "If this is what his mixtapes sound like, we can't wait to hear his studio album."
Honorable Mention: Big Sean, Childish Gambino, Frank Ocean
Those of us that saw the music video for awesome new artist Marsha Ambrosius' song "Far Away" before we knew the twist got the full impact of its importance. In depicting her anti-gay bashing and suicide message, the video takes the atypical route of showing us an attractive masculine black gay couple instead of the usual white feminine men. According to Marsha, the concept for the video is based on her own gay friend that she lost to suicide due to homophobia.
The video caused an uproar, mostly positive, however there were still the usual hateful words (from supposedly all-loving Christians, no less) in the comments section wherever it was posted. Nonetheless, the video holds a special place in the hearts and minds of us here in the Discreet City.
Honorable Mention: Wretch 32 ft Etta Bond - Forgiveness
We first discovered 6' 3" model Robert Evans as his handsome face and body began popping up more and more on the many tumblr photography blogs we follow. A 22-year-old from Oxford, England had never even been out of his hometown when acclaimed young black photographer Arron Dunworth discovered him training in a local boxing gym.
Rob remains humble with it all, enjoying his recent success as a Givenchy, Jeremy Scott and Calvin Klein model, yet still training for his thus far undefeated boxing career. Also, I think its safe to say he's one of the few non-gay models in the industry.
We were hard pressed to think of any more impactful contribution to the American world of fashion last year than the re-release of the Jordan Concord XI basketball shoes. These $180 shoes caused literal pandemonium as stories of hundreds of shoppers waiting in line for hours, getting trampled, getting pepper-sprayed, breaking into malls and fighting each other for a pair of sneakers (that many of them will only wear one time).
Say what you will about the Eddie Long scandal, but the controversy that began in 2010 and spilled over into the first half of 2011 was important many levels. Not only did it bring to light a possible criminal conspiracy, it also shined a new light on the issues of pedophilia, molestation, homophobia and hypocrisy in the church system.
The lawsuits filled by Jamal Parris, Spencer LeGrande, Maurice Robinson and Anthony Flagg were filed with detailed stories that were hard not to believe. If the news of the eventual settlement wasn't enough to seal the deal, Eddie Long's wife of 21 years filing for divorce in December pretty much did it for us.
The city of Atlanta, Ga gets such a bad rap when if comes to the Gay community, especially from African Americans. However the truth of the matter is that, outside of New York City, no other place in the U.S. has more appeal, variety, attractions, diversity and momentum than Atlanta.
Not only are there hundreds of restaurants, bars and stores to keep anyone occupied, there are clean parks (Centennial Olympic and Piedmont) and districts (Atlantic Station) to help fill your time as well. On top of that, there are many options whether or not you are Straight or Gay, Discreet or Out of the closet.
Let's not forget there are even two movie studios there (EUE/Screen Gems and Tyler Perry Studios) and its host to half a dozen network television shows so seeing actors out and about is par for the course. The sports franchises (Braves, Hawks and Falcons) also lend a lot to the entertainment factor.
Last but not least, Atlanta is filled with so much opportunity for career growth, as most of the gay men of color we know living there are doing pretty well financially.
As for the negative stories we hear, like any city, it is what you make it to be.
If there's anything you can probably gather about the men of Discreet City from reading this website is that we like action, guns, explosions and attractive men. So it shouldn't be surprising to learn that Gears of War 3 was our favorite video game of the year.
Don't get us wrong, there were many other games that we equally loved for other reasons, but when it comes to this website, we couldn't think of a better choice. The only downside to the final chapter of this trilogy was the sometimes overly plentiful, overly long and overly annoying movie sequences.
Honorable Mention: Batman: Arkham City, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Being the new kids on the block, we here at Discreet City understand that any website that just rehashes the same posts, stories and points of view everyday is worthless. So in our initial research of the gay websites out there before we launched, one stood out as a favorite that spoke to us as masculine gay men.
