As we begin our first full week of 2013, we also celebrate all that we thought was awesome throughout 2012. This was a pretty fucking great year, I must say. We witnessed a crazy Presidential election, the beginning and end of The LA Complex and we witnessed what felt like a record number of public figures coming out of the closet as Gay or Bisexual.
Even the fellas here at Cypher Avenue have seen much change. In 2012, we started our acclaimed podcast, putting our voices out in the public (something that took us a long time to build up the courage to do). We also changed our tagline, mission statement and tone to reflect that while we’re still speaking from a masculine gay man’s point-of-view, our goal is not to alienate or bash men who are feminine or inbetween (despite what naysayers may scream from cyber rooftops).
We have a few goals for the New Year: We’re sifting through new article submissions from writers for publication on the site and we’re in the beginning stages of making a major redesign of Cypher Avenue which will allow us to make it even more cleaner and user friendly for our readers, commenters and social media users.
Keeping in line with these goals for the new year, we give you the CYPHER AVENUE’S BEST OF 2012 AWARDS.
This is the second annual year-end rundown of everything we loved about the previous year, as it relates to masculine gay men of color. Last Year’s List
was a big success so we felt we had to do it again! While technically no “awards” are actually being given out, we feel that it is still important to recognize and acknowledge people, places and things that may have slipped under the radar over the past 12 months.
We look forward to seeing what categories you agree or disagree with, and as always, feel free to tell us who your selections would be as well! Enjoy!
BEST OVERALL FILM: MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS
It may seem like an easy bet to choose the highest grossing film of 2012
as the best of the year, but few movies this year had as much action and bad-ass macho-muscle-scenes as Marvel’s The Avengers
. The hilarious scene where The Hulk repeatedly “smashes” Loki
was worth the price of admission alone. While I personally thought the new Indonesian action import The Raid: Redemption
was the best action movie ever made, The Avengers definitely squeaks by as best of the year just for the sheer re-watch value in seeing so many superhero icons in one awesome film.
OCKY: Finally a superhero team movie done right. The Avengers was a great start to the trilogy that is set to come. It seem like when Hulk “beats the shit out of Loki” was everyone’s favorite scene but the fight between Hulk and Thor was cataclysmic. The Raid’s fight sequences are some of the best ever witnessed on screen. While outlandish, they still come off as very believable. When the movie goes off and you want to act out scenes in real life with the guys in the room with you, you can tell the fight sequences are off the meter. The Raid is a must see.Honorable Mention: The Raid: Redemption
BEST GAY FILM: ELLIOT LOVES
NICK: We discovered this refreshing gay film, Elliot Loves, so late that we haven’t even been able to give it a full Cypher Avenue review (coming soon). However, it is by far the best gay film featuring numerous people of color that I’ve seen in quite awhile. This genuinely fun and heartwarming film breaks its story into two parts, seamlessly interwoven throughout 90 minutes.We see the titular character “Elliot” not only as an adult man looking for “love,” we also see him as a 9-year-old boy being raised by his young single mother. This method not only shows creativity in storytelling, it also gives us poignant insight into why the man is so desperate to find someone to love him. And when I say this is a film featuring people of color, I really mean it…Elliot Loves is set in a New York City that’s full of full of sexy, talented Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Blacks, Mexicans and many more.New York City Dominican director Gary Terracino’s film is currently available on Netflix and Amazon and is a refreshing take on Gay Cinema. Besides Patrik-Ian Polk’s The Skinny, no other 2012 film featuring gay black/latino characters was as touching, fun, entertaining and sexy as Elliot Loves.
Besides Elliot Loves and The Skinny, there we no other films in 2012 that were written, directed and featured black/latino gay characters or stories. So it seems like what we are left with is TWO black/latino gay themed movies every 18 months. We are aware of “Pariah,” it’s a gem…however keep in mind Cypher Avenue is a black/latino gay male
themed website. Back to my rant; Where the fuck are the black/latino gay movies?
