Friday, April 17, 2015

Are we Invisible?

One day in 2008 I walked into a club in the Montrose area only to receive the “why are you here?” stares. Not giving it a second mind, I proceeded to the bar to get a drink after a long day at work. To make a long story short, I waited a total of twenty minutes to be served by one of the six bartenders who did everything they could to keep from serving me. One could venture to say that I was crazy for even waiting so long for a drink; but I wanted to see for myself how bad relations were between black SGL-BT and the white LGBT community. Some consider my experience fictional, quite rare, and laughable which leads to the usual shrug of the shoulders.

The reality of prejudice within the gay community is constantly swept under a rug and has been given a status of a mythical unicorn. While that is true, there is another reality that we fail to address. A reality in which there are gays and lesbians that are transphobic, display effemiphobia and even display intra-racism. How can we possibly address white vs black prejudices & racism when these fractures within our own community go unaddressed? As a good friend put it, “come be a part of our community, welcome! (GLBT), be yourself, but you must be masculine, not too skinny, no fems and no uglies.” When my friend made this statement, he was really saying he hates that these demands to fit into these boxes exist.

This is one of the main reasons that we are invisible to each other within the gay community. Ask yourself how many trans-men and women do you have friendships with? How many of you have lesbian friends? How many of you have plus sized friends? I could go on and on with questions, however, I would like to get to my point. My point is that we must be all inclusive and remove all of the barriers and stop pretending that our counterparts are invisible! When we achieve true cohesion and community, only then can we address prejudices from the “mainstream” gays and the straight black community.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Stay In Your Lane: Vol 3

Previously on Stay In Your Lane:

"THINK before you speak about me and note to yourself that a part time job would prolong my tenure in school. Moreover, you are doing this in veiled criticism of my advocacy or activism because I am not buying into the bullshit mantra of RESPECTABILITY POLITICS."

In this edition we will be discussing my VETERAN STATUS, which for some reason has been the source of fodder within the ranks of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. There are a couple of sources who came to me telling me that someone had been digging into my military history and could not find any information on me. This person happens to be the treasurer of the Caucus and has oddly at times tried to hold conversations with me about other members of the Caucus. 

In organizations like this, I hold a high regard for the work that is done to elect the right candidates in Houston, Texas, and nationally. What I do not have a high regard for is a person or people who will try to find any dirt on me possible that could discredit or diminish the work that I actually do and love doing. This EGREGIOUS action to question the fact of whether or not I was in the military is HURTFUL and DISAPPOINTING. I am not even running for open public office!!!! I am going to give a VERY SMALL cliff notes version of what my role was in the military:

On 9/11/01 we were attacked by terrorists, I watched in horror on the television in class...

- One month before I turned 17 years old I convinced my mother to allow me to enlist into the Army Reserves.

- I then commenced participating in reserve drill until completion of high school, and was scheduled to enter Basic Combat Training (BCT) immediately after.

- I witnessed homophobia, which led me to discharge under a Chapter 15 separation in violation protest of Don't Ask, Don't tell.


I am not going to say more than what I have already stated about this issue and at this point the person who decided to go through all of these lengths to dig up information on me is nasty and rude.


Friday, April 3, 2015

I Am HIV Positive & I am a WHOLE person

There are many closets to come out of and I have come out of the closet at the age of fifteen and identified as Gay/SGL and I have always known who I was attracted to from an early age. I came out of the closet as an Atheist  and I am UNAPOLOGETIC ABOUT WHO I AM. I respect and accept all of my intersections that make me Ashton P. Woods. I generally do not disclose my HIV status unless I know that I will be sexually active and have always felt that it was no one's business.

