Saturday, June 30, 2007

Gone on Vacation!

I feel as grimy and dirty as the window in this reflective self-portrait. I FEEL out-of-focus, burned-out, and my body is sore. My best friend Bill is back in the hospital and emotionally, it's taking a toll on me. I want him to get better and fast, but healing is a process, so I have to be patient. I have every faith and confidence that he will bounce back.
Tomorrow I'll be headed to the Pocono Mountains for a week with my friend Tony and his family. I need to de-stress. I'm so ready for vacation (especially one in nature) I dont know what to do with myself. I guess I should go pack! :-)

Check back next week for shots from the Poconos! HAPPY 4TH!

Did you know?


You can also view some of my work in the Art Gallery section of GBMnews.com! It's a great website with LOT's of potential! The publisher, Ralph Emmerson has a wonderful vision and I'm proud to share that vision with him! I've recently signed up to be a contributor to the news site and will soon be posting photo-essays and articles as it relates to the black gay community! Bookmark the site www.gbmnews.com and check back often for updates!

--Ocean

Friday, June 29, 2007

Imaging Us: NYC Heritage of Pride 2007


I must admit, I'm not a big fan of Pride parades. From a visual standpoint, it all seems redundant and excessive. Drag queens, "barely there" outfits, bumping 'n grinding atop floats, rainbow flags and tired politicians looking for a photo-op have all lost their luster to me. Every year, I try to focus on an intimate and africentric aspect of NYC Pride. Last year, I photographed young black lesbians on the pier in a post I titled "Black Sexuality" (July 2006 post on this blog). This year, without being overwhelmed, I sought out representative portaits of the black gay community out at Pride (not to be mistaken with Pride in the City which is this August). Pride is a predominately white event, but make no mistake, we are out there! Below are a few pictures of black and latino men "out and about" at Pride. Click to ENLARGE. Enjoy!

Couples. Photographing couples is one of my favorite and most important aspects of documenting the black gay community. We simply don't see enough images of same gender love. Here, a handsome Latino couple display their love and pride.


Floating.


Pride Commerce. "Vendors" use Pride as an opportunity to make a buck.


$1 Pride. Rainbow flags (and Pride) for sale.



"Bodied". Part of Pride (for some) is displaying the gym body for all to admire.


Pride Urbanwear. Sexuality is at its peak at Pride. With so many men to see, we certainly need something to be SEEN. The ubiquitious thong and sagging jeans is the unofficial uniform for many young gay men at Pride.


Pier Crowd. Many of our "folk" gather on the pier, under beautiful blue skies.


Drag Queen. Photographing a drag queen at Pride is such a cliche to me. So I took ONE photo. Afterall, this Latina put her heart and soul into the makeup and displayed a smile as effervescent as her feathered and sequined headress. Beautiful!


Africentric Pride-goer.


SGLove. Pride is one of the few occasions that couples feel comfortable (and safe) displaying their love and affection for one another in public. Here, the young handsome couple strike a tender pose for the photog.


Pride Sexiness. Pride also offers the opportunity for freedom of creativity and expression, especially for youth.


"I Remember". In all the hoopla and frenetic energy of Pride, I paused briefly to remember Rashawn Brazell.


Tatyana, picture of youth and colorful beauty at Pride.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

School Officials Black Out Photo of Student Kiss


Student's Gay Kiss Photo Struck from NJ School Yearbook
When Newark Superintendent of Schools Marion Bolden saw the photo of openly gay student Andre Jackson kissing his boyfriend on a page of the school yearbook which Jackson had purchased, she ordered the 4 1/2 x 5 1/2" photo blacked out with a marker in each of the 230 copies that were to be distributed.

The photo was on a page in a "tribute" section of the book, in which students purchase pages for $150 (in addition to the $85 cost of the yearbook) and are able to post photos of themselves and friends. According to the New Jersey Star-Ledger, "Rules for publication of the pages prohibited shots of gang signs, rude gestures and graphic photos, said Benilde Barroqueiro, an East Side senior graduating with Jackson. 'You know, it couldn't be too provocative. No making out, no tongue,' she said."