Honorable Mention: The Skinny
BEST TV SERIES: THE WALKING DEAD
Zombies. Lots of them. This third season of “The Walking Dead”
was chock full of gruesome, gory, violent zombie action and we’re only halfway through! Once the AMC
bosses shed previous Executive Producer Frank Darabont
, the show’s soap opera storylines featuring love triangles and sad feelings were discarded as well. In its place we got a faster moving plot and more action. We also got more strong black men added to the cast…but there must be some clause in the AMC contracts that says they can only have one black man on the show at a time because whenever we see a new brother, the previous one quickly becomes Zombie dinner. The show returns in February
and AMC has already “fired” their replacement Executive Producer
so maybe that means it will get even better from here.
OCKY: If you can imagine a reality show about the zombie apocalypse…it would look like “The Walking Dead”. In my opinion this show is the best representation on any screen for the question “what would happen if there were zombies”, since “Night of the Living Dead” and perhaps “28 Days Later”. I definitely think “The Walking Dead” is the best show on TV. However, if you want violence in addition to, homosexuality, sweaty eye candy, nudity, drama and deceit, in a TV show; Spartacus: Blood and Sand will not disappoint.
Honorable Mention: Breaking Bad, Spartacus: Blood and Sand
BEST GAY WEB SERIES: MY BROTHER’S KEEPER
NICK: For its third season, the veteran web series My Brother’s Keeper
returned completely retooled with new characters and better production value. The two main masculine gay characters featured in several episodes were portrayed as real, flawed human beings. Although they essentially meet each other on a hookup, circumstances quickly push Calvin
) and Miles
) into a friendship and ultimately a full-blown relationship, completely soaked with co-dependency.
This is a good thing. The series shows gay black men as more than stereotypical promiscuous whores, drama queens and love addicts. My Brother’s Keeper tackles heavy issues like homelessness, co-dependency, bipolar disorder and unemployment all while making “being gay” more of a subtext to the characters’ lives. This makes them feel more like real, relatable human beings. Writer/Director Lamont Pierre
went on to followup this Award Winning web series by creating Freefall, but we hope there is more to come with these characters as well.
Honorable Mention: NoMoreDownLow.tv
BEST ACTOR: ANDRA FULLER
OCKY: A masculine portrayal of a black gay man on network TV is amazing in itself. A secure heterosexual black man; superbly portraying a masculine gay black man, while ignoring the fear of being typecast…priceless. Thank you Andra Fuller for showing the world that it can be done. Since The LA Complex has been cancelled, masculine black gay men will be anxiously awaiting more representation to help voice our perspective.
NICK: It’s rare that a handsome young Black American actor comes on the scene that truly impresses me. On The LA Complex, Andra Fuller not only demonstrated praise worthy acting chops, he also showed courage in auditioning for and landing the role of a closeted gay man on a Canadian show, not knowing that it would help to quickly advance his career in Hollywood. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for this young man.
Honorable Mention: Michael K. Williams, Lance Gross, Omari Hardwick
BEST SPORTS TEAM: SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
OCKY: The San Francisco 49ers was the first NFL team to record a PSA video for the “It Gets Better” campaign. The organization and its players took a bold stance to show solidarity and support for the LGBT community in 2012. Since then many athletes have shown their individual support for LGBT community and the campaign. Hats off to the 49ers for collectively standing strong and vocally announcing to LGBT fans of the NFL…“It Gets Better”.
BEST ATHLETE: ORLANDO CRUZ
OCKY: In 2012 the sports world was shocked at the news that professional boxer Orlando Cruz announced that he was a gay. Having only lost 2 bouts in his 24 fight professional career, Cruz first realized he was gay at the age of 19.
He states he had a hard time with it “Because homosexuals were discriminated against and killed” in his home country of Puerto Rico. To understand why Cypher Avenue picked Cruz as the Athlete of the Year, below is a snippet in his own words
Four years ago, I was fighting for the world championship title in Puerto Rico. The spectators bad-mouthed me; they called me a faggot. They told my opponent to pluck my feathers. In Puerto Rico, when you talk disparagingly about a gay man, you call him a duck. That’s when I realized that something had to change
Since Cruz’s announcement, he has been a vocal champion for the LGBT and to other athletes still struggling in the sports world. When asked “what will happen if your next opponent in the ring is not tolerant of his sexuality?”…”I’m sure someone will come along who calls me a faggot or a fairy. I’ll say, What? You call me a faggot? Okay, if you like. But you’d better watch out, because I’m the faggot who’s going to kick your ass.”