I am not coming out of this closet just for me, I am coming out of this closet for everyone who has be ostracized and made to feel nasty. Those of us who have HIV are healthier than most out in the general population, yet we Black gay men die at a higher rate from HIV than those who are in the group where HIV infection is actually the highest. I live UNAPOLOGETIC ABOUT WHO I AM, I accept me for who I am. It is time that you accept you for who you are! We are not nasty people, we are not contagious, we are doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers! I am HIV positive and I live a healthy life, I am a person , a whole person and I exist.

I think, as someone who lives with this every day of my life that we need HIV education that is all encompassing and inclusive of all communities. I am HIV positive and I am more than just that, I have stood when no one else would stand. Stand with me for my humanity, stand with me to break stigmas and help to educate our brothers and sisters about truths and break the myths.

My name is Ashton P. Woods and I am HIV positive.

Stay In Your Lane: Vol 2

Previously on Stay In Your Lane:

"The way you do things works for you and I RESPECT THAT, but be fully aware that you do NOT have the right to impose your respectability politics on me, this is NOT ABOUT YOU."

This is the SECOND in a series of post about my request for many of you to STAY IN YOUR LANE. Over the last month I have heard many things about how I should and should not be going about handling my business. I have many hats that I now wear, and yes those hats are worn by choice and that is what it will be. One of the hats that I wear is STUDENT at the University of Houston - Downtown, where I study Sociology (Qualitative and Quantitative). I recently found out that, because I have reached a limit to how many classes that I can take as set by university policy. Many of these classes that brought me over the limit were paid for out of pocket through various means and did not use any form of federal financial aid. Because of this limit, I now have to pay OUT OF STATE TUITION and that is a challenge within itself.

Here is the letter I received:

"Dear Ashton,

We have received information from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that the total number of undergraduate hours you have attempted is 30 semester credit hours or more beyond the minimum required to complete your stated degree (see page 29 of the 2014-2015 Undergraduate Catalog ). In accordance with state legislation, you will be charged tuition and fees at the out-of-state rate for future semesters. If you have applied to graduate, or have experienced extenuating circumstances (severe health concerns or death in the family) affecting the completion of courses in previous semesters, you may appeal this status by submitting the appeal form with supporting documents by April 10, 2015.

If you have not done so already, please make an appointment with your major's academic advisor as soon as possible to discuss your anticipated graduation date and outstanding course work.


Registrar's Office

University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)
One Main Street, Suite N330
Houston, TX 77002

The REASON why I am bringing this up is because, I have heard multiple people bring up the fact that I am not working in the TRADITIONAL sense. It has been brought to my attention that I should get a part time job instead of crowd sourcing money to pay the difference that financial aid will not cover for my tuition costs.

NEWS FLASH: A PART TIME JOB WONT EVEN COME CLOSE TO COVERING THE DIFFERENCE!!! Many of you who are saying this are going to publicly traded colleges online and don't have the tools in your box upon graduation that you claim to have. THINK before you speak about me and note to yourself that a part time job would prolong my tenure in school. Moreover, you are doing this in veiled criticism of my advocacy or activism because I am not buying into the bullshit mantra of RESPECTABILITY POLITICS. Just because I am not sitting on boards that issue money to organizations and then claiming that you have done your part for the Black community does not mean that you are ACTUALLY CREATING CHANGE in our local society. 

Just because I am not in a suit all of the time, or call upon you because of your self serving ego, you know, the one that tells you that you should included and your antiquated two cents should matter. IN fact, it gives me pause that many of you have been in the community doing "WORK" for twenty plus years; does not mean that you are the leader and the end all be all. ALSO, showing up to events and not participating, all the while taking selfies like you actually give a damn, when in fact you are on your phone the entire time instead of ACTUALLY yielding your attention to the issues being addressed or participating. MANY OF YOU do not possess the intestinal fortitude to do the REAL WORK.

I could tell you about all of the side effects of the work that I am doing behind the scenes, but you would find issue with that as well. I will leave you with this simple phrase: STAY IN YOUR LANE.


Ashton P. Woods

P.S. If it is an issue don't donate, let alone worry about me.....