Said Bolden: "It looked provocative. If it was either heterosexual or gay, it should have been blacked out. It's how they posed for the picture."

Other photos of heterosexual students kissing were allowed to remain. So the reason for Bolden to black out this specific photo is clear — the students are gay and she did not like it.

In fact, according to the New York Times, "On the page immediately opposite Mr. Jackson’s, a young man and a young woman kiss on a couch, his hand on her leg as she sits on his lap."

As students waited for the books to be distributed, the photo was shamefully blackened out in each and every one of them.

New Jersey gay rights group Garden State Equality has demanded that new, uncensored yearbooks be distributed at the school's expense. They are also demanding a public apology from Bolden.

Said Chairman Steven Goldstein: "This action by the school district will have an unspeakably vile chilling effect on other gay and lesbian students coming out. Her (Bolden) trying to erase a student and his boyfriend is a metaphor for her trying to erase the gay and lesbian community out of Newark and its school system. It's wrong and it's ridiculous. The second it hit the Web I started getting calls. This is not only homophobic, not only an egregious lack of judgment, but this is a violation of the law and we're looking at one of biggest firestorms of year if the superintendent doesn't change her mind."

Jackson told the New York Times: "I didn’t intend to say, 'Oh hey, look at me, I’m gay.' It was just a picture showing my emotion, saying that I’m happy, you know, whatever. It was to look back on as a memory. I was upset. I was hurt. I felt embarrassed and abused." He said he has thrown his yearbook away: "I didn’t feel right. What I wanted to see wasn’t there."

http://www.towleroad.com/2007/06/students-gay-ki.html

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fire 'round the way

i was walking home from the train station last week and saw all this firetruck activity. Naturally, I pulled out my camera (which had my lensbaby affixed to it), and began snapping, almost blindly, without even knowing what was really going on. Fortunately, the fire turned out to be a false alarm, or a small one, I'm not even sure. Oh well, no one was hurt, that's what's important. Still, there was all this red color popping in the darkness of night. Flashing red lights. A misty rain began to fall, and added the perfect mystique to the night. Since my lensbaby was on the camera, I decided to go for something a little more abstract. I always aim to tell the story of whatevers happening, that's what photojournalism is, but to some degree, I looked at this as creating fine art because of the color, mood, and compositions, which certainly contribute to the ability for a photo to communicate a message or document an event. And with all of that, I also felt something very homoerotic about the whole scene. I'm not sure if it was the firemen's uniforms or how they handled the hose. Whatever the case may be, I infused lots of sensuality into these images! Enjoy!













Saturday, June 23, 2007

Always be aware of the beauty that surrounds you

Recent images on my way home from work, on a day where life just seemed so perfect. Central Park, NYC June 2007. The blur effect is from my lensbaby, a lens that I can actually bend and flex--no computer manipulation here! Click to enlarge--the images just look better!












Thursday, June 21, 2007

My work in print!

Just Released! The Fifth volume of
"BLACK" ,The African Male Nude in Art & Photography


An eclectic and lush collection of black male (sensual & erotic) nudes. A must for any male nude photography collection!

Featuring the following International Photographer's portfolio's:
* Black Brothers by Ocean Morisset (New York City)
Black Etchings by Willibrord Haas (Berlin, Germany)
Black Eros by J├╝rgen Jansen (Amsterdam)
Black models from Spain by Jayro Montesinos (Madrid)
Black Lovers by Leonard Zett (South Africa)

Softcover, large size 24 x 33 cm, b&w/color. 79 pages.

Published by Janssen Publishers, South Africa
www.janssen.co.za
$22.76

Also available through Amazon.com for a savings!

For more of my male nude photography, visit www.musecube.com/nycphotographer.
But buy the book for your own collection!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

c

MUKURU: Aging in the Black Gay Community

Mukuru
Aging in the Black Gay Community
Multimedia presentation by Ocean Morisset

Anthony Jenkins- Fashion Designer, Father and Grandfather. Harlem NYC Age 65 (Photographed Jan. 2006. Coat and hat made by Mr. Jenkins.)

