Friday, June 19, 2009


On a fairly recent episode of ABC's The View, the ladies posed the question of whether parent's should ask their kids "Hey, Are You Gay?".

Here, Xavier Ford, of FACESNY (our 2009-2010 HIV/AIDS Charity Partner) weighs in.


I sometimes recall my years working for Gay Men of African Descent and running the Youth Program The MARS Project. There would be an influx of youth who would become “homeless”. When I inquired to the reasons that lead to their homelessness, the most common answer would be “because I am gay”. Now, my reaction as a staff person in such an organization was quickly be enraged by the belief that a parent would discharge their child because of who they are. If it wasn’t for the fact that I encountered more youth with similar experiences, I might not have noticed the pattern that has been created within a subculture.

Remember when you found out from a teacher that you can call 911 if your parents hit you?! I know I went home with this new sense of POWER and AUTHORITY to challenge the power and authority that already existed in my household. I say that to say, we have gotten so used to fighting to prove who we are, fighting to assert what we want as individuals, we will tear down everything that has supported and nurtured us when we couldn’t do it for ourselves allowing for a generation of youth growing up believing that being “gay” is some dirty secret that if exposed will change the course of their lives, so they dread the question and when asked, use the “fight or flight” response to the situation.

But it wasn’t as simple as fight or flight or a simple response to a “question” but more a of validation.

Parents: When was the first time you asked “GOD”, why your child isn’t what you thought or asked for? Why isn’t he/she more like so-n-so’s child, they are so talented/smart/attractive/athletic etc. When did your little buddle of joy become a source of embarrassment and disgrace? I am sure if you’re truly honest with yourselves, you will see that it may have nothing to do with your child’s sexuality but maybe a highlight of something’s you found your own past. Now I’m not talking about your sexuality, but about the questions of validity you might have had to endure… whether it be:

“why aren’t you married yet”
“ why are you still with him”
“why don’t you get a better job”

All of those questions tapping on your self worth.

We all learn some of these things directly and indirectly from our parents, biological or adoptive and then forget that its not really what/who we are. S o no wonder no one really celebrates themselves as they truly are when its been so covered up by what everyone expects us to be. When a child grows up in such a space, they will begin to see what traits are not desirable and begin to formulate their own self worth by those measures never really encouraged by the traits that have.

Now imagine putting that onto/into your child?

I challenge parents to shed those questions of validation of what your child’s future experiences will be and highlight and celebrate the gift of life your child represents. Show your child that EVERYTHING they can do is because of them in their TOTALITY. “You’re the best at reaching things out of reach by others” would allow a child to not feel self conscious about their height forcing them into places and spaces that they may truly not want. I mean, how many youth play basketball simply cause they are expected to because they are “tall”. When you celebrate your children in every aspect, they will not allow the outside world on change their validation based on physical attributes or even sexual orientation, for the child will know that their sexuality is just another component of who they are, no more changeable then the color of their eyes…

But wait, we have ways to change that… so if your not happy with what GOD/Universe bestowed, we can alter it, all to make us more comfortable with who we are in the eyes of others EVEN if causes pain irritation, redness, but then thank goodness for clear eyes… and the cycle continues.

If a child is smart, successful, honorable, has a sense of fairness and justice, why would their sexuality threaten to take that away? Yet, teachers, pastors, parents hide it with such varicosity that it takes on a life of its own and threaten to take everything they believe away from them. They go these notions from their parents and it was reinforced by their environments.

So, before you ask your child that or any other question regarding “who” they are, ask yourself:

Are YOU who YOU want to be? If not, maybe the only way to fix the effects of such questions is to lead by example and show your children how to celebrate everything about themselves by celebrating everything within YOURSELF!

See ya in the EITHER!!

