Clay Cane

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In a 1968 sermon delivered just days before his assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed:  “If a man doesn’t have a job or income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility of the pursuit of happiness.  He merely exists.” Today, far too many Americans are denied employment—and the economic security and fulfillment it brings—for the simple fact that they have an arrest or conviction in their past.

(Photo by AP)


Had to post another picture of Janis because I can’t get enough of her smile. #happybirthdayjanis


I just saw filmmaker Roger Ross Williams on The Daily Show talking about his film, God Love Uganda, about American missionaries preaching against homosexuality in Africa. The interview came the same day when the president of Kenya signed a sweeping new anti-gay bill in that country. I haven’t seen the film yet but it looks to be very necessary and very timely.

Today Is Zore Neale Hurston’s Birthday


I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it. Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.” - Zora Neale Hurston

These are words I have lived by.  Take out the word “colored” and replace it with gay, woman, transgender, poor, disabled, etc. and the quote has the same impact.  

Goodbye WWRL: Listen to the Final Broadcast of ‘Clay Cane Live’


Today is the final day of WWRL 1600 AM, which was on air for 86 years.  If you have not heard, the station will become Spanish-speaking with music and talk as of tomorrow.  WWRL was home to legendary disc jockeys like Frankie Crocker, Carlton King Coleman, Herb Hamlet and others.  In later years, Mark Riley, Ed Schultz and Reverend Al Sharpton lent their voices to the iconic station.  

I am  happy to say I was a member of the WWRL 1600 AM family — over two years and 97 episodes.  Special thanks to radio veteran John Campanario for giving me my break in radio.  Also, big thanks to all of the co-hosts who graced the airwaves over the two years from Damion West to Mark Corece (pictured above) and especially J’Nara Corbin (pictured above), who was with the show from episode one on November 3, 2011.  It was a great run!  

Click on the red button below to hear the final episode!

'Clay Cane Live' Episode 97: December 17, 2013

MTV’s Biggest Music Moments of 2013


Check me out on MTV Europe, MTV Asia and their various other international channels for MTV’s Biggest Music Moments of 2013.  The special airs everywhere except the U.S. of A. — I feel like Josephine Baker!  

Along with other hilarious commentators, we talk Rihanna, Beyonce, P!nk, Justin Beiber, Miley Cyrus and more.  Check your local listings.  

Final Broadcast of ‘Clay Cane Live’ Tonight


WWRL — the longest running black radio station in the New York City area — is changing to a Spanish-speaking format on January 1st.  Therefore, all of the current programming on WWRL 1600 AM will be no more, including Clay Cane Live.  

We’ve had over two years of Clay Cane Live and tonight marks 97 original episodes.  It’s been an incredible run.  We originally started with one-hour at 11pm EST on Thursdays.  Due to strong ratings, we were upgraded to 8pm - 10pm EST on Tuesdays.  So many great guests joined us over the past two years: Brandy, Clay Aiken, Jennifer Holliday, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tichina Arnold, Aubrey O’Day, Norm Lewis, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Keith Boykin, Kandi Burruss, Mike Ruiz and others.  

Along with Mark Corece and J’Nara Corbin (all of the other amazing co-hosts we’ve had, including Damion West), I am happy to say Clay Cane Live via Equality Pride Radio is part of WWRL and radio history with our diverse format, which reached out to the LGBT community but transcended all labels. 

For 86 years, WWRL has been the voice of black radio.  It’s unfortunate WWRL as we know it will be no more, but everything changes.  Most importantly, thank you to all of our loyal listeners.  Please tune-in to our final show at 8pm EST tonight!

You can listen on the radio in New Jersey, New York or Connecticut or online at:  

'Clay Cane Live' Episode 96: Talk on Nelson Mandela, Kanye West and More


If you missed last night’s Clay Cane Live, digital journalist Tony Anderson joined us in the studio.  We talked the late-great Nelson Mandela, Kanye West, dating and much more.   As always, Clay Cane Live airs every Tuesday from 8pm - 10pm on WWRL 1600 AM.  Spread the word!

Click on the button below to listen to this week’s show!

'Clay Cane Live' Episode 96: December 10, 2013 2013-12-10

'Clay Cane Live': Episode 95 with Gordon Chambers


If you missed last night’s Clay Cane Live, Grammy winner Gordon Chambers was our guest.  Gordon — who wrote songs for Anita Baker, Beyonce, Whitney Houston and many more — will be performing at the Apollo Theater this Saturday, click here for details.  In our interview, Gordon tells stories about Whitney, Phyllis Hyman and his thoughts on the effects of fame.  

In addition, Winston Ruddle, the director of Mother Africa, was our guest.  Plus, we talked Kanye West, World AIDS Day, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade drag queen controversy and politics.  Click on the button below to listen!