MUKURU is a portrait based project that takes a look at the lives of elder black gay men and their experiences with aging in a community driven by youth and beauty.

Respect for the wisdom of elders is a legacy of black culture. We are taught to respect our elders, yet we as a community do not honor them. Africans are traditionally renowned for their admiration, respect and reverence for their elders. The term "elder" is known to have a variety of connotations including the common one of a person who is in a higher age hierarchy. "Elder" can also mean one who is in a position of higher authority or responsibility or one who has masterful expertise in a field. Aging or becoming elderly in the black gay community is often viewed as an affliction rather than a stage of life that deserves to be celebrated.

Many people when they think about gay men, they think about the representations they see in pop culture: young-to-middle aged, urban, and white. They don't think of older men, and certainly not older black men. This project aims to represent elder black gay men as dignified, beautiful and a vital part of the black gay community.

Project participants will be photographed and (voice) reflections about their lives and the black gay community will be recorded. Together, these will form the backbone for what I hope will eventually be a multimedia piece that will inform, enlighten and inspire people of all races and ages.

Some topics that I plan to cover during the interview/conversation are: ageism, homophobia, race, health, love, loss, relationships, family, aging “in” or “out” of the black gay community, and dreams either fulfilled or unfulfilled.

If you are interested in participating in this important project or know someone who might be, please email spiritus1@aol.com.
Peace & Light,
Ocean Morisset

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Beenie Man, Sizzla & Capleton sign historic deal to stop "Murder Music"

London – 13 June 2007

Three of the world's top reggae / dancehall singers have renounced
homophobia and condemned violence against lesbians and gay men.

Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton had previously released anti-gay hate songs, including incitements to murder lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. They have now signed up to the Reggae Compassionate Act (copy below), in a deal brokered with top reggae promoters and Stop Murder Music activists.


Beenie Man

The agreement follows the three-year-long Stop Murder Music campaign, which resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of the singers' concerts and sponsorship deals, causing them income losses estimated in excess of five million dollars. "The Reggae Compassionate Act is a big breakthrough," said Peter Tatchell, of the British gay human rights group OutRage!. Mr Tatchell is coordinator of the worldwide Stop Murder Music campaign. He helped negotiate the deal with the three singers.

"The singers' rejection of homophobia and sexism is an important milestone. We rejoice at their new commitment to music without prejudice," said Mr Tatchell. "This deal will have a huge, positive impact in Jamaica and the Caribbean. The media coverage will generate public awareness and debate, breaking down ignorance and undermining homophobia. "Having these major reggae stars renounce homophobia will influence their fans and the wider public to rethink bigoted attitudes. The beneficial effect on young black straight men will be immense," he said.

This view is mirrored by fellow Stop Murder Music campaigner, Dennis L Carney, Vice-Chair of the Black Gay Mens Advisory Group (BGMAG) in London. Mr Carney is of Jamaican descent, and played a leading role in negotiating the Reggae Compassionate Act. He added:

"I am thrilled that Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton have signed up to this historic agreement with the Stop Murder Music campaign. We welcome their commitment to not produce music or make public statements that incite hatred and violence against gay people". "This is a giant leap towards restoring peace, love and harmony to reggae music. These performers are sending a clear message that lesbians and gay men have a right to live free from fear and persecution - both here in the UK and in Jamaica," concluded Mr Carney.

In the Reggae Compassionate Act the three singers pledge to:

"respect and uphold the rights of all individuals to live without fear of hatred and violence due to their religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender."

"There's no space in the music community for hatred and prejudice,
including no place for racism, violence, sexism or homophobia."

"we agree to not make statements or perform songs that incite hatred
or violence against anyone from any community"

In this declaration the artists promise to not sing lyrics or make public statements, in Jamaica or anywhere else in the world, that incite prejudice, hatred or violence against lesbian and gay people.

