Sunday, 3 July 2011

Blud Meets - @TerranceDean Part 2

So here it is! As promised, the conclusion to part 1 of the 'Blud! Meets' interview with Terrance Dean. Peep it after the jump:

How did the Lovers react to Hiding In Hip Hop?

When I wrote Hiding In Hip Hop I did have to call a lot of the relationships and lovers that I had been with and tell them I was working on this book, writing this book and that they were gonna be a part of this book. Some of them were very supportive, others were like “Don’t put me in the book, I don’t want a mention!” (laughs) so it was interesting seeing that dynamic and going back to me being personal with my information and I wanted to reveal. You know there were certain people I knew I did not want to include because I knew the privacy element was really important but it was great. Even friends after the book came out… even people who heard about the book been written, working in the industry were supportive. You know they were like it was courageous; it was brave because we hadn’t heard this story, even though ‘we’ knew about it (those of us working in the industry).

Do you think that hard working discreet gay guys in the industry have an advantage should they be open to blurring the lines between business and pleasure (masculine unclockable etc.)?

It is an advantage because that is the basis that is what the industry builds its illusion on. This image of ‘You’re a hyper sexual masculine male who has this huge sex appeal for women that will desire and want you and it feeds into the ego of many men to think, you know “Wow, I’m unclockable, nobody can tell and these women are desiring me but I’m going home with a man at the end of the day.” or “I have my male partner who I’m with” so it feeds into the ego. They do have an advantage. Its almost like in early Hollywood where we considered passing, when actors and actress were very fair skinned and could pass for white.

A level of androgyny almost?

Exactly. It works to the advantage of a lot of men and women in the industry. They can get into industry and ‘pass’ for heterosexual.

What’s your take on labels?

Well that was one of the things for me. I didn’t label myself. I refused to because I didn’t think I identified as gay because when I thought of gay men, I thought of men who hung out in the village, I thought of men who went to gay clubs who you know who had gay friends and just did everything gay, their whole lives revolved around everything gay and I didn’t do those things. I didn’t live that lifestyle. Who I was was gay but I just didn’t live it. So because I didn’t identify with it I would never label it and I know a lot of men who are like that; who refuse to be labelled. For them its “I don’t fit in that paradigm, into that box” so I think it’s each prerogative in terms of how they choose to identify. If you choose not to identify and choose not to be labelled then that’s definitely your prerogative. I know a lot of gay men who don’t identify with being gay who are openly gay and accept it. So each person has their own ideology that they feel serves them in the sexual LGBT community.

With the industry all about building successful working relationships would you say that there were any relationships you have had suffer as a result of the release of your first and second books?

Well personal relationships yes. There were some friends who were upset; that they felt people could identify them in the books and ironically you know, I let a lot of people who I know I included in the books read what I wrote about them and I gave them the opportunity, I said you know, if you are uncomfortable with anything I wrote then let me know. They be like “Well change a bit of the description, don’t describe my house that way…” So when they were upset that people could basically still identify them, I thought well you basically told me what to write! I mean it was unfortunate but in the long run, the aftermath, I’ve gained so much more because the industry opened up its doors and the phone calls continue to come in to work on various projects. MTV continue to call…

That was gonna be my next question. If you were to put the authoring on hold, would there still be an opportunity for you to go back to being an executive and still have the same kind of relationships given the way colleagues may not have liked the way that they have been characterized in the book?

That’s the thing. Even after Hiding In Hip Hop I continued to work in the industry so I would continue to see people who were in the book you know, and they would laugh and joke with me and say “I heard I was in the book and I heard this is what you said… now I have to pick it up and see what you wrote.” So even if I put everything on hold and went back to the industry I could. In fact I got a call literally right before mogul came out to work on a film in LA. So it just goes to show that people outside of the industry are more so shocked. For those who work in the business, its not a big secret. We all know who has a partner, we all know who has a boyfriend… you cannot work in this industry and be that naïve to think that you are not going to work around or be around someone who’s gay.

So let’s say I was interning for MTV and I was discreet but I had a partner, how would I bring that conversation into the workplace?