Xavier Ford

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Thursday, June 4, 2009


Last night the Spring rain showers kept me inside, feeling peaceful while my donation to LIFEBEAT in the form of a ticket to Vanessa Williams listening event went unused. Shame on me, but the money went to a good cause. I love Vanessa but wet toes in strappy sandals is not cute and feels disgusting. I so wanted to chat up Vanessa, who as a young girl competed in my father’s Masonic Lodge college scholarship pageant at some upstate NY high school auditorium. I remember being dragged to the event in the ‘80s. It seemed like it took forever and day to get there, and when we did arrive, it was in the middle of nowhere. This was way too “boonie” for my city kid behind. Take me back! By the time Vanessa hit the stage for the talent competition, my butt hurt from those hard school assembly seats. She was going to perform a dance number, but her music cassette tape stopped and would not play. The young diva didn’t let that stop her shine – she sang and danced! Ever since that night, when she won Miss Elejmal Temple, my mother kept a scrapbook and followed her career. She went on to win Miss New York and then Miss America. The rest is history. Last night’s ticketed event, at ΓΌber trendy Greenhouse nightclub in New York, was a listening party for her new CD “The Real Thing” and ticket proceeds when to LIFEBEAT. You go Vanessa! You will always be my Miss America. Fierce!

GET DOWN is not just a PSA, it’s a movement!
In peace and progress,

Kim J. Ford

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Thursday, May 28, 2009


In May 2009, I had the pleasure of being snatched up by Bevy Smith to attend New York city’s H&M Fashion Against Aids event where U.K. native and NY adopted daughter Estelle hosted a trendy set of fashion muses, style setters and H&M loyalistas for a night of Belvedere cocktails and shopping. The event was to promote H&M’s ongoing Fashion Against Aids initiative, which in conjunction with Designers Against Aids (, collaborates on collectable tees and tops sold in H&M stores around the globe. The initiative targets young adults using elements from pop culture (music, fashion, design, arts, sports, film, celebrities, etc). More impressive than the guest list which included muse Andre J, was the fact that 25% of the line’s sales have been donated to organizations like Youth Aids. Past celebrity collaborations have included Rihanna, Ziggy Marley, Timbaland, Good Charlotte, The Cardigans, and Rufus Wainwright. The campaign was even nominated for a Webby! So, after a few passes at the appetizer trays and checking out the tees, I grabbed a quick and quiet moment with Estelle (lovely girl!) who informed me that the new CD will (fingers crossed) be out in September 2009! I can’t wait. But until then check out one of my favs…..

GET DOWN is not just a PSA, it’s a movement!
In peace and progress,

Kim J. Ford

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Thursday, April 2, 2009


I’m sitting at my laptop, typing furiously and without regard for script structure. Never mind I don’t have FINAL DRAFT, I’m writing. I finished the first draft of the script and wanted to make sure that I was going crazy. Do people really talk like this? Does this really happen. I ran it past my litmus tests. First, my god-daughter. She helped me name these characters. Second, I let Devon take a look. He says to me, surprised “You wrote this?”. How did I know it sometimes goes down like that. Well, that’s my “secret self”, the part of me that has a creative, vivid and active imagination. That said, I wanted to make sure it was grounded in something real although not based on anyone specific and of course “The stories are fictional and any similarity to any event or the name, character and history of any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental” (making my lawyer happy here). Third, my boy Rick, a great guy and even more amazing writer. I asked him to dot the “I” ’s and cross the “T”s. Thanks Rick! But…NOW WHAT??