BEST GAY ARTIST: FRANK OCEAN
I am happy that a young black artist is getting his props and tasting success. His lyrics are not the typical “ghetto hymns” filled with big booty hoes, money and clothes. Channel Orange
was a mood filled ride which was a little bit too depressing for my personal tastes but I am happy that a “known-unknown” came OUT
to the entertainment world to let everyone know…“Hey I liked a dude once, but don’t call me gay.”
In 2012, I had a love/hate relationship with the personality that is Frank Ocean
. Last year, he earned a Cypher Avenue Honorable Mention for Best New Artist
so we’ve always recognized his unique talents. However with a couple cryptic songs and a poetic tumblr post
, Ocean managed to shake up the entertainment world for a couple weeks putting his ambiguous sexuality in the forefront. While he’s never officially claimed to be bisexual or gay, he’s also not done much to stop everyone claiming it for him.
He explains in his GQ interview
that the words in his music and letter speak for themselves and that admitting love for another man is historically not a wise publicity stunt. While we agree that the timing of his coming Out and album release is peculiar, the fact that he did it at all is admirable. In one day Frank Ocean achieved what many closeted gay black men aspire to experience: To be publicly honest about themselves with more support from people as a result than negative effects. With six Grammy nominations, it’s a safe bet to assume that we’ll have our first black masculine openly gay artist winning the coveted music prize in 2013.
Unfortunately last year’s Best Gay Artist, Kaoz was relatively quiet in 2012…and we’re STILL waiting on the epically delayed new release from Lasto. However, Frank Ocean definitely filled the space left in their absence.
Honorable Mention: Kaoz, Lasto
BEST ALBUM: NAS “LIFE IS GOOD”
OCKY: The Black Bond Don came back hard on the scene with this instant classic. I felt like I got my old Nasir Jones back. Tracks like “Loco-Motive” and “Summer on Smash” displayed the street lyrics and the party anthems we have come to love from Nas. His consciousness shines on “Daughters” and “The World’s an Addiction”; one of the only MC’s ever to show and prove how it is possible to be a talented rapper and still have a sense of self, dignity and speak to the community that supports you. I will always be a lifelong fan of one of rap’s favorite MC’s.
For as long as this website exists, Nas will always be the person to earn our first Five Star Review
. His latest project Life is Good
is a perfect album as far as our ears are concerned. He continues to prove that there can be no discussion on the greatest rappers of all time without his name being thrown into the mix.
Honorable Mention: Kanye West Presents “Cruel Summer”, Miguel “Kaleidoscope”
BEST NEW ARTIST: KENDRICK LAMAR
NICK: Twenty Five year old Kendrick Lamar has taken the independent hip hop world by storm since he dropped his mixtape “Section.80.” Once he secured Doctor Dre as his shepherd and released his debut album, “good kid, m.A.A.d city,” the rest of the world took notice as well. He single-handedly mixes the lyrical and melodic tone of Outkast with a pure West Coast confidence and bravado. From the alcoholic’s anthem “Swimming Pools” to the smoker’s anthem “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Money Trees” to the club banger “Poetic Justice”, the album featured numerous undeniable hits.
Honorable Mention: Meek Mill
BEST MUSIC VIDEO: MIGUEL “ADORN”
OCKY: Not only do I think this was one of the best songs of the year, but the super sexy videos for the song did what music videos are supposed to do: truly compliment the track. I am glad Miguel is finally getting the much-needed recognition he deserves. With a unique stage and onscreen presence, Miguel shows you can still be eccentric while staying masculine and cool.
NICK: Miguel is a triple threat. He’s got a great singing voice, a suave unique style and the man is sexy as hell. Both videos for his amazing, Grammy nominated song “Adorn” proves that. So much attention was given to Frank Ocean and his critically acclaimed album Channel Orange that Miguel could have easily fallen through the cracks. His recognition here and in other places proves that the cream still always rises to the top.
Honorable Mention: Nas “Daughters”
MIGUEL “ADORN”: VERSION ONE
MIGUEL “ADORN” VERSION TWO
BEST MODEL: B.J. WILLIAMS
NICK: Be it on the runway or in print advertising, this has been a great year for male models of color. Young men such as Harry Uzoka, Corey Baptiste, Jourdan Copeland and Dudley O’Shaughnessy all had an amazing year building their names and brands in the industry. However for us at Cypher Avenue, no other man held it down more than handsome heterosexual model, B.J. Williams.