"By signing the Reggae Compassionate Act they are stating that, in future, they will not release new homophobic songs or authorise the re-release of previous homophobic songs," added Mr Tatchell. "They also agree that they will not make homophobic public statements. "They recognise that prejudice, hate and violence have no place in music – that singers should unite people, not divide them. They are now committed to opposing homophobic prejudice, discrimination and
violence.

"This commitment is a major blow against homophobia in the Caribbean and in popular music. "The Reggae Compassionate Act applies worldwide. If any of the three singers break this agreement anywhere in the world, we will resume the
campaign against them. "As a result of them signing this statement, for a trial period we are suspending the campaign against these three performers. If they abide by the agreement we will make this suspension permanent.

"The other five murder music artists - Elephant Man, TOK, Bounty Killa, Vybz Kartel and Buju Banton - have not signed the Reggae Compassionate Act. The campaign against them continues. These singers have incited the murder of lesbians and gays. They should not be rewarded with concerts or sponsorship deals.

"The Stop Murder Music campaign urges organisations worldwide to intensify the campaign to cancel these five singers' concerts and their record, sponsorship and advertising deals. These artists have openly encouraged the murder of lesbians and gay men, which is a criminal offence in every country. We call on all people of good conscience to boycott these promoters of hatred and violence; and to campaign against them with the same determination that they would
campaign against racists and anti-Semites. "These unrepentant homophobic performers are the moral equivalent of
neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan," said Mr Tatchell. His views are echoed by Gareth Williams, co-chair of the Jamaican gay
human rights group, J-Flag:

"This statement against homophobia and violence is a move in the right direction," he said. "We hope it is not commercially motivated by the singers' desire to maintain their concert revenues, but a sincere commitment that will encourage an end to homophobic violence and to all violence against everyone. The five artists who have not signed the statement should
now follow this lead and declare their support for universal human rights, including the human rights of lesbian and gay people," said Mr. Williams.

Brett Lock, an OutRage! member and key organiser in the Stop Murder
Music campaign, reiterated:

"We have never accepted any agreement whereby an artist agrees to not perform homophobic lyrics at concerts in Europe and the US, but continues performing them in the Caribbean.The idea that these singers can incite the murder of gay people in
Jamaica and then come to Europe and be accepted as legitimate artists is morally sick and indefensible. The only agreement we will accept is an agreement that they will not incite homophobic hatred and violence - in lyrics or in public statements - anywhere in the world, including Jamaica. This is what the Reggae Compassionate Act says, and this is the pledge made by the three singers who have signed it," said Mr Lock.


Capleton

The Reggae Compassionate Act was negotiated by Eddie Brown of Pride Music UK, with the support of the promoters Michel Jovanovic (Mediacom France), Klaus Maack (Contour Germany), Peter Senders (Panic Productions Holland), Fabrizio Pompeo (Tour de Force Italy), Julian Garcia (Roots and Vibes Spain) and Tim Badejo (Dubble Bubble Scandinavia).

"We would not have secured this agreement without their helpful contacts, input, patience and commitment. We thank them for their hard work," added Mr Tatchell.

Note to editors:

To test the singers' sincerity, we urge you to publicise their pledges in your media and to assign your journalists to interview them to make sure they personally confirm their commitment to renounce and oppose homophobia. We are concerned that some singers are only signing the Reggae Compassionate Act for business and commercial reasons - not because
they genuinely believe that homophobic hatred and violence are wrong. With your help we can test their sincerity and genuineness.

The Stop Murder Music campaign consists of more than 60 organisations in over a dozen countries in Europe, North America and the Caribbean. It is led by a triumvirate consisting of the Jamaican gay human rights group, J-Flag and, in the UK, the Black Gay Mens Advisory Group and queer human rights group OutRage!

The Stop Murder Music campaign won the Best Advocacy Award at the recent Black Lesbian and Gay Community Awards 2007 ceremony in London. OutRage! contributed to the drafting of the Reggae Compassionate Act. It was our idea to get the singers to sign a declaration against all prejudice and violence, including homophobia. The final wording was agreed by the reggae promoters we are working with (led by Eddie Brown), in consultation with some of singers and their managers.