I had no budget, no cast, no crew - just a vision and a whole lot of nerve. I was introduced to a prospective DP who cringed at the thought that I was not making a judgmental statement about alternative lifestyles. I respected his right to his opinion but this was not THAT project. This is about inclusiveness and that has to begin with accepting the reality of what is going on. I was underwhelmed with the current crop of safe sex PSAs that assumes young adults are homogenous, one way or another. We adults are not all the same, so why should teens be? They all go the same darn school and spend way more hours with each other than at home. I bumped into an old associate in the train station, Tolu Omisore, and he totally got it! Tolu, who I met back in my VIBE days while he was still in college, was back in the tri-state area after a brief stint in MD and living not too far from me. I called on another associate Roy Clovis, a super editor. Roy had just won the 2008 Allstate Film Competition at the American Black Film Festival. I was praying he would set aside his director hat for just a short spell and sprinkle his magical pixie dust on the project. Well, the power of prayer is amazing. Not only did Roy come on board, but tapped a young talent in Amanda White, who served as editor with Roy supervising. From there, it was on. Devon, Tolu, Chantel, Tolu’s friend Anthony were the nucleus. Devon introduced me to FACES NY, a community-based non-profit organization that provides HIV/AIDS education and outreach, legal advocacy and representation, case management, substance abuse services and referral, food and nutrition programs. I wanted to ensure that there was a haven where people could get counseling, get tested and get help. Xavier Ford (no relation) and Anthony Rivera were believers and FACES NY (formerly known as the Minority Task Force on AIDS) came on board. Over the course of nine months we worked on the project. We made it through cold windy days, early mornings, longer than usual hours, late actors (ahem!), and lots of chicken – fried, barbequed, curried, you name it. Since it’s inception, at least 30 people have touched this project in some way. To you all, I simply say “Thank you”.

In peace and progress,

Kim J. Ford

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Saturday, March 14, 2009


It was a year ago today, March 14, 2008 that I walked away from a nine to five position. At that time, my 16 year-old god-daughter (her mother was my college roommate) had been writing a blog for TeenDiariesOnline for almost six months or so. I hooked her up with Aeshia over there after she shared her desire to write with me. I’ve learned that you have to support the dreams of young people from the beginning in order that they grow in a positive direction because that dream might become a reality one day. Well, I usually read her blogs and they were cute. You know, the usual stuff - boys, BFFs, shopping, cell phone addiction. There was one particular blog that struck me. It was called “Coming Out” published in February 2008. Huh? Was there something that she wasn’t telling me? I’ve always prided myself on being able to talk with her about some of the things on her mind, but to be completely honest, I had become so wrapped up in my work (I was/am a workaholic), it seemed like ages since we’d hung out. Perhaps I missed that part where she “came out”. So, like a parent sneaking a peek into their kid’s diary, I clicked it open. In the blog, she stated that at Hempstead High School, where she was a student, “Young boys are starting to act feminine at younger ages…. They start off in denial until they find a friend that is just like them. In my school, they took a student out of the day school program and placed him in the night school program because he was gay and flirted with the straight guys.” My first thought was is this even legal? She continued, “I have male friends that act feminine, but they say they aren’t gay. Those are the type of guys who have sexual intercourse with both sexes, which increases the chance of catching sexually transmitted diseases. AIDS is big among teenagers and with people having sexual intercourse with the same sex it makes the problem even worse.” Ok, so this is a 16 year-old girl, right? Not one of my girlfriend’s chatting about the latest Tyra show. Wake up, Kim. This is what’s going on and it’s real, but rather than judge, what am I going to do about it? I understand that it can be difficult for young teens to “come out of the closet” at such a young age, having unprotected sex during these experimental years can increase the chances of receiving a sexually transmitted disease. I printed out the blog, and it sat on my floor in the proud “god-mother” pile of Chantel stuff for 60 days until right after March 14, 2008, when I was no longer tied to a desk and had the time to follow my heart. I just started writing. I’ve enjoyed the benefits of a successful career largely marketing to an 18-34 year old consumer. Well, keep it real, I know under 18 year-olds were reading VIBE. When I launched chapter two of my professional and personal life last year, I decided that one of the tenets of my five point plan going forward would be philanthropy. This does not always have to mean just cutting a check, hosting or throwing some fancy expensive shindig (don’t get me wrong, these are needed and noble gestures and should not be undervalued). Sometimes, however, it’s just about donating your time, blood, sweat and tears. Take the time to talk to a youth or listen. I was taught that every generation should do better than the one before it. I’m just putting in my work.

In peace and progress,

Kim J. Ford

Chantel’s original blog “Coming Out” can be found at this link:

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