Unlike some of the other men mentioned, Williams easily pulls off “model” while still giving off enough rugged manhood and masculinity to truly be a male image that is relatable to regular guys like us.Given that his images were all over everyone’s fashion and male admiration tumblr blogs
this year, we saw that we were not alone in admiring this young man’s work.
The camera loves his great smile, piercing eyes and disciplined physique (fortunately free of those sloppy, random tattoos so many fit black men have nowadays)…and the likes of Michael Maddox
, Wilhelmina Models, LA Models
and Heffner Management
agrees with us as well since he regularly gets work through all of them. We look forward to seeing a bright future for this young man, who’s also a father and aspiring actor, as he continues to take the modeling scene by storm.
Honorable Mention: Andre Douglas
BEST FASHION TREND: BEATS BY DRE
NICK:I don’t think there’s a single person in the United States that hasn’t seen someone rocking a pair of Doctor Dre’s signature Beats By Dre headphones at least on a semi-daily basis. Whether in the gym, in the mall, on the subway, on the jogging trail, etc, these high amplitude headphones have officially become more than just a tool for listening to music, they’re now a fashion accessory.
I’ve seen guys in the gym color coordinate their workout clothes with their headphones. At a minimum retail price of $200, can you blame them for wanting to show them off? Personally, I’m a little too reckless with my headphones to spend that much money on a pair, but I have to admit they do look pretty damn sleek when I see them on the heads of other people.
BEST VIDEO GAME: CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS II
OCKY: Call of Duty: Black Ops II was the most anticipated game of 2012, rivaled only by Halo 4 for the XBOX 360. With more options than Baskin Robbins, the replay factor is virtually unlimited. Fans fell in love with the new “zombies” play mode. The cut scenes and in-game cinematics could put some Hollywood blockbusters to shame. Online multiplayer is fun and fast paced as usually and it’s always fun to pick off the “noobs”. More weapons, more vehicles, more technology equals Call of Duty’s multiplatform appeal will be around for years to come.
Honorable Mention: Halo 4, The Walking Dead
BEST VACATION DESTINATION: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
OCKY: Three Words… OFF THE METER!
If you enjoy things like, beautiful beaches, along with hot men in speedos, sexy men in “boy shorts”, women in thongs, assess and titties everywhere, gorgeous people, some of the hottest clubs, a 24/7 party atmosphere, lush jungle and breath taking scenery, then this is the one place in the world that needs to be on your bucket list if you haven’t already been. There is a reason why Rio De Janeiro is known as the party capital of the world. If you want to really be amazed, go during Carnival. It will be one of the best experiences in your life!
BEST CAR: CADILLAC ATS
OCKY: HOT LIKE FIRE. Offering not less than three engine choices, a 2.5 four cylinder, a 2.0 turbo four, and GM’s bulletproof 3.6 liter V6, the Cadillac ATS comes more than equipped to do battle against everyone in the Baby Luxury class.Coming to the Compact Luxury field with a list of options created for top receivers in this class, the ATS comes standard with the base Ecotech engine good for 33 mpg on the highway, or 22 in the city. ABS, traction, Stolen Vehicle Assistance, pre/post collision safety brakes and fuel/accessory shut off, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, engine immobilizer, daytime running lights, TPMS, and stability control and dual climate control.
“Some of the many options include push-button start, Cadillac’s magnetic ride control, steering wheel controls, heated engine block, heated steering wheel, heated mirrors, AWD, and a radio data system that records live radio. (Also if you haven’t noticed by now, there are no buttons on the center console, as all Cadillac’s will now be tactile touch sensitive).
At $33,990 for the base Ecotech 2.5 Engine, $35,795 at base for the 2.0t, and $42,090 baseline for the top of the line 3.6 V6, the ATS is not a bargain, but fits right in with the rest of the baby Luxo sedans. Max it out and be prepared to pay about $53,400.” (Review – autoFrenzy.net
BEST GAY SCANDAL: OMEGA ENTERTAINMENT VS SIZZLE MIAMI
Back in June, Waddie Grant
of Glist Society posted an article
about what seemed to be a battle of Press Releases regarding two Black Gay Pride
events that overlapped during Memorial Day Weekend
. One event was the DC pride weekend organized by Omega Entertainment
and the other was the annual Sizzle Miami gathering founded by Dwight Powell
. In short, Omega Ent. sent out a press release boasting about their successful turnout which seemed to offend Dwight Powell, prompting him to draw up his own press release in direct response to them.