If these three singers abide by their signed statements to avoid homophobic words and lyrics worldwide, we have no objections to their concerts going ahead. We will call off the campaign to cancel their concerts, and advise all our constituent and allied groups around the world to do the same.

We will review this decision in six months time, with a commitment to making it a permanent end to the campaign against these three singers. So long as they stick to the agreement, we will honour our commitment
to halt the campaign against them.


Sizzla

The Reggae Compassionate Act

We, the artists of the Reggae community, hereby present this letter as a symbol of our dedication to the guiding principles of Reggae's enduring foundation ONE LOVE.

Throughout time, Reggae has been recognized as a healing remedy and an agent of positive social change. We will continue this proud and righteous tradition.

Reggae Artists and their music have fought against injustices, inequalities, poverty and violence even while enduring some of those same circumstances themselves. Over the years, reggae music has become popularized and enjoyed by an unprecedented audience all over the world. Artists of the Reggae Community respect and uphold the rights of all individuals to live without fear of hatred and violence due to their religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender.

While we recognize that our artistic community comprises many different individuals who express themselves in different ways and hold a myriad of beliefs, we believe firmly that the way forward lies in tolerance. Everyone can keep his own conviction and we must receive respect for our freedom of speech as far as we respect the law, but it must be clear there's no space in the music community for hatred and prejudice, including no place for racism, violence, sexism or homophobia.

We do not encourage nor minister to HATE but rather uphold a philosophy of LOVE, RESPECT and UNDERSTANDING towards all human beings as the cornerstone of reggae music.

This Compassionate Act is hereby calling on a return to the following principles as the guiding vision for the future of a healthy Reggaemusic community:

• Positive Vibrations
• Consciousness raising
• Social and Civic Engagement
• Democracy and Freedom
• Peace and Non-Violence
• Mother Nature
• Equal Rights and Justice
• One Love
• Individual Rights
• Humanity
• Tolerance and Understanding

We, as artists, are committed to a holistic and healthy existence in the world, and to respect to the utmost the human and natural world. We pledge that our music will continue to contribute positively to the world dialogue on peace, respect and justice for all. To this end, we agree to not make statements or perform songs that incite hatred or violence against anyone from any community.

ONE LOVE

Signed: Beenie Man, Capleton, Sizzla


Further information:

Dennis Carney – Black Gay Men's Advisory Group UK – + 44 (0) 7973 188
280 (mobile)

Gareth Williams – J-Flag Jamaica – 00 1 876 754 8704 (office) and 00 1
876 455 2785 (mobile)

Karlene – J-Flag Jamaica – 00 1 876 855 2150 (mobile)

Peter Tatchell - OutRage! UK - + 44 (0)20 7403 1790 (office)

Brett Lock - OutRage! UK - + 44 (0) 770 843 5917 (mobile)

Note: I didn't shoot these photos that appear on this post.--Ocean

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tribute to the Anscestors of the Middle Passage- June 2007

These are some images from the annual Tribute to the Anscestors of the Middle Passage, an annual event that takes place on the second Saturday in June in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Similar ceremonies take place around the globe from Africa to Brazil to South Carolina. The annual tribute is in remembrance of the tens of millions of Africans who, after being kidnapped from their homeland, died during the voyage across the Atlantic – the Middle Passage – and their bodies were plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, which was to become the largest African burial ground in the world.

The ceremonies involve singing, dancing, prayer, worship, and drumming all day long. At sunset, a procession moves to the ocean where offerings of flowers, rhum, honey, and fruit are made. It is a moving ceremony, and oftentimes, participants get so overcome by the spirit that they cry out and/or collapse to the ground. One woman was in the spirit for more than an hour!

Technical note: I shot this event using a Canon 20D with an 18-300mm zoom lens and, for the first time, a lensbaby. A lensbaby is a flexible, selective focus lens in which one area in the picture is in sharp focus where the the rest is in varying degrees of blur. You'll be able to spot those images easily. I learned it is a diffuclt task to use a lensbaby to photograph a live event involving movement, but still, I like the creatve effects it offers--just something different!

Enjoy the images and feel free to click on any image to enlarge.