'Clay Cane Live' Episode 95: December 3, 2013

From the Archives: He’s Got HIV


This was originally published in March of 2007.  In honor of World AIDS Day, I pulled it from the archives.

I already knew he was positive but I hadn’t seen him in years.  He walked out of the car to hug me and his body was half the person he used to be. It disturbed me.  We drove to the hotel and I tried to act like things were like they used to be, but those things were just our past. When he turned the steering wheel I noticed the sharp bones in his elbow, nearly cutting through his skin. His collar bone appeared to be ripping out of his neck; his shirt was on more skeleton than muscle. I wasn’t in shocked he had HIV, but more disturbed looked so ill.  As the cliché goes, “HIV is no longer a death sentence.” But I kept quiet. He always hated when I brought things up when he wasn’t ready to talk.

He babbled.  Cracking jokes and laughing harder than usual. When we arrived at the hotel he immediately began to roll a blunt and said, “Well, you know I got HIV.” I looked at him nearly angry — it was as if he said, “Well, you know Keisha around the corner is pregnant!” Not that I wanted him to fall to the floor and scream, but it was obvious his diagnosis wasn’t serious to him.

He sarcastically added, “Now don’t go crying now — I got some Xanax if your ass needs to calm down!” I knew we really didn’t know each other anymore because I wouldn’t, and haven’t, cried when someone told me they were HIV-positive. I had been in New York City for years and once again, HIV isn’t a death sentence. 

I asked how he was feeling and he answered, “Oh, I’m great! I feel good — I’m only on two medications. So, yeah I’m good.” As he proceed to finish rolling his blunt, he explained he found out about a year ago. I asked him why he lost so much weight. “I lost weight way before I was positive then when I got HIV it was hard to gain the weight back… plus, I snort coke.” He sprinkles in he’s also working in porn to “make a little change.”

I’m trying not to judge. I know how stubborn he is and when he feels like someone is judging him he might never speak to you again. He continues more uncomfortable jokes, saying, “Yeah, the stat is true if four people are in one room, one of them is sick — that’s me!” Big laughs.  “Yeah, you know I left you something in my will — but don’t get too excited, it wasn’t no money!” Big laughs. “Yeah, I’ll be working on this porn, but I won’t be co-starring in it this time!” Big laughs. All of these laughs were by himself, similar to the “fat girl” in the room who constantly mocks herself because she doesn’t like who she is.

I was getting angry. I wanted to storm out. His mask was plastic and deadly.  He wanted me to fall for his toxic act of illusions.  He was a former HIV/AIDS educator! He was one of my best friends, he was my roots, he knew I was gay before I knew.  He taught me what it meant to be bold and unapologetic, he taught me how to survive with my tongue.  He helped me to affirm myself when no one else would.  I wasn’t going to listen to him lie to himself, I thought.

But I was afraid if I walked out I might never see him again. I didn’t want our potential last conversation to be me storming out. So I said what was in my heart, “Stop the bullshit.  I’m not one of your dates.  You can’t tell me everything you just told me and say you’re okay! Don’t lie to me and expect me to believe it — you taught me better than that.”

For just a moment,  he took the mask off, put the guard down and admitted he had a problem — but that he was the problem, no one else.  He admitted the reason why he was positive was the drugs. He admitted to letting his “ex” penetrate him raw, even though he knew his ex — who was now dead — was positive.  My dear friend said, “Maybe if I would’ve loved myself I wouldn’t be HIV-positive.” That was all I needed and all I was going to get. I thanked him for opening up to me just a little bit. It may not have been the real thing, but it was good enough.

When I hugged him goodbye I grabbed onto him like he was my son. I kissed him on the cheek wondering if this would be the last time I would see him. I knew he could change things right now if he wanted to. He could turn it all around. However, he was half a person. It wasn’t that he had HIV, it was that he was abusing himself. Cocaine, alcohol, weed and HIV meds don’t mix. Before I left I gave him a second hug.  I wondered if he thought I was being dramatic.

My generation had a different experience with HIV. We received all of the education, facts and history. When I came out one of the first things I learned was how to use a condom. Still a teenager, an HIV educator said, “There is no reason for any of you to be HIV-positive through unsafe sex because now you all know how to protect yourselves.  My generation didn’t know.” I believed him and everybody in that room seemed to believe him.  The teachers in our community taught us our lives are valuable enough to protect.

When I left the hotel I listened to “One Headlight” by The Wallflowers and didn’t shed any tears. I rode the train and played “Home” by Stephanie Mills and my eyes didn’t well up. However, when I finally arrived home with no music, no scenery and nothing to cloud my thoughts, I sat on my bed, thought of the whole day and cried till it hurt.

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