Things got heated quickly. Powell accused promoters McGregory Williams
, Daryl Wilson
and Mario Harris
of advertising their event as being a place to find “real men”
as opposed to the “ladies”
you would see at Sizzle Miami. Although no such advertising or statements could be found or presented as evidence, a long debate ensued on outlets such as Facebook
. Dwight Powell, McGregory Williams and even yours truly (Nicholas Delmacy)
put in their two cents (with no one really listening to each other unfortunately). Incidents like this, while occasionally a nice distraction, really seem petty and detrimental to perception of black gay men in general. There’s room for everyone, including entrepreneurial people (like ourselves) that see an opportunity to market to a niche crowd.
Okay…being honest, I am somewhat out of touch when it comes to the club/gay scene. When Nick told me that two of our biggest black pride promoters were beefing, I actually thought it was a joke. I am not picking sides but both pride organizers made some valid points, while in the process of making the beef more of a spectacle. From my personal opinion as a black gay man, I feel that you have to experience each event at least once. There is no doubt you will have a great time at either one of them.
I do feel like Sizzle Miami had a younger and more effeminate crowd (so what). I also feel like the crowds in DC are actually comprised of more mature, masculine brothers (so what). Get in where you fit in. We come in all shapes, sizes and characteristics. There is plenty of fun to be had by all. Again if you have the opportunity, please attempt to experience each pride event at least once. Believe me…you WILL NOT be disappointed at either!
Honorable Mention: Kevin “Elmo” Clash’s Gay Scandal
BEST GAY WEBSITE (NEXT TO Cypher Avenue): MUSED
NICK: While Cypher Avenue stands in a class of its own, we can also recognize and appreciate our fellow gay bloggers that are doing great, professional work. The gay magazine website MUSED debuted about six months after Cypher Avenue but quickly stepped out into its own as a quality place for celebrity gossip, editorials, news and advice for young gay men (and gay-friendly heterosexual black women apparently). They also get props from us for not adding on to the “We Hate Cypher Avenue” bandwagon (not publicly at least). All perspectives and voices in the gay community should be welcome and open to debate, MUSED’s opinionated essays and editorials prove that daily.
*Next to Cypher Avenue
Honorable Mention: GList Society, Ka-Os
BEST GAY PERSONALITY: KEITH BOYKIN
There wasn’t a cable news station that Keith Boykin didn’t appear on this year. From his informed analysis on the Presidential Election to the outcry that resulted from the Trayvon Martin shooting, Boykin continued to show the world that being a proud gay man is about more than just sex, nipple rings and extreme flamboyancy. As a dignified, educated, articulate professional black man, he serves as a role model for many young gay men all over the world, be it masculine, feminine or inbetween.
This summer, Boykin released a new much-needed book, “For Colored Boys (who have considered suicide when the rainbow is still not enough).” The compilation contains essays and articles from 45 different writers throughout the gay community covering issues such as sexual abuse, suicide, HIV/AIDS, racism and homophobia. The book is available in stores nationwide as well as Amazon.
MAN OF THE YEAR: PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
Once again we tried to think of a single person worthy of the title Man of the Year and couldn’t come up with a nominee more worthy than President Barack Obama. While I’ve been critical of the President, and will continue to be, I can’t deny that he wears “Commander in Chief” very well. His 2012 on-camera support for marriage equality made headlines around the world. Also, his administration has been diligent in ensuring equality in the military after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Then there was his compassionate reactions to the mass shootings in Aurora, Wisconsin and Newtown and his leadership in the wake if Hurricane Sandy.
Let’s not forget about the Election. After a grueling campaign, The President overwhelmingly defeated the Republican nominee with many electoral college votes to spare. He made history once again by becoming the first President since Eisenhower to win 51% of the vote twice. Since then, the President and his administration has displayed a “Fuck You” attitude which we hope continues throughout his second term.