It’s like you just said. Its about being open enough to have that conversation about being with your partner but again, the entertainment industry is very fluid. You don’t even have to say it. You are gonna be around an environment where you will hear somebody else will say it about their partner and you are gonna be shocked and will look like “Did he just say ‘his partner’?” and it’ll probably be someone that you least expect to say it. I’ve been in situations like that, where working on a set or working on a project, I’ve heard a man say “Me and my partner, were buyin’ a house…” and I’m like looking at them like did he just say that? And someone that I would never suspect! But I thought how empowering it was, that he felt so comfortable to say that. And it gives you the license to say “Ooh wow! Okay… if he’s comfortable then I can be comfortable. Why am I holding back?” and nobody batted an eye when he said it! Then it was almost, “We wanna meet your partner, we wanna come to your home, we wanna be in your environment!” I think they just find it so amusing and they want to celebrate it with you, You know!

So it’s almost like a ‘sub-community’ of people that don’t feel that they conform to the quote on quote ‘stereotype’ they carve out their own niche and its like they are looking for selected members to join that niche.

(Laughing) Right!

So with all the success you’ve had, how is dating for you?

Ironically dating has become… wow… its like you always have to gauge. Like are you dating me because I’m Terrance Dean ‘the author’ or because you feel I can do some type of access for you to get you into the business? Or are you genuinely interested in me? So it is very challenging because you have to decipher through all of that. It may take some time or they might reveal their true colours early on, but also I continue to meet men in the industry who know who I am and don’t have a problem with it but still want to continue living their life a secret, whereas I’m no longer living a secret. So that’s very challenging.

Those that read Hiding In Hip Hop, when I talk about going to the gay club; you know my palms get sweaty, my heart palpitates, I get nervous, that still happens. So I just don’t go because it’s an environment that I don’t feel comfortable in. So my dating tends to still be of meeting men who are secretive.

So let’s say you were going to date someone new. What would be your process? Online dating?

Oh Hell no! (laughs)

Ok let’s cross that off the list… then you’ve got clubs that are again off the list. So what advice would you give to people who only into discreet guys who like themselves have no intention of coming out?

Break out of it!

But how though?

Its comes down to a level of comfortability. Where are you comfortable and expanding your horizon your circles. You know, I’ve been doing a lot of that. I mean don’t get me wrong I’ve been to a lot of the Gay prides. I have a lot of Gay friends and they encourage me to date people I wouldn’t normally date, or do things that I wouldn’t normally do, be around people that I normally wouldn’t be around. It is very healing because the way I end hiding in Hip Hop, I ended it purposely with me being back at MTV, because remember through the whole book I get to this empowerment place where I create men’s empowerment, I’m doing well and I come to terms with my whole sexuality, go right back to the same environment that I thought I’d left which was MTV and being back around DL / closeted men and I’m like wow. That’s why I intentionally did that because I wanted people to see that it is always a continual process of growth because we all are works in progress and as much as I have healed from who I was 10 – 15 years ago to the person today, I still get pulled back because of the lessons I know I need to learn. And all of us we all have to learn. Also forcing myself to expand and grow. It takes the willingness to want to be there and that’s part of the journey, part of the process. I think that’s why… to see the amount of responses in the emails and the letters that I get from so many young people who are inspired and encouraged by my story. I’m like wow, I can see that its possible. Like a lot of them have told their parents and come out and told a friend so its step by step. Baby steps!

So what’s next for your works?

There are some talks with production companies who have expressed interest in Hiding In Hip Hop and Mogul going to the big screen too. Again these are just talks… I know how Hollywood works, I’ve been in Hollywood. But there are more books to come. I think that when people read Mogul and the journey that these characters take them on and they find themselves engrossed in their lives, they are gonna want more! They are gonna want more stories. You know, I kinda liken it to a Jackie Collins who writes about her celebrity friends but she fictionalises it. E Lynn Harris did the same thing with his books and I think his passing has left a huge void for such stories and they are big shoes but you know James Baldwin, Langston Hughes… all those people paved the way for me to come through. I’m just carrying that mantel.

Ok so we are going to play a quickfire game. I’ll give you two choices and you have to pick one?


B Scott or Qaadir Howard?

Qaa who? Who dat?

Ok let’s write that question off then! Hiding in Hip Hop or Mogul?

Mogul because is my entrée into the literary world writing fiction and being able to write various voices for very different characters whereas Hiding In Hip Hop was my own voice my story . Mogul is a story from three different perspectives and it challenges you. I’m more so associated with writing non-fiction, my first two books were non fiction so it’s a big transition into fiction, and to be embraced in fiction. Fellow authors and writers embracing me has been amazing and that has been a true affirmation of me being here.

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