The BlackGayMensBlog (with its four contributors) consistently provides interesting, insightful and in-depth stories/articles that are unlike any other the other more popular gay sites. Like our evolving home Discreet City, there are many rough edges on the BlackGayMensBlog that need to be chiseled out (namely their busy, uneven site design), but the future looks bright if websites like this continue to be launched and grow.
Honorable Mention: Ka-os Theory, LGBT Unrgrd
You have to love successful, articulate masculine men like Don Lemon because they help break down the one dimensional stereotypes of who we are (feminine, flamboyant, Beyonce stans). Meeting Don Lemon in person was just as inspirational since his personality is just as positive as you'd expect.
In the span of just a year, 45-year-old Don Lemon admitted that he was a victim of pedophilia and then the following spring he publicly came out as a Gay man (although before that he wasn't in the closet, just discreet - many people already knew). In his book, Lemon speaks candidly about his career and personal life, giving encouragement to the rest of us. He's an inspiration to us all.
Terrance Dean is slowly proving to be a influential gay writer in the community. Back in 2008 he released the controversial book "Hiding in Hip Hop: On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry" and caused a bit of a stir. Earlier this year, we posted a response to an article written in XXL magazine on the issue of homophobia in Hip Hop that he'd written.
However it was his new novel "Mogul" released in June 2011 that earned him this spot on the list. "Mogul" follows the theme of his debut by weaving a tale based in the world of discreet masculine gay men in the music industry.
Honorable Mention: The Bad Seed - Lee Hayes
This was a tough one. We could have easily given this honor to Internet radio personality DJ Baker who has consistently been a source of gossip, news, music and Interviews over 1000 episodes of his series, Da Doo Dirty Show.
However with the recent ending of the long-running web series, ADTV, and the 2011 release of an independent film in which he stars, we felt that rising Gay personality Derrick L .Briggs edged out to take the lead. Seeing him in Movies, Parties, Pride Events, Miami Sizzle, Web Series, Blogs and Social Media Sites…at only 31-years-old, this guy's been all over the place. He also seems to be effectively walking the tightrope of appealing to both a younger and older Gay audience, which is key for any entertainer's success.
While we respect the hustle, we have to admit that some of his work has room for improvement, a lot of room.
It was unfortunate to see his edutainment web series close its doors just as the production quality was improving. Also, the micro-budget indie film he starred in this year will definitely not be winning any major filmmaking awards …but of course we understand that as a new actor, you have to start somewhere.
We love the grind and look forward to seeing what's in store for the future. ADTV may be done as a series but from what we understand it now lives on as a Tumblr Blog, so fans can still stay connected with Derrick and his continued movement.
Honorable Mention: DJ Baker
When 40-year-old Puerto Rican singer/entertainer Ricky Martin leaped out of the closet in 2010, much of the world responded by showing little surprise, especially the Gay community. However the impact he has made as a result is immeasurable. His Oprah interview (embedded below) and the release of his biography "Me" in 2010, helped to begin the healing process in the families of many latino homosexuals and given others the courage to come Out as well.
Since then, Martin has not only been a public advocate for equal rights, but also a humanitarian, a devoted father and an admirable example of what the non-stereotypical gay man looks like. Earlier this year Martin was given a GLAAD Media's Vito Russo Award for promoting equal rights.
While we still have a long way to go, he's helped to break down prejudices and ignorant fears that have made people like him and other gays feel the need to unwillingly remain "discreet" or in the closet.
Honorable Mention: Don Lemon
Love him or hate him, The United States President Barack Obama is the 2011 Discreet City Man Of The Year.
Look…a lot of consideration went into this and we were very hesitant to give this honor to the predictable, cliched choice such as the President, especially considering that its our first year doing this. He had some massive failures like the continued unemployment rate and that debt ceiling debacle, but let's face it, Obama had a good year.
On September 20, 2011 Don't Ask, Don't Tell was officially repealed, his infamous birth certificate was produced for the media and the 10-year-anniversary of 9/11 was punctuated with the official end of the Iraq war and the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
As the president shifts into re-election mode, we anticipate that he will be even more visible